Erin and the Stranger – Part 2

On October 22, 2013, in Romantic Stories, by Katie Finch

What was going on with me?

I couldn’t stop asking myself this as I stood in my bathroom, brushing my teeth the next morning. I wished I could pawn the events of the previous night off as a dream, some pent-up result of too much unresolved sexual frustration. Why was I so into this guy who, even though he was one of the most gorgeous guys I’d ever seen, was a total stranger? There were plenty of guys around me every single day. Sure, many of them were rednecks, bikers, farmers, or some weird combination of the three, but I’d been alone for almost a year, so maybe I should be settling by now. Or at least I should have bought myself a vibrator by now.

Even if that were true, any desire to settle or to remain alone had quickly started to disappear as of last night. I’d thought I was happy being by myself, but maybe I was just comfortable. Maybe it was time to shake things up in my life. And maybe shaking things up would lead me to turning last night’s fantasy with this stranger into a reality — or at least lead to me learning his name.

I put my toothbrush back in the cup by the sink and finished getting ready for work. After running three miles, which I did almost every day, I took a quick, hot shower to get cleaned up again. I covered myself in sunscreen and slid into my “uniform” — a one-piece swimsuit and some running shorts. I twisted my hair into a French braid down the back of my head, feeling like I should take a break from my usual sloppy ponytail.

Work was more boring than usual. All I did at Aqua Adventure was sit at the top of the Jungle River waterslide, controlling the line. That meant I had to do things like make sure no more than two people got on each raft and that no one went down the slide sooner than they were supposed to. Luckily, I was allowed to read on the job (meaning that no one had ever specifically told me I couldn’t), otherwise I probably would have gone insane. So on that particular Friday, I sat in my chair on top of Jungle River, constantly glancing up from rereading World War Z, keeping everything in order.

Then, in the middle of the afternoon, I heard my phone buzz in my purse. I dogeared the page I was reading and closed the book as a couple of teenagers stepped into the little pool at the top of the slide and started to climb into their raft.

“No, wait,” I said to the guy of the pair. “You’re heavier, so you have to go in the back. Okay, now go!” I gave them a cheerful smile as they pushed off down the tunnel. As the guests continued to move through the line, I grabbed my phone out of my purse. It was my younger brother Dustin.

Hey, did you talk to any guys at the bar last night?

Wait, what? How did he know about the guy?

After I replied and told him the sad truth — which was that no, I hadn’t actually met anyone last night, Dustin told me that the man I’d seen at the bar last night had dropped a twenty into his tip jar. But he also dropped a note.

Can’t stay for the whole show, but I’ve got a friend who owns a bigger bar and he’s always looking for more talent to play live. Call me if you’re interested.

So, maybe this guy hadn’t said anything about me, but he wanted to help Dustin out, which was amazing! People were usually trying to shoot Dustin down and telling him he should focus on a “real” career, not giving him opportunities to work towards his goals.

That’s awesome, I replied. When can you play at this new place?

Saturday night couldn’t come fast enough. Dustin’s gig was finally here, and of course, I was there with him. As I got ready that evening, I made a concerted effort to look a little nicer this time, hoping the handsome stranger and I would cross paths. I let my wavy hair down out of its ponytail, donned some mascara, and picked out a blue sundress and sandals.

Still, I was nervous, and since I knew Dustin would be playing the whole time, I wasn’t too keen on spending hours hanging out completely alone in an unfamiliar bar. Luckily, earlier in the day, I’d talked to my friend Molly, who worked with me at the water park, and she said she’d love to come along. I knew that a big part of the reason was that Molly had developed a crush on Dustin a while back, but I didn’t care. In fact, I thought they’d be perfect for each other. Molly seemed like the perfect girl next door when you first met her, but she also had a wild, playful streak.

“I love that dress!” Molly exclaimed after I answered her knock on the door. “It looks so good with your tan.”

“Thanks,” I said. “You look great too!” And she did. Molly and I were sort of opposites — I was blond and tanned, she was dark-haired with a creamy complexion. She wore a red dress that fit perfectly with her cute, curvy figure.

Half an hour later, we were getting out of Molly’s car and walking towards this new bar, which was in the downtown area of Jaunt, North Carolina, rather than on the side of a random road, like Flint’s was. The place was huge, and looked much nicer and more modern than most of the bars in town. The dozens of bottles of liquor behind the bar had lights underneath them, transforming them into a beautiful display.

I spotted Dustin on the stage in the corner, setting up his equipment with the help of a couple of the bar’s sound guys. Soon, he noticed us and waved us over.

“Hey, sis,” he said, giving me a quick hug. “Thanks for coming out two nights in a row.”

“No problem,” I said. “I wanted to see this place you told me about. You sounded pretty excited earlier today.”

But Dustin had already moved on from our conversation — he and Molly were staring at each other.

“Nice to see you again, Molly,” he said. From the way he was looking at her, it was pretty evident he thought seeing her was more than just nice. “Erin didn’t tell me you’d be here tonight too. Oh, hey, there’s someone I want you guys to meet.” He looked over our heads and started waving someone over.

Molly and I both instinctively turned to look, and before I even had time to wonder whether or not this was it, there he was, right in front of me. My heart pounded with sudden nerves. His brown hair was just long enough to be shaggy, and he had an on-purpose five-o-clock shadow that I wouldn’t mind feeling against my neck. His eyes shone as he smiled at us. He looked better than ever.

“This is the owner of the bar,” Dustin said. He was at Flint’s listening to me play last night.”

He extended a hand to me, and I tried to maintain my composure as I shook it. Was I smiling too much? Was I smiling at all? I didn’t even know.

“I’m Marcus Lasley,” he said. “Weren’t you at Flint’s last night, too? I think I remember you.”

I nodded. Maybe this wasn’t so improbable after all. Maybe I really could turn fantasy into reality.


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