A ‘Perfect’ Stranger

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Somehow, Autumn had snuck up on me. It seemed like just yesterday I was wearing sleeveless shirts, Capri pants, and sandals. The sun blazing from the crystal clear blue sky. The breeze, hot and heavy, full of humidity, that did little to cool you if one had to spend more than a few seconds outside. Heat so cumbersome, I could hardly drive with the top down in my new convertible, and when I did, I got a sun burn to prove it.

However, the dog days of summer were over. The cooler, crisp air had settled upon us. Which was fine by me. Darkness drove the sun down behind the horizon a little earlier, the kids were back in school, and already stores were advertising Halloween decorations.

My how the past year had flown. The break up, the new job, the holidays, the seasons… as I reflected back, I realized that it was a blur. Oh well, as they say, you’ve got to leave your past behind you.

I headed for the kitchen, and grabbed a mug out of the cupboard, pouring myself a cup of coffee. Gingerly blowing at the liquid’s hot surface, I walked back to the living room. I took my charcoal colored sweater off the back of the easy chair, and set my cup down long enough to pull it over my jeans and black long sleeved tee-shirt. I had my black boots on, and thought I looked pretty damn cute. It’s a shame that the cuteness was wasted on my day off.

I picked up my coffee and a sheaf of papers that were on the table, and headed for the patio. Pulling the sweater tight around my body, I curled my legs under me on the bench, and set out to read the monthly inventory sheets. I wrote down what I needed to order the next day, and other things that came with running a beauty shop. I sighed when I realized I’d have to go out in public after all. We were out of orange wood sticks to do eyebrow waxes with.

I was about halfway done with only a few swigs of liquid caffeine left to go, when my cell phone rang. It was Alyssa, one of the girls that works for me.

“It’s me, I have like, seven waxes on my book today, and no sticks! I hate to bug you, but I can’t get out of here to go grab some!” She said, sounding stressed.

“Hey, ‘Lys, calm down. I just realized that. I’m just about to head out and grab some. I’ll be there within the hour. Just take a deep breath,” I laughed into the receiver. Lord but she was high strung sometimes!

We hung up, and I headed back into the house. Running up to my room, I checked my reflection in the cheval mirror. Frowning, I took off the sloppy sweater and the shirt, slipping a red light weight sweater on in lieu of the tee. Smiling at myself, I grabbed the eyeliner off my make up table and put some more on for good measure.

I skipped down the stairs and caught my purse by the strap as I stepped through the entry-way. Flipping off lights as I went, I locked the doors and headed out to my car, shivering in the chilly air. The sun was permanently lodged between the clouds. Starting the engine, I headed for the beauty supply store as if on auto-pilot. Finally arriving, I went in, got what I needed, paid and hurried back to my car. Destination- work. I hoped they weren’t busy. I was in desperate need of a day off. The whole thing. All to myself.

Sighing as I pulled into the parking lot, I hoped that the majority of the cars weren’t of the people inside waiting. And I hated that I felt honor bound to stay and help.

“You’re a lifesaver!!!!” Alyssa came charging towards me, grabbed the bag from my hand, and ran back to her station. Chuckling, I headed for the front desk, realizing that the customers were all taken care of.

I got the money bag out of the drawer and got a deposit ready, then walked over to the bank, bringing the girls back change so they wouldn’t have to worry with it. Deciding I’d done my good deed for the day, I was about to leave.

I glanced up, looking through the glass front of the shop. An attractive man walked to the front door, paused, then pulled it open. I almost turned and ran, lest I get sucked into working.

“Hello.” He said expressively, flashing a smile that showed perfectly straight, white teeth.

“Hi. Did you have an appointment?” I asked, my eyes traveling over his chiseled features.

“No, actually I didn’t. A friend of mine comes here, and told me I should start coming to one of the girls. Her name is Talya. Is she around?”

My heart leapt into my throat as he mentioned my name.

“Oh? Who referred you?” If I wasn’t mistaken, I thought my voice wobbled a bit.

“Chris Matthews.”

“Oooh yeah, good ole Chris,” Giggling, I extended my hand. “I’m Talya, it’s nice to meet you…..?” I let the question hang.

“Drake.” He said, the rich baritone of his voice sliding up my spine, until I felt the hair on my neck stand up. His hand firmly clasped mine and it was warm and smooth. I felt a shot of electricity flow from my palm up my arm and down to my toes.

He released my hand, and smiled again. My heart slammed into my ribcage.

“Oh, anyhow. I’m actually off today, I just dropped by to drop some stuff off, but I can go ahead and cut-”

“No, no- you go home and have your day off. From what Chris has said, you work non-stop. I’ll make an appointment for tomorrow.”

“Aww, that’s very sweet of you.” Heading for my station, I grabbed my book and brought it back to the desk. “You know, most people would have jumped in my chair, without a second thought. That’s very noble of you to tell me no.” I looked up at him and smiled.

“The general public think only of themselves. But I don’t know if I’d go as far as noble.” Drake said with a laugh.

We set up his appointment, lingering for a few more minutes, and he finally cleared his throat.

“Look… Talya.. I know this might be abnormal. But I was wondering if, since you’re off, you’d like to go out for dinner.” Drake’s eyes bore into mine.

“I.. I’d love to.” Scribbling my address and brief directions down on a business card, he said he’d pick me up at seven, and with a smile he exited the shop.

Staring after him, I watched him get back into his Mustang, and heaved a sigh as he pulled away from the curb.

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