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An Unexpected Stranger

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Keys clattered against the old brass door handle outside, he’d heard no car pull up so the sudden sound of movement surprised him somewhat. Not knowing whether to greet the stranger at the door he hung back, deciding it was safer. After what seemed like a long time, someone fell through the door, hushed cursing rattle through into the living room and Jason decided a helping hand might be appreciated.

Her hair fell into her wind rushed cheeks, suitcase stuffed, rucksack hanging on her left shoulder and bulging handbag full of clothes, she inched her way into the hall, trying to close the door behind her. A sock was precariously balanced on the top of the open handbag and without a word Jason reached out to save it from freeing itself and landing on the Victorian tiling.

“Thanks” She chuckled, “I don’t even know your name and you’re helping me with my underwear already”. Unsure on whether she found this amusing, pink flushed up Jason’s neck and across his cheeks. He could feel the amusement rise in her as she noticed his embarrassment. He was tall, very tall, and behind the embarrassed flush she could see his blood was a mixture of a European punch, spicey, dark and alluring. With arms like his she laughed to herself , he could help with her suitcase later.

"Nina”, She stuck out her hand from her elbow as she balanced her handbag on the suitcase. With still no reply, she figured she had already managed to offend the helpful guy who was obviously as nervous as she. “ Sorry, I didn’t mean to tease, it’s just been a bit of a struggle from the railway.”

She smiled a toothy white smile and her eyes crinkled and glittered from the bright lighting in the hall, a smile which read she was truly sorry and happy to meet him. He smiled also.

Jason wasn’t sure where the railway was, but he figured it was about half a mile, and with this amount of luggage couldn’t believe she had managed it single handily.

“Jason”, he said continuing to smile, “ I’ve nabbed the top room, but when you choose which room you want give me call and I’ll give you a hand” he offered, he’d forgiven her for her teasing which she was relieved and she shone out another smile in appreciation.

“Cuppa’?” He added as he disappeared down the hall into what so assumed to be the kitchen."SURE", she called back "no milk, no sugar, not too strong!".

The stairs creaked, and Nina made a mental note to figure out a path in which it made the least sound so when she returned late from the library it wouldn’t disturb the others. The hand rail was rickety and the carpet dirty, but it was still better than what she had come from, and for this she was relieved.

The second largest room was also on the top floor but overlooked the unkempt garden, littered with an old sofa missing its cushions a television with no screen, forgotten bottles and weeds growing through the cracks in the paving stones. The walls were bare a dirty cream colour with old fashioned cladding the paint peeled in the corner to le left behind the door, and she let out a sigh, she intended on making this liveable and a second mental note was taken down, buy paint. Placing her hand bag on the centre of the wooden floorboards she smiled, it wasn’t so bad and the large bay windows were pretty, even if the view wasn’t currently.

Nina he thought to himself, pretty name , oh, and that smile. The ease with him as a stranger had almost knocked him off his feet, the authority in her tone when she'd instructed him on how she liked her tea. He'd given her ten minutes and decided he couldn't wait downstairs any longer. Then looking down at the two mugs he realised he'd let the tea go cold, and he'd been thinking for far longer than ten minutes, and put the kettle onto re-boil. When was the last time he'd been unable to concentrate. Whenever it was, it was a long time ago and that unsettled him.

?Nina sat up, startled, she'd fallen asleep with the door open, she must have felt safe enough to. Was it the house, pure exhaustion or maybe the fact that there was someone else there, and that someone else had arms strong enough to carry her suitcase over his head, using his little finger. She giggled out loud at her frivolous thoughts.

Moments later, once the kettle had boiled for the second time Jason decided to find the beautiful stranger. She sat ,eyes closed in the room opposite his on the top floor. Leaning against the wall head back, and her hair had slipped off her porcelain face to cover her shoulders. Jason coughed to announce his arrival, and she smiled, her brilliant teeth sparkling, eye crinkling smile, which he thought he wouldn't mind getting used to seeing, regularly.

"Tea, no sugar, no milk, not to strong" he mocked her tone without thinking. He hadn't meant to tease it just had come out naturally.

"Why thank you kind sir" she giggled, his insides flipped, "Did you go out to buy the kettle especially", he breathed a sigh of relief at her comment, he was forgiven, but the amount of time it had taken to make a brew hadn't gone unnoticed ,and he blushed for the second time.

What was happening to him!

He sat down next to her with enough room to place his mug, she smiled again took the mug from him and thanked him with a kiss on the cheek, Jason flushed. This time he could feel the heat in his face which tripled the embarrassment! She smiled, not mockingly, kindly, and for this at least he was greatful. The way in which she managed to make him feel him feel however, he was unsure how to deal with it. They sat without speaking for a long time, it was not an uncomfortable silence though, it was restful, calm and welcoming for both. She moved closer to him, laying her head on his shoulder.

"Thank you", she whispered. And without being entirely sure what he was being thanked for he decided not to question it, simply moving his arm around her, and they sat.

***

Nina didn't understand why she had felt the need to thank him, and if he asked she would say it was for the tea, as she herself hadn't quite worked it out yet. She was comfortable here with this rugged stranger ,which scared her. She didn't trust people she considered to know well ,so why was Jason different. She didn't no, but decided to let herself just relax, and started to drift off.

Jason noticed the sleeping beauty on his shoulder and chuckled. Carefully moving the mugs out of harms way he lifted her into his arms. She hadn't woken, yet she clung to him with what he thought must have been all of her force, Her arms tight around his neck and her legs tense. Gently hushing her like a baby ,she relaxed slightly. He looked down at her her body now peaceful, but her expression was tense, worried. He hushed her some more and her face melted. Wondering what it was she had to worry about, and wondering if he would ever find out, he layed her on the bed. Currently the only piece of furniture in the barren room. He folded the other half of the blanket over her and crept out.

This was going to be an interesting new start, he was sure.



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