The next morning, Tanya made it to the bus stop even earlier than normal, having walked there quickly and with an uncharacteristic determination in her step. It wasn’t quite the expectation that she’d see him, or another photograph; she found herself feeling something she hadn’t felt since she was a girl. Hope. Sheer, blind, disconnected hope. Hope for something unknown. That innocent desire that brings a flutter to the chest and a heaviness to the belly. An anxious, slippery hope…which the bearer knows could just as easily turn to disappointment. So tenuous. So fragile. So delicious.
Her gaze quickly flitted to the back of the bus when she boarded, and when she saw someone sitting in her normal seat, a man, with his head bent forward over a book, her breath faltered. Could it be?
She made her way to the back slowly, both wanting and not wanting to find out.
The man didn’t look up. And since he was in “her” seat, on the aisle, she sat across from him, to his right, one row back. She didn’t want to appear too obvious, especially if it wasn’t him.
She settled in and pulled out her book, not really intending to read. She glanced frequently up at the man out of the corner of her eye. His dark hair curled slightly around his ears and the back of his neck, appearing almost wet, as if he’d just taken a shower. But it was combed cleanly, and his face was bare, perfectly smooth. He looked young, mid to late twenties. Crisp, white cuffs peeked out from beneath his navy blue suit coat. Small, round, silver-rimmed cuff links and a silver, blue-faced watch. Clean manicured nails. Athletic hands. She laughed at herself; what on earth were athletic hands? Where had she come up with that? Maybe she simply assumed that his slender fingers and build were those of a swimmer or a runner. He was not a large man, but he surely had a presence.
The bus lurched to a stop. Tanya instinctively and reflexively put a hand on the seat in front of her to keep herself steady. The man collected his things and stood to exit the bus. He looked at her briefly and smiled.
“Good day, madam.” His eyes sparkled, almost mischievously. Or so it looked it to Tanya.
So formal and polite. His posture rod-straight, his jaw sharp, his teeth white.
She felt herself become wet. So wet, in fact, that she was a little afraid to stand up, for fear that she’d made a spot on the backside of her tan skirt.
“Good day,” she replied to his back – her response almost too late.
He glanced back at her and winked.
Oh, shit, she thought, what am I going to do with this? He’s fucking beautiful.
She could not focus at work that day. All she could think about was the picture she planned to take that night. The photograph she planned to leave for him to find. Game on.