Lora sat quietly on the balcony of the villa. Her feet tucked up next to her on the bench as she gazed out at the view of the city sipping her glass of Verdicchio. The bottle packed into a bucket of ice next to the bench, cork haphazardly pushed back into the neck.
“Do you mind if I join you?” The question was polite as it intruded into her serene moment of silence. Lora looked up to find a man standing behind the bench waiting patiently for her reply.
“Yes.” She said dumbly, clearly caught of guard.
“Oh…okay, I’ll go sit somewhere else.”
“Oh, wait!” Lora called as he turned to leave. She slid her feet off of the white cushions. “I’m so sorry. I meant, yes you can join me. I don’t mind at all.”
“Oh, well, still…” He replied a little flustered. “I didn’t want to disturb you.”
“Not at all. I was just…” Thinking about your ex? Yeah, sure. That would be smooth, Lora. She sighed at her inner monologue. It always had a habit of scolding her before she even said anything stupid. Look at him. He’s handsome. At least try to act normal please. “…contemplating life.” she finished finally.
Smooth. Her thoughts were sarcastic as she mentally smacked herself in the forehead. The man, however, chuckled in response.
“It’s okay. That’s what I was looking to do too.”
“Well then, you are more than welcome to join me, Mister…?”
“Caufield. Barry Caufield.” He shook her hand firmly.
“Charmed Mister Caufield. My name is Lora, no last name for now.” She chuckled scolding herself for her brash guardedness.
“Well Ms. ‘No Last Name of Now’,” He winked at her his hand lingering in hers, “What has got you in existential disarray?”
“It’s nothing anymore.” Lora replied quietly trying to mask the hurt in her eyes. “The better question, Mr. Caufield, is what doesn’t send me into existential disarray as you so aptly put it.”
“I can understand that.” He mused chuckling slightly. “So then what has caused it this time around?”
“I really don’t know that, that is something to be discussed with a handsome stranger, but if you must know…”
“Please. Nothing scares me off that easily, and besides it’s not good for a beautiful woman like yourself to bottle things up.”
“I…” Lora sighed deeply debating whether to continue, her inner monologue telling her not to, but he had asked so that would be fine…right? “I decided to runaway from my problems and I’m contemplating whether that helped or just hurt more.”
“Hm…well I could sit here and say that it doesn’t do well to dwell on such things, but I would be quite the hypocrite if I did.” He smiled half-heartedly into his lap. “See the thing is, I did just that as well. I decided it was easier after breaking things off with my ex to travel and distance myself from everything in order to heal.”
“We seem to have a lot in common Mister Caufield.”
“Please, call me Barry.”
“Well, Barry we have a lot in common. I was struggling with the fact that he was moving on and having such an easy time with things.” Lora looked at Barry, something igniting within her. Something familiar yet something she hadn’t felt before. “For me it felt like climbing a mountain, barefoot in the snow with a rope around my waist to drag me down.”
“That’s oddly specific, but the imagery is beautiful if not a tad funny.” He held his fist in front of his mouth stifling the laugh that was apparent in his eyes. She tried to be upset, but found herself genuinely laughing with him.
“It was meant to be a depressing image, and I want to be mad at your mockery,” he opened his mouth, she assumed, to apologize, but she gestured for him to hold on, “but you make an extremely valid point. All I can picture is myself flying backwards at inopportune moments by a pull string.”
They both laughed at the absurdity as Lora retrieved the bottle of wine from the ice.
“Would you like some? I think they left me an extra glass.”
He nodded and thanked her as she retrieved the glass from underneath the bench, filling it and handing it to him. They sat drinking and talking, unaware of the sun fully setting and the full moon rising over the cityscape.
“You know it’s interesting.” Barry said finally drawing his gaze away from Lora to look up at the moon.
“What’s that?” Lora asked following his gaze. The sky was a wash of navy and bits of lavender. Stars shone brightly around the face of the moon.
“This seems so natural, talking to you I mean.” he replied softly. “So…so…”
“Familiar.” She finished for him turning her eyes away from the stars to find him looking at her a little awed by her words. His blue eyes shone brightly in the moonlight and she felt recognition in her grow as he leaned forward. “I feel it too.”
“It’s like I’ve known you my whole life.” He said brushing a strand of golden hair behind her ear. He let his hand drop, looking ashamed. In that moment Lora wanted nothing more than to feel his fingers on her face once more as he pulled away.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have…”
“It’s okay.” She said sliding closer to him biting her lip slightly wanting to kiss him more than anything. He leaned in closer to her looking unsure of how he wanted to react.
“I don’t want you to be some rebound girl.”
“I don’t want that for you either.”
“Then maybe we shouldn’t.” He whispered. They were practically entangled in one another as they inched closer with every word.
“Then we won’t.” Lora’s voice didn’t sound like her own. It sounded breathy and ridiculous in her ears, but she didn’t know how to control it.
“God, I want to kiss you so badly.” He ran his fingers through her hair. “Can I kiss you? Nothing more. I promise. I just-”
She placed a finger over his lips to stop his gentlemanly rambling. Her eyes met his and she realized she was biting her lip again.
“I thought you would never ask.”