A/N: This is my first short story for Fictionpress. My recent hit 'Engineering In The Works' was last updated this week and I hope to put up chapter 5 tonight (Thursday 25th March) or tomorrow, so hold tight! This story was put in to school for my Higher English expressive work, and Mr V. said I'd get a B if her put it in at appeals!

I'm sorry, I was very proud of myself for that so I thought I'd just share it with you! There is going to be no more chapters after this one, I could make this into a series of short stories if you like. My last short story, made for Standard Grade was 17 pages of A4 written, so I'm going to put it up here in a series of chapters, unlike this one, which was only 9.

It's set in the lochside/seaside town of Inveraray in Scotland. If anyone lives in Inveraray and I got the town completely wrong, please tell me and I will change it! I've only stopped in the town a couple of times, but have been through it hundreds of times on my way to the Isle of Arran ferry.

Please READ AND REVIEW, but if you don't like it please tell me what you think is wrong with it because I know it's not an A so it can't be THAT good! Thankyou all for checking this out,

Luv I'm A Sucker For Love Stories

'Nothing but a Stranger' by Kirsty Powell

Clara walked down the high street towards the train station that would take her home. It was early in the evening for Clara to be heading home, as she usually stayed in the town with one of her friends, but tonight she believed she had earned a full nights kip in her own bed at home. Tomorrow was the start of a new job at a newly opened fruit and vegetable stall at the market, which actually paid pretty well.

When she reached the waiting room, she slumped down in a seat and pulled off her high-heeled stilettos. She laid them on the seat beside her and stretched her worn-out toes. She lay back in the seat and stared at the small screen displaying the times of the train arrivals and departures.

The station itself was practically empty besides herself there was only a snoring train conductor, clutching a brown paper bag and a handsome, young man with long, straight hair and a rucksack. They were both sitting on the chairs opposite hers, as the room itself was quite small. The stubble on the mans' chin was at least an inch in length and he had several a piercing in his ears and lip. Clara averted her eyes from the stranger when he found her looking and gazed back up at the screen.

At ten o'clock, Clara's train arrived from the city centre and Clara slid her shoes back on and carefully limped onto the train, between its' rapidly sliding doors. She found a seat near the doors of the slightly packed carriage and rested her exhausted legs, knowing she would have to walk from her station to her house. Her eyes had bags beneath them and her finely painted eyes from that afternoon were smudged and spoilt. She gently half-closed her apparently bruised eyes.

The man with the long, brown hair sat in the seat opposite her at the other end of the table. Clara was surprised he had sat right there, as there were plenty of other seats that he could have sat on, but it seemed he was destined to sit near her. She just hoped he wasn't cheery at this time of night and started jabbering on, she was pretty tired herself.

" Hello," he ventured across the table in an American accent.

Clara tilted her head so she could look right up at his tall figure across the table and realise that it was her that he was talking to. She peered at him and said "Hi". She closed her eyes fully this time but it wasn't for long as he questioned her again.

" Going far?" he asked pulling his rucksack up on the empty seat beside him.

" Home." She replied.

" Oh, do you live near here?" he asked in a croaked voice. It was obvious he had the start of the flu. Clara just hoped he wouldn't pass it on to her.

" Nearish. Why?" She asked him, curious. 'What was this?' Clara thought to herself. 'Twenty questions?'

" Oh, I'm just looking for a place to stay. Do you know any B&B's around here that might take me in this late at night? Or any that has vacancies?"

" Um, I don't know. There's one or two near the stations, but I have no idea who will take you in at this time of night."

"Oh." The boy looked as if he had just been told he had an incurable disease and had two minutes to live.

Clara felt immediately sorry for the boy and wondered why she was doing this, as she didn't even know the guy. She wouldn't even let her male friends stay, as she knew her mother would get the wrong idea.

" Well, we have a sort of extension to our house that you could stay in. It's not proper but it has a bed, toilet, sitting room and a kitchen unit."

" Are you sure?"

" This is a once in a lifetime offer and won't be offered again. Do you want to take it or leave it?"

" Take it. Thankyou so much! You have no idea how much this means to me. I'm Davie by the way." His face spread into a wide grin and held out his hand for her to shake.

Clara hesitated before she shook his hand. "Clara" she said, by way of introduction. He now looked like a little kid who had just been told he had won a lifetime expense paid trip to Disneyland Paris, far from the ill boy he looked only a few short seconds before.

She still had no idea why she had offered as they stepped off the train at her stop. During that five-minute walk to her house, they talked about how Davie ended up there in Clara's world.

" I came here looking for a change from my constant routine back in Ohio."

" But why here? Why now?" Here was this boy about her age, jetting off to some foreign country just for the hell of it. She wanted this life, pity she couldn't afford it. 'His parents must be filthy rich' she thought.

" I just wanted some change. I wanted to explore the world before I went off to College and I wanted to go back with some experience."

Clara was enthralled. She would love to take a year out next year and go travelling but she just couldn't as her parents were hardly well off. She still had this one last year of school to finish anyway, while most of her friends had quit and were lazing about their sofas all day. At least she was doing something with her life. She wasn't ready to travel, not yet.

When they arrived back at her house, a two-storey house in the middle of the village, Clara's mother was still out with her friends at a Hen Night. Clara asked Davie in for a cup of tea but made him honey and lemon instead, since he wanted rid of his flu and soon.

" How much do you charge for two nights?" Davie asked her.

" One second, I'll just go and check the books." She said as she left the room. When she came back, Davie was already asleep and decided to leave him to it and tell him when he awoke the next morning.

In the morning, Clara left a note for Davie by the table in his room, as she crept away off to work. The first day on the job was always hard for Clara, as she had never really had a proper job before today. She arrived promptly and set to work behind the counter, preparing the fruit and vegetables and setting them up in rows as her boss told her to.

At lunchtime, Clara popped into the small coffee shop where her friend Jane worked as a waitress at the top end of the high street.

As soon as Jane had a minute, she went off to Clara's corner table to have a chat before her shift started up again.

" How's the new job?" her friend asked politely.

" It's okay actually. The people are really friendly at the market."

" How's your man?" Jane asked, making Clara blush.

" What man? I don't have a boyfriend?" Thinking that Jane had caught her making out with some random boy at the party the night before, when she remembered Jane hadn't been there.

" You were seen. Some male stranger was seen walking into your house with you last night. John saw you and told Michael who told me.

" They're just gossips." She huffed.

" So is it true? Was there a man?" Jane was completely surprised when her brother had told her that her best friend had been seen letting an older man into her house. It just wasn't like her as Jane believed Clara was sometimes very judging and didn't trust people easily since her dad disappeared nearly two years ago without a trace.

" Yeah." Jane's face turned in horror at Clara's reply. " Not that kind of man. He's my new tenant for the extension. He's only staying two days. There'd no need to panic." Clara assured her best friend.

" John likes you and is concerned, so I am too." Jane referred to her twin brother and his best friend.

" First I've ever heard of it. This man is not my boyfriend or my lover or anything like that. I'm only nineteen years old, for crying out loud!" Clara stood up to pay for her coffee but Jane soon hushed her and they both sat down again.

" Okay, so he's not anything like that. Why is he in your house anyway? It's not as if your house is a substitute hostel!" exclaimed her friend.

" I don't know. He needed a place to stay late at night and there were no places available, so I'm letting him stay in the extension."

" But that's not even finished yet and you won't even let Michael or John in there!"

" I don't know. I have no idea why I did it." 'I'm so gullible. When I get home he'll probably have upped and left without paying me a suitable amount.' She thought miserably. "He's got a cold and I guess I just felt sorry for him."

" Excuses, excuses!" her friend sighed. " Is he cute?" she asked, eager for some details about this mysterious man.

" Quite handsome actually. He looks like one of those rough-looking models from H&M." She gushed.

Jane looked at her best friend and slyly smiled, " I knew it!"

" What?" Clara asked, concerned about her friends' worries. Clara often worried about other peoples' troubles instead of her own, but she never really meant to do it.

" You like him."

Clara stared at her friend, and as if by instinct, she laughed.

" What?" Jane gave her a look of disbelief.

" You can't hide things from me, Clara, I know you too well." Jane replied.

" You like this strange guy that has suddenly walked into our dingy little world."

" I admit he's cute, but he's definitely not my type."

" What is your type?"

" Someone who's going to be around for a bit longer than he is."

" What's his name anyhow?"

" Davie."

" Does he have a second name?" Persisted Jane.

Clara slumped down in her chair; confused at her own actions the night before, seriously regretting letting this stranger enter her life, for now anyway.

"I never asked." She admitted stupidly.

" He could be anyone Clara! He could be a mass murderer preying on his next victim!"

Frightened, Clara straightened up in her chair and looked deep into her friends' eyes, now deeply discomforted about the certain male alone in her house at that very second.

While Clara and Jane were having their undignified girlie chat, Davie had risen from his slumber and had made his way to the kitchen from the apartment next door. He helped himself to a cup of tea, after searching the kitchen cupboards until he found the last teabag. He found some bread in a plant pot beside the door to make something to eat but decided to explore the house while it was empty first. After a quick look around, he realised it was completely empty. 'Not even a cat,' he thought to himself.

After a while, he found himself wondering back to the kitchen and draining his cold remains of his tea before he went back into his rented room with his burnt bread. David decided to wander around the village or even go into town to buy some cough medicine if he could find a pharmacy. 'What are they called in the UK again? Chemists! That's it' he thought to himself.

Davie went back to the house to gather some change only to discover he had not locked the door and mentally hit himself. He had forgotten about burglars in this sort of area. David had grown up in a small town of seventy-nine residents in Ohio where everybody knew everybody else. There had been no chance of a burglary back home. He grabbed some change and his jacket but this time as he headed away from the building, he remembered to lock the door behind him. He seriously didn't want Clara to come home to find her house ransacked and precious items missing from her hold. He considered leaving her a note, but believed he would be back a while before Clara would be back.

Davie was taken completely by surprise when this odd girl from the train, with mascara running down her cheeks, had really offered him a bed for the night. Sure, he had started up a conversation with the girl, but hadn't expected that specific answer. He was glad for the hospitality in a strange country but decided then to move on before he affected the girl with his handsome looks, thought his arrogant ego.

Davie moved across town in a brisk stance and reached the bus stop in no time at all. All the pity for him as he realised the traffic moved in the wrong direction. 'Stupid British', thought the American. The weather decided to rain cats and dogs as Davie waited on the right side of the road for the next bus to happen along. 'Stupid bloody British weather', he muttered to himself.

Someone approached from behind, but Davie, under the senses that had suddenly condensed with his cold, did not realise until the person spoke.

" Do you know that speaking to yourself is the first sign of
insanity?"

Davie turned around so fast he almost hit himself in the eye with the umbrella that was being held over his shivering figure. It was someone who looked vaguely familiar, with the same looks as Clara. He believed it was just an older version of Clara. Somewhat confused, he checked his watch, which read 2.30pm.

" I saw you leave Clara's" the stranger said, explaining her presence.

" Yeah. I stayed the night." The girl raised her perfectly plucked eyebrow at this comment.

Davie thought over his last sentence and realised how bad that had sounded, a strange boy staying the night in a young girls' house.

" I'm staying there for a few days until I get back on my feet. She offered me a place to stay in her extension."

" Wow. I am now truly amazed."

" Why?" he asked the pretty stranger.

" She never lets anyone stay in that place, not since dad left."

" I'm sorry, you have me completely puzzled." Davie threw her a confused look under the dripping umbrella.

" I'm Clara's older half-sister Mary. I thought you were her new man."

He paused. "No."

" And what exactly is wrong with my sister?" Mary was as nosy as her little sister was at times, sometimes even more so.

" Nothing. She is a attractive girl and all, but I'm not planning to stick around for long." Davie concluded.

" Why the hell not? We could use with some talent around here." She replied jokingly.

" I'm just travelling around the place. I'm probably going to move off down south soon."

Mary looked somewhat disappointed. Her little sister had finally found a perfect guy for herself, too bad he wasn't going to be sticking around. 'They seemed to have the same sort of personality and mind.' She thought as she tried to think of a plan to keep him here for just a little while longer, but couldn't come up with anything as the bus rolled into the bus stop.

" One for Inveraray," Mary said to the bus driver, as she handed over her sixty-two-pence change and grabbed the paper ticket that was being quickly churned from the dispenser. Davie did the same as he stepped on the bus behind her. Mary sat up the back and Davie the front. He didn't like women meddling, concerning themselves in business that hadn't even begun as yet.

Davie did find Clara attractive in her own way as he came to realise as he spotted her walking the opposite way down the high street as he stepped off the bus. She took her time to notice him, but finally did and walked towards him before she went back to her stall.

" Feeling better are we?" she asked him as he came nearer.

" Yes. Thanks so much for the bed last night; I don't know what I would have done if it weren't for you. So cheers."

" You're very welcome. I've always wanted to start up a Bed and Breakfast of my own."

" Cool. I'm just on my way to the chemist. Care to join me?" he asked politely.

Clara shook her head, as she had to head off to work. She was still unsure about offering her services last night to the boy with no surname. He seemed worried about something.

" Care to join me for a bit of lunch then?"

" Sorry Davie, I have to get back to the stall," and waved him off.

David thought about their short conversation as he walked down the high street towards 'Lloyd's Pharmacy's'. No matter how much he tried to dismiss the thoughts he was having, he dared to find Clara extremely pretty.

He thought about asking her out for dinner that night, to thank her for her hospitality at such a short notice. On the way back to the bus stop after he bought some medicine, he stopped by at her stall and did just that.

When he arrived back, he counted up what was left of his money and hid almost three-quarters of it back in another pair of trousers' inside pocket. He had one-hundred-and-fifty-pounds for a meal tonight, as he would be the gentleman and pay for the lady also. Although he didn't know Clara very well, he felt extremely comforted while talking to her, unlike the many girls he had known from his rampaged past.

When she arrived home at six o'clock, Davie had left a not on her kitchen table that asked her to be ready by seven on the dot. So Clara showered and dressed in her second best dress: a plain black Mango dress, worn with red-Chinese-patterned comfortable boots. She put on some light make-up, not as heavy as the night before and walked downstairs to meet with Davie.

Davie wore a pair of smart black trousers and a finely made dinner jacket, which was odd for a traveller to carry with him, until he explained later, had been bought from a charity shop in the town for a brilliantly low price. He wore a cool white v-neck T-shirt, but looked equally handsome as he did when she first laid eyes on him. His hair had been combed back into a ponytail and he now looked too shiny to be a traveller of any sort.

Davie took Clara to dinner at a fancy Thai restaurant he had spotted earlier that day and had had made a reservation. They had a light starter of lightly roasted vegetables followed by a spicy main dish with an exotic pudding. They conversed in sport, fashion, and Clara's worst topic of Politics and the different countries Davie had already visited that year. Overall, Clara could say it had been the most pleasant date she had had in a long time, even at her young age of nineteen. With all the money Davie had flashed around that evening, she was completely surprised that he hadn't decided to stay in a hotel instead of a lowly house in a small village in the middle of nowhere.

At the end of the date, Clara was brought home in a taxi paid by Davie. The wind was howling around them as the rain lashed around Clara's delicate ankles as they bade each other goodnight. Davie had had a brilliant evening, even if he had paid for the meal. It seemed to him that a girl like Clara had never really experienced real devotion or kindness from opposite sex while on a date in the last few years. As Davie said goodnight, he couldn't help but kiss her. This short peck turned into a passionate kiss as they held each other through the storm. Both completely soaked, they turned the different directions into their places of rest.

In the morning, Clara was considerably cheerful while realising that Davie had stolen her last teabag. She didn't pay much attention to the world outside as she ate her morning snack of Special-K and fruit yoghurt before heading out to her early shift at the market place.

She popped her head into the extension to say goodbye to Davie, but only finding an empty bed stopped dead in her tracks as she noticed his belongings had gone and all that was left was a small brown envelope on the table with the name 'Clara' scrawled atop it.

She slowly opened it and scanned the note quickly. It seemed Davie left early that morning at dawn, to catch the early train to London. He thanked her for the wonderful time he had experienced the night before and bade her a good life. At the bottom of the envelope sat a bundle of notes Clara suspected to be pay for the hospitality she had given him. The bundle contained £300, enough to have been spent on a decent hotel for double the time he had stayed in her company.

Clara had thought after last night, that maybe Davie would be sticking around a while longer than expected. But then, she actually wasn't at all surprised that he had left without a proper goodbye, since there was no use for a traveller to have a 'girl in every port', which was certainly what she didn't want to be. Clara refrained from thinking bad thoughts about Davie, as she believed it was better this way.

Davie stopped at the top of the brae and looked back over the small town of Inveraray. It was a picturesque town with several tourist shops, certainly not one for backpackers from half way around the world. Davie realised that Clara would be fine without him, as she was a girl with a strong nature. He turned his back on the village and carried on his way with his bag on his back and his face set forward.

Clara wasted no time once she had read the letter. She shoved the letter in her pocket and grabbed her jacket from the porch or her house. While she walked to the bus stop for the first early morning bus, she remembered back to when her grandmother told her tales as a young girl, ' 'tis better to have loved and lost, than to have never loved at all'. After all this time of ignoring the facts, she believed her crazy old grand parent hadn't been so crazy after all. She had been right.