I could hardly wait to leave the bowels of the city. A few long minutes later, my train blew in with an extended screech of overworked brakes. A pair of green eyes caught mine. They belonged to a hottie squeezing his way off the train. He looked so familiar, but I couldn’t imagine who he might be. He obviously spent time in the gym and was having a terrific day.
My cheeks flushed as I remembered my hair was a windblown mess and my lipstick was probably long gone since I hadn’t freshened it up before leaving work.
Mr. Hottie wore a black suit. Looked like a government agent, maybe FBI. Its starkness clashed with his warmth. His duds looked much too stiff and formal for him, in my opinion. I imagined him in swim trunks and diving into a pool. I’d sure love to rub warm suntan lotion all over him. Who could blame me for daydreaming of summer on a cold November day? My own body obviously liked what my mind dreamed up, because my lady parts got all excited.
Smiling back at me, Mr. Hottie paused to put on the leather coat he had draped over his arm, and then his eyes drank in the whole scene as if he were someplace delightful. I should know better by now, but as he passed me, I couldn’t resist complimenting him.
“You have a great smile.”
Miracle of miracles, he answered me, even making eye contact.
“Thanks.” His smile grew. He looked into my eyes and my stomach fluttered.
Can we please go back in time five minutes so I can whip out my hairbrush and lipstick before this encounter?
Mr. Hottie knew me too. Or maybe my overactive imagination played with me? His expression wore that I Know You from Somewhere look. Then the moment passed as he dashed toward the stairs and up into the blustery night.
Several of us squeezed onto the train and looked for a seat. The only kind left were the ones that make you sit sideways. I never like riding this way, but after a long day of dashing here and there for interviews and errands for the more experienced staffers, I was ready to sit for a while.
At every stop, people anxious to get onto the train crowded the platform, leaving little room for those exiting. Just another typical commute. I considered opening the novel waiting patiently in my bag, but too many thoughts fought for attention, so I decided on people watching. A headline in the newspaper the guy across from me held caught my attention. “I Surrender All in Chicago Tonight.”
Well, now, that headline should have had quotes around the first three words. “I Surrender All” must be the name of a Christian band or ministry group. A lump clogged my throat. Pa’s favorite song. First time in years I’d thought of him. As the subway train sped along, the song played unbidden in my head.
“I surrender all. I surrender all. All to thee my blessed savior, I surrender all.”
A tear welled in the corner of my eye. Time to give up people watching. I dug in my purse for the novel and pretended to read through the watery veil poised at the brink of my lashes. What was the matter with me today? Why was I thinking of Pa?
The doors opened at the next stop and a chill shivered my spine. Then my hands got hot and tingly. Oh no. Not this again. My own personal alert system hadn’t gone off since my pa kicked me out. Please not again. I can’t.
A passenger brushed past me and plopped heavily into the empty seat beside me. I took in his details in a glance, automatically using the skills being a busybody turned writer had honed. He looked like so many other men, wearing a suit, wind-blown hair like everyone else in Chicago, tie askew, hollow eyes, slouching in his seat, but one detail made me want to get off the train as fast as possible. I could catch the next one heading my way in a few minutes. I dashed for the exit too late. The doors smacked shut right in front of my nose, mocking me. The rude ol’ train squealed and lurched into action. I resisted the urge to rub my burning, tingling hands against my legs. Nothing I did would stop the sensation. I instead gripped the pole, so I wouldn’t fall as the train rocked and rushed along the track.
Did I really see a creature attached to him? I glanced over at the man again to be sure. Yep. I did. A wave of nausea roiled in my stomach. A pair of hard black eyes stared at me from the nasty thing.
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