The Opportunist
Author:Tarryn Fisher

The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

 

The Present

 

I am Olivia Kaspen, and if I love something I rip it from my life. Not intentionally…not unintentionally either. I see one of them now; a survivor of my tainted, acrid love. He’s a hundred yards from where I stand, flipping through old records.

 

Caleb. His names rolls around my head like a barbed ball, slicing open feelings that have long since become scar tissue. My heart tries to punch its way out of my chest and all I can do is stand and watch him. It has been three years since the last time I saw him. His parting words to me were a warning to stay away. I suck sticky air into my lungs and try to rein in my sloppy emotions.

 

I want to go to him. I want to watch the hate surface in his eyes. Stupid. I start to leave and I am almost across the street and to my car when my feet fail me. The sharp tingle of agitation crawls up my fingertips. Clenching my fists I march back to the window. This is my side of town. How dare he show his face here.

 

His head is bent over a cardboard box of CD‘s and as he turns to look at something over his shoulder, I catch a glimpse of his offbeat nose. My heart clenches. I still love this boy. The realization scares me. I thought I was over it. I thought I could handle something like this; an impromptu run in. I’ve had therapy; I’ve had three years to…

 

 

Get over him.

 

Fester in my guilt.

 

I muck around in my emotions for a few more seconds before turning my back to the music store and to Caleb. I can’t do it. I can’t go back to that dark place. My foot is lifted to step down from the curb when the clouds that have been lurking around Miami for a week suddenly groan like old plumbing. Before I get two steps, the rain is assaulting the pavement, drenching my white shirt. I back up quickly and huddle underneath the music store’s awning. I stare at my old Beetle through the strands of rain. Just a short run and I’ll be on my way home. A stranger's voice interrupts my moment of escape. I pull back, not sure if he’s speaking to me.

 

“The sky is red-means trouble.”

 

I spin on my heels and find someone standing directly behind me. He is closer than what is deemed socially acceptable. I make a surprised sound in my throat, and back up a step. He is at least a foot taller than I am, all muscle, though not in an attractive way. He holds his hands at an odd angle with his fingers tensed and spread apart. My eyes are drawn to a mole that sits like a target in the center of his forehead

 

"What?" I shake my head, confused. I am trying to peer over his shoulder to catch a glimpse of Caleb. Is he still there? Should I go in?

 

“It’s an old sailor’s superstition.” He shrugs.

 

I lower my eyes to his face. He looks vaguely familiar, and, as I consider telling him to screw off, I try to remember where I have seen him before.

 

“I have an umbrella.” He holds up a floral thing with a plastic handle in the shape of a daisy, “I can walk you to your car.”

 

I look at the sky, which does appear to be a dusky red, and I shiver. I want him to leave me alone and I am about to tell him so, when I think- What if this is a sign? The sky is red-get the hell outta here!

 

I study the chipped polish on my thumbnail and consider his offer. I am not one for omens, but he does have a way to keep me dry.

 

“No, thanks,” I say. I jerk my head toward the store behind me, and realize I had already made up my mind.

 

“Okay. Hurricane’s coming, but suit yourself.” He shrugs again and steps out into the rain, not opening his umbrella.

 

I watch him go. His broad back curves against the downpour like a ledge for the rest of his body. He is truly huge. In seconds the rain has swallowed him and I can no longer see his silhouette. I know him from somewhere but surely I would remember such a large guy if I had met him before. I turn back to the shop. The sign above the door reads Music Mushroom, in bright curlicue letters. I look beyond the glass and search the aisles for him. He is right where I left him, his head still bent over what looks like the Reggae section. Even from where I am standing, I can make out a slight furrow in his brow.

 

He can't make up his mind. I realize what I am doing and cringe. I don't know him anymore. I can’t make assumptions about what he is thinking.

 

I want him to look up and see me, but he doesn’t. Since I don’t want to lurk underneath the awning like a creepster any longer, I gather my guts, compose myself, and walk through the door. The air conditioning is icy against my damp skin and I shiver. I spot a tall shelf of bongs to my left, duck behind it, and I pull out my compact to check my make-up.