Greek Love Series: Book 1
EROS. noun | \air – ohs\
Greek word translated to English as passionate love or romantic desire
If I had known I would come face to face with death that morning, I would have stayed home and it would have been the worst decision of my life. Fortunately, I couldn’t see the future. What I would see that day would be nothing less than supernatural.
More tired than usual, I stood at the yellow safety line on the underground train platform, waiting for my morning commute to school. Perhaps that explained why I took so long to hear the yelling coming from my right. The commotion interrupted my daydreams.
Two men ran in my direction, one chasing the other. Before I had a chance to react, the first man was already running past me so close that the rush of wind blew my long hair around my face. He nearly completed his pass when his arm reached out to shove me.
I hadn’t been directly in his path and the push seemed more forceful than an accidental swinging arm. Maybe he shoved me in an attempt to distract his pursuer. Whatever his reason, I hadn’t expected it so it threw me off balance and I stumbled past the yellow line. I teetered for a moment, leaning toward the edge of the platform.
The second man ran past before I regained my balance. His body bumped my backpack, and that was all it took for me to lose my balance again. I realized with horror I was falling off the platform. My arms flailed, desperate for something to grab ahold of. Time slowed. My arms continued to flap as if I could fly myself out of this predicament. At that moment, I realized an express train was coming down the tracks.
My body had twisted backward as much as possible in mid-air to no avail. There was nothing more I could do. I wasn’t sure if the train would arrive before I completed my fall or after. Either way, I knew we would collide.
I squeezed my eyes shut, unwilling to watch the horror film before my eyes. I would die a coward. Death was coming for me and I was too afraid to face it.
In the back of my mind, I registered that something touched my hand, but not until the wind of the train breezed past my face did I realize that something or someone yanked me backward. I turned my head away from the train before opening my eyes. While staring at the large hand that gripped mine, I froze. I wish I could say that I panicked from the near death experience but I couldn’t bring myself to focus on the danger I had just escaped. Instead, my eyes remained glued to the hand. I recognized it.
I didn’t realize it yet, but this hand holding mine on the train platform had just changed everything I understood about my past. About myself. About God.
My gaze trailed up his arm to his face. A face that remained unchanged since the last time I had seen it. But when, I couldn’t say. I stared at his eyes so pale blue and almost as clear as water. I searched my memory, trying to determine where I recognized him from. He stood statuesque. From the look on his face, he also recognized me.
He looked down at our clasped hands and back up to my face. I realized I should have let go of his hand by now. I gripped tighter, hoping to keep him here. A flicker of a smile crossed his face before he shook his head. He took a step backward, and I understood he was leaving. I had to stop him. I needed to know why he seemed so familiar but my brain failed to form a question.
“Are you all right, dear?” An older woman stood at my side. She stroked my arm as if calming a feral cat. I noticed my hand was empty. I had been squeezing his hand so hard and yet I didn’t feel him pull it free. His hand was gone and so was he.
Seeing my hand still in the air where my rescuer held it, I put my arms at my sides and scanned the crowd looking for him. Everyone stared at me, fear and shock on their faces. In my surprise at seeing the familiar man, I forgot I almost slammed face first into a train a few seconds ago. I gave myself a moment to take it all in. I was very fortunate that my brains were still in my head and not splattered on the side of the train.
“That was a close call! You were so lucky that man got to you in time! Do you need to sit down?” The woman herded me through the crowd to find a bench.
“No, I’m okay,” I found my voice. “I need to go.”
I gave her a small smile and ran up the stairs two at a time. On the sidewalk, I glanced around hoping to see him but he wasn’t there. It was as if he disappeared.
I walked a block until I found a bench. If I didn’t run back to the train, I would be late to school, but I didn’t care. On the bench, I pulled a notebook and pencil from my bag, and started sketching. Images of his face played in my mind while my pencil flew across the page. I wanted to make sure I had every detail on paper before I had time to question my memory.
Within minutes, the drawing resembled his bright eyes, perfect nose, strong jaw, and blond hair that was not too long but not too short. I was so glad that my years of drawing practice gave me the ability to capture my memory of his face so well. And yet, my skills could never do justice to the beauty and perfection that beamed from him. His image appeared beyond words so that even this crude pencil sketch of him gave me pause.
It felt like looking at a picture of a good friend. Someone I knew well and who cared for me. Someone I could trust. How did I know him?
I needed to see him again.
Later, I walked back to the underground train station, my sparse wardrobe not much protection from the unusually arctic fall day in Atlanta. I didn’t have enough money for gas, let alone a car, so I took the train to school and work.
I didn’t mind walking in the cold, taking the train, or even having to work after school. It was a small price to pay to be free from traditional foster care. When I turned seventeen, they gave me the opportunity to move out of my last foster home through the Independent Living Program. I shared an apartment with a roommate and received a board payment from the state to help me with living expenses. Because of this program, I made most of my own decisions, like how I spent my free time, what clothes I wore, and what food I ate. I understood that these were the kinds of decisions most teenagers fought with their parents about making for themselves. After years of being told what to do by judges, caseworkers, and foster parents who didn’t know me, I treasured the right to make these choices for myself.
My train ride to school wasn’t long, but it gave me enough time to think over all I needed to do this week, including paying my rent. The responsibility was often stressful, but I reminded myself that by my age my mother was taking care of herself and raising me. My mother fell victim to a sex trafficking organization. They lured her in as a teenager and she soon realized she was trapped. During her first six months, she became pregnant and somehow escaped. She was barely seventeen when she gave birth to me: Arial Charlotte Cole.