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1971 [ - ]
by OakHillsDrive
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Story Notes:

Thank you to Anneli, The_Micellis, SherryLH, Amorefan, and monarules for being the trivia experts that they are!  Thank you angie 1379 for the chapter 2 idea.

My special thanks to: 1) To the guy I met on the bus from Idaho Falls to Salt Lake City in 1991, I hope you're having a great life! 2)To my mom and dad, thanks for your continued support; 3) My best friend, Jenny, thanks for being born in such a cool way; 4) To my little brother, Jaime, I wish I could have known you; 5) To the grandma-in-law, Johnnie Rae, I never met, thanks for leaving my father-in-law with such a sweet memory; 6) To my husband who loves me despite the way the house looks when I'm busy on the internet; and 7) And most especially, thanks to my Heavenly Father who inspired me with ideas for this story that I never would have come up with on my own.

Author's Notes:

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their original owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. I am in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. As they say, "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery."

No wonder Noah built the boat, she thought as she ran through the rain. She had been running from door way to door way for the last half hour. Still, no matter how she had tried to stay dry, her clothes were soaked through and she was tired. The tears of the last couple of hours had blended with the rain on her cheeks. By the time, she made it to the bus station, the rain and her tears could fill buckets.

"What else can go wrong?" she said out loud as she pushed open the door to the dingy bus station. There was one guy asleep in the corner on a bench. Another man was reading a paper and a mother sat in the corner trying to comfort her young toddler. What am I doing here?

As the door creaked open, everyone turned to look at her. As soon as she felt their gaze, it was gone again. Boy, I must look like Miss America, she thought with a frown.

Tired as she was, she walked over to the ticket counter. "Sir?" she called to the cashier.

"Yes," he said barely paying attention. He was watching a small black and white TV sitting on the counter. He had a drop of mustard on his lower lip. A half eaten sandwich was sitting in his hands.

"I . .I was just wondering if the bus to New York makes a stop in Fairfield, Connecticut?"

"No ma'am, but it does stop in Bridgeport just a few miles from there."

"Do you know if its on time?"

"It was," he said finally turning to look at her. "It left ten minutes ago."

"Are you serious?" She looked down and realized that her watch had stopped.

"Yes ma'am. Do you need a ticket?"

"No, sir. I've got an anytime ticket."

"Tough day?" the cashier said as he wiped his lip. "It'll be another two hours before the next one comes along." He tried to sound sympathetic, but for her, the words lost all meaning when he went right back to watching the television set.

The disappointment of the day broke free and straight out of her tear ducts. She tried to hold back, but there was nothing else she could do. She was too tired to fight. Five dollars was all she had left in her pocket. She wanted to get home and she wanted to get there now. Spending two hours on a bench was not how she wanted to spend the evening. Grudgingly, she walked over to the closest seat and dropped on to it.

There was really nothing else to do now but, bury her head in her rain pruned fingers. She sat there with her hands over her eyes. Maybe if she sat there long enough, the world would go away.

"Miss?" called a voice from the bench behind her.

She picked up her head and opened her eyes to find a tissue waving in front of her. Without a second thought, she reached for it.

"Thank you" was all she could muster. She swept the tears and raindrops from her cheeks.

"You're welcome," he said.

His soothing voice caught her by surprise. It sounded familiar, but she couldn't quite place it. Anxious to put it with a face, she turned to look. Oh, no, she didn't know him.

"Thanks, again." She said with a sniffle.

"No problem. You look like you've had a hard time tonight. You okay? Is there anyone I can call?" He sounded so sincere.

"No...no. I'm not okay, but really, there's no one you can call. I really just need to get home, crawl into bed and pull my covers over my head for the next sixty...seventy years."

"Oh, come on now. Things can't be that bad. I mean how could they be, if you're in a place like this."

She tried to hold on to the pain she'd been feeling, but it felt good to smile. Who was this guy? Why was this total stranger trying to cheer her up? What the heck was she doing even talking to him? But there was something about his voice.

"You have a beautiful smile," he said.

"You're sweet." She said as she blew her nose. She was grateful for at least a few minutes to think of someone other than "him."

"No really, I'm not just saying that. It's beautiful. It's obvious that things aren't going so well for ya, but you still smile darn good."

Their eyes met each others. For a moment, she found herself getting lost in his and hoping never to be found.

"Hey," he said breaking their connection. He leaned down and opened the suitcase that was laying at his feet. He pulled out a zip up sweat shirt and ran over to her side of the bench. "You're shivering."

"Oh no. You don't have to." She tried to brush him off, but he insisted as he placed it on her shoulders.

"Hey, I'm not gonna have you catching a cold 'cuz I didn't do something my mother would hit me for not doing."

"Okay. Okay," she said giving in against her better judgment.

He walked back over to his bench and zipped up his suitcase again. When he was done he looked up at her with a smile.

"Well since there's no one I can call, do you mind if I try?"

"Excuse me?" At this point, she was a little confused. She wasn't used to being the center of anyone's attention, at least not lately.

"I mean, you wanna talk? I missed my bus, too. It seems like we have a few minutes."

There was just something about his voice that made her instantly trust him. Despite her head telling her to run, her heart told her this was someone who could help.

"I'd like that."

"Do you have an emergency at home that you're trying to get to?

"No. It's nothing like that. It's …just my boyfriend, Michael and I had a fight." She looked up at the lights trying to keep her tears from spilling out again. "My classes aren't going so well this semester and well, I'm just tired of it all."

"You gotta a boyfriend?" he sounded a little hesitant.

Surprised at the question, she said, "Well, I guess not really after today." Why was she telling him this? Why was she opening up to a complete stranger? She couldn't stop herself. She just kept talking.

"We got into a fight. He's a journalism major at Harvard and I'm at Wellesley and well, he just doesn't make time for me anymore. The stories are always more important than me, the adventure, the excitement. I guess to him I'm just the girl weighing him down. Today, I told him I was tired of it and he said okay. Before I knew it, he was gone, right out the door. He chose his job over me, over love."

"Pardon my French but if you ask me, I don't think this idiot 'Michael' loves you."

"I'm sorry sir, but Michael is anything but an idiot. Didn't you just hear me say that he goes to Harvard?"

"Ya, I heard but there are some things out there that no book can teach. Things like respect, tenderness, compassion and love. Those are things you only learn in the real world."

Before she knew it, her shivering was gone. She felt a bright red flush on her cheeks and had to look down. She couldn't think of anything to say. If there was once in her life where she had felt the need to hug a total stranger, this was it. How could he tell her everything she had been wanting to hear? Why couldn't she hear something that sincere from Michael? She had loved him so much and he'd just walked away. How could someone who says they love you choose the coldness of a career over the warmth of love?

With all the courage she could scrap together she simply said, "How did you get to be so smart?"

"Too many slaps in the face from too many girls who thought I treated them the same as you say Michael's treating you. I had to learn the hard way, too." He rubbed his cheek in remembrance.

"I guess it's not the kind of knowledge that comes instantly to everyone."

"No, that's not true. Girls usually learn those kind of lessons a WHOLE lot sooner than guys do. Guys need a couple of smacks to make sure it really sinks in."

"How do you do that?" She said changing the subject.

"Do what?"

"Make me laugh, when I am so determined to be angry."

"I guess it's a gift," he said making a face.

"Stop it! " Trying to hold back the laughter. She let out a few giggles that quickly turned into sobs. "I'm sorry, I mean even I have to admit that Michael's an idiot, but I just… I just…."

"Care too much? Think about him too much? Have already named your children?"

"Oh come on, I haven't done tha. . . . Jonathan and Samantha."

"How did I know?" he said with a petty tone.. "All girls, when they think they're hip deep in love decide to name their children."

"And what's wrong with that?"

"Well, I mean, aren't you getting a little ahead of yourself. I mean, he probably hasn't even proposed yet, right?"

"How did you…. Well, that's not the point."

"Well, then what is the point?"

"Well, I guess. . . I guess I saw a future with him."

"And you don't now?"

"I don't know. I guess deep down I hope there is a chance for one, but right now, I don't want to think about the alternative."

"If you ask me, I think the alternative sounds pretty good."

"How can you say that? Being alone, sitting in my room crying because he's gone; that's somehow better?"

"Yes, because you might cry for a few days, maybe a few weeks, and then you'll get out into the world and start meeting people again. Someday you'll meet someone who could start to care for you as much as I. . ." He had stopped mid-sentence. "I think Michael should," he stammered.

She had to do a double take. She knew he was about to say something important. Why hadn't he just said it?

Both of them tried to quickly find a way to change the subject.

She looked down and saw the huge sock embroidered on the sweat shirt.

"I'm not very familiar with sports, but I think I've seen this symbol somewhere before."

"Yes," he said gratefully. "The Boston Red Sox'. I'm on my way back home. I was up in Boston for the open try-outs."

"What were you trying out for?"

"The baseball team. The Boston Red Sox' baseball team?"

My gosh, she thought. I know he can tell I have no idea what he's talking about.

"Oh, how nice for you. Did they pick you?"

"I don't know yet. They seemed pretty happy with some of the plays I made, but they told me they'd give me a call."

"Oh," she said solemnly.

"Oh? Ay oh, oh ay. Whattcha mean 'oh?'"

"Nothing," regretting her word choice. "I'm sure they're going to call you."

"You didn't sound so sure a moment ago."

"Well. . .sometimes a phone call is a yes, but most of the time. . .it's a no."

"You think?"

"I'm sorry, I hope I haven't disappointed you. I've just had my fair share of rejection, more lately than usual, and I kinda have a feeling about these things."

"Oh man," he said dropping his head. "I shouldda known when the larger group of people were getting the free jerseys. . ."

Now it was her turn to console him. She looked his way and noticed that his hand was sitting on the top of the bench. Hesitantly, she placed her hand on his.

"I'm sure things will work out, one way or another."

"Thank you. I hope you're right."

"Of course, I am."

She felt her heart flutter when she realized he had moved his thumb from underneath her hand and had wrapped it around hers.

Inside she was screaming. Oh my gosh! This man, this gorgeous man (she finally admitted to herself) is paying attention to me. He's talking to me. Oh my gosh, what do I do now?"

"Look the rains' stopped."

She was so glad he had spoken first.

"Yes it has."

"Would you like to join me for a cup of cocoa?"

She could tell by the look on his face, that he felt embarrassed asking her the question.

"Well, if you don't mind being seen with me in public. I mean looking the way I look, I guess it'd be okay." She said as she squeezed his hand.

"You look great."

End of Chapter 1 (More will follow, any volunteers to help with the dishes?)