Chapter Four: Stranger in Strangeness
She was drinking a glass of cold Mocha when she saw him. He was handsome. His eyes were sweet, syrupy green. His hair was blonde, and when sun reflected off it, it seemed as if it were shining. He had the palest, smoothest skin. His toned, muscled body was fitted into a tight gray shirt and jeans.
But there was something about him. It was as if she knew him from somewhere.
Yes, she had read enough romance novels about how the main female character met her lover from a former life and all that, but this wasn't the case. She could REMEMBER meeting him, and she KNEW who he was.
She could feel his hands on her, his smell, his passion…all that just by looking at him. Until he turned and looked at her, that is his green eyes rested on her, and they widened slightly. Then a shadow came over them, and he looked away.
He seemed to be catching his breath. What's going on? Ana frowned. What's his problem? But the real thought she was pondering on was… He seemed so different. As if he were in pain. But that's stupid. She shook her head. I have never seen him before, really?
"Ana." A hand clapped onto her shoulder. "You okay?"
Louis probably had been noticed her looking at the green-eyed stranger. She shifted her gaze back on her best friend's green eyes. "Yeah. Just looking out for you. You know, in case any girls came to your side and badger you. At the same time, I still don't know why I am doing this."
He put a finger under her chin and turned her face up toward him. His eyes had that curious look in them again, and he cocked his head to the side. He brushed a thumb across her lips and smiled down at her.
"Don't think about it too much, Anastasia. Not everything has to happen because of a reason." He murmured.
From the corner of her eye, she could see the other green-eyed guy watching her intently. From the back of her mind, somehow she knew… he was angry. Why does it matter so much to her whether he was angry or not?
She drew her attention back to Louis, and decided to experiment. She stood up, and edged closer to Louis. She leaned towards him, and brushed a finger down his cheek. "Of course, they do. I found out why I am doing this… right now. Because of you."
She could feel the stranger's green eyes burning into the back of her head. And she instantly felt guilty. She was not supposed to play like that. Somehow…somehow it felt wrong, now that she had done it. It will hurt him. The thought popped up out of nowhere in her brain. She flushed with color, and hastily gathered distance from Louis, who seemed unsuspicious of what she had just done.
That pained her more. What if he got the wrong idea? She dropped back down in the sofa and sipped her coffee, feeling more uncomfortable every second. Maybe I should go home. To think things over. Before I do anything more stupid.
"Ana, don't think so much." Louis said, his hand sliding passed her neck to her shoulder, caressing her all the way, burning her skin. "I will come back very soon." He pressed a kiss to her forehead and left.
She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, allowing the ice between her teeth to melt and numb her senses.
Her eyes flew open, and there he was. The gorgeous green-eyed stranger. He had slid into the chair opposite her, and was watching her intently. She clutched at the tall glass of Mocha, hoping the icy water would give her a clue as to what to say.
"I am Alexander. And you are… Anastasia." He offered his hand, and Ana extended hers almost instantly.
As his hand touched hers, flashes of memory shook her brain. Alexander smiling down at her, Alexander on a white horse, her hands wrapped around Alexander's waist, laughing. Alexander pulling her into his arms… Alexander….
"Anastasia? Are you feeling okay?" The real Alex said.
She shook herself back to focus, and smiled faintly.
"Sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me today. I should probably go home."
She watched as Alexander's eyes darken.
"Your boyfriend wouldn't be very happy if you leave." He said casually, though his eyes said otherwise.
"It's okay. I mean, who am I to judge?" He laughed bitterly. It baffled Ana, how could a boy she had met 30 seconds ago, laughing so bitterly at her? It was as though…as though he had been cheated on so many times.
"No. No, he's not my boyfriend. I-I don't have one." She stammered, feeling obligated to explain the state of things to him.
Why does she feel like she has to explain her relationship status to a random guy? That's it, she decided. She couldn't go through the morning with her mind jumping from one guy to another. She needed to leave. Now. Before she ended up asking Alexander questions that were totally weird and personal.
She began to stand up, but then Alexander made a surprising move. He laid his hand above hers.
Her eyes snapped towards him in shock. Not shock that he had caught her hand, but shock at how…familiar he had felt.
"Please. Don't leave." He said, almost pleading, looking up at her through his long eyelashes. She found herself returning his gaze, as if messages were being passed through between them.
"Stay?" He whispered.
This had happened before. It occurred to her. Something like this had definitely happened before.
But when? What was happening?
He was still holding her hand, looking into her eyes, pleading with her not to leave.
"I am sorry." She slipped her hand out of his gentle grip and picked up her purse. "I don't think I can stay here," then her mind added casually, "With you," surprising her.
He looked crestfallen. Then his eyes traveled to Louis, who was behind her, wiping glasses.
"Okay. Okay, I see." He said finally. "It's him."
"You don't need to leave." His eyes were flashing in curious anger. For some reason, they didn't frighten Ana. She wanted to put her arms around him and calm him down. Because you are always so reckless and passionate.
"I will." He stood up, looked angrily at her for the last time, and strolled out of the Lounge. She sank down into a chair, still trying to sort out what had happened. Who was he? Where have I seen him before?
Her eyes flickered to Louis, who met her gaze and grinned at her. Somehow, it felt wrong. It felt wrong to have Louis smiling at her…
When it should be Alexander. She moved her hands over her face, and without a word to Louis (She didn't want to talk to him, or anyone else, or anyone who might remind her what happened with Alex.), left the lounge.
The cold morning air cooled her face, and gently flowed her hair behind her. She breathed deeply, and started to think where she was supposed to go.
"Ana?" A hand clapped on her shoulder.
She whirled around, and saw Dorothea Sparks, her best friend and mentor in Church. Her face lit up in a huge smile, and flung her arms around Dorothea, who looked slightly taken aback.
"Dorothea." She murmured into her hair and hugged her tighter.
"Oh, Ana, what's going on?" Dorothea returned her hug with just as much strength. "You look so confused. What are you doing outside the lounge? Are you okay?"
"I…I don't know." She tightened her arms around her best friend. "I need to get away from something."
Dorothea looked very concerned. "Come on. Let's get you out of here."
She guided her towards a Starbucks, and as they walked, Ana felt calmer, now that Dorothea was with her. Her friend always had the ability to calm her. But Ana was still shivering. Not from the cold, but from her encounter with Alexander.
She couldn't help thinking about him, how sad he was, and how angry. He showed so much emotion to a girl he had just met. It was all so confusing.
When she finally came back to her senses, she was sitting opposite Dorothea, her hands clasped tightly on the table in front of her. She drew a deep breath, and Dorothea waited patiently for her to spill out everything that was bothering her.
"I am sorry to be so weird and melodramatic." Ana looked down to her clasped hands.
"What is it, Ana?" Dorothea asked gently, her blue eyes gazing at her in patient concern. "Is it Louis? Did he…did he hurt you?"
"No. Well…it is about him, actually. Kind of."
"So he did hurt you."
"NO! My God, no. He wouldn't. He likes me."
"Oh…" Dorothea's eyes widened in understanding. "You are in love."
"I wouldn't call myself in love…not with Louis, anyway."
"Is there someone else?" Dorothea pressed on.
Ana's mind flew to Alex's angry, desperate face. How painful he had looked when he left her.
Dorothea took her silence as a 'yes'. She sighed, and ran a hand through her ringlets.
"Be grateful to God that you haven't got yourself into a love triangle, Ana." She finally breathed out. "Neither Louis and the other one has confessed to you. So you must do something before either of them does. Choose before they say anything. That's the only thing you can do."