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The first time Sarah saw Him, he was leaning up against a pillar at Flinders Street Station, knee bent against the wall, checking the time on his watch. At five thirty, after her first day as a junior editor, she still hadn’t stopped trembling with excitement. She’d memorised the names of all the workers in her team, and loved the way she walked into the office and it smelt of warm paper, straight out of the printer. There must have been at least six printers on the one floor alone.
Now, at the train station, she supposed it made sense this man stood out. She was on alert and he was impossible to miss. Eyes peeled, she noticed him, as if he were a photograph, the aperture turned low so the bustle of other passersby blurred out. She sat on her seat, waiting, pretending to text on her mobile. Now and then she’d look up as if wondering, “When’s the train coming?” Like she’d forgotten. Under her lashes, or from a casual glance sweeping the platform, she’d look at something new on him.
First it was his jaw. Sarah didn’t know why a strange man’s jawline mattered, but it did. She could imagine the sharp turn as she traced from ear down to his chin, and back up to his other ear with her finger. She imagined all her old poster pin-ups. Sarah wasn’t a fussy girl. She had James Dean, Elvis Presley, Bon Jovi, Brad Pitt, Zac Efron, and even the Hemsworth brothers. By far, this man’s jawline was as good or better—sharp, yet smooth enough to want to touch.
She looked up again but thought he saw her, so she quickly took stock of a mother pushing a pram, another small child holding its side bar and stomping along. She looked further up and saw that she had two minutes left before her train really did arrive. Sarah had never wanted a train to be late before, although they always were with Melbourne’s crazy rail system. Today, she did. The guys in her lectures and tutes back in university were always man-whores or geeks or already taken. Now, at her first proper full-time job, she only had one man in her team and she didn’t have hopes for him, since she was sure that lunchtime phone call was to his “love”, and that “love” sounded like a man.
Sarah wasn’t greedy. One man would do, and he didn’t have to be the best looking or the kindest, but he had to be right for her. And she couldn’t pick if there would be something wrong with this man leaning against the pillar, waiting for his train, but she hoped that maybe he’d catch the same line as her and she’d get to wonder about him longer. The third time she looked up she noticed more of him, more details here and there. He didn’t have a briefcase, but he was in perfectly ironed suit pants, leather dress shoes and a light peach shirt, one button undone lower than most businessmen she saw. The shirt’s waist tapered in to hug him at his hips. She figured that he naturally filled out the chest, shaping a perfect V, and the rolled up sleeves showed off the hint of corded forearms that stirred her imagination more. He had a buzz of hair covering his head, just enough to draw attention to the sexy contours of his face and body.
Just then, the lady over the speaker announced the train was arriving and Sarah stood, just as everyone else. She looped her handbag over her shoulder and found her way just behind the yellow line, choosing to walk diagonal, inwards, so that she stood mere metres from the man.
The doors opened, and the people on the platform waited for the people onboard to get off. Sarah, though, turned to the man, and watched him pull out his mobile, then put it away just as quickly. He looked up, and Sarah’s initial thought was Quick! Oh my God, pretend you were staring at something odd behind him! but those silly cover-ups only made people look worse, so she decided to embrace this chance and offer a little smile—but she chickened out halfway and had to drop her gaze to the floor, not even able to hide her smile.
The ground in front of her started emptying, so she waded her way through with the other people desperate to find a seat. If Sarah had her way she’d clamp her bag under her arm, make sure her heels were steady and then make a run to the nearest two seats free, fling her handbag on the spare one in front of her, and let that man sidestep through the knees of others in the seat arrangement and sit in front of her. In front was always better, because men had long legs. She’d learnt the pros and cons of sitting in front of men on trains before. Many times, smelly men or big men had their legs opened wide, and Sarah had to close her smaller ones between them with little gap spacing. Or, she would have to cross her legs and get a cramp trying to keep her crossed leg bent back, so as not to touch them.
But Sarah’s thoughts … that’s all they were. There were a few seats here and there, but neither Sarah nor the man got any. He could have, but he held out his hand and let that mother through, with the pram and her small child. Sarah found herself liking him even more. Her last boyfriend had loved the clubs in the city and it was at one of them, not far from here, that he’d kissed his other girlfriend who Sarah never knew about. Or, not until she’d decided to surprise him that night and found her legs around his, his hands cupping under her ass in a section away from the dance floor.
Although this man didn’t sit next to her, he did find a spare pole to grab onto in the train carriage, and Sarah found one opposite him. He once again noticed her, but Sarah hadn’t been looking this time. He must have been doing some staring of his own. Sarah wondered if this man had been doing the same thing the whole time Sarah had her own game going. She wondered this as the train took off and they stood almost in reaching distance, both with a hand holding the pole next to them. Sarah wondered which stop he’d get off at.
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