Friday short story fix - Chance Meeting

Chance Meeting


Jacquie Underdown

Most days Anna needs at least a double-shot espresso to get started. Today is no different.

She wanders to the local coffee house, raising her face to the Sunday morning sun that warms the slight spring chill in the air and drenches her bare arms in healing warmth.

That familiar sensation of hollowness fills her chest, like a fundamental part of herself has been torn away. Yet today, something is different—a subtle undercurrent of opportunity is also present as though she is being pulled toward something…someone.

She orders a takeaway coffee from the smiling cashier and, steaming cup in hand, makes her way toward home along the busy streets. The caffeine is already restoring her energy levels and returning some lucidity to her thoughts.

One block over, there is a street fair. The scent of churros and hotdogs fills the air. Her stomach rumbles.

She drifts toward the makeshift stalls, which line both sides of the road, filled with an array of trinkets, gifts, jewellery, plants and food vendors.

Anna browses, inspecting all the unique knickknacks but stops at a stall as her eye catches something that appeals to a deeper, unreachable part of herself.

Before her are gold necklace charms in the shape of male angels, filling black, satiny boxes. But these angels don’t look like the ones she imagines or sees in books, all white and glowing.

She picks up a box. This angel tucked inside is brawny with long black wings. Not white. She lifts it from its casing and brings it closer to her eyes. For such a small charm, it has amazing detail.

“Do you like angels?” comes a deep, husky voice. The stall attendant.

She raises her eyes, smiling, and is met with intelligent sapphire eyes staring across the counter. She almost gasps and has to steady herself with a hand on the table.

He is tall, broad and has the darkest hair and bluest eyes. He wears a black t-shirt, the short sleeves hugging his muscled arms. His long legs are dressed in jeans.

A powerful energy emanates from him and caresses her like fingertips.

Eventually she is able to find her voice. “Um … I guess I do.”

He grins wide. “Lucky for me. My name is Louis. I’m new to town. Flew in last night.”

“I’m Anna.”

“I tell you what, Anna, you have breakfast with me, and I’ll let you keep the angel.”

Anna grins, that relentless hollowness in her chest no longer feels so empty when she hears this man speak. Her eyes wander over his face, to his lips. She doesn’t know him, yet she could quite easily lean over and take those lush lips between hers.

She slides her tongue across her bottom lip, suppressing a breathy sigh. Who is this man and why is he making her feel so … so…?

“You look like you’re in deep thought there, Anna,” he says.

She shakes her head. “I know this might sound strange, but I feel like I’ve been … waiting for you.”

He grins. “Not strange at all. I feel like I’ve been trying to find you.”

She lowers her eyes to the ground, a bashful warmth filling her cheeks.

“So is that a yes to breakfast?”

She looks up and nods. “Yes.”

He walks around the stall to meet her and takes her hand in his. A tingling warmth ignites in her fingers and spreads up her arm, throughout her entire body.

She gapes. “What is that?”

His lips part on an intake of breath. His eyes are wide as he shakes his head subtly. “I … don’t know. All I know is that I don’t want to let go of you.”

She glances down at their hands, fingers entwined, and then back up to his chiselled face. “Then don’t.”

He nods slowly. “So where do you want to go for breakfast? We’ll go wherever you choose.”

Anna can barely believe the words are falling from her lips, but they do, and she says, “Anywhere, as long as I’m with you.”

Louis stops walking and faces her. He strokes a lose strand of hair behind her ear. Her heart is thumping madly. His fingers flutter down her cheek, gently cup her chin and he presses his lips to hers, just once, so warm and tender.

He captures her with his stare, face only centimetres from hers, his chest rising and falling. “What is this between us?”

She shakes her head. “I don’t know. I feel like I know you, and yet I’ve never laid eyes on you before.”

Louis kisses her again, with more urgency this time, his hands finding her waist. He opens her lips with his, finds her tongue with his own, and she is molten lava in his arms.

He smells like heaven and tastes like home, an intoxicating combination. He is pleasure; he is hello; he is human. All wonderful singularities.

Too soon he pulls away, breathless. “You do strange, wonderful things to me, Anna.”

“Believe me, I totally understand.”

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