Leah had been looking forward to a weekend at the hot springs. When her boyfriend broke up with her via text message, it ruined the mood for the trip. In fact, it felt like the end of the world. So, when Leah had fled to the top of a mountain path, the last thing she’d wanted or expected to find was a strange man offering her consolation. He was all wrong—but maybe wrong in just the right way. (F/M)
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There was movement at her side. A man and woman were trying very hard to remain still as they held one another, but Leah could tell by their movements that they were having intercourse. Completely against Harbin rules, of course. The man had a narrow, cerebral face and the angle of his shoulders reminded her of Erik….
Leah turned swiftly for the stairs, creating ripples all around her. Carrie, making friends with a group of women, glanced her way as she climbed out. Carrie probably thought she was going to visit the hottest pool, or even the cold dip. But Leah couldn’t. She could hardly breathe right now.
Yet… where could she go? This was ridiculous. She was a calm, rational human being who was going to be a psychologist, damn it. She needed to think things through. Maybe she should get away from people. Right. Leah gathered her resolve, then retrieved her sarong from the changing room and strapped on her sandals. She would hike to that Tea House she’d seen on the Harbin map. The exercise would do her good.
Half an hour later—dusty, panting, scratching mosquito bites—Leah decided she’d been a fool. Now that she was alone, all she could think about was Erik. Hiking up dusty switchbacks didn’t help, either. The thorny California weeds poking into the path were probably filled with ticks. Everything was horrible. She was weak; the pain was so bad that she wanted to die. Leah trembled as she crested another switchback. She was going slower and slower. Maybe she should turn right around and go back down the trail, accept herself as the failure she was.
There was a burst of noise from between the madrone trees and a man slammed onto the path, as if from nowhere. He wore colorful, Indonesian-print pants and massive harry boots that looked like sheepskin, though his sweaty torso was naked. After a second Leah realized that his fly was undone and his penis—prodigious and erect—was sticking straight out like a fishing pole. She shrank at the sight, shocked. He was singing loudly and off key to whatever was playing through bright orange, 1980s style headphones perched over his wild hair. He didn’t even acknowledge her before harrying off into the forest, penis waggling freely, singing at the top of his lungs.
“Weird,” Leah murmured to herself. She stared at his retreating back until the trees swallowed him again.
The path was easier to climb after that. At least the man had given her something to think about besides her own personal doomsday. As her shock wore off, Leah found herself laughing. He’d been so goofy looking. A real individual, California style. She wondered what her mother would say, then grinned. Her mother would undoubtedly worry that he was a pervert and a rapist. Well, he hadn’t done anything to her and now he was gone.