04 | damsel in command

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d a m s e l   i n   c o m m a n d

Here was the thing about chance encounters – they were never really as coincidental as you thought they were.

As a kid, I used to believe in fate, and when I got older, I tried my best to cling onto that belief, that fate (or some other cosmic power in the universe) gave people the opportunity to chance upon the same things again and again.

And again – as I soon found out.

It was a Wednesday; exactly four days after I'd met Miles. Not that I was counting but – well, who was I kidding, really? I was. I couldn't help but worry about him. Perhaps it was a little odd how protective I felt about Miles.

Maybe it was the fact that I hated seeing people get hurt, be it emotionally or physically so. Or maybe it was the fact that, no matter how intelligent or educated he was, he carried a particular innocence about him that I wasn't used to seeing in most people.

I saw it in his eyes, in the way he talked, how he couldn't lie to save his life, how shy and insecure he was in front of people.

Who knew what he was up to these days? Who knew what kind of hazing his fraternity had put him through again? Although, according to him, nothing had happened thus far. Things proceeded as per the usual, but that was precisely what worried me.

This was the calm before the storm.

And I knew just how big of a storm it was going to be, when it actually happened.

But even while thoughts like this plagued me, the hustle and bustle at Wavelength soon distracted me. And I found myself thoroughly grateful for this distraction. I threw myself into my job; not only because I wanted to keep myself occupied, but also because I actually liked working at Wavelength.

So did my cousin, Marcel, who was working with me that Wednesday. Her mum had arranged for her to work at Wavelength during the summer, and since we were desperately short-handed, my parents didn't mind at all.

After all, we were family and you didn't say no to family.

So when Marcel offered me her tube of sunblock, it was difficult for me to actually say no. But I did anyway, since at that moment, I was busy counting the change for my last customer, and I didn't want to get distracted.

"You're going to get burnt brown at this rate."

Handing the customer his change, I thanked him for patronising Wavelength, before turning to Marcel, a confused frown on my face. "What's wrong with getting tanned?"

She shrugged. "Nothing's wrong. Just that you'll get uneven tan lines all over. I mean, if you want to get a proper tan you should take off your clothes."

Silence descended between us, the kind of awkward, uncomfortable silence one never got used to, no matter how familiar we were with each other.

"Naked?" I squeaked, at last, hardly able to believe my ears.

The smile that widened on her face was insanely similar to the legendary Cheshire cat's. "Yes."

While I was a relatively confident person – meaning I didn't shy away from making new friends or from meeting strangers, things like these – Marcel took confidence to a whole new unfathomable level.

Staring at her in abject horror, I involuntarily took a step back, placing my hands up as a form of defence mechanism. "I'm not going to parade around naked on the beach."

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