Stranger On A Bus by Jenna Rose

1

Mari

I seehim when I get on the bus, but that’s no surprise. He’s always there, like he’s waiting for me. Watching me with those piercing, gorgeous eyes of his, set back above cheekbones so sharp they could cut glass.

Who is he? What is a man so gorgeous he could be on a runway in Paris doing on a public bus like this?

I remember the first time I saw him…

It was an early morning like always, and I was on my way to work, feeling exhausted and a little under the weather. My phone charger had broken and my phone hadn’t charged, meaning my alarm hadn’t gone off, so I was late and not wearing any makeup and also hadn’t had time to shower. I must have looked like a mess, but there he was, looking at me in a way that without words somehow made me feel…beautiful.

And that was a way no man had ever made me feel before.

I couldn’t even look at him and was almost thankful when the bus arrived at my stop and I was able to get off.

But I thought about him all day. I was so distracted that when I was doing Mr. Baxter’s laundry, I completely forgot the detergent and had to go back and do it all over again.

He made my body come alive like never before. Instantly blushing, it was like my skin was on fire, and a strange, hot feeling blossomed between my legs. When I went into the bathroom, I discovered I was dripping wet and needed to dry myself off with paper towels before I was able to go back to work.

I started fantasizing about him…this man who I’d never even met, whose name I didn’t even know.

I’d never even had fantasies before. When girls at school would talk about guys they thought were cute and what they wanted to do with them, I just simply couldn’t relate. But suddenly, here I was thinking about this mysterious man on the bus, obviously much older than me, who had never even spoken a word to me.

I started wondering if I was crazy—started wishing that every day I got on the bus to go to work that that would be the day he would come and talk to me.

But every day goes by like the last; he looks at me, watch me as I ride to my stop, not saying a word, and watch me as I get off. I see him when I get back on to ride home, and that’s it.

Maybe I should be scared.

Maybe he’s stalking me. The thought did cross my mind, but I have to confess that somehow that doesn’t scare me—it turns me on even more.

Today will be the day, I think again as I watch him watching me from his seat. We’re only two stops from my destination, which means he has about three minutes to come over and ask me for my number. He’s showing no signs of getting up; he’s just sitting there with his eyes on me like every other day, but for some reason I know that today is going to be the day.

I try not to be awkward as I flick my eyes to him and then look back at the seat in front of me, but I already know I’m blushing. No matter how many times he looks at me, my body will never get used to his stare.

The bus stops, the doors hiss open, and the old man and his dog get off.

Okay, buddy, this is your last chance.

The doors close, and the bus starts moving again. My heart is in my throat. It’s only us now—us and the bus driver. My face is absolutely burning with anticipation. Even if he does come over now, we won’t have much time for a conversation before I have to get off at my stop.

Maybe I should just go over to him.

No. No, that’s not happening.

Even if I did somehow have the courage to approach a man as incredibly good-looking as him, the thought of it just does not work for me.

If he wants me, he can make it happen.

Even without looking at him, I can feel his eyes on me—his gaze like invisible energy beams penetrating the universe…

…and then the bus stops. The doors hiss, and I’m on my feet.

“Well, this is my stop,” I say, loud enough so he can hear it. I’m hoping he’ll say something as I grab my bag and head for the door, but just like all the other days, my mysterious, handsome stranger remains silent as I step off the bus.

My heart sinks as the doors hiss again and close behind me and leave me standing alone at the bus stop, staring up the road at the Baxter Estate where I’m now going to have to spend the rest of my day at work, wondering why I’m not good enough for him, or what I did wrong for him to not approach me.


Maybe tonight…

That’s the thought bouncing around my mind all day as I sweep, mop, dust, do dishes, laundry, change bedding, and even move some of Mr. Baxter’s old books from the basement to the attic. But as the day goes on and it’s nearing my time to go home, my optimism starts fading along with the sun.

With a heavy sigh, I trudge to the back washroom to scrub my hands and pack up my bag, when I hear the sound of footsteps behind me. I turn and see Mr. Baxter enter the room behind me, still wearing his suit from the office.

“Nothing like a hard day’s work, eh?” He smirks.

Like you’d know.That’s what I’d like to say. Mr. Baxter is somewhere in his mid-50s and hasn’t “worked” a day in his life. He’s one of the three sons of the Baxter family, one of those dynasty families like the Kennedys with so much money it’s not even funny. They own a few businesses but have people running them for them. Mr. Baxter likes to make an appearance every once in a while to pretend like he’s still in charge.

“You know it,” I reply, forcing a smile. I really don’t want to get into it with him. He’s always given me the creeps, and I try to avoid him as much as possible. Other girls who work here have told me he looks at me differently and I should try to get him to be my sugar-daddy, but even the thought of that with Mr. Baxter just sends shivers up my spine.

He walks up to me and puts a hand on my shoulder. I can smell the alcohol on him. “You know, out of all the girls who work here, you’re definitely my best.”

“Um…thank you,” I reply, quickly turning to my bag.

“Mmmm. You remind me of when I was young,” he chuckles, breathing alcohol fumes all over me. “My wife? She’s always reminding me of our age. Who wants a woman like that?”

Yeah, talk about uncomfortable. I opt for simply not responding to that one. I’m basically all packed up and zip my bag and lift it over my shoulder.

“Well, Mr. Baxter, I should be going—”

“I could make your life a whole lot easier.” He smiles. His eyes are glazed over and sweat is beading on his cheeks. “A lot easier…”

“Mr. Baxter—”

“All you have to do is make me feel like a younger man.” Before I can react, he takes me by the wrist and forces my hand between his legs.

The shock of the situation hits me so hard that I can’t even speak. I can’t even move.

Is this seriously happening!?

I know I should do something—stop this before it goes any further, but this man is my boss. It was nearly impossible to get this job, and I have absolutely nothing to fall back on. No friends, no relatives, no parents…

If I lose this, I’m lost.

“What’s going on here!?” Mrs. Baxter’s voice pierces the silence between us like a gunshot. A great sense of relief washes over me when I see Janice Baxter, Harold’s wife, standing at the door.

“Mrs. Baxter, I—”

“Trying to seduce my husband, are you?” she hisses, striding toward me like she’s ready to kill me, her eyes fierce and fiery.

“What? I…no! He—”

“Don’t even start with me!” she snaps, flashing a threatening finger in my face. “I’ve seen the way you look at him. Ever since you started working here!”

“She was coming on to me, baby,” Mr. Baxter says, slurring his words.

“Thought you could charm your way into his bank account, didn’t you, you little slut!?”

“No!” I protest, on the verge of a panic attack. “He came on to me!”

“Save it!” she laughs. “You’re finished!”

As it turns out, Mrs. Baxter is a lot stronger than she looks. She snatches me by the hair and drags me toward the back door as I scream in pain. The next thing I know, I’m being hurled out into the cold, evening air.

I tumble headfirst down the old, rickety back steps and land on my face in the dirt. My bag lands beside me, and I feel my phone beneath me, jabbing into my ribs.

“I ever see you back here again and you’re going to regret it,” she screams at me. “Oh, and don’t think about calling us for a reference!”

The door slams behind me.

I’m in such a state of shock that I can’t even cry as I pick myself up and brush the dirt off my clothes. Thankfully, my phone isn’t broken, but as I check the time, I see I only have five minutes to get down the hill and to the bus stop before the bus arrives, so I throw my bag over my shoulder and begin to run as I still try and process what just happened to me.

There goes my only source of income,I think as my anxiety begins to rise.

Most eighteen-year-olds could go to their parents at a time like this, but my dad left my mom when I was ten, and my mom died of cancer when I was sixteen. I had to finish the last two years of high school on my own while working a job to pay rent on the crappy studio apartment where I still live.

The crappy studio apartment where I still owe rent that I now can’t pay.

When I reach the bus stop, the bus is already there.

“Wait!” I shout, waving my hands like a crazy woman. I can feel the tears behind my eyes just ready to fall, but there’s so much going on that I’m simply not able to cry. “Please, wait!”

I slip in the mud, almost eat shit, but somehow manage to stay on my feet and reach the bus just as the doors hiss and begin to close. I see him, my mysterious stranger, sitting where he always sits, but in the state I’m in, this is the one time I don’t want him to see me, so I take the rear door and go to the seat at the back of the bus and slump down so I’m as hidden as I can be.

And then the tears begin to fall.

Not a flood, more like a trickle. I’m not giving in to my emotions—not yet. But the reality of my situation is that I was just fired because Mr. Baxter is an old pervert who was ready to cheat on his wife, and she would rather fire me and continue living a lie than face that reality.

“Hey, sweetheart.” An unfamiliar voice shakes me out of my thoughts, and I open my eyes to an unfamiliar face looming over me. A man with eyes like a coyote looks down at me and licks his lips. “You look like you could use some cheering up.”

Oh my God. Really?

“No, I’m fine,” I reply, turning away.

“You sure are,” he replies, giggling strangely. “But I’ve got an eye for these things…when a lady is in need of a man’s assistance. And you look like you could use mine.”

Creep-o!

“No, really, I’m fine.”

“Well, why don’t you just let me sit down?” he asks, taking a seat beside me. “Sometimes a little company is all we need to lift our spirits. After all, humans are pack animals.”

“She said no.”

I don’t know how I know, but as soon as I hear the second voice, I know it belongs to him—my mysterious stranger.

I look up and see him standing there like a superhero, arms at his sides but looking somehow ready for anything, eyes on the man beside me, staring him down as if to say, “This is my bus and she is my woman.”

My body instantly comes alive.

“Now back off before I make you.”