Short Story: Fate
I believed in our lives being pre-destined, that there was something out there – somewhere – pulling strings in our existence; something bigger than us mere humans. There was a greater picture.
Destiny. Fate. Fortuity.
I believed in it all. Always have, always will.
It wasn’t a religious thing either, or a science thing. I just believed certain – not all – things happened that created another certain outcome. Coincidences didn’t exist, it was all fate.
It started when I was at the mere age of 6; by that age, I was able to understand simple things in life. Like what 2+2 was and write a three-lined story with a beginning, middle and end. I was in the school play and forgot nearly all my lines and I remember being absolutely confused as to how I could forget them when I had stayed up all night memorizing. Fate was clearly toying with me from a young age.
As I got older, other certain things happened that made me believe destiny played a role in my life.
When I was 16, I wished with all my heart to pass my GCSE maths exam in spite of not studying for it. I honestly despised doing maths; to me, trigonometry was completely irrelevant unless you wanted to do something in the future relating to it. And yet I ended up achieving a B to my surprise. It wasn’t a coincidence because with that grade, I ended up taking maths as one of my A-Level subjects and really enjoyed it. That was clearly fate.
Fate, unfortunately, intervened with my life all the time. Which explained my current situation.
I had just missed my connecting flight to New Orleans, and there weren’t any available flights for another twelve hours; I guess it was understandable given that it was the holidays. And now I was attempting to use Google Maps to find a nearby hotel. I followed the directions and in a matter of minutes, I found myself in front of a hotel entrance.
At Your Service.
Who names a hotel that?
Yet something about this hotel drew me in; it was as if a supernatural force was beckoning me, calling me to step inside. Every nerve in my body told me to push past the glass door. I knew it couldn’t have been a coincidence that I missed my flight. I was drawn here for a reason.
My type of thinking – or rather this type in particular – caused my friends to call me weird and say I merely over-think.
As I entered the hotel lobby, I knew my twelve-hour stay here would be expensive. Luscious ivory sofas sat on the floor, luring guests in and large chandeliers hung from the ceiling, the light illuminating the room. After discussing how long I would be staying and paying, I was given a key card and on my way to the elevator. As I stepped inside, a tall man wearing a leather jacket stepped inside with me. I stood against the cold mirror and pressed the button to my floor.
Turning around, the stranger’s beautiful features greeted me. Mesmerising hazel eyes gazed right back at me, and a small smile quirked onto his perfect cupid bow lips.
“Cole Knight.” He raised his hand out for a shake, and his tone was laced in Italian origin.
I smiled and shook his hand. “Evangeline.”
Cole arched a thick brow. “I’m guessing you missed your flight?”
“How do you know?” I asked back.
“Who would be registering into an airline hotel on New Year’s Eve all alone?” He retorted with a glance at my suitcases and sent me a knowing smirk.
I felt myself smile and rested my head against the cold metal of the elevator wall.
When the elevator pinged open, I hastily walked out, muttering a quick goodbye to Cole. As I searched for my hotel room, footsteps echoed behind me and I swivelled around to see him once again. I raised my eyebrow at him in caution and he chuckled in return before raising his hands in surrender.
“I’m not following you. My room is there,” he claimed and pointed at a door a few steps away from us.
Heat crawled up my neck in embarrassment, and I turned around before I could make a further fool of myself.
My room door was exactly opposite his, and I whirled around to tell him that. My brows furrowed in confusion when I noticed his sudden disappearance. I shrugged to myself, maybe he went to his room. Swiping my key card in, I stepped inside the room. I dropped my bags to the ground and face planted into the comfy bed; satin sheets cooled my skin and enveloped me in a world of blue silk.
I can’t believe I’m spending my New Year all alone. Away from my friends and family in a foreign country. I was meant to be on a plane right now, on my way to New Orleans to meet with my sister and friends. We had all decided to go to New Orleans to celebrate the New Year, only I was the last one of us to go because I had work.
I sat up with a sigh when my stomach grumbled.
No point in dwelling on everything that goes wrong in my life.
Determination surged through my body to make the most of my situation.
I took a shower and used all the luxury products that came with paying for an expensive hotel. After I had gotten ready, I checked the time: 10pm.
I wasn’t just going to sit here; I could have fun on my own. Once I reached the lobby, I made my way out of the hotel. I was absolutely famished, and I remembered seeing a restaurant on my way here. The chilly air startled my warm skin and raised goosebumps along my arms.
Stepping inside, I looked at my surroundings in the dimly lit restaurant. Square tables were scattered around, waiters shuffling between them with trays of food. I inhaled a deep breath, and an aroma of spices engulfed me in a cocoon.
If only I didn’t have to eat alone.
“Hey, blue eyes!”
I turned at the direction of the voice, not really aware of whether the person was calling me or someone else. A lot of people have blue eyes.
Cole Knight was hovering over a table in the corner, his tall frame sat on a chair. The table was so far aside from the rest of the room, I wouldn’t have even noticed he was there. He waved me over, and I stuck my hands into my jeans pockets while making my way to him.
“My name is Evangeline, in case you forgot.” I reminded him.
“I know.” Cole sent me a smile with a twinkle in his hazel eyes and gestured towards the chair across the table from him. “Join me.”
His voice was gentle but held a lure to it as if it demanded attention. It was almost not normal how captivated I became with his voice.
I shook my head. “I don’t want to intrude,” I hastily said.
Cole light-heartedly rolled his eyes, and a smile quirked upon his lips. “Nonsense. And I bet you’re hungry and you’ll be waiting for a table for a while.” He coaxed with a light, cheeky smile; his voice as melodic as a mythical siren.
And as if on cue, my stomach growled; the type of sound that made it seem like I hadn’t eaten in days. I peered up at Cole through my lashes and saw a bright smile playing on his lips. With a playful roll of my eyes, my lips twitched, and I shrugged, sitting down. He had a glass of what looked like bourbon whiskey nestled in his hand and I unintentionally wrinkled my nose at the sight of the drink.
I couldn’t handle strong drinks like whiskey; I was inevitably a lightweight.
He must have noticed me staring at his drink because he offered me his glass, and I instantly shook my head.
“Not the whiskey type,” I explained.
Cole nodded in response. “Let me guess what your usual drink is then,” he offered with a determined look that said he’d guess right.
I raised my eyebrow – it was a force of habit when I became curious – and shrugged. “Go ahead.”
“Alright,” Cole’s eyes flickered over me before settling on my face. “Iced tea.”
This time I raised both my eyebrows in surprise. I always ordered an iced tea whenever I went into bars or cafes; it was my go-to drink. Cole let loose a string of laughter at my reaction – his musical laughs curling over me like a warm blanket.
“You just look like a tea person.” He shrugged nonchalantly with a carefree smile.
“You smile a lot,” I blurted out before pressing my lips together in exasperation.
I just had to say that out loud, didn’t I?
Cole’s friendly smile turned into a grin and revealed his pearly white teeth.
“What’s wrong with smiling?” He asked with a curious spark in his eyes.
I shook my head. “Nothing,” I answered and gave him a smile of my own.
“So, you missed your flight, huh?” Cole said, taking a sip from his glass.
“Yeah.” I nodded with a frown at the reminder of missing my flight.
By five mere minutes; I really hoped something unusual occurred in these twelve hours that suggested I was here for a reason.
“That sucks,” he muttered with a sympathetic smile.
“Have you ordered yet?” I asked.
He shook his head and gestured towards the menu. “Still deciding.”
I tucked a strand of my unruly brown locks behind my ear and grasped another menu from the pile in the middle of the table to browse through. After deciding what we were eating – I chose the beefsteak and he decided on a lobster – I called upon a waiter to order our food.
“I’m just going to the bathroom, can you order for me?” Cole asked, and I nodded in assurance.
The moment I finished ordering and the waiter had left, Cole appeared in his seat again. I had to blink to clear my absurd vision; he appeared suddenly, like magic.
“That was quick,” I commented and rubbed the back of my neck to eradicate the feeling of unease pitting in my stomach.
Before he could reply, our drinks arrived. The waiter settled the two drinks on the table in front of me. After he left, Cole grabbed his glass of wine, his whiskey forgotten and cast to the side of the table.
“So, where were you headed?” He asked.
Cole’s eyes gazed into mine and I had to blink to shake off the hypnotic trance I fell under. It took me a moment to register his question.
“I was going to New Orleans,” I answered.
By the time I had finished my glass of iced tea, I had learnt a lot about him. His full name was Cole Mitchell Knight and he was only a year older than me: 25. He passed his bar exam last year and is now a qualified lawyer. His mother is Italian, hence the slight accent but grew up in New Jersey. Lastly, he has two siblings: an elder brother and a younger sister.
“You’re so lucky you have six siblings. Both of mine are married and busy,” Cole stated.
I chuckled and rolled my eyes. “Trust me, it’s not the best having so many siblings. It gets quite annoying.”
Cole chuckled at my retort and glanced down at his watch. His thick eyebrows furrowed and his lips pursed. “They’re taking awfully long to get our food.”
And as if the restaurant itself heard him say that, the same waiter as before approached us with a tray of food. As he settled the food down on the table, the waiter shot me a weird look I didn’t quite understand, his eyes flickering between all the food and back to me.
“So, tell me about yourself, Evangeline Stone,” Cole stated the moment the waiter had gone.
My eyes met his hazel orbs; his unrelenting gaze holding mine captive as he gave me his undivided attention.
I shrugged. “What’s there to know? I’ve told you all I can.”
Cole shook his head at me, a chuckle escaping his lips. “All you told me was your name, age, that you’re a sports journalist and how many siblings you have.”
“Well, there’s only so much I can tell a stranger,” I remarked and he narrowed his eyes at me in return.
With a playful glint in his eyes, he pointed at himself. “Me, a stranger?” He feigned a gasp. “It’s been over an hour since I met you and I’ve learnt that you like iced tea and prefer red velvet cake over chocolate, which is ridiculous by the way. See? A stranger wouldn’t know that now would they?”
A grin played on my lips at his words, and I laughed at his cheeky know-it-all smirk.
“Alright, fair enough,” I said, the smile not leaving my lips. “What do you want to know?”
“How did you become a journalist?” He asked, curiosity shining in his hazel-honey eyes.
And suddenly my hands became clammy in the way his eyes studied me. His thick lashes fluttered, and the genuine interest in his tone brought a grin to my lips.
“Well, I actually always wanted to be a school coach,” I revealed and laughed lightly when Cole’s eyes widened in surprise. “I know, I don’t seem like the type to want to be a coach. But I’ve always been interested in sports; I was in my school’s football and basketball team and the captain of the dance team.”
Cole nodded, and his eyes gleamed in intrigue. “That’s why you specialise as a sports journalist?”
I continued to tell him why I became a journalist, and he then indulged me in the reasons why he became a lawyer.
I knew I shouldn’t have been revealing any personal information about myself to a complete stranger, but then again, I was sitting here – comfortable and laughing – with Cole. He didn’t feel like a stranger. I may have met him only a few hours ago but I was enjoying his company.
“So you decided it would be funny to cut a hole in all her tops.” I convulsed with laughter and nearly choked on my oreo cheesecake.
Cole drank the rest of his wine and nodded. His eyes danced in silent laughter. “Well she annoyed me, and she’s my sister so I knew she’d forgive me. Plus I was only twelve!”
I chuckled and glimpsed at my phone to check the time.
“Shoot, it’s 11:45 already.”
Cole glanced at his watch at my announcement. “Fifteen minutes till midnight,” he confirmed.
Fifteen minutes until it was a whole new year.
And I was spending it with Cole: a perfect stranger.
The restaurant began to buzz with excitement as voices mixed with laughter and waiters began to serve free desserts in celebration of the New Year. Glasses clinked and the air mingled in enthusiasm and anticipation as midnight got closer.
My gaze turned towards Cole. His hypnotic hazel eyes locked with mine. A smile graced his lips, and he ran his fingers through his hair.
“I’m glad I get to begin the start of a new year with a person like you,” Cole said quietly, his voice barely audible that it melded with the sounds around us.
My hands abruptly became clammy all over again, and I felt the heat rush to my cheeks; I was glad that the lights were dimmed.
Early the next morning, I made my way into the hallway outside my room with my packed bags. I left my suitcases pressed against the wall and exhaled a deep breath before raising my fist to knock on Cole’s door. He informed me last night that he too was leaving in the morning and that we could head to the airport together.
I frowned when the door eased open after my fist made contact. I hesitantly poked my head inside the room.
“Hey, Cole, it’s me. Your door is open,” I called.
I was met with silence. I further stepped into the room, and my brows wrinkled in confusion when I noticed his room was empty. The room was a replica of any hotel room but none of his belongings were there: no bags, no messy bedsheets, no him.
Understanding dawned upon me that maybe he had left already and I quickly went down to the lobby with my bags. After searching in the lobby for him, I went to the front desk where a receptionist sat behind.
She smiled when she saw me. “Hi, Miss Stone, are you leaving?” she asked.
“Yes, but that’s not why I’m here. I was wondering if you could tell me where Cole Knight is?” I asked and briefly peered down at her name tag: Wendy.
Wendy’s features contorted into one of confusion.”I’m sorry, but I don’t know anyone called Cole Knight.”
“He was in the room opposite mine, room 12.” I pressed on.
Wendy nodded before typing on her computer. When she glanced back up at me, she shook her head. “Room 12 hasn’t been in use for a few days now, Miss Stone. And there is no Cole Knight on our system,” she informed.
A nervous laugh escaped my lips. “What are you talking about? That doesn’t make sense. I ate dinner with him last night and saw him go into the room.” I stated, my voice laced in complete puzzlement.
Wendy’s expression matched mine as she scanned through the computer once again. “No Cole Knight appears on our system.”
I stared at her for a moment in utter bewilderment before nodding absentmindedly and walking away.
Last night’s events flashed through my mind as I attempted to comprehend the situation.
There is no Cole Knight on our system.
“I’m not following you. My room is there,” he claimed.
He was in the elevator with me. He was there at the restaurant when I didn’t want to eat alone. Coincidence? I think not. He appeared out of thin air after the waiter left. The waiter’s strange looks. The haywire feelings that engulfed me whenever I was with him. His non-existence in this hotel.
All of this had to have happened for a reason.
Cole Knight, who are you?
And why has fate tangled your life with mine?
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