First chapter of my romance/crime novel.
|"Stay there!" Someone called as Mira reached the edge of the large playing field. The grass recently cut ready for the summer holidays where kids would be out enjoying recreational activities in the sun and parents waiting for the school term to start again. Intrigued Mira looked up to see a cricket match was taking place and someone was motioning for someone else to stay put on the field. She carried on walking along the path and found a shady spot under a tree to settle down and watch the game.
The batsman nearest her, wearing full cricket attire with a red cap had his back to her and held the cricket bat with both his hands ready to hit the ball. The other batsman positioned facing her stood ready to run once the ball had been hit. The other players; dotted around the field were wearing shorts and t-shirts. The bowler ran forwards and threw the ball across the pitch in an overarm throw. 'Crack' the ball hit the bat and flew diagonally across the field, past a guy who wasn't paying much attention to what was going on and rolled to a stop a few feet behind him.
"Ben get the ball." One player called.
A guy wearing a white t-shirt and red shorts ran towards the ball, picked it up and threw it back using an overarm throw. The bowler caught the ball and repositioned himself ready to throw again. The batsmen who had hit the ball had run to the other wicket and swapped places with the other batsman who had now positioned himself ready to bat at the other wicket. She turned her attention to the fielders with great interest, examining their positions in the field and noting how far apart they were from each other and the batsmen.
Mira swung her legs around and pulled her knees up to the chest, then wrapped her arms around her legs and sat in this position for a while, before resuming her original position. She was not used to having to sit on the floor. She spent most of her days sat on a swivel chair behind her desk in her office. Mira kept looking around for a free bench, but they were all taken by families also watching the game.
"Aleksi," Someone called. A familiar name. Where had she heard this name before? She looked from player to player, but could not tell if she knew any of them from that distance. That's it! An old colleague had, had a boyfriend called Aleksi and she said it meant ‘defending man’ or something like that. Was that him playing out there? Looking around the field and not seeing anyone familiar, she assumed it must be someone else. Defending man. She could definitely do with a man who would defend her in life. She had been single for three years now and was definitely ready to meet her Mr Right. She had dated a few men from various dating sites and had a few one night stands which were fun, but longed for something more. Something deeper. A connection and a life long companion.
One player ran across the field and positioned himself opposite where Mira was sitting. He stood with his legs in line with his hips and watched the ball from his position ready to catch it should it come his way. He was tall and thin, but his facial expression was hard to read from her position at the side of the field.
Mira focused her attention back on the game. Another guy had taken up the batsman position and was standing ready to hit the ball. She watched the bowler throw the ball and the batsman hit it. A strong urge came over her and she glanced back at the guy in the field to see he was smiling at her.
Mira smiled back at him and watched him turn towards her, puff out his chest and look her up and down. This made her giggle and blush. It's not every day a cricketer takes an interest in her.
The sound of crying broke Mira’s attention. Turning away from the game, she saw two boys sitting on a football pitch facing each other. Walking over to the boy who was crying, she crouched down and asked "What’s wrong?"
"I fell and hurt my arm." The boy sobbed.
"Let me I have a look? I'm first aid trained."
The boy looked at his friend, then gingerly held up his arm for Mira to check. It wasn't broken and after reassuring him he would be okay, she left them and turned her attention back to the game. The players had moved to the other end of the field. It must be a half time break she assumed.
Mira’s stomach rumbled and remembering she hadn't eaten since lunchtime, she started towards home. As she reached the edge of the field, she looked back and saw someone walking towards her. Was it the guy who had been eyeing her up earlier?
Frozen to the spot she could not move. Why? Fear? Interest? She did not know. She watched as the guy turned around and game play continued. Phew!
Relief rushed over her body and she quickly turned her back on the field, rushed down the path towards the gate and walked home. Why had she frozen? What had made her fear the person coming towards her? Was it fear? Did she secretly hope it was him who was walking towards her?
Once back in her flat she slipped off her sandals at the door, dropped her bag in its usual place on the floor under the radiator and made her way to the kitchen. She prepared her evening meal, opting for a healthy pasta and salad dish, then settled on the sofa to eat. She flicked on the television using the remote and found something to watch whilst eating. Partly for company, but mainly to drown out the deafening sound of silence in her flat.
After eating, Mira went outside to smoke. She never smoked inside as did not like the smell of stale smoke when it lingered around in her flat. Standing on the pavement and inhaling the menthol nicotine into her lungs, she felt a wave of relief and satisfaction, that only an after dinner cigarette could bring. Listening to the sounds of the evening she could hear cars on the road in the distance, music coming from a neighbour's flat and the sound of dishes clattering around. Turning towards the sound of the dishes, she could see a man in the house opposite was washing up and wondered if he did that voluntarily. Having been single for three years she wanted a man like that and was hoping she would meet him soon.
Mira watched the man for a while as he stacked the plates in the drying up stand with bubble covered hands, then made her way to the local shop. A short walk down the road and back was often enough to keep her from insanity. Stopping outside the shop to stub the cigarette out on the bin, she felt a presence behind her. As she turned around, her path was blocked by someone standing on the pavement.
"Hello" He smiled. "I saw you in the park an hour ago?"
An attractive man in his thirties, about six foot tall with brown eyes and no hair, wearing a black t-shirt, light blue jeans and black trainers was standing with an inquisitive expression on his face.
"Oh yes! Hi” Startled Mira managed a half smile. “How was the game?"
"It was okay. We lost overall to the other team. I think I got distracted." Looking away from Mira up the road then back at her again.
"Oh I'm sorry."
"No, it wasn't you. I lost my focus for a second. Nothing major. I will concentrate more next time."
"Do you play here often?" Mira cringed as she realised it was the most clique of questions she could have asked.
"I joined the cricket team a few weeks back. I've got friends round here who introduced me to their club. You into cricket?"
"No. I actually went to the park to read my book, but when I saw the game was on, I was intrigued and thought I'd watch for a while."
"Fair enough. I'm Aleksi." He held out his hand and Mira shook it.
"Thanks." Mira blushed. She gazed at him for a short while whilst twirling a strand of her long brown hair around the index finger on her left hand.
“Were you going in the shop?" He broke the silence first moving his hand towards the shop.
"Yes, that was the plan." She smiled.
"Sorry I didn't mean to stop you from that!" He looked down at his feet then back up at Mira. “I was wondering if you fancied going out sometime?”
“Sure. Take my number.” She said handing him a small rectangular business card from her jeans pocket. What did she have to loose?
He took the card and put it in his back pocket and they smiled at each other on the pavement for a few seconds, then Mira walked around him. "Call me!" She called over her shoulder as she pushed the door open and stepped inside the small corner shop.
A few minutes later, Mira emerged from the shop with a can of lemonade and Aleksi had gone. That was weird! An hour ago she had seen this guy in the park and now they had bumped into each other on the street. Was it fate that had brought them together. Was it meant to be? Was he the one? Only time would tell.
Back at her flat, she put the lemonade in the fridge and filled the bath with hot water. She dropped a lemongrass bath bomb into the water and lit the candles around the edge of the bath. Switching off the light, she undressed and laid back in the bath to let the warmth of the water surround her. Closing her eyes, she inhaled and exhaled concentrating on her breathing. The pleasant aroma of lemongrass entering her nostrils and helping her body relax.
Reflecting on the day that had gone. She wondered what Aleksi was doing tonight. Whether he had gone somewhere after the game or just gone home? Where did he live? What was his place like? What did he do in his spare time apart from play cricket? Who were his friends? What did he do for work? What music did he liked? What films did he watch? Did they have anything in common? Did he think she was attractive? Would he call her and when?
Mira opened her eyes and watched the candles flickering in the darkness, their shadows jumping up and down on the wall behind them. She sat up and massaged shampoo into her hair before plunging under the water to wash it out. She repeated this for the conditioner, then used the pink bath scrunchy to wash her body with lemon shower gel. Mira thought it was important to take pride in her physical appearance, so continued with her usual routine.
When finished, she pulled the plug out of the bath and watched the bubbles swirl down the plughole. As she climbed out of the bath, she could feel the cold air enveloping her naked body making goosebumps appear on her arms. Grabbing the large bath towel off the heated rail and wrapping it around herself, the goosebumps receded. She placed another towel on her head and wiped her hand across the surface of the mirror to clear away the steam that had covered its surface. She could see her reflection staring back at her. Her skin soft and her pores clean of any impurities. Looking good she complimented herself with a smile. Blowing the candles out she plunged herself into darkness and fumbled around for the door handle.
After dressing in her Belles Fleurs pyjamas and using the hair drier, she sat on the edge of her bed and checked her mobile.
Hi Mira. Hope you had an awesome day? Are we still doing lunch tomorrow? I'm looking forward to hearing how you are getting on. Message me back when you get this. Daniel
She text him back...
Hi Daniel. Yes, I had a great day. I met someone. I'll tell you about it tomorrow at lunch. Riverside Club, at twelve thirty, OK with you? Miss you. Mira
'Ping.' The reply came straight back.
Oh, WOW! That's great news. I look forward to hearing about it. Yes twelve thirty at Riverside is great. See you then. Miss you too. Daniel
Mira called Lottie afterwards to tell her about meeting Aleksi in the park and get some advice about what to do. She knew Lottie would be excited and encourage her to go for it before she even dialled the number. Lottie always supported her and was a good friend. They talked for an hour, then after setting the alarm on her mobile for seven thirty and placing it on the bedside table, Mira climbed into bed to read her book. Life is for learning was the next chapter and she had definitely been learning lots of life lessons over the past few months and was sure to learn a lot more.