Part 1 here:
“It looks like we’re going have a ten or fifteen minute delay,” announced the driver, who sounded more irritated than her passengers. “You can wait,” she continued, “or if anyone wants to jump off and catch the metro, I can give you a pass. You can transfer from the Green Line to the Red Line one stop up. That’ll take you to Silver Spring.” At least half the bus took her up on her offer, especially those who had the misfortune of not living right along the bus’s route in the first place. Most of the suburbanites left, taking their chances with the subway north or the swarm of cabs that surrounded the metro station. The remaining passengers, including the noisy quartet in the back, slumped glumly in their seats.
“Fifteen minutes. I figure that means twenty-five at least.” It was the brunette who caught her eye when she boarded.
Bobbi smiled at him. “I’ll wait. By the time I catch a cab, we’ll be moving again.”
The man shifted in his seat, turning his torso toward her. He flashed back a smile that lit his face as if he’d switched on the high beams. “I’d get out and walk, but I’m around three miles up.”
He was interested; she could practically smell it on him. She figured he’d been too distracted to notice her when she sat, but now, with nothing but boredom ahead, her gentle perfume snagged his attention. “Too hot to walk?” she asked.
“That too.” He looked to his right, then back to Bobbi. “But I also have my daughter with me. I’d end up carrying her most of the way. Normally we’d be on the train, but she wanted to ride the bus.”
“Daughter?” That changed things; it changed them a lot. Bobbi might occasionally dabble with the odd married man, but she did not attach herself to fathers. Such affairs quickly became too complicated for her tastes. Bobbi nodded politely and turned toward her window.
“Do you live far?” he asked. Bobbi shook her head in response. He tried a few more inquiries, but received the same muted response. Disheartened, he sighed, I’m Dallas, by the way. A bad name to have when you live in D.C” Despite herself, Bobbi giggled. She’d lived in the area long enough to determine the locals were irrational in their hatred of other regions of the county. “Yeah, I know, right?” he continued, his brows rising hopefully. “My dad’s idea. Got me beat up more than once in school during “Dallas Week.”
“Yeah, you know, football.”
“Ah,” she replied, turning once again to her window, as the bus lurched into motion.
“Alright!” shouted the driver into the intercom. “We’re rolling. Estimated time to the Maryland line, 30 minutes.” Despite her enthusiasm, the elderly couple groaned in disdain.
“Probably past their bedtimes already,” Dallas whispered.
Bobbi turned and shot him a look. “Do you have something against the elder folk?
“Me? N-no, no. I-I was just making conversation.” It was his turn to look away.
Something about his tender retreat intrigued her, and she found herself scooting to the aisle seat. Perhaps just this once she might bend her rule against fathers. As the bus rumbled along, street lamps illuminated Dallas’s face like a strobe. She could just make out his features: square jaw, bright, hopeful, green eyes, and a clump of thick hair that made him look as if he’d just awakened. It was all too much; soft spoken or no, he was her type – male and hungry. Bobbi placed a hand on her midsection, quieting her fluttering tummy, and nodded towards a pink lump curled in the seat next to him. “Does her mother mind your having her out so late?” It was nearing ten-thirty, and even for a Friday night, it was late for such a young child.
“Her mother passed away,” he answered, pulling a pair of thin legs across his lap. “Two years ago this week, in fact.”
“I’m sorry,” Bobbi said, wanting to crawl back to the safety of her window seat.
“It’s okay. We’ve come through all right. We’ve just been hanging out at the Air and Space Museum. It’s Riley’s favorite place. Anything to keep her mind off … you know what.” His voice trailed to a whisper at the end of the sentence, and he was leaning conspiratorially into the aisle. To her dismay, Bobbi found herself leaning as well, her lips dangerously close to the male musk of his neck. Blinking herself alert, she pulled jackknife straight and began fluffing her skirt – anything to take her mind off the taste of his skin that was poking its way into her mind.
“Hi! I’m Riley,” said the flaxen-haired kewpie doll of a girl. She had awakened, fully alert in the way that only a six-year-old can, and was leaning around her dad as if he were the most annoying obstacle on Earth. “Are you my daddy’s friend?” she asked, now standing and sliding her thin frame between Dallas and the seat in front of them.
“Honey, sit back down,” he said, “Miss … um … the lady doesn’t want you pestering her.” To Bobbi, he added, “I’m sorry, I didn’t even catch your name.”
“Didn’t throw it,” Bobbi answered, now more determined than ever to avoid getting entangled with Mr. Dallas Squarejaw and his perfect little Daddy’s Girl. She may as well been wishing against a hurricane.
(to be continued)