Kiss A Stranger Page 27

Stunned, he didn\ say a word as I turned back around and stormed away.

I poured my heart out in that letter, and if he still rejected me after it, I would just have to accept he didn\ want me. I wouldn\ be bitter about it. Because maybe, somehow, I was his haunted past he wanted nothing to do with again. And maybe he was right to put me behind and move on.

When I made it home after dropping the letter off, I found Emily sitting on the porch steps with Miles. While I\d been nursing my wounds, Emily had spent a little more time with Miles. He was no longer weird around me, and I was pretty sure it was because he\d developed a new obsession with Emily.

But he was friend-zoned, and it was awkward being around them sometimes when he stared at her like a puppy dog seeking affection. Poor guy.

’’Hey guys,’’ I said, taking a seat next to Emily.

’’Did you deliver the letter?’’ she asked. I\d filled her in on everything that had happened, so she was just as emotionally invested as me.

I nodded. ’’Yep.’’

She wrapped an arm around me and gave me a wet kiss on the cheek. ’’I\m glad. You\ve got it out of your system. No more \what ifs\. Time to see whether to move on or fight hard.’’

’’Yeah.’’

’’You\ e not talking about that asshole, are you?’’ Miles asked with a scowl. ’’I haven\ forgotten him. All creepy and weird.’’

I raised a brow, looking wryly at Miles. ’’The irony right now of you saying these words...’’

’’What do you mean?’’

I broke out in a laugh. ’’You\ e the king of weird and creepy, Miles.’’

’’No, I\m not. Emily, tell her.’’

Emily simply stared between the two of us, her answer loud and clear. But she stood up immediately and declared, ’’I\m going to order some pizza. Cough up some money, bitches, because I\m broke and you need to feed me.’’

Miles stood up too, immediately digging his hand into his pocket. ’’I\ll pay for the whole thing, and it\s too early for delivery, so I\m more than happy to run out and pick it up.’’

I rolled my eyes. Oh, my God, this guy. ’’I\ll pass. You eat pizza every damn day. No wonder you\ e broke.’’

’’So do you,’’ she retorted.

’’And that\s why I\ve gained ten pounds.’’

’’I can tell. Fat ass.’’ She laughed and took off before I could smack her. Miles followed, of course, right on her heels.

I stayed seated there for a short while longer, glancing up and down the neighbourhood, reflecting. Immediately, I saw a taxi come bounding up the street slowly, and my heart tightened as it got closer. I watched intently as it continued to slow down near the house. I didn\ want to think his name, didn\ want to think it could be him, but my body seemed to be thinking for me. I angled my body to the taxi and held my breath. It drew closer and closer and...

It passed on by, turning into the driveway of a house a few doors down.

My heart took a nosedive, but I didn\ let the sadness show on my face.

I simply stood up and went back inside.

*****

A week later - on a Saturday - Emily burst through the door and shook me awake. I pushed her hand away from me, cursing for her to leave me alone. Late nights had me crashing in the early hours of the morning, and I desperately needed some sleep.

’’Babe,’’ she said excitedly, ’’some se*y ass man is at the door asking for you.’’

My eyes whipped open. I immediately sat up and looked at her. She was still in her house shorts and singlet, her blonde hair a mess - clearly she\d been dragged out of bed to answer the door.

’’What does he look like?’’ I asked, even though I already had an inkling of who it was.

’’Tall, black hair, blue eyes - has this wicked smirk and bedroom eyes.’’ She paused, recapping his image with a look of lust on her face.

’’Jamie.’’

I jumped out of bed, uncaring about my own state of undress and ran past her. I hurried down the stairs and met him on the porch. I was a little awed by the way he looked, dressed in a black pinstriped suit with his hair slicked back. Filling Ben\s shoes had him looking like a dynamite businessman.

’’Hey,’’ I said, opening the door and ushering him inside.

He stepped inside, replying with, ’’Hey, yourself.’’

Too excited to make small chat, I immediately asked, ’’What\s going on? Are you here because of him? Did you give him the letter? What did he say? Did he get it? Is he alright? How\s he doing -’’

’’Slow down,’’ he cut in, chuckling. ’’Just relax. Take a deep breath. In and out -’’

’’I don\ have time to breathe. I need you to talk!’’

His blue eyes roamed me, and that smile intensified as he turned on that charm. I couldn\ give a f*k about it. Nor did I care that I was in a pathetically small nightgown, looking like a tousled caveman. None of that mattered to me. What mattered right now was the words that were about to come out of those lips.

’’Alright,’’ he said, talking slowly on purpose, ’’I did send the letter. Not physically, mind you. I faxed it to him. It was quicker that way. You just never know how long sending something across the world will take, you know? It\s... very long.’’

I nodded repeatedly, wanting him to hurry the hell up.

’’And,’’ he continued, clearing his throat, ’’he told me he received the letter, and that he read it.’’

’’And?’’ I urged.

’’Aaaand that\s it.’’

I froze, knitting my brows together in confusion. I was instantly disheartened and on the verge of tears. My soul started to douse itself with petrol, getting ready to burn at this awful, anticlimactic ending. That was it? He just read it? He didn\ ... care?

’’Really?’’ I let out incredulously.

He eyed my sad face and burst out laughing. Tucking his hand into his pocket, he replied, ’’No, actually, that\s not it. But your face! F*k, that was great. For me, anyway.’’

’’What?’’

He pulled out a card and gave it to me. ’’He wanted me to give you this.’’

I took the card that had a four letter word in thick, black font on the front.

DARE

He gave me a... dare card?

My heart spiked. I glanced at Jamie, but he was too busy checking out Emily, and Emily was practically humping the wall behind me to get closer to him.

Uncaring about their session of eye-f*king, I turned the card around and read six words. Six small, easy to understand words that made my being soar with every happy feeling I\d ever felt combined.

I dare you to follow me.

’’What does he mean by that?’’ I wondered out loud in confusion. ’’Is this all he gave me?’’

When I received no response, I looked back up and puffed out in irritation. ’’Stop looking at her! Emily is off limits and you\ e in a relationship!’’

’’I\m not in a relationship,’’ he retorted. ’’It\s complicated.’’

’’Yeah, and until you\ e in an uncomplicated situation, leave Emily alone.’’

’’I\ll be alright,’’ replied Emily. ’’I\m not some easy girl that\ll bend over to some guy in a suit.’’ Liar.

Ignoring her, I took hold of Jamie\s face and directed it back to me. ’’Focus, was this all he gave you?’’

’’Hmm?’’ He looked back at me. ’’Oh, right. No, that\s not all. He also gave me this very important thing right here.’’

He reached into his pocket again and produced a folded piece of paper. I took it from him and unfolded it. I looked it over, trembling from adrenaline.

’’This is information for a flight,’’ I muttered, ’’with my name booked in.’’

’’Mhm, indeed it is,’’ he replied.

’’To...’’ I felt my lips curve up. ’’To Morocco.’’

’’Mhm.’’ Something then occurred to him, and he tapped the paper quickly. ’’About that, see, I was supposed to give this to you last night so that you had better time preparing.’’

’’What do mean?’’

When he didn\ answer, I focused on the details of the flight. Then I looked up and glared at him. ’’Are you f*king serious? This flight leaves in three hours, you asshole!’’

He shrugged. ’’That\s not so bad. Just grab a few pairs of clothes and... whatever it is you girls do and you should be alright. Right?’’

Ignoring him, I whipped around and ran to my room. I tore apart my closet, pulling random clothes off hangers until every surface of my bedroom was covered. It was absolute madness! Unable to find a suitcase, and too panicked to even give a shit, I grabbed the biggest purse I owned and stuffed it with random crap. My brain was going a million miles an hour, and I was shaking harder with every passing second.

Was this really happening? Was I seriously leaving the country in three hours\ time?

If you hurry the f*k up, Claire, then yes!

While Jamie waited downstairs, Emily came in and helped pack some clothes while I hunted down my passport and wallet.

’’I can\ believe you\ e doing this,’’ she exclaimed. ’’I\m so excited for you, babe. I can\ imagine how you\ e feeling.’’

I was too busy packing and getting my things in order to properly digest my feelings. It was surreal. I threw on the first thing I saw - skinny jeans and a plain white tee - and grabbed the bag Emily had packed for me. I took off back down the stairs, and she followed closely behind, yammering away in my ear about how much she envied me.

’’I\m taking you to the airport,’’ Jamie told me once he saw me. He\d been patiently waiting in the kitchen, and was munching away on an ice cold chocolate bar he\d stolen from the fridge.

I snatched the bar out of his hands. ’’I need breakfast. Now let\s get out of here. I have to be gone in two and a half hours.’’

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Going to make this right

Jamie sped down the roads in his impressive Ferrari, cutting through traffic and slamming on the brakes half a million times. We didn\ say anything. I was too preoccupied with my hectic thoughts. My body tingled with nerves as I clung to my packed purse and wallet, checking the time every few minutes.

He made it to the airport in record time and stopped in front of the entrance.

’’I can take it from here,’’ I told him. ’’Thank you for driving me.’’

’’No problem,’’ he replied. He then took his aviator sunglasses off and handed them to me. ’’You\ e going to need these when you\ e there.’’

I smiled and took them. ’’Thanks.’’

’’Yeah. Well, say hello to big brother for me, and try not to betray him often. Alright?’’

I raised a brow. ’’Yeah, right. Great and appropriate timing and all to bring that up, Jamie.’’

’’Too soon?’’

’’Just a little.’’

He chuckled. ’’Get lost then. I\m not going to wait around a second longer. You\ve got a man to grovel to, and I\ve got a lovely blonde to work my moves on.’’

My eyes widened. ’’Hell no. Stay away from Emily, Jamie. She\s not the relationship kind of girl.’’

’’And I\m not the relationship kind of guy. We should be good.’’

I just shook my head at him. I opened the door and stepped out. He honked once at me as he drove off. I turned around and hurried past the crowd of people with one thought in mind.

I have a plane to catch.

*****

Thirty two hours.

Thirty. Two. Freaking. Hours.

Why did people like to travel when their destinations were thirty two freaking hours away?

It gave me a shitload of time to reflect on everything. I ran our last encounter together, particularly the hate in his voice when he had spoken to me. What had changed since then for him to dare me to follow him?

I wasn\ sure what I was going to do when we saw each other. I tried to come up with lines in my head, but not even then could I properly piece together the right words for the occasion. It was overwhelming thinking about it, so I strayed from it and thought instead about Mom and the last words we\d said on the phone while I was waiting to board.

’’If you knew I was leaving the country, but that I was going to be happy, would you understand?’’ I asked her.

’’Well, I left the state to find my happiness, didn\ I?’’ she countered with a small sigh. ’’This is about Ben, though, isn\ it?’’

’’Yeah, it is.’’

’’How long will you be gone?’’

’’I don\ know. Could be a day. Could be a month.’’

She was quiet, deliberating. ’’Well, sweetheart, you grew up before my eyes. You graduated high school, you graduated College, and you\ e officially a qualified teacher. You\ e not a rebellious party bopper, and you\ve matured into a beautiful young lady. I don\ have a say in what you do, but you have my approval.’’

I smiled, blinking back the tears. ’’Then I\m going to Morocco.’’

’’Oh, hell, Claire,’’ she groaned. ’’That\s not a short distance away!’’

Her approval meant the world to me.

It was 6pm Aussie time when the plane landed in Tangier. However, here, it was ten in the morning and crowded as hell.

As the plane began its descent, Tangier looked like a tropical paradise - a coastal city along the Mediterranean Sea, packed with people and, according to pamphlets I\d been given, highly historic places that made for good tourism. It looked like my kind of heaven.

I didn\ need to collect any luggage - I had the purse I\d packed everything into hanging on my shoulder. I was sweaty, tired, and uncertain of my next step.


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