Max Raines hasn’t been successful in love or careers, but that’s about to change. Each morning, an enchanting goddess waits for the same bus he takes to work. She’s everything he’s ever dreamed of. Unfortunately, she wants nothing to do with him.
A local singles club provides Max with easy hookups, but taking advantage of lonely women doesn’t sit well with him. He would stop going, but as luck would have it, the apple of his eye coordinates the club meetings.
Max turns on a sense of charm he never knew he had and takes a deep inward look for the esoteric key to her recognition. With a lot of perseverance and a little luck, the dainty damsel Tonya turns his way. Once she does, Max is in for the ride of his life—sexually and spiritually. Tonya is known in certain circles as The Expediter for good reason.
Monday morning, Max rolled out of bed and looked through the blinds at his busted open rear window. He’d already made an appointment to have it fixed while he was at work, but it meant once again taking the bus. He had no intention of engaging the snobbish blonde reigning over the bus stop, no matter how enthralling he knew she would look. It was a losing campaign. He stepped out of the shower and poured a cup of coffee, unable to shake the feeling that the walls of his immediate future were closing in.
Mingling Singles had provided him four nights of lust-driven passion, but they came at a price. He hoped Cindy would eventually find Mr. Right, but it wasn’t going to be him, and he had too many problems of his own to worry about her. Marlo and Shantay were bad choices from the start, and Susan was a disaster waiting for a victim.
Ian wasn’t to blame for setting him up. If the game was getting laid, Max was four for three on meeting nights. But sooner or later, he would have to choose a partner and graduate, or his prospects would dry up. At that point, he’d need to make his own luck or be thrown to the cougars prowling the back tables—whatever that entailed.
Deep down, he had hoped to find a gal with a somewhat open mind toward sexuality, but the events of the last few weeks were making him afraid to look for one. The one thing the standoffish beauty at the bus stop showed him in spades was that the perfect woman didn’t exist. Stepping out the door, he checked his watch and hurried toward the coffee shop.
Ten minutes later, he arrived at the bus stop with two coffees in his hand. “Don’t worry,” he boasted to the reticent blonde. “I didn’t get one for you.”
“Uh huh,” she responded in a dismissive grunt as she dug through a notebook, rolling a pen on her bottom lip. She periodically scratched items off or wrote in the margins, ignoring him as she went about her task. Her phone chimed in the pocket of her denim jacket. Pulling it out, she smiled and tapped the screen. “Hey!” she cheered in a sing-song voice. “I was just thinking about you.”
Max’s heart sank as she crossed her legs and pulled the classy bowed pump off her stocking-covered heel. He watched it dangle from her toes as a male voice murmured inaudibly through the phone. Her smile fell flat as she blinked a few times and lowered her head. She turned away from him and bowed her head lower. “Yeah,” she acknowledged as her sweet voice dropped to a crackle. “That’s fine. I need to go. The bus just pulled up.”
Staring straight ahead, Max heard her sniffle as she rifled through her purse. When she dropped it on the bench and brought her sleeve to her eyes, he set down a coffee, reached into his pocket, and dangled a handkerchief. “Never been used,” he offered without looking at her. “I just bought a pack...been a bit weepy myself as of late.”
“Thanks,” she tendered politely, taking it from his hand. She removed her eyeglasses and set them on the bench between them, dabbing her cheeks.
Max’s gaze locked on the spectacles, stamping him stiff with awestruck paralysis. Through those oracles, he realized, the eyes of the flaxen goddess scrutinized and construed the world around her. Her every interpretation of the visible spectrum had to pass through their crystal lenses before glinting into the black dots of her pupils to be blessed by her thoughts. No clandestine weaponry could match such power, he thought to himself.
He realized in the next instant he was wrong as the frying-pan blackness of her unfocused gaze peered at him, unguarded by the limpid sentinels. She was all the more beautiful—divinity uncloaked in the bright sunshine of a clear October morning. He inhaled in short, rapid increments, holding his breath as he finally drew it all in. A rogue tear tickled his cheek as it escaped the corner of his eye.
“Do you need it back?” she asked.
Holding forth another, he uttered, “Let’s trade,”
The briefest of smiles crossed her glossy lips. “You’re a character,” she peeped, wiping her eyes again.
Max looked up the road to see the bus rounding the curve a quarter mile away. He kept his thoughts to himself, quietly gathering his composure. The bus pulled to the curb a minute later. Max stood as the door opened, but waited on the sidewalk and let the broken-winged angel board first. She did so with a slight nod of gratitude. Stepping onto the bus, he held forth a coffee toward the driver with a chivalrous grin. “Keep it,” she quipped. “All of a sudden everyone’s buyin’ me coffee. A damn donut would be nice once in a while.”
“I’ll have it,” said a gravelly voice. An old woman in the front seat extended her hand. Max smiled and handed it to her, peeking to see if his crush was watching. She wasn’t.