Unexpected

Sequel to Snowing, Along the Seine


It was December, winter was almost upon the city, and she was in Paris.

Three of her favorite elements, and she should have been feeling a deep satisfaction and unbridled joy.

Instead, she found herself walking aimless along the streets of her favorite city, half marveling at the familiar sights and half sighing in longing.

She wasn't quite sure why she was feeling so melancholic. Was it the Christmas season, or the sight of lovelorn couples snuggling close to each other for warmth as they emerged from the underground Metro stations?

It was due in part to homesickness, she knew; she had never spent Christmas away from her family before. However, this year, she'd been forced by her boss to make an emergency business trip to Paris to placate a client. She had been due to return home the day before, but heavy snowfall meant that all flights out of Charles de Gaulle had been cancelled. The airline had given no other information on when they would be able to depart, so she had resigned herself to spending Christmas alone.

If she was honest to herself, it wasn't that big a tragedy that she was in Paris at Christmastime. She'd always wanted to spend the year-end festive season picking out decorations along the Champs-Elysées. But there was something missing… someone to share the experience with, perhaps?

A face automatically appeared in her mind at that thought, and she smiled, remembering their last email exchange. He'd asked her to describe her favorite holiday season, and she had painted a vivid picture of the snowflakes around the Eiffel Tower.

He'd teased and called her a hopeless romantic, but later confessed that her words tempted him to experience the sight for himself.

She wasn't quite sure how their relationship had progressed this far, although she wasn't quite sure where she stood in that aspect. They had a friendship, that was certain; and she was willing to go as far as to say they were close.

It had started as a chance meeting during dinner with mutual friends, and the underlying attraction – oh, she was honest enough to admit that she had been attracted to him since the first time they met – led them to keep in contact through text messages and email.

They spoke on the phone once in a while, but he was usually so busy traveling that she didn't want to impose on his time. They fell into a pattern of words after a while; their email exchanges making up for the lack of physical verbal communication.

She wrote in her usual prose style at the beginning, and his replies sometimes confused her until one day, she realized he had been using Google to translate her English into Korean. She'd had a good laugh over the translations, but after that, she resolved to use simpler words.

But she longed for more than just mere friendship.

Somewhere along the lines of words, she had fallen in love. Never in her wildest dreams did she ever think that falling in love with a celebrity would happen to her – and not just a fan girl sort of infatuation but a deep yearning for the man underneath the superstar veneer.

She'd held back from confessing her feelings, although she'd come close once or twice and sometimes she added veiled messages in her emails to gauge his response. Most came back non-committal, and she was painfully aware of the numerous reports of his involvement with other actresses and models.

Hence, she'd held herself aloof, not daring to take that leap of faith in case he rejected her. It was easier to keep her feelings hidden, then to risk his silence if things took an awkward turn between them.

She looked around her, noticing the crowds thinning out. The Pont Alexander Bridge rose up before her, the magnificent statues cutting an imposing figure amidst the whitewashed skies. She walked to the middle of the Bridge, ignoring the curious gazes of the passing French.

City monuments came into view, but she focused her attention on the Eiffel, far beyond the buildings yet no less a commanding structure in the midst of Parisian grandeur. She rested her elbows on the railing, and her chin atop her hands, content to simply stare and enjoy the sight.

She'd never really understood why people felt Paris was the most romantic place in the world; after years spent there as a student, she knew there was so much more to the city than just romance. It was where dreams were made, where dreams were shattered; and where the glamour of Fashion Week mixed with the seedy underbelly of the Pigalle brothels.

It was this juxtaposition that she particularly enjoyed; the luxury offerings together with the poor public housing on the outskirts that really intrigued her. Christmas blurred those lines, creating a common atmosphere of hope and joy that was shared across the social classes.

The cold had begun seeping through her bones, despite the multiple layers of clothing and her favorite scarf shielding the wind from her neck, and she decided it was time to return to the warmth of her hotel. Her phone had yet to ring, which meant flights were still cancelled.

As she turned in the direction of the metro, a tall black-clad figure caught her eye. Like her, the figure wasn't rushing – and didn't seem to be heading to anywhere in particular – but was instead strolling in the cold.

Her eyebrows rose as she approached the figure, her senses tingling at the familiarity.

It couldn't be, could it?