|Posted by kirstymoseley on February 12, 2020 at 10:40 AM|
I hope you enjoy this sampe of my new romcom, Man Crush Monday. I loved writing it so much! <3
Guess what day it is!
It’s Man Crush Monday. *le sigh*
Are you going to speak to him today???
More than just, “Ticket, please”?
Well … maybe.
That means no …
I glance up from my screen and slip my phone into my trouser pocket as a harassed-looking woman in a brown business suit climbs aboard the train, noisily bumping her briefcase on wheels up the step, almost dropping her coffee cup in the process.
“Good morning.” I offer her a beaming smile, pressing back against the wall so she can pass me in the small corridor and get into the quiet carriage.
She gives me a grunt and slops some of her coffee over the side of her cup, narrowly missing my ugly black work shoes as she heads past without another word.
“Oh, well, good morning to you too, Amy,” I chirp sarcastically to myself as the door slides closed behind her.
Everyone dislikes Mondays; it’s ingrained in us to hate it on some primal level. Mondays signify the end of the weekend, going back to work, alarm clocks, and routine, so I can see why people detest it. But not me. It’s actually my favourite day of the week. It never used to be. Up until five months ago, I was a normal Monday hater, just like everyone else, but then something happened. He happened.
Let me explain. I work as a ticket conductor on a busy train route. Every day, I squeeze my slightly-too-big bottom into my ugly uniform and tuck my pale candyfloss-pink hair up into a bun or Katniss Everdeen–style side plait and go to work, collecting tickets on the train from Cambridge to London. It’s a mundane job, but it pays the bills and keeps me in hair dye, Dr Pepper, and Converse. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.
I’d been doing my boring, mundane job for almost two years when, one dreary Monday, I looked up, and bam, I caught the feels. It wasn’t insta-love—this isn’t one of those stories—but it was definitely insta-lust. That was almost five glorious months ago.
The guy in question—my dream guy and object of my unrequited crush—is tall. It’s hard to judge with the train rocking and the amount of time I get to stand next to him, but I’d guess he’s around six foot. His shoulders are broad, and he’s lean and perfectly proportioned—I can tell this from the tailored suits he wears and how they narrow in at the hips and fit across his thighs in a way that sets my pulse racing. His brown hair is quite short on the sides and a bit longer on top, styled effortlessly. But it’s his eyes that get me. The brown eyes the colour of single-malt whiskey with flecks of gold around the pupils. They’re the type of eyes you want to stare into all day, the type of eyes you could lose time to. They’re smiley eyes, if they can be such a thing. They exude warmth, and when paired with his killer smile, straight white teeth, and strong jaw, it makes me catch my breath and clench my thighs.
Now, don’t get me wrong; it wasn’t his looks that made me catch the feels. Yes, I’ll admit, his looks were the cause of the insta-lust, and I’m not going to lie and say I don’t want to climb him like a monkey climbs a tree because I do. But his looks weren’t what made me fall in love with him. No, that was purely his personality.
You see, my Man Crush Monday is a geek. A one hundred percent bona fide geek. And it turns me on more than anything. Geeks and nerds have always been my thing. I’ve always been attracted to the smart, dorky guys who are into Star Wars or Dungeons & Dragons. If a guy talks to me about astrophysics or can tell me random facts about history or how they put the bubbles into cream soda, I’m putty in their hands. Hello, major Tony Stark fangirl here. And my crush, this hot dork who gets on my train every other Monday, is about as close to Tony Stark as I’ll likely ever get.
I grip the handrail and lean out, scanning the platform. More hurried people jump on the train, and I anxiously scrutinise the crowd, looking for him. My eyes flick to the platform clock—8:07 a.m. The train is to depart at 8:09 sharp. He’s cutting it close today.
A ball of disappointment settles in my chest when I realise with a jolt that he’s not coming today.
I’m on holiday from the weekend, two blissful weeks of lie-ins and late nights. I prepared myself to not see my crush while I was off, but because he only boards the train every other week, if he doesn’t turn up today, it will be pushing four weeks that I won’t clap eyes on him. This is a disaster. It’s 8:07 a.m., and my day is officially ruined.
As if my thinking about him makes him appear, he bursts through the ticket barrier at the end and runs, newspaper tucked under his arm, briefcase thumping wildly against his leg as he pelts towards the train. He looks up, his eyes meet mine, and he raises a hand in greeting—or maybe it’s not a greeting; perhaps it’s a don’t leave without me gesture, but I take it the other way. Small wins.
I smile and playfully roll my eyes, and he grins the cutest smile ever and climbs on board at the other end of the long train just as my walkie crackles to life with instructions.
I sigh happily, my disappointment dispersed.
Day officially unruined.
Once the train is safely on the move, I set about the other part of my job—ticket-collecting. I start at the front and work my way to the back—to him. The job is old hat now; I could do it in my sleep. When I first started, the motion of the train made me feel nauseous, and I’d wobble on my feet, almost falling over passengers’ bags they’d carelessly left in the aisles. Not anymore though. I’m like a ballerina, traipsing down the carriage like a swan gliding on water. Practice makes perfect.
I greet the passengers with my usual cheery smile, a little bit of chitchat to the regulars, and a few snippets of information about London for the obvious tourists.
When I step into the last carriage, I see he’s chosen a seat facing front at the far end. I chew on my lip, absentmindedly selling another ticket as I discreetly let my eyes glide over him. He’s chatting to an older guy next to him, and I see he’s already given away his newspaper. I smile to myself and hand a young teenage couple their change before moving on to the next passenger. The old guy seated next to him laughs at something, and I smile inwardly. My crush is one of those people you could drop into a room full of strangers, and within ten minutes, they’d be ordering a sharing platter, and he would be in their wedding.
The light slants in from the window, bouncing off his hair in a way that makes my fingers itch to reach out and run a hand through it. I bet it’s soft, like silk. He shrugs and takes a gulp of the disgusting train tea he purchased from the refreshments cart. I watch his Adam’s apple bob in his throat as he swallows.
Jeez, that throat! I would be perfectly content to do nothing other than run my tongue down that throat all day.
My greedy eyes drag over the rest of him. Today is a shirt-and-tie week. His grey suit is paired with a white shirt and blue-striped tie; it’s stylish and hot as sin. Last time, he was distinctly more casual—a well-worn grey Goonies Never Say Die T-shirt under a fitted blue suit, and I swear it almost made me come. In fact, I did come later when I was alone and thinking about it.
I sigh as a wave of longing washes over me. Why does he have to be so cute and so damn perfect for me?
I’m done, and he’s not even looked up at me yet.
Control yourself, Amy. You got this. Big-girl panties. Remember what Heather said: just talk to him like you would any other passenger.
I’m at the seats just in front of his now. With each passenger served, the anticipation builds. This is it, my favourite part of the week.
I hold my breath as I stop next to his seat but deliberately keep my eyes away from his face, dragging the moment out like a masochist. “Good morning, gentlemen. Tickets, please.”
“Good morning.” The old guy next to my crush smiles over at me and holds out a credit card. “Open return to London, please.”
I nod and ring it through, conscious of how close I am to him. I can almost feel the soft brush of his knee against mine as I lean over the table with the card machine, watching as the old guy beeps his card to pay. I daren’t look at him as his subtle yet decadent aftershave wafts up; mixed with the tones of his skin, it smells delicious and makes my mouth water.
It’s so hard not to just jump the guy. The insta-lust is strong with this one.
On the table in front of him, his book sits, abandoned. It’s facedown, so I tilt my head a little to see the title on the spine. We read the same books a lot, me and my crush. Sometimes, it’s just a happy coincidence; sometimes, I pop into WHSmith on my way home and buy the book he’s been reading, like the weird stalker that I am. We have similar tastes though; we both like crime and thrillers. Today’s pick: C.J. Tudor’s newest novel. I’ve already read it, so I smile in satisfaction.
When I can put it off no longer, I raise my eyes to his face, and it’s like being sucker-punched right in the heart. His beautiful brown eyes meet mine, and his mouth pulls into that panty-wetting smile that exposes all his perfect teeth. My knees feel weak, and words just … go. I’m struck dumb. This happens every time I try to talk to him. So much for all the practice my best friend, Heather, and I did on the phone last night; all the conversation starters she made me memorise have vanished into a puff of air.
Damn. That voice.
I clear my throat and force a smile. My gaze wanders to the tiny little freckle he has under one eye. It’s the only thing that isn’t flawless, industry-standard perfection about him, yet somehow, that little brown dot makes him even more beautiful to me. One of my secret fantasies is kissing that little freckle while he does sinful things to my naked body.
“Morning,” I reply, trying not to let those sinful freckle fantasies show on my face.
“I almost didn’t make it today—slept in,” he says, reaching up to run a hand through his hair, the grin still paralysing me.
I long to say something witty, to say anything actually. But the ease of conversation I seem to be able to manage with everyone else is like a distant talent. Like him, I’m also one of those people who can make friends with strangers, and in fact, I have actually met someone on a plane and then stepped in to be a bridesmaid at their beach wedding less than twenty-four hours later. (It’s a long story involving lots of cocktails, tall heels, a broken ankle, and a hospitalised should-be bridesmaid.) But around this guy, my brain just melts into a puddle. He makes me nervous; he’s the only one who has ever made me nervous.
“I saw. A couple of minutes later, and you’d have been on the next train,” I reply, my throat scratchy with the need to clear it again.
“That wouldn’t do. Your train is my favourite.”
Is he flirting with me? My whole face burns as my insides squirm with pleasure at the mere thought.
“Yes, this train does have the fewest stops and gets there the fastest.” What am I doing? Flirt back, Amy!
He laughs, a throaty, almost-awkward laugh, and the hair at the nape of my neck prickles with sensation. Other than his voice, his laugh is my most favourite sound in the world. He looks down at the table and holds up his prepurchased ticket; I discreetly wipe my sweaty palm on my trouser leg before I take it, punch it, and hand it back.
“Thanks. Have a good day,” I mutter.
Disappointment settles over me. Our interaction is over, and now, because of my holiday, I won’t get to see him for weeks. I open my mouth to say something, anything, just to snatch another precious few seconds of his time, but nothing comes out. I feel my face warm from my neck all the way up to my hairline, and I walk off, kicking myself because I wasted another perfectly good opportunity to talk to him.
I don’t even know his name, for goodness’ sake. Five months of seeing him twice a month, and I haven’t even worked up the nerve to ask his name. I suck big time.
I walk to the end of the carriage and press the button on the door, hearing the whoosh as the door slides open. I step into the quiet corridor and close the door behind me, leaning against the wall, taking a couple of deep breaths. Maybe I’ll get another chance today. Maybe I’ll be lucky, and he will get one of my return-journey trains this afternoon. Sometimes he does, but more often than not, he doesn’t, and some other lucky conductor gets to drool over him instead.
I look back through the glass window, seeing the back of his head. He is sitting to the side now and has picked up his book.
I let out a sigh of longing. I have it so bad that it’s physically painful.
My friend Heather doesn’t believe me that you can fall in love with someone you’ve never really spoken to, but she’s wrong, dead wrong. I don’t need to know his name or where he lives or what size shoe he wears or what his favourite dinner is to fall in love with him. All that stuff is somehow irrelevant. I know him. My soul knows his.
Over the last five months, I’ve learned a lot—stalker-style, of course. I know everything that is important to know about him. Like, how he smiles when he speaks to his mother on the phone or that he always gives up his seat when it is busy. And how he befriends strangers and always gives his newspaper away. I know he likes Doctor Who and Marvel movies. I know that his favourite snack from the refreshments cart is a custard cream biscuit and that he dunks those biscuits like a pro, never letting one break off, leaving his tea a crummy, soggy mess. I also know, thanks to my friend on the refreshments cart, that he often pays for a coffee for the person after him to “pass it on.” He helps little old ladies carry their luggage off the train and makes sure they get to the gate safely. He often streams cartoons on his phone and gives it to tired and grumpy children to watch on their way home. I know his voice, his hands, his smile, his laugh.
And the final straw, the one that really sealed the deal and drew me in hook, line, and sinker: last month, when a little girl had tripped while getting on the train and skinned her knee, he performed magic to cheer her up. Actual, legit, honest-to-God, Harry Potter–esque magic. He made money, handkerchiefs, and playing cards disappear and reappear for almost an hour, much to the little girl’s delight—and mine, of course.
That was the moment I knew—the moment I just knew—I was in love with him. This stranger on the train, my Man Crush Monday. Who can resist a super-hot dork who performs magic? Not this girl.
I sigh again, watching the back of his head as he slumps more comfortably in his seat, turning pages of his novel.
Maybe one day, I will talk to him, dazzle him with my sharp wit and sparkling personality. He’ll have no choice but to fall madly in love with me and all my quirks, and we’ll get a happily ever after worthy of any romance novel.
But today is not that day.
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Copyright © 2020 Kirsty Moseley. All rights reserved.