A Perfect Stranger

When Lara meets a mysterious stranger in the park, they get to talking and she feels drawn to him. What happens when she finds out who he really is?

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7. Eyes On Me

“Moments in time.”

 

“Who ya texting?” I asked Harry as he shoved his phone back in his pocket for the umpteenth time on the walk to my house.

“No one,” he replied hurriedly.

I scoffed disbelievingly, “Yeah sure. Pull the other, it’s got bells.” Harry just shook his head as we continued on walking. I decided to investigate later, my curiosity was burning. We reached my house, and I let us in, locking the door behind me. I headed to my room to get the things I needed, quickly shoving them in a large sports bag before the guys could see and guess what my plans were. I slung the strap of the grey bag over my shoulder and walked back out. “Kay, that’s it. Let me call a taxi and we can go, okay?” I said as I grabbed the phone off the hook and dialled the number scrawled on the pad next to it. Once our lift was arranged, I shooed the five out, not wanting to leave any trace of our being there. We sat joking and talking until the taxi arrived.

 

As we all clambered into the van, I leant forward and whispered the address in the driver’s ear, handing him the fare that I knew by heart after several trips. He nodded and accepted the cash, seeming slightly amused at the secrecy. I flopped back into my seat between Louis and Zayn, grinning at the expectant faces of Harry, Liam and Niall across from me. I looked down and smiled more when I felt Louis’s head restring on my shoulder as he looked up at me from under his eyelashes. “Where are we going?” he pried, looking hopeful. I gave him a superior look and reached over to pat him on the head. “That,” I said smugly, “Is for me to know, and you to find out.” He stuck out his bottom lip in and exaggerated pout. I chuckled and looked away, melting inside. I stuck my feet up on Harry’s lap across from me after kicking off my vans. My odd socks got curious looks from everyone. “Why,” began Harry cautiously, pulling at the toe of one sock, “Are you wearing a striped sock and a checked one?”

I wriggled my toes happily. “I like socks. So I wear fun socks,” I explained. The boys looked a little baffled but no one said anything more. I poked Harry in the stomach with a toe and looked away innocently as he shot me a curious look. After a while he looked back out the window, and I poked him again. And again and again and again, holding back laughter, until he grabbed my feet and pulled hard. I wasn’t wearing my seatbelt, so I was dragged halfway off my seat before I could grab hold of Zayn and Lou’s arms to stop myself being pulled off the seat entirely. Harry continued trying to pull, now with the added help of a laughing Niall and my grip on Zayn and Louis was slipping. “Lou! Tell your husband to let go of me!” I pleaded with him but he pretended not to notice, acting as if he were deep in conversation with Liam.  I gave him a frustrated glare and turned to Zayn. “Please? Help me Zayn!”

He gave me an evil grin and grabbed hold of my wrist in one hand, while he used the other too pry my fingers free from his forearm. I struggled to hold my grip, tightening my other hand around Louis’s arm in the hop that it would be enough to hold on to.

“NO!” I exclaimed my head whipping to face Louis as I felt him to begin to remove my grip, “Lou, please! Don’t do it.”

He just looked over my head at Zayn and counted down, while I thrashed desperately with my legs, trying to free them from Niall and Harry’s strong grips. I turned to my last hope. “Liam!” I cried out, struggling to keep the smile off my face, “Give me a hand here. Please Liam!” He just gave me an innocent smile and grabbed hold of my leg as well.

“3, 2, 1….” Lou counted, while the others snickered.

“Go!” he shouted. I felt a massive tug on my legs at the same moment as I felt hands on my back pushing me across the empty space between the seats. My awkward position meant that I ended up scrabbling desperately to stop myself from hitting the floor, pulling at the fabric of Niall’s jeans, shirt and seatbelt. I felt someone’s leg give me a shove in the back, giving me the boost I needed to get up properly. The boys were all laughing hysterically, while I gave them all a glare. I straightened out on their laps where I lay, crossing my arms across my chest and staring at the ceiling pretending to be sulky. The guys all laughed, Harry poking me in the stomach to try and get my attention. I stuck my tongue out at him without looking at him and remained in aloof silence throughout the boys chitchat for the rest of the trip, planning my revenge and just enjoying their company, drawing patterns on the window with my foot.

 

The gravel crunched beneath out feet as we piled out of the taxi and onto the long dirt driveway. The boys looked around curiously, with only Louis showing some recognition of where we were after our long talk in the park. I set off down the drive lined with rows of tall gum trees with my bag slung over my shoulder. The lads quickly followed, curious to see what the big surprise was. WE rounded the corner of the house and I gestured grandly to the sight in front of me. “Welcome to my personal paradise,” I said majestically. I turned to look at their expressions and delighted at the impressed looks. I spun happily on my heel and began to follow a well-worn mental path, signalling for the boys to follow. “Pretty cool, huh?” I beamed.

“What is this place?” Niall asked me, a little confused.

I laughed as I turned down a narrow path and arrived at my final destination. “This,” I said, opening the door to the medium sized shed and stepping inside, “Is where I keep my horsie.”

“Seriously?” Liam asked, as he stepped into the shed. I nodded, dumping my bag on the ground next to my other gear that I kept with a few friends in the shed that functioned as our tack room. I bent down and fished out my riding clothes from the bag and headed over to the little change room we had set up, that consisted of a large old sheet hung across one corner.  I talked as I quickly shucked everything and pulled on my jodhpurs, boots, a pale grey polo and chaps. “Yeah, so surprise! I thought it would be cool to show you lot a little of what my life is normally like, when I’m not hanging with superstars and the like. Maybe I’ll introduce you guys to them one day, the superstars I mean. I’m sure you deprived people would enjoy that!” I joked, stepping outside fully dressed. Amused chuckles came from the group.  I got slightly stunned looks from the five as I stepped out, but for once I was expecting it as it had happened several times before. Even I had to admit that riding clothes made the most out of anyone with a halfway decent figure. Tight fitting cream jodhpurs, and calf hugging chaps made everything stand out. I rolled my eyes at them and dumped my other clothes into the sports bag. I shooed Harry of the grey bin he was sitting on so that I could fish out a carrot. Snapping the lid back into place I grabbed a black halter from where it hung over my saddle and led the way out the door. We meandered down a short path sand path and I pointed out different things to the boys with the carrot, one hand in Louis’s and the halter slung over my shoulder. “That grass arena there is the show jumping arena, as you can probably tell from all the jumps in there,” I said sarcastically. I indicated to a large rectangular arena adjacent to the jumping arena. “That’s the dressage arena, and the big shed thing there is actually the undercover arena. It’s awesome. I’ll show you later. Out the back there in the bush are a few trails and the cross country jumps. I don’t go out there particularly much. And this,” I said, coming to a halt in front of a gate, “Is the paddock I share with a few of my friends.”

“Where’s your horse?” asked Zayn curiously, looking around the big, tree filled paddock.

I shrugged, “Probably out the back somewhere. It’s a pretty big paddock. Which is why I taught him this.” I stuck two fingers in my mouth and let out a shrill whistle and yelled, “Oi, Fim, c’mere! C’mon you!” I let my hand drop to my side and waited.

“You’re kidding right?”

I turned to look at a disbelieving Harry. “Nope. Have faith Harry, have faith.”

Sure enough, I turned back to the paddock to see Fimmy come ambling around the corner, pricking his ears at the sight of the group of us waiting. I smiled satisfied, turning and smirking at a stunned Harry, giving him an elbow in the ribs, “See?” Slipping my hand out of Lou’s after giving it a squeeze, I opened the latch and swung the gate towards myself until there was a horse sized gap. “Someone hold that open for a sec?” I asked, not waiting to see who did it and walked towards Fimmy, who had stopped at his usual place about three metres away from the gate. Typical. “Hey bubba. Herro, who’s a good boy, hey handsome fella?” I crooned, snapping off a stick of carrot which he eagerly chomped. He stood patiently while I slipped the halter onto his big chestnut head. I gave him another piece of carrot when I was done and an affectionate scratch in the white diamond that sat perfectly in the centre of his head. I braced myself as he decided to use me as his scratching post, rubbing his head vigorously along the length of me. I turned as I heard the sound of the boy’s laughter, poking my tongues out at them, and nearly falling over after a particularly heft push from Fimmy. I lead him towards the gate, stopping in front of the boys. They seemed a little hesitant, so I prompted them. “Go on, give him a scratch,” I suggested, patting Fim in the neck, “He won’t bite you.” They came closer and reached out, hands gently patting and scratching different parts of Fim’s face. He stood, ears lazily flicking around to different sounds, sniffing curiously at the guys. Zayn froze and looked at me appealing for help when he became the victim of one of Fimmy’s regular licking attacks. I joined the other boys in peals of laughter as Fim stood, neck stretched, liking away at Zayn’s shirt, leaving great big slobbery green patches along his stomach. I pulled firmly on the lead rope, and he turned a curious, dopey look my way, ceasing his onslaught of Zayn’s clothing. Zayn looked down despairingly at his top, attempting lamely to brush off some of the green slobber, but succeeding only in smearing it around. I laughed and pushed his hand away. “Leave it,” I chuckled, “It’ll come out in the wash.”

 

Hands together. Eyes forward. Heels down. Shoulders back. Head up. Elbows bent. Sit straight. Check diagonal. Bend and flexion. Pace. All these things flashed through my mind without conscious effort, the result of years of practice.  I rode school figures around the dressage arena in a random order, brow furrowed in concentration. Fim was having an especially good day, for which I was unimaginably glad, given my current audience. After a few minutes of constant trotting, I slowed back down to a walk, patting Fimmy on his warm neck. Satisfied that we had warmed up enough, I rode past where the five sat in the corner and into the adjacent arena, one filled a variety of coloured show jumps. A began to trot again, and after a few practice jumps over smaller one, I began to show off. Urging Fim into a canter, I wove between and over the jumps in a course I had mapped out in my head a few weeks earlier and had been practicing ever since. We soared over the jumps of varying heights and widths, made up of a combination of poles and barrels. After completing the course, I rode over a few more, having too much fun to stop. Soon enough we were both sweating in the summer sun, so I slowed to a walk and spent a few minutes walking around the arena with my feet dangling out of the stirrups to cool down. Once I felt Fim’s breathing return to a normal steady rate, I halted near the entrance to the arena where the boys sat and dismounted. Running my stirrups up at both sides and undoing Fimmy’s noseband, I gave him a rewarding scratch behind the ear. I braced myself as the expecting reaction occurred, waiting patiently as he rubbed his head up and down the length of me vigorously. When he had finished I led him over to where the boys sat, nervous to see their reactions. “So, um, what did you think?” I asked, chewing on the inside of my bottom lip nervously. There was a brief paused and I looked down, scuffing the dirt with a foot. I looked up as a voice sounded. It was Liam, “I think we can all say that that was amazing.” The boys all made sounds of agreement.

I blushed and smiled, “Thanks guys.”

 

I sat on the grass between Harry and Niall, Lou’s head in my lap, despite my numerous protests that I was filthy. A few metres away Fimmy stood with his head in his feeder, munching away contentedly. We were making shapes in the clouds, and Lou was making a daisy chain. “Do you guys see the snail shaped one?” I laughed, pointing up at a large cloud formation.

“How in any stretch of imagination is that a snail?” Harry protested.

“See, the eyes and, there, that’s the shell. See?”

“No.”

“Useless, you are. Absolutely useless. Can anyone see it?”

There came a chorus of “Nos” I huffed and rolled my eyes dramatically, making them all laugh. My heart fluttered and I had a moment, my situation hitting me like a truck. I was sitting with One Direction, and in what seemed to be the beginnings of a serious relationship with Louis Tomlinson. The last few days came to mind, the tickle fights and fun and waking up in Lou’s arms. I pinched myself on the arm, almost drawing blood, not being able to believe fully that this wasn’t a dream. When I felt the pain, and I knew for sure I was awake and this wasn’t a beautiful dream my heart started pounding in my chest at a million miles an hour, my breathing grew shallow and rapid, and tears of raw emotion began to form in my eyes. I tried to slow my breathing but failed, it becoming more erratic with every moment. It wasn’t long before I was noticed. “Are you hyperventilating?” asked Niall, incredulous.  I nodded, trying to hold my breath, anything to stop hyper ventilating before I passed out. Louis shot up from my lap and kneeled in front of me, putting his hands on my shoulders, while the other boys gave me concerned looks. A tear spilled over and rolled down my cheek and I quickly wiped it off. The look of concern on Lou’s face grew and I felt comforting arms from the other boys. That didn’t do much to help. In fact, my breathing grew more erratic, hitching in my throat and causing me to make weird, involuntary noises. Finished with his food and drawn by my weird sound, Fimmy ambled over, giving Lou a heavy shove with his nose and knocking him to the ground before wuffling his lips over my hair and face. Finding nothing of interest, he began to graze at the grass at my feet. I leant forwards, resting my face against the star on the middle of his forehead and wrapped my arms loosely around a head that was the same size as my torso. Finally I managed to slow my breathing, taking deep calming breaths, relishing the warm familiar scent of Fimmy. Unshed tears disappeared and my heart’s thrumming beat slowed back to normal as well.

I sat back as Fimmy wander off in search of better grazing and looked down at my lap. “Care to share?”  asked Zayn. I tried to form the words in my head, but came up blank on how to explain without rambling. Lou sat up from the ground and spoke for me. “I think I know what it was about,” he turned to me, “To good to be true moment?” I nodded and flushed, feeling the heat in my cheeks. Suddenly I was engulfed in a sea of warm hugs from all the boys. I smiled at then when we finally broke apart. “Sorry if I freaked you guys out. Stuff like this just doesn’t happen you know?” I said a desperate note to my voice.

“Hey it’s okay. We get it. I’d say we can all relate, after everything we’ve been through with X Factor,” Liam said.

I flashed him a grateful smile and stood. “Come on, we’ll put Fimble here away and then we can go. I need a shower!” I joked, grabbing the lead rope of the ground next to me and catching my chestnut baby. As the boys wandered over to the gate, I clambered onto the lower rung of the fence and swung onto Fimmy’s back and urged him over to the gate where the boys stood. They gave me dumbfounded looks when they saw me sitting on Fim bareback. I grinned, “What, it’s just bareback.” I rode past them and through the gate and then pulled the lead rope to get Fimmy to stop while I waited for the boys to come through. All assembled, we set off and as we went past the path to the shed I stopped again. “Can someone go to where I keep my stuff and get me another rope?” I asked.

“I’ll get it!” said Louis before running of, to return a minute late with a second rope in his hands. He passed it to me and I leant as far forward as I could, clipping it to a metal ring on the side of the black halter. Then, struggling to reach, I unclipped the first rope and re attached it on the opposite side of the second. That task complete I sat up to looks of puzzlement from my five friends. I crossed the two ends of the rope over Fim’s wither so the each end of the two ropes dangled over his opposite shoulder. “Reins. See?” I said wiggling the end of one rope in their direction.  I got a few chuckles for my stupidity so I poked my tongue at them and rode at the, snobbish expression on my face and nose pointed at the sky with my eyes closed. Putting on my best faux British snob accent, I grumbled, “Out of the way peasants. Have some respect for your superiors!” I kept the charade up as I passed them, and joined them in laughter after a few seconds. As we passed the dressage arena on the way back to the paddock I turned in, urging Fimmy first into a trot and then into a canter, a broad smile growing on my face. I kept my balance as I cantered a lap around the arena back to the boys, slowing back to a walk beside them. “Show off!” Harry teased and I laughed.

“So, who wants to sit behind me?”

They all stopped dead and stared. “You’re kidding right?” asked Niall.

“Nope. Anyone?” They exchanged dubious looks. I laughed at them, a big smirk on my face. “Cowards,” I scoffed.

“Hey!” Louis protested, “Fine, how do I get up?”

I grinned and gestured at the other four. “Who wants to give him a leg up?”

A smirking Harry stepped forward and Lou stepped in close. I briefly explained how to get on and then leaned forward slightly, waiting. Harry bent down and gave Lou a quick boost, and soon enough he was sitting behind me. His arms wrapped around my waist as I asked Fimmy to walk, and I wished that I could see his facial expression, because whatever it was it caused the other boys to roar with laughter. “Relax,” I murmured, a small smile playing across my lips.

“I am relaxed!” he protested quietly.

“No, you’re tense. I can feel it Louis. Now relax, you’re not going to die.” Gradually I felt him relax behind me as he adjusted to the sway of Fim’s walk. After a few minutes we reached the paddock once again, Lou faced another dilemma.

“How do I get off?” A round of laughter followed, one which I joined, the tone to Lou’s voice taking me over the edge.

Between bouts of laughter I managed to instruct him what to do, “Just lean forward and swing your right leg back over to your left.” I shuffled forward slightly to give him the room to lean. He did so and I felt him dismount, accompanied seconds later by a dull thump. I looked at the ground and sure enough, Louis was on his bum. I chuckled, “Don’t worry, happens to most people on the first time.”

 

Next chapter will be very fun, if you have a sense of humour. Please remember to become a fan or tell me how much you love or hate APS. <3 and xxx’s

 

                -Serendipity

 

 

 

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