2. First glance
Ariana stood at the front of the class, watching her year ten English class as they seemingly discussed whether George was truly guilty of shooting Lenny from the novel ‘Of mice and men’. Dressed in a black pinafore, black tights and a long sleeved shirt, she looked every part of a grammar school English teacher that she had become. Being a private investigator had been her long time ambition but with her past, that clearly had gone out the window. Although she never intended to go into the occupation, it was an ordinary job, something that was away from the spotlight and normal, unless there was some sort of scandal. Surprisingly, she was a good teacher and the kids never misbehavior. Well, that was one of the perks of teaching at a private school.
‘'Okay, so what have you decided, guilty or not?'’ she asked and in some ways questioned herself as she went back to the day of her escape. Was she guilty of shooting Juned or had it really been an accident? Uncle Kamal and his goons had failed to find her so far. At the slight chance that they were close, she would be on the move. Ariana had an informant; an informant who was Aisha, Uncle Kamal’s only daughter, who warned Ariana when to pick up and disappear.
It was amazing how years could fly by; like water running from a tap. One moment she had been in Saltburn-by-the-sea; a beautiful, quiet little town near a blue sea, and the next she had graduated from university. Unsurprisingly not at Oxford where she had been supposed to go. She had shared a room with her now best friend Ellie. It hadn't been that difficult to get a new identity. Ellie was one person who she had remained in contact with, but a distant one. She and Ellie had a mutual understanding of not talking about their past which immediately allowed her to become friends with her. Their pasts were a clear no-go area.
Ariana had shopped around for disguises which had been rather fun. In Newcastle, her hair was deep mahogany red; in Cornwall, natural blonde; in Saltburn-by-the-sea, midnight blue; in Gloucester, deep cherry brown but this time it was caramel brown, closer to her original chestnut brown hair.
She had adopted different personas, met different people and learned so many new things. It was adventurous and a chance to experiment greatly. But soon the packing up and unpacking became tiring and she no longer wanted to do it anymore. Some people did it their whole lives but she certainly couldn’t. Her parents had been more of the settling type. After all, Ariana had spent her entire eighteen years in a four bedroom detached house. They went on plenty of holidays but home was home. God, how she missed them and her old, carefree life.
Besides her university days, although this location was far from the city but close enough to the local town, she had finally found a place that she felt slightly at home in. It was off the map and a place where people hardly knew existed. The small sense of security that she felt had kept her here, along with her busy job and well-paid salary.
On a cold winter Friday, Ariana left earlier than her usual time as she had finished her set work and there was no need for her to help out anywhere after school. Usually, she stayed on after school as long as she could, helped whenever and wherever: anything to avoid her silent, lifeless home. She had set her classes their assignments and the next pieces of marking were due in two days. So, it was movie night tonight. She wondered what she would be watching with Kitty, her ever-loyal, grey-eyed adorable kitten, and companion. Who needed men when you could have a pet who would never betray you?
Ariana tied her cream trench coat closer, put on her black fur faux cassock hat and leather gloves and prepared to battle the cold weather to get past the empty parking space, to her black Mini Cooper. Her prized possession. Yes, it may not be like the glamorous silver Aston Martin V8 Vantage SP10 that she had just walked past, but it was hers. The boot of the car opened and she shoved in the half a dozen folders, which had been killing her arms. As she walked round the front of the car, she took off her annoying glasses, which was also part of the disguise and shoved them in her tote bag.
Suddenly, a fierce gust of wind caused her beautiful soft hat to go flying and her loose chignon to become untied. Leaving her hair flowing halfway down her back, she chased after the hat in her court heels. Just in time, she grasped hold of it before it went near the drainage. Ariana stood up and that’s when she felt a strong gaze. Somehow, she didn’t feel suspicious or threatened by it, because surely Aisha would’ve warned her by now.
No, just an electrifying stare which automatically caused her heart beat to go crazy and her cheeks to heat up. Was that even possible? To get noticed? In the last few years, she had become pretty good at becoming invisible. It all started with the outfit, and her outfit categorised her as a poor, dorky, old teacher and did not cause second glances. She considered her current humiliating situation and realised that it was possible for someone to stare at her as she had shrieked, run after a flying hat with her hair flying: like a madwoman.
Keeping her head down, Ariana patted her hair down. Thank God she had blow dried it in the morning. She walked casually back to her car pretending that she had not done any of that. But the staring continued. It was coming from the direction of the Aston Martin. But there was one problem, Ariana avoided eye contact at all costs. It led to trouble. It caused her to become self-conscious, feel awkward and analysed and wonder if she had a boogie in her eye or a flake of dry skin hanging from her nose? Even when she conversed with someone, she failed to maintain eye contact for more than a few seconds. It was better that way and men got the idea that she wasn’t interested. However, in that moment she just had to see her onlooker. One glance, she said to herself.
She looked up and turned towards the direction the stare came from and regretted it immediately as she automatically broke one of her rules: the rule of no staring. The only person in the car park was an unbelievably hot man who was looking into his Iphone and not at her, as he stood next to the gorgeous silver Aston Martin. He looked like a Calvin Klein model or he clearly belonged there anyway. He had short dirty blonde hair, the expensive, fitted grey suit dressed his lean, muscular body and a black tie was loose around his neck. She couldn’t see his eyes as they were shaded under Ray bans but immediately wondered what color they were: blue seemed obvious, but green or grey? Where they the warm, bright, the serious type or was he cross-eyed?
She shook head at the thought of it. Why was she thinking about a random guy’s eyes when she obviously won’t ever get that far? Despite this, she continued to watch him, his muscular biceps flexed as he started speaking into his IPhone. Ariana found herself silently praised God for granting her brilliant eyesight and praying that she fell in love with someone as amazingly looking at him with brilliant eyes, intelligence, someone who was true and faithful. She always specified her prayers and wishes. A man may be good-looking but what if he was dumb, boring or unfaithful? This guy boasted elegance and wealth from every angle. Then she remembered that Roseville Academy was a fee-paying top-notch private school; where rich kids attend. This guy was the stuff of her imagination and... nothing was ever going to happen. She laughed at herself. She was far, very far from the Cameron Diaz looking teacher from ‘Bad Teacher’ and it was all her own doing and that was the point: to shield her identity and not cause second glances.
With a sigh, she got into her car before he caught her eye-boggling him. God created everyone marvellously; everyone was beautiful in their own way but this guy; she felt deeply attracted to him, something she had never before felt so strongly, so quickly.
On the other hand, she reminded herself that even if the guy had looked at her, it was probably at her expense, laughing at her, entertained by crazy lady running madly after a hat. As normal as she wanted to be, she couldn’t, she had to keep her guard up. It was better that she forgot about him and wiped him out of her mind like every other guy that she came across. Ariana realised that she was probably going to die alone.
Despite this, she had a feeling that somehow, somewhere she was going to see him again; or maybe that was just her wishful thinking.
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