Dracula's castle, better known as Bran Castle, was better than expected. While many people toured the castle, I didn't mind it. I went in with this good-looking Latin man and enjoyed talking with him. We continued the castle tour together, each paying for our tickets. I wasn't sure what to expect from him, but there was no animosity or threatening nature about him. He seemed to be a gentle and kind soul, just with long black curls. Our conversation before the tour was simple: what's your name, where are you from, that sort of thing. It turned out his name was Alejandro from Colombia. From there, he explained how he had been traveling through Europe for the past four months, and this castle was on his list. I returned similar information about myself, Andrea from the United States, who has been traveling in Eastern Europe for the past few weeks. I didn't want to go into too many details, especially since I didn't know the guy. No matter how good-looking a guy can be, never give out information that can be used against you. I learned that the hard way.
The thing is that I was trusting before. A little too trusting for my good. It was another reason to start over again and leave Shanghai. He was someone who didn't seem threatening at first—charming, charismatic, and fun to spend time with him. I didn't see the signs after we started seeing each other, and I ignored my friends when they said he had red flags. I found out later about his red flags; when he appeared in my apartment with a knife. Luckily I got out of there alive, but that memory has scarred me for the rest of my life. And I was not about to make that same mistake with this guy. No matter how nice and gently souled he seemed, I was not letting down my guard.
Alejandro and I finished our castle tour, and since we had several hours to kill before the bus returned to Brașov, we both agreed to stroll in the park nearby and eat at one of the food stalls.
"Tell me about you Miss Andrea," he spoke loud enough to be heard over the children squealing nearby.
"What do you want to know?"
"What's your work?"
"Education mainly. I run a business, oh sorry, ran a business back in Shanghai. I'm leaving there though."
"Yeah, too many memories."
He fell silent when I made the last comment. It was as if he was waiting for me to explain further, but I wouldn't give him the benefit. This is giving and taking, not just me giving information. Could I be blamed, though?
"And what about you? What sort of work do you do to be able to travel for months at a time?"
"I, too, have a business. Engineering business. Back in my home country, Colombia."
So not only was this guy a tall dark haired Latin cheesecake, but he was intelligent. I wasn't sure if I hit the jackpot with Alejandro, but I started feeling giddy. Ugh, feelings. Why do they have to be so complicated? I shouldn't like this guy. I should be cautious and not let him through my walls. At least he's got good answers so far.
"So why the Eastern Europe? I think it's better to go to France, Spain, these countries. Why did you go only the east side?"
"First, they're cheaper. Second, there aren't as many people touring these areas, and I don't care for the number of people in tourist destinations."
"Ah, so you are a traveler, not tourist."
"I, too, agree with you. I do not like tourist places, but you should not, how to say, ignorarlos."
"You mean, I shouldn't disregard them?"
"You speak Spanish?"
"A bit. I learned it back during my bachelor's degree times. Plus, I worked in Guatemala for a short period."
"Wow, you are an interesting woman indeed."
I blushed then. When did I blush last? And what's with that comment? I wasn't sure how to feel about this whole situation. He seemed too good to be true. At least so far, and I had to make sure.
"So what's your deal? Do you usually pick up women randomly during your trips?"
"Pick up women? What do you mean?"
"You know, like the beautiful woman you were with at the bus station today."
"She? Oh, no. She asked me a question and we were talking. But I don't think she's so beautiful."
So I have a chance? What?! Why did I think that?
"So you weren't together?"
"No, not at all."
"Oh. Well, you still haven't answered my question."
"Do you usually pick up women on your trips?"
"No, of course not."
I don't know what I'm doing, to be honest. I shouldn't be so nosy and ask questions like this. I know better than that. I can't let the same thing happen again to me, and I will not allow it.
There was a small food stall selling local delicacies, and I needed a minor distraction to gather my thoughts. We both purchased some chocolate cream-filled croissants or corn in Romania, and chocolate was much needed to help me get through this conversation any further.
I didn't know which direction to drive the conversation, and I didn't want to start talking again, to be honest. I was a bit embarrassed by how I was feeling, and I didn't want to acknowledge Alejandro in this romantic way. It must be the lust. Yeah, that's what I'm going to tell myself; it's all lust. He's a good-looking guy on vacation, and I'm a pretty woman on vacation, so what would the problem be?
Oh, right, the fact that I was violated in my apartment and nearly killed. That was a blaring horn that I couldn't ignore. I may never see this guy again, so why not just enjoy the time we're spending?