Chapter 1 – My back was cramping up from the lengthly train ride and it led me to standing too quickly. My head spun from the rush of blood away from my brain and I felt my balance give way with the lurch of the train.
It was then I felt a hand reach out and steady me at the small of my back.
I had been turned away from the gentleman behind me wearing the dark suit but was acutely aware of his presence now. I blushed in embarrassment as he slowly lowered his hand off my back to brush my ass just briefly.
I apologized shyly for my clumsiness as he, in a proper English accent asked me if I was alright. He lifted the arm rest in the seat and motioned for me to sit down. I told him I was fine, and mumbled something about getting up too fast, but sat in the name of safety. He chuckled and lightly brushed his lips with the back of his hand to hide his smile.
“Funny was it?” I bravely said.
“Well,” he answered, “it could have been an awful tumble.”
“Except for your noble assistance,” I stated as a matter of fact with somewhat of an edge and a smile.
It was then I noticed his stunning blue eyes. They were hiding behind a thick framed pair of glasses accentuating the lines of his temples to his jaw. I looked away into my lap where my hands were intertwined and thought maybe I should return to my seat. I started to get up and said something to the effect and he interrupted my thought process by saying he had a long journey ahead of him and would enjoy the pleasure of my company. My “other” seat sitting empty, I saw no harm as the passenger train had several unfilled seats on this trip. I sat back down and I felt my thigh brush up against him, he made no attempt to move away as it did.
Mostly we made small talk about the purposes of our travel; he was coming from a long day of meetings in Edinburgh where his company had an affiliate contract to deal in mediation with some union dispute. I was leaving Edinburgh after a month of an elective in my medical program. Summer time for medical students offered either a short break or a chance to explore an area of medicine in a foreign country. A type of self study with the guidance of a pre planned preceptor in the A and E, or emergency room as we call it in North America. I had just finished a gruelling few weeks of call and I had been anticipating 4 hours of sitting on a train to London with glee, where my feet and head would finally get a mandatory rest.
Our small talk trailed off and after an hour into our ride I felt my body’s pull to drift into a medical students half slumber; a place between rest and alert. I had a vague sense that I had this dark haired gentleman sitting beside me, and that his arm was elbow to elbow with mine. I felt him lift the arm rest between our two seats and a little more give of space that landed us just a few inches closer. He said something sympathetic about how exhausted I must be and how I should sleep if I could. Fortunately or unfortunately, I was too distracted by a variety of his features to commit to an unbecoming, jaw dropping, drooling sleep. It had been a long time since my last encounter with a man that didn’t involve patient histories and orders from attending physicians. If I was being honest here, 24 hour call wasn’t as conducive to playtime as some of those Dr shows on tv would lead us to believe.
I shifted in my seat uncomfortably as I pondered my dry spell, while breathing in the subtle cologne smell of my new friend and without realizing it, gave a small sigh. He chuckled again, and I felt worriedly aware that for a moment he seemed to read my thoughts. It wouldn’t be the first time either; as a new medical student I was frequently chastised for my inability to keep what I was thinking off of my face. After the many years of hearing patient histories I felt like I was making some headway into hiding my thoughts better. I mean, a sigh could mean a variety of things, I suppose. I glanced up at him from the side, and he asked me if I was having a nice dream.
“Well, I haven’t fallen asleep quite yet,” dodging around the question, “it’s hard to get comfortable in here.”
“The trains purpose is for travel, not comfort as you probably are already aware.” As he said this, he lifted his hands up and out to make his point as our knees brushed the back of the seats in front of us. I laughed, nodding in agreement, relieved I was of average height and not any taller. It was this moment I had seen a glimmer of metal on his left hand. I felt a small pang of disappointment, silly really, I had just met him and I had no investment in this man.
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