I stood alone, as my usual. I wasn’t sad about it. Didn’t mind my solitude. It was a relief, in fact, after a week of forced socialization on this tour. My grandmother had assured me that it would be revolutionary. That it would change “my entire outlook on the world and everything in it.” She’d offered me a free trip to Europe as a graduation present. I wasn’t going to argue about what it would do for me. I just wanted to go. See something amazing.
And I had, of course. But everyone else was at least ten years older than my eighteen. They didn’t quite know what to do with me, and my grandmother had insisted I take the trip alone. She wouldn’t explain why, really. Just kept saying that’s the way it was meant to happen.
Like this was destiny that scheduled this, rather than her checkbook.
Without realizing it, I discovered I had walked within a few yards of the tall stranger. He was gorgeous, I’ll give him that. With unfashionably long hair that brushed his shoulders and blue eyes that reminded me of summer grass.
I nodded. “How do you know my name?” Suspicion goes through my mind. “Did my grandmother send you here?”
A smile curled across his lips. He couldn’t be more than a few years older than me, but he had the air of someone much older. “No, she did not. Though I imagine she expected us to meet.”
“Because sometimes you can’t escape what’s meant to be.”
I took a step forward, even though a small part of my brain screamed it was a bad idea. “Do you practice being all mysterious and creepy, or does it come naturally?”
He laughed. “I suppose a little of both?”
I sighed and shook my head. “Well, while I’m sure you’re great and interesting, I think its time I head back to my group.”
I turned around, only to be stopped short. The manicured lawns and gardens that were filled with gawking tourists before are empty. Only the wind in the trees whispers around me now.
A hand curls around my elbow. “There’s a reason your grandmother sent you alone,” the stranger says. “Now it’s time to see where your future lies.