Michael heaved a sigh. Now why didn’t
that fill her heart with—anything? All she really wanted to do was get
this day over with, take her phone off the hook, sink into that bubble
bath—except she’d have to stop and buy bubble bath—and pretend she was
someone else. Someone whose life wasn’t one long grind with only the
faintest glimmer of hope at the end of a very long dark tunnel.
Oh, that was a cheering thought.
Which really had nothing to do with
what happened next.
"Hey, lady, what are you doing?
The light's still red!"
Michael looked up with a start as a
hard masculine hand reached out to grab hold of her arm. She'd stepped off
the curb without even thinking, her mind as usual going in a hundred
different directions—besides the fact that she really should break up with
her boyfriend; should she try out her new hazelnut brown-sugar torte on the
dinner crowd this weekend? Would Sharon agree to take her hostessing post
Saturday so she could cover the short-handed dinner shift for Henri? Had she
remembered to pick up her uniform from the cleaners? Did she really love
Stephen? Did she even like him? She could feel the wind from the very large
inner-city bus as it passed a scant six inches from her nose.
"Oh—my—gosh—" Her voice
came out in a whisper. Kevin, her best friend kept telling her that her
schedule was going to end up being the death of her, Michael thought dazedly
but she didn't think he'd meant it literally.
Feeling her heart pounding in the
aftermath of the adrenaline surge, Michael’s eyes traveled from the strong
hand still wrapped around her upper arm up to the man it was attached to,
the man who'd just saved her from leaving a big wet spot in front of the
Blue Cross/ Blue Shield building.
He was tall, but then nearly anyone
standing next to her five feet five inches was tall. At least six foot, his
body reflected the strength in that hand. Closer to the ground, Michael
started from his feet up. Beat-up white running shoes with ankle length
athletic socks over calves with nicely developed muscles, led to very nicely
developed thighs in dark blue walking shorts that emphasized his trim, flat
stomach and lean hips up to a Kelly green polo shirt that likewise showed
off a very nice chest and strong muscular arms, though subtly so, not
fitting too tightly as if he were showing off his physique. She hated that.
His face, also very nice, was, at the
moment, returning her look with a rather impassive expression as if he went
around saving people from being hit by buses every day of the week and twice
on Tuesdays. Medium-dark hair, sun streaked on top, fell almost to his
shoulders, held back with a bit of rawhide string. His face fit the rest of
him, hard and uncompromising, with a very masculine nose that looked as
though it might have been broken at least once before, a chin that looked
stubborn and a jaw to match. His eyes surrounded by dark curling lashes were
very dark and crinkled attractively at the corners as his mouth relaxed from
its grim line to a smile that lit up his rather somber face as she looked up
at him with a simple, "Thanks," that felt woefully inadequate.
"You're welcome." He said,
and then let go of her arm rather abruptly as if just realizing he was still
holding onto her. "You should be more careful."
"I know," Michael felt
unaccountably cheered out of her formerly dour mood. "It's one of my
worst traits, though I must say this is the closest I've come to becoming a
hood ornament for a bus." That's better, she thought, watching the
smile widen, tugging at that well-shaped mouth. Well," she said trying
desperately to think of something clever, witty—memorable to say. Her
rescuer wasn't making much of an effort at conversation, he still looked
rather preoccupied, or maybe he was just annoyed that the ditzy woman he'd
snatched from the jaws of death now wanted conversation.