AZURA

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I saw her shivering under the rain.

Lightning illuminated the night sky at short intervals, blinding the ominous shape of heavy clouds threatening to explode. Swollen ocean waves were raving and frothing like a giant washing machine, splattering foamy water, which gushed all over the gray sand beach. Thunder growled repeatedly in the background, echoing the most dramatic sound effects.

My cabin was so close to the empty beach that the flashing sparks of lightning outside helped me glimpse her tiny silhouette through the glass window. She stood in the middle of the storm, a short distance from my door. She wrapped her arms around herself and fidgeted like a little wet kitten, her flowing dress whipping in the wind.

My eyes widened. This is madness. Nobody in their right mind would've stayed outside on the beach in this ridiculous weather. This person was either lost or a complete screwball.

I left the half-full coffee mug on the table by the window, wiping my paint-stained hand in an old towel, and grabbed my raincoat that hung next to the door. I slipped it on and hurried outside before the girl turned into a human popsicle

"Hey! You can't be there in this weather," I shouted, standing in the doorway. The tongue-lashing of mother nature was deafening me. Fresh bolts of lightening lit the night sky like fireworks. Crackling of thunder followed my lead as I shouted again, "HEY! What are you doing here?"

The girl flinched and quickly pirouetted to look at me with round eyes. As if the pandemonium behind her wasn't enough to scare her to death.

"I'm waiting for someone, " she yelled, holding herself for dear life.

"In the middle of the storm? That's crazy! Who is this jerk?" I asked as I stepped closer to her, rain drops rapping on my waterproof hoodie.

"Don't say that!" She shrieked, shaking her head. Her eyes glittered like liquid aquamarine in the blink of lightning. They were beautiful. Beyond beautiful. A string of tears disappeared within the rain as she wiped her face with trembling hands and ran her fingers through her soaked hair.

Something tugged at my heartstrings to see how vulnerable she looked. This bastard definitely stood her up. I wondered how long she'd been waiting like this.

"Alright. Alright. I'm sorry. At least come inside. It's like doomsday right now. You'll get sick, " I told her.

She stared at me with a cautious expression, forehead puckered, teeth chattering. Her little body quivered from the cold and the absurdly thin white dress she was wearing.

So, he just told her to wait for him and she complied without a second thought? Without even bringing a jacket? Why on earth...?!

My heart ached to watch a girl like her, so young and fragile, treated this way. Even though she was a complete stranger, I felt a strong urge to protect her from this cruel world, which included this Shakespearean tempest boiling in the horizon.

"I swear, I'm not a perv, or a serial killer or anything. You can wait for this guy inside where it's warmer. I'm sure a jer-- I mean a guy who left you waiting in a storm wouldn't mind if he found you there." I gave her a reassuring smile even though I was being sarcastic. The jerk needed a nice black eye to teach him not to toy with innocent girls like this. Sadly, it was clear he wouldn't show up.

I motioned to the door of the cabin, inviting her in. It was actually more of a cottage since it was made of gray dry-stacked stone. It was the perfect sanctuary for a lone artist like me.

The girl took a few steps to the front door. She stopped in the doorway, looking around and rubbing a hand over her shoulder.

"Come on in, you're freezing. For God's sake, I don't bite." I gestured to the door again.

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