Hi,

This is basically a love story, may feature a sex scene later on [I'll change the rating accordingly]. Will only have about six chapters.

I REALLY REALLY need constructive criticism on this. Please please help. Thanks x


Chapter One

As soon as the aircraft bounced onto the runway at Heathrow, Steph felt a sense of disappointment. There was a crosswind and dark clouds were arranging themselves bleakly behind the skyline of office blocks and the terminal. For her homecoming, it should at least be sunny. It's not like she was expecting a fan fare and a crowd of admirers applauding her arrival, just a little sunshine would have done. From the small circle of window, she could the glitter of parked cars and sky-grey concrete. Half of her wanted to get on the next plane out and make her way back into the sunshine and natural beauty of New Zealand's South Island. Everything was perfect there. The air was warm, the view breathtaking. It was hard to find such perfection in the British winter, especially at Heathrow airport.

At the arrivals gate, she looked around for the dusty blond hair and lazy smile of her long term boyfriend and best friend, Nick, who was supposed to be waiting to pick up her bags and drive her home. She'd only been gone two months, but it seemed a lifetime since she'd last seen him. Small butterflies were flapping in her stomach and Steph slicked some lip gloss over her dry lips and sprayed duty free Estee Lauder fragrance over her wrists. She felt nervous, like it was a first date. She touched the diamond necklace that hung low on her neck. It had belonged to his grandmother and she thought of him when she held it. She had missed him, but not as much as she'd thought she would. New Zealand had been so wonderful, everything she'd hoped and there was no time to miss home. Steph had invited him to join her, but he hadn't wanted to - and he'd missed out. Part of her had felt so free while she away, she almost wished she didn't have to return home to him.

Ten minutes later, Steph went into a phone booth and dialled his mobile number. His phone went straight to voicemail.

"Erm, hey Nick. Where are you? My flight landed at 2.30. Hopefully you're just a little bit late. So, er, see you in a min hopefully. Bye." She hated leaving voicemail. Her voice always sounded so scratchy and her words jumbled. Her phone was out of battery, she hadn't bothered to charge it as she didn't need it when she was away, but she'd checked her email just before leaving and there was nothing about a change of plan. He was probably held up in traffic, or something.

Absentmindedly she perused the magazines while keeping one eye out for any sign of him. The butterflies in her stomach were so energetic she wondered if she was going to have a heart attack. Where was he? The longer he was the worse Steph felt. Had he had an accident? Had something happened? She went over to the phone booth and tried his number again. Still voicemail. She tried her home number and no one answered there, either. Distress coursed through her veins. What had happened?

By 3.30, Steph thought it was unlikely he was going to turn up at all. Tears welled in her eyes. She'd loved travelling but it was hard work, finding places to stay and work to do and constantly meeting new people. She just wanted someone else to take care of her and help her with her things tonight. It didn't really matter who. She leant back against the bench and buried her head in her hands as she tried not to cry.

"Hey, Steph isn't it?" A voice questioned tentatively. She felt the weight on the bench shift as someone sat next to her, and an arm weaved around her.

"What's wrong?"

She looked up through her tears and saw Matthew, the man she'd been sitting next to on the plane, by her side. He'd been lovely but quiet on the plane, deep in thought and thigh-high in paperwork.

"Nothing," She lied, forcing a smile. "Just jet lag, is all."

"Yeah, I know how you feel. I'm shattered. Do you want a coffee? I was just on the way to Costa for a cappuccino. That'll wake you up." He smiled at her and stood up.

Steph wiped her eyes. Why not, there was nothing better to do and Matthew seemed nice enough. "Yeah sure." She stood up and grabbed her bag. She'd almost forgotten just how heavy it was, and her tiredness made her arms weak.

"I'll take that, don't worry." Matthew said, taking it from her. Steph started to protest, but then she saw his luggage - only a small bag - and relented.

"How come you've only got that little bag?" She asked, wondering if she should be suspicious of him at all.

"I have a house out in New Zealand. Wellington. Just bought it. Coming back to sort out the legal stuff, the paper work and my property here, and then I'm off back home!" His face lit up with joy and she saw he was actually very attractive, with a warm and welcoming face.

"Wow! Lucky you."

"Yep, lucky me. What do you want? Don't worry, I'll pay."

Steph ordered a small latte and relaxed on a comfy leather sofa as he went to fetch the drinks. She put her worries to the back of her mind while she waited for him. There was the calming sound of low voices and the coffee machines in the background and for the first time that day Steph felt peaceful and relaxed. Her heart had stopped racing, at least, and it felt good to chill out. She hadn't expected to be here, but it was quite pleasant now that she was.

Over coffee, they discussed his house in New Zealand and Steph saw how animated he became when he spoke of it. More enthusiastic than he had been during the whole plane flight. Her boyfriend's lack of arrival also cropped up.

"So, what you gonna do?" Matthew asked. "Tonight, I mean. You won't have time to get home tonight, really. Not on public transport, anyway."

Steph sighed. "I don't know. I'm still sort of hoping that Nick will turn up but it's getting late now. I could try and go on a coach or something but... I don't know. I haven't booked anything."

"Well, I'm staying at my old flat in London; you could always stay there if you've nowhere else. I know you don't know me, and this will seem very forward, but I'm not a serial killer I promise you! I just don't like to see a damsel in distress. I used to be a teacher. You can take my passport and driving license if you're worried."

Steph wondered for a moment if she should really even be considering his offer - she'd always been taught to avoid talking to strangers. But she had nowhere else to go. All the hotels would be fully booked, she didn't know anyone or anywhere in London. Still caught up in the travelling frame of mind, she decided to take the chance. The best things in life are the unexpected ones, she thought.

"I'll trust you. Let me just ring my parents and let them know where I'll be, though."

She left his address on their voicemail, as they still weren't picking up, and he ushered her outside to his gleaming Audi parked in the car park. She wolf whistled, "Flashy! Very nice."

"Why thank you, miss. Please do step in," He opened the door for her and bowed, with a seductive smile on his face that suggested that he wasn't quite as gentlemanly as he made out to be.

The interior was understated and sophisticated, the warm scent of Magic Tree and aftershave permeating through the fabrics. She'd never been in such an expensive car, and it was a long way from the 12 year old Vauxhall that she and Nick shared. He pulled out of the airport car park and weaved along quiet back roads as smoothly as in a car advert.

The journey was calm and polite as they chatted about their lives - she lived in Cardiff with Nick, close to her parents' home, and worked in child care for disabled children whilst he lived in London, and now New Zealand, alone, and worked selling property.

"How come you changed from teacher to property developer?" She asked over the subtle undertones of Jason Mraz on his sound system.

"I don't know, really. My family has always been into property. I loved teaching but I don't like the way the education system has changed, so I decided to get out and go a completely different direction. I'm going to be a teacher in New Zealand, though. I've got a job there, now."

After a while, tiredness overcame them and they drove on in silence. Rain fell against the windscreen and Steph gazed out the window at all the city lights gleaming like stars in an urban sky. Eventually, they turned off a quiet street into a small car park. Matthew parked his Audi in a reserved parking space just in front of the entrance to a small block of flats. Fatigue and the unexpected turn the day had taken confused her brain and she felt surreal as she crossed the carpeted lobby and took the lift up to the top floor. As she stepped into his apartment, she realised his 'old flat' was an expensive penthouse apartment overlooking the city. Large windows filled up one wall and the perpendicular angles of skyscrapers, rooftops and church towers against the lit up outdoor parks and damp streets looked beautiful.

"Wow!"

"I know. Stunning, isn't it? Mind your eyes."

Steph turned as the room filled with a bright, white glow. Dazzled, she gazed around. The entrance opened into a huge living dining area with white leather sofas and a thick white carpeted floor. Everything was sparkling white, expensive and tasteful. Glittering work surfaces and mod cons suggested the kitchen hadn't been touched. To one side of the room, a corridor led off to other rooms, presumably a bathroom and bedroom.

"Oh my gosh. Have I met a millionaire?" She gasped, taking it all in. Her little house with Nick was half the size of this one room. And it wasn't anywhere near as glamorous.

Matthew laughed. "I wish! No, I've just paid my builders to do it up well. Nothing in here has been used. It's just to look good for a prospective buyer. Or a woman."

"So you've never lived here, then?" Steph asked, intrigued. It really was the perfect spot, she'd fallen in love with the view right there and then.

"Nope, I just bought it and did it up. I've done the whole block of flats. It was run down before I got my hands on it! This is the last one to be sold. My favourite one. I hand over the keys on Monday."

They stood in silence, left to their thoughts.

"Anyway, are you hungry? I had dinner at the airport 'cause I knew I didn't have any food in the flat. I didn't know I'd invite anyone back with me! Do you want me to go out and get you something?"

Steph looked at the bags under his brown eyes and the five o'clock shadow. He looked exhausted.

"No, don't worry; I think I just need to get to bed!" She wondered if that sounded suggestive, and part of her hoped it had.

"Good thinking, I'll show you your room." He sounded so polite and formal; she knew it had just been her dirty mind. Just as well - they were both exhausted and she had a lovely boyfriend, somewhere. She didn't know what had come over her. It must have been the jet lag. Matthew carried her bag into the master suite and switched on the light. "There's an ensuite just through there, help yourself to towels and soap and stuff. I'll leave you to it. Sleep tight!" He said, pulling the door closed as he left.

Steph was so tired she barely took in the luxury king size bed, minimalist decor and phenomenal views matching those from the lounge. She climbed into bed and fell fast asleep, still in her clothes.