Despite the strict no from her friends, she allowed it to happen. She allowed the protective walls surrounding her little world to crumble down to pieces, thus exposing herself and her seven year old daughter to the dangers of the real world. She allowed a man, a total stranger in her life, even though many years ago, she had promised herself that she would not let another man in her life. Lauren’s father had left when she was not even a year old. He was a little too ambitious to live a family life. Since that day, Sara had taken care of her daughter on her own. Along the rough road she had made quite a few good friends, whose advice meant a lot to her. It was the advice of these same friends that she had ignored when she had taken the decision to walk into the open arms of Samuel.
Living on the little island, she owned decent acres of property on which she had built a cottage and converted it into a B & B. Sara’s friends helped her with the maintenance and the accounts. Rest of the job was done by paid workers. She had worked hard day after day to create a children’s play area to the left of the cottage whereas the right side of the open ground was well mowed into a lawn. A few tables spread across the area for the customers to have their evening coffee, looking at the wonderful sunset. The workshop at the backside of the cottage was where Sara spent most of her time, doing something which no one was allowed to know. All in all, she was well settled. She deserved this peaceful life after going through the rough time she faced after the man she had loved had left her forever, to face the slaps of life, single-handedly.
Lauren was happy. Her little world meant everything to her. She went to a good local school, played with children of her mother’s friends and sometimes helped her mother with the B & B. If, knocking on the doors early in the morning to wake up the customers, can be called doing work! Everyone loved her. A few families even took her with them whenever they went sailing. Of course, Lara took care that she was always with the right kind of people. The hotel business was growing on the island and a couple of new hotels had opened up close to her little cottage but Sara was happy. Even if she did not get many customers, she got the decent ones and the money that poured in was enough for her and her daughter.
It all started one afternoon when Samuel set his foot on Sara’s property. It was off season when he walked into the B & B. Sara, as usual, was busy working in the workshop. Lauren was playing alone in the playing area and three of Sara’s best friends were relaxing on the chairs in the lawn, sipping their coffee and their feet resting on the table. It was a pleasant afternoon, the sun, for most of the time was covered with dark clouds. Lauren was the first one to see Samuel walking the slope towards the gate. She hopped out of the swing and ran to the main door to ring the bell announcing the arrival of a guest. The three women straightened immediately, surprised to see a man walk towards the cottage. By the time Samuel reached the cottage, Sara, dressed in her overalls was already walking towards the man. That was when the cyclone hit her life and she was swept off her feet. It was love at first sight, all over again. The man had striking resemblance to Lauren’s father. He was as tall as David, had an athletic body. Same eyes, same hair. But it ended right there. The face of this man was distorted like the doll whose face someone had tried to fix but had failed miserably. Despite the large scar across his face, which just missed his right eye, he did not look scary. Sara, herself a mess, stared at the man for a little more than the comfortable time. The man stared back at her for equally uncomfortable time. His eyes bore deep through her flesh into her soul and tickled her senses. The sound of clearing of throats made them look away from each other.
Almost at the same time, another head appeared at the gate. Sara recognized him immediately. He was her favorite amongst all the guides. Sara knew she was taking undue advantage of his feelings for her because of which he always brought his customers to Sara’s B & B instead of taking them to other luxurious hotels who promised to pay him huge amounts for customers. But, Sara also believed that he understood her like no one else did. He respected her decision of not getting involved, at least not in near future. That did mean he was still hoping she would change her mind about him. She wondered for a moment as to how he would react if he came to know that she had chosen this complete stranger over him, Him, the person whom she knew for the entire time she had been on this island. He was the first person who had interacted with her, first person who had guided her when she was directionless. First person who had been a friend to her! She wondered what he would say if she told him that her heart had done a somersault when she had seen the muscles of the stranger’s arm tighten under his white shirt as he had folded hi arms across his chest waiting for the guide. She mentally slapped herself on the forehead for thinking what she had been thinking. What was wrong with her?
The guide wiped his forehead and stared from Samuel to Sara and then back at Samuel. The situation had become like one of the scenes in a silent movie where the entire conversation was carried out using the eyes instead of the lips. He was not the kind of person who could take the awkward silence and hence he carried the luggage past the group of people staring at each another and walked to the reception desk where he pressed the call bell. Immediately everyone was back to business. All the ladies rushed inside to do their duties. That left Samuel in the company of Lauren. Like her mother had, Lauren was staring at the stranger, too. Samuel smiled. She smiled. He held out his hand and despite her mother’s warnings to stay away from strangers, she took his hand in hers and walked with him to the reception desk. Despite the scar on his face, Lauren did not find him scary.
Sara’s throat tightened on seeing them together. Samuel and Lauren walking in together through the front door strangely looked similar to the scene she had visualized when she was pregnant. The tightness spread to her chest and gripped her heart and the pain was evident in her eyes. This stranger had been on her property for not more than a few minutes and she was already comparing him to David. She had already, indirectly, given him the permission to make her cry.