Standalone story (in series) #1
She has a perfect plan. A new city. A new job. New acquaintances. And most importantly: life without a man!
Will he disrupt her plan?
The shop door opens and I snap out of my thoughts. A dark-haired man comes in. His knee-length winter coat emphasizes his muscular figure, and his attitude and appearance suddenly dominate the entire space. Our eyes meet. He’s looking at me intensely, penetratingly, and for far too long.
I manage to regain my senses and greet him with a cut-and-dried salesperson’s greeting: “Hello. How may I help you?” He nods an acknowledgement, and only then looks away, proceeding in huge steps towards the shelves of men’s shoes, where he reaches out his hand. He takes a brown, high-top shoe which balances perfectly between the elegant, and casual style. It’s one of the latest models, which arrived in the shop several days ago, and my personal favourite.
Hmmm... A nice choice.
I shake my head, feeling awkward as I realise that I’m following his every move. Moreover, I approve of his selection. I keep my hands busy by pointlessly replacing trinkets on my counter, and then smoothing out an already perfectly stacked heap of business cards.
“Where can I find this same model, only in black?” He asks me in a deep voice, without a trace of kindness. His indescribably masculine voice causes an unpleasantly-pleasant shudder in the lower part of my back. I raise my head and my eyes meet his. His dark irises rivet mine. We’re staring at each other, again for too long. I feel my dormant insides waking, reacting to him. My breathing is shallow, my heart beating fast.
The curiosity in his eyes is replaced by a raw male arrogance which says unequivocally: Another notch on the list of conquests! I detest male arrogance. It takes me a few moments to regain my composure, then I blink in confusion.
“So? Cat got your tongue?” He breaks the silence as he goes on watching me, arrogant and smug.
He waves the shoe right in front of my nose, reminding me of the question he asked a little while ago. I take a deep breath, and purse my lips angrily at his impertinent act, before concentrating and answering coldly.
“Over there, the same model is on display in black.”
“I wouldn’t have asked you if that were the case.” He goes on in his impertinent, arrogant style.
I don’t understand his behaviour, but I have no wish to argue. I stop in front of the shelf and look over the models. I frown because I do not succeed in finding what I’m looking for. I work alone, and I don’t understand what could have happened to the shoe. I’m certain that I didn’t move it, and I know for sure that it was there. I turn around the shop confusedly. And lo and behold! The shoe that Mr. Arrogant’s looking for sits among the women’s discounted sandals. I am not a frowner by nature, so I smile and bring him what he’s asked for, forgetting his ungallant behaviour.
I give him the shoe and raise my eyes. My smile freezes, I stop breathing, and my heart dances again to a quick rhythm when I meet his dark eyes. There’s no arrogance, he just examines me calmly. Blood is rushing through my veins, I feel like I’m burning, and all my nerve endings become terribly aware of his presence. He looks perfectly calm and controlled as he stares at me insistently, and without blinking. Then he looks down, lazily.
“That’s it. I mean, a suitable model. And colour. But not a suitable size.” He says, and the haughty smile returns to the corners of his lips. Fed up with his manners, I snort. He laughs loudly, obviously amused by my reaction. Embarrassment overwhelms me, and I feel my cheeks burning.
“So, what size do you need?” I ask curtly.
“Well, I need a 44.” He returns, imitating me. He smiles broadly. It seems that he is amusing himself at my expense. Nervously, I march to the back of the shop and find the required size.
“Here you are.” I say officially and hand him the right shoe.
He covers my fingers with his while taking the shoe from my hand. My skin burns. Strange, powerful vibrations shake my entire body. This accidental touch makes my heart beat madly, and my lungs wail for air. I take a deep breath, raise my eyes but remain breathless. He’s looking at me seductively. My reaction to him has not escaped his notice. It makes him so happy. That touch was no accident. The jerk! He did it on purpose!
I want to run away, as soon as possible, so I turn on my heel.
“I want to see the label with the product details.” He says.
I look at him over my shoulder, confused, then move to hand him the box, which he could easily have taken himself. I stand beside him patiently and wait as he reads very carefully.
“Is there a problem?" I ask.
“I’m just checking."
“Whether they were made in China.” He says coldly, and then raises his eyes to mine.
Made in China? What an asshole!
“We sell only Italian stuff." I say sharply.
He smiles, his eyes fixed.
“Oh, look at those claws. I hope you’re well paid." He speaks in a voice which shows clearly that he doesn’t believe what I say. He’s provoking me, goading me with his smile, his look, and with the way he addresses me. I count to ten, then frown, turning the box upside-down to show him the embossed label: Fatte in Italia.
“Made in Italy’s written on the box and inside the shoe as well.” I speak briskly.
He bends his head lightly, furrows his eyebrows and studies the inscription carefully, examining the letters devotedly and seriously. I lose patience because this seems to be going on for an age.
For God’s sake, it’s as if he were decoding hieroglyphics!
He shrugs, looks at me naively, and says more innocently: “I had to check, since I don’t speak Italian.
He doesn’t... he doesn’t speak Italian? What a jerk!
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