I grabbed my phone out from the bag.
“Put your phone away Harper, you not going to need it.” Eric said slyly.
“You see that man sitting at the fountain across from us.” He nodded at the direction in front of him. I looked and saw a short man with curly brown hair sitting on a wooden bench eating a sandwich.
“Yes...” I slowly said, scrunching my nose.
“Rule no. 1 – Throw yourself out there! Go talk to him... chat him up.” Eric said with ease, that stupid smirk on his face.
“What?! You did mean putting myself out there like registering on more dating apps right?” I laughed a nervous chuckle.
His smirk grew into a devilish grin. “No... more like approach 3 guys and talk casually to them.”
“Easy enough, right?” He mocked.
My eyes bulged.
My heart pounded three times faster. “I’m sorry but absolutely not. I’m not going up to some random stranger and chat him up.” I said, having a complete panic attack.
“Take it easy Harper. It’s part of putting yourself out there. You need to build confidence to approach strangers and have a casual conversation with them. I’m not saying going jump in the sack with him or talk marriage vowels.” Eric said. “It’s an effort to do something you have to do, even if it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable.”
I shook my head and crossed my arms. Refusing to do his ridiculous exercise.
He took a sip of his coffee. “Meeting people can be stressful, especially in your case.” I rolled my eyes briefly at his stupid comment. “This is just the test to break your shyness. To meet people organically and not behind a screen.”
I began to fidget on my charms again.
He looked at me and noticed my hesitance. “What do you have to lose? What’s the worst the guy could say?.. Get lost? And besides we agreed to this?”
I frowned and looked towards the direction of the man. “What do I even say? The poor man is having lunch for crying out loud.”
“Talk about the weather? Sitting at the fountain looks really relaxing? Say hi? Anything.” Eric said, as he outstretched his arms, resting his hands behind his head. Advising me like it was nothing.
I breathed out and looked at the man seated at the fountain and chewed the inside of my lip. He seemed harmless enough. “Okay I’ll do it!” I blurted out gaining sudden courage. I bit my bottom lip regretting the decision instantly.
I could do this, couldn’t I? It’s no big deal!
Eric smiled and watched me get up. “Go get ’em Hermione.”
My eyes narrowed at him. “If you must know, I’m house Ravenclaw!”
He rolled his eyes.
“And I’m just proving to you I’m not scared to speak to random strangers.” I said. Which was a complete bald face lie. I was terrified and nervous! My hands started to feel sweaty as it clammed up and sweat heated my upper lip.
“Come on. I’ll be here watching you.” Eric amused sipping his damn black coffee and grinning like he was about to watch the football playoffs. But I wanted to prove to him I could do this and do this with ease. I was professional after all. I set the short man as a goal that I needed to complete. That didn’t make me feel better having an audience especially from the infamous playboy Eric Bolton.
I walked steadily, straightening my buttoned-up collar. My eyes tunneled vision to the man seated on the bench. I turned behind to see a smirking Eric, his fingers on his strong jaw, watching intently. An involuntary shiver spread down my spine. My stomach was a pit of nerves.
Sugar! I wanted to back out, but Eric was watching I didn’t want to look like a wuss.
As I approached closer, the man had just finished eating his club sandwich. I stood in front of the short brown-haired man and cleared my throat, my hands clasped behind my skirt, he looked up at me, my shadow blocking his sunlight.
“Hello there.” I said.
The man looked to the right and then to the left of him and then up at me. A frown on his chubby face. “He-llo.” He said confused.
I looked up to the blue afternoon sky. “Nice weather we’re having huh?” I chirped. “It’s so bright.”
The man looked at me like I grew two heads and looked up to the sky too. “Yeah, the sun usually does that.” He said with a frown.
“Yes, of course, because the sun is a big... ball of gas... in outta space.” I said completely awkward while swaying my hips with a plastered smile.
The man looked like he wanted to get up and leave. He pulled his mouth. “Sorry I’ve gotta go. Work and all.” He said awkwardly.
“Oh yeah! So, what’s your name-”
“I gotta go.” The man stood up quickly and walked just as quick, not without a second glance behind, watching if I was probably following him.
My smile fell into a frown. Jeez! how rude, I thought. I slapped my hands to my sides and spun around and marched back to the café where I found Eric trying to conceal his amusement.
“What the hell was that?” He pointed to the fountain in a business-like manner.
“The guy had to go somewhere.” I replied in defense.
“The man couldn’t get quick enough away from you Harper. What the hell did you say?”
“I talked about the weather, like you said?” I replied, throwing my hands up in the air. I wasn’t going to go into detail about the burning sun! I sunk into the small chair, blowing out a hot breath and crossed my arms.
Eric sighed and got up. “You stiff as a board. You need to ease up.” He came slowly behind me. firm large hands touched my shoulders. Eric began to massage my shoulder blades gently. My eyes popped open at his firm touch. I swallowed hard. His touch was warm, it was firm but tender. No wonder most women fell for him. I Almost understood... Almost.
“You need to relax.” He continued smoothly.
But I stood up breaking his touch.
“You choose one to talk to.” He said.
I scanned and saw a medium height good looking man walking slowly past the café. A book under his arm. Hmmm, my type of guy.
I hurried after him.
I followed the man, trying to catch up to his somewhat energetic strides. He quickened his pace ahead of me and so did I. Jeez this guy is fast, he was walking so slowly before. Suddenly he was walking with speed, turning his head to the side every so often. I began to politely jog, trying to catch-up to him. I made it, my hand reached for his back but the man turned swiftly around. His body almost bumping into mine.
“What’s your problem lady?” He said irate. “Why you following me?”
“Oh sorry, I just wanted to chat with you?” I answered startled.
“Does it look like I wanna chat.” He said, rolled his eyes and huffed away.
He whisked off with my mouth agape. Goodness! Are people no longer friendly? My mouth turned into a frown yet again.
I walked back to the café where Eric was standing outside the entrance, his hands in his pockets. His shoulders shook with light laughter as he shook his head.
Great! I looked like a complete fool in front of my boss. How humiliating!
“Some life advice Harper.” He called out as I approached him tight lipped. “Don’t go chasing people down if they’re running from you.”
I scoffed in annoyance.
He placed his heavy muscled arm across my shoulders and gripped it. His expensive cologne engulfing me. My eyes popped open briefly. “That was a sight to behold. Like sending a baby chicken out to fly in the world.” He chuckled.
“First of all. Chickens don’t fly and I’m glad I could give you a laugh!” I said evenly. “I think that’s enough putting myself out there for today.”
“Come come now Harper, you’re doing great. I’m impressed you doing it at all. You got guts. I like that.” He said.
I hid a smile, my shoulders still tucked under his arm, close to his tall masculine body. I felt unexpectedly safe. “Okay one more.” I finally said.
I scanned the grounds and saw a man standing against the wall near a Greek restaurant, typing on his phone. He was tall, not as tall as Eric. He had a jeans and t-shirt on with blonde wavy hair. He looked chilled, I thought. Eric let me go under his grip. His warmth was missed, reluctantly.
“Go get ’em tiger.” He mentioned as I walked up to the gentleman.
I stood beside the man and took out my phone pretending to check something. I glanced up at Eric who was looking on. My eyes snapped to the man next to me. He hadn’t noticed I was standing there.
Story of my life, I secretly thought.
I cleared my throat. “Hello” I greeted shyly.
The man caught my eye. “Hi.” He smiled.
Yes! a smile... finally.
“I’m meeting a friend for lunch here soon and I haven’t been here before.” I said. “Do you know any good restaurants we could go to?”
He smiled. “Sure, Plaka is quite good, just had lunch here.” He pointed to the Greek restaurant beside us.
The chat was short and sweet, as the man, named Thomas suggested all the spots to eat.
He waved me goodbye, and my smile widened from ear to ear. I’ve never in my life done such a thing and I was quite proud of myself. I even got his number for crying out loud. Never in my life!
I returned to where Eric stood, the afternoon sun playfully heated my skin as I basked in it, as if I was walking on its sunshine. I smiled at Eric, and he smiled softly back, giving me a thumbs up. “10 points to Ravenclaw!” He teased and lightly applauded me. “Now you can practice the rule in your personal life. You see it ain’t so bad. If you get rejected just keep it moving!”
I playfully dusted my right shoulder off, feeling quite chuffed with myself, even though not all my efforts were that successful. “You’re not wrong.” I said.
“Am I ever?” He said cockily. “Let’s get back to the office. Lessons are done for today.” We walked side by side as I re-capped the successful conversation.
This number one rule wasn’t too bad. Maybe Eric was on to something after all.
As you can tell, I’ve always been a huge Potter head!
Fun Question, which house at Hogwarts do you belong to?
P.S. check out my Instagram to check which one I picked!