| The Train Ride By Sandra Bunino | platform’s stairs two at a time, she slipped into the closest train car with just a minute to spare. A deep breath filled her lungs as Alexis glanced around the crowded car. She was used to the regular crowd of business people on the New Haven bound route, but there was a different buzz on the train that day. It was Christmas time, which meant throngs of suburbanites flooded the city for their annual shopping and Rockefeller Center tree viewing day. She rolled her eyes at the couples and families tittering happily as she passed rows of passenger-filled seats. Scarcely an empty seat could be found in the first few train cars. The thought of listening to kids shrieking Christmas carols for the next hour made her skin crawl anyway. It wasn’t as though she hated Christmas. She only hated the preholiday frenzy. If she saw one more candy cane, reindeer or tacky Santa, she was sure she’d lose it. The sugary-sweet-make-your-teeth-hurt part of Christmas bugged her. It was one big nuisance and unless you were ten or had a ten year-old kid, what was the point? Really. A smile teased at her lips as she remembered the events from her past few Christmas holidays. Alexis scanned the rows and rows of occupied seats. Her feet ached as she continued from car to car through the seemingly never ending train. Hope of having a peaceful ride home dwindled with every steel door that slammed in back of her. She lowered her hopes to just finding a seat within a five-foot non-screaming kid radius. Pushing onward, she figured there were just a few more cars until the end of the train. Despite her frayed nerves, the gentle rocking eased her into a sleepy haze, and she was determined to find a seat in the last car. A loud clang of the handle echoed before she pulled on the heavy door. Then . . . pure silence. Her ears perked. Surely, the car wasn’t empty. She stepped into the compartment and looked around. An attendant looked up from his reading. 62 | www.BTSeMag.com “This is the quiet car, Miss,” he whispered. The quiet car? She’d never ventured far enough into the train to find the quiet car. Glancing around the compartment, she spotted only an older couple in the third row. She was about to collapse into a seat a few rows from the pair when a single overhead light switched on. Her gaze was drawn to the back of the car and directly into a set of dark eyes staring right back at her. *** Glancing over the top of the seat in front of him, his eyes washed over the beautiful woman entering the cabin. Long hair partially covered one eye and swept over her shoulder like black silk. The tails of her corporate style blouse hung loose, and the first few buttons below her neck were undone revealing the hint of something lacey underneath. She stopped to brush the hair from her face and scan the cabin. It took her all of three seconds to lock onto his stare. The racing train matched the uptick of his heartbeat as she walked up the aisle. Her eyes never wavered from his. She continued her slow procession to the back of the train until she stood directly next to his row. “Is that seat taken?” she asked, nodding her head once to the unoccupied seat to his right. “I don’t believe it is,” he said after clearing his throat. He detected a slight smile from her full lips as she hoisted the leather briefcase that hung from her arm up and slid it into the overhead compartment. A wave of heat hit his cheek, and he stole an appreciative glance at the strip of warm skin peeking between the top of her skirt’s waistband and the bottom of her untucked blouse as she stretched to adjust her stowed case.