Seven Forty-Three

Maps dictate where we go, but they don't always take us home. City subway tunnels and dim street lights converge, bringing two people infinitely closer. Will a chance meeting lead them to forever? Maybe it was only a matter of time. Romance; BxE; Rated M.

Authors' notes...

First off, we had a grand ole time writing this, and I hope you'll all enjoy reading. :)

This story is all pre-written and will post on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Spelling and grammar are Canadian in this story, as it is set in Canada. French will be spoken by numerous characters, but no worries, translation will immediately follow in brackets.

We owe huge tackle-hugs to Midnight Cougar for waving her magic beta wand over this. It wouldn't be what it is without her.

Also, boobie gropes to Kni Nut for pre-reading and telling us we weren't crazy.

Lastly, Thank you to the FicSisters for pimping the crap out of this today. It's is so very appreciated!

Now, on with the show… ;)

...

Chapter 1

The subway grinds and sputters, the noises in the background mixing with the voices all around me. Every morning starts like this. Tedious. Boring.

Everything is the same. The grinding of the wheels on steel and the ins and outs of strangers as they get to where they need to go. Some mornings I wonder why I don't move closer downtown, but then reality rears its ugly head and reminds me how expensive living there can be. The last apartment I checked out was small enough in its entirety it could have fit in my current bedroom. They wanted nine hundred dollars for it, too. It was ridiculous. The only way I could live downtown and still manage to feed myself would've been to live with someone else. I shudder at that thought.

A subway pass and mindless hours wasted riding to-and-fro, in the looming underground city, is what I get for wanting to save money on rent, and not having to share space with a friend, or worse, a stranger.

Oh, and I get to see him.

Right on cue, our car grinds to a halt and my heart races. I peek at my phone and, yeah, it's seven forty-three. Swallowing my anticipation, I let my eyes dance toward the door to my right. I can feel my throat go dry as I wait to see him. I don't know why he affects me this way, but he does. He makes my mornings so much better. Oddly enough, it's like he brightens up the dreary tunnels of the Toronto underground.

When I've almost given up, and right before the doors start sliding closed, he steps in between them. His presence envelops me like a warm blanket from afar. I don't even know his name, yet knowing he's here with me makes me feel … safe. Protected. It's ridiculous, really.

I can see in his features and the small beads of sweat on his forehead that he's been running. His breathing is choppy and he barely looks around for a place to sit before he grabs on to the pole overhead and leans his forehead on his forearm. His eyes close and I watch him, all six foot something of his frame, as he seems to relax while the cart moves forward toward downtown.

The ninety-nine cent Kindle book I picked up last night is forgotten as my eyes roam his body. This is the first time I've gotten to see him for so long. He usually chooses a seat down the other end of the car. This is my lucky morning, too bad it has to be on a day which seems to be his unluckiest.

His eyes open and he looks around, his gaze meeting mine for a split second, but I quickly look away. I feel my face heat up, and for some reason I know he's still looking. I can feel his eyes on me, assessing or maybe judging. I fiddle with my phone and turn on the music app, popping in the ear buds and hoping I'm able to read a few pages of this book before getting to my stop.

I can't concentrate for the life of me and a small—well, probably huge—part of me wonders if he's still looking or if I'm going crazy. Closing my eyes, I take a deep breath and lift my head, intent on stretching or scratching or … something, anything to look like I'm not looking at him. I'm certifiable, obviously, but that's okay. This is Toronto, and I'm only one person among a whole bunch of others, so together we blend. He won't remember seeing me tomorrow. It's probably crazy I even remember seeing him myself.

Opening my eyes, I reach up with both arms and crack my knuckles over my head. It's not weird or anything, but the fact that the moment my eyes meet his, he smirks, is totally weird. And oddly satisfying. He's looking. At me. Score.

Playing it cool is not my strong suit, but I shake my head, roll my eyes, and look away. Apparently, I'm an idiot. My cheeks are warm and I'm probably red, but that's okay because damn, he was looking. And he's fine. I feel like I'm in grade school and that's completely ridiculous, since I'm in my mid-twenties, for crying out loud.

I want to shake myself, or facepalm, but I don't because that would definitely make me look like a bigger fool. So instead, I pretend I didn't see him checking me out and go back to staring down at my phone.

My foot twitches and I find myself nodding and bobbing my leg to the beat coming out of my headphones. Vedder is especially good live and this song makes all my girly bits light up and tingle.

I lick my lips and take a deep breath, feeling the music flow through me. The deep tones reverberate from my head all the way down to my toes and I lean my head back, eyes open and unfocused. I'm so busy trying to ignore Hot Sexpender Guy I don't notice he's moved a few feet closer to me. The subway has stopped a couple times since he got on and more people have joined us on this morning's trip.

I can't help where my eyes roam, as again, like a magnet, they focus on his face. He's all lean and angular, soft lips and bushy brows. His eyes are light blue and his lashes long and dark. He's looking out the window somewhere behind me, so I take full advantage of this by taking in—and by that I mean seriously appreciating—as much of the view as I can.

His hair is a dishevelled mess and I briefly wonder where his usual fauxhawk has gone. Either way, the mess on his head looks good on him. The colour, a mix of browns and penny colours, seems natural, something unexpected when looking at the rest of him. I would have thought he'd have dyed it some other colour, but I'm grateful he hasn't. I like it this way.

I let my eyes travel down his broad shoulders and strong arms, noticing how the sleeves of his shirt are rolled up and there's ink on one of his arms that seems to cover most of it. I can see swirls of dark ink run up the side of his neck and I instinctively lick my lips, wondering what's under the rest of his shirt.

His dark cargo pants hang low on his hips and he's wearing Doc Martens that look like they've seen better days. I look down at my own feet and smile, knowing how loved those boots are by how beat up they look.

Crossing my legs, I tear my eyes away. I'm being completely ridiculous. This poor guy doesn't deserve to be eye-fucked by some random stranger. I need help. And quick.

The train screeches to another stop and yet more people pile into the already full car. I briefly wonder why everyone wants the end cars, before realising that I, myself, will only sit at the front or back car. Seeing train derailments on TV has taught me it's usually only the middle cars which get twisted together in burning piles of metal and plastic. If I'm going to go out, I'd rather not go out that way.

Somehow, through the shuffling and shoving, Hot Sexpender Guy is suddenly right in front of me. And by right in front of me, I mean when I tilt my head down from where it's been resting on the back of the seat and open my eyes, his crotch is right in front of my face.

Damn that's awkward, and a little hot. I wonder if he'd notice if I sniffed him.

The train starts to move again, and he must not have been holding on tight enough to the bar as he lurches forward and almost falls right on top of me. Due to the placement of my hands holding my iPhone, his crotch presses into the backs of my hands. I hold my breath and try to move them away before I'm too tempted to cop a real feel.

My gaze lifts and I can see him staring out the window; he doesn't glance down at me. I don't know what this means; did he not feel it? Is he as embarrassed as I am? I huff out a breath, annoyed with myself. Even if I did manage to talk to this guy, he's probably not going to want to put up with my brand of crazy. Fuck, even I get sick of it. I decide that for the rest of the ride to my stop I'm going to simply ignore him and read.

This is much easier said than done.

Reading and ignoring would work so much better if the train wasn't subtly moving side to side. Every time the train tilts to my side I feel the brush of his crotch against my hands. My panties are growing damper by the minute. It's moments like these that make me happy I keep a change of clothes in my locker at work. If this keeps going, I'm totally going to need to change my underwear when I get to the office.

The train announces my stop is next, so I put my iPhone away in my pocket and start to gather my stuff. I'm hoping Mr. Hottie gets the hint and moves himself away from me, but he doesn't, so I try to get it done as swiftly as possible without brushing up against him. I'm starting to think he liked being groped by the weird chick that enjoys ogling his fine self.

There's nothing more annoying than those who aren't ready to disembark from the train when their stop comes. It's usually those idiots who hold the whole thing up when they rush out at the last minute, hitting the door and making it reopen. Mr. Tall, Dark, and Sexy, however, still makes no move to allow me to get up, even though I've said excuse me a couple times.

Finally annoyed I snap. "I said, excuse me."

He looks down at me and the corner of his lip lifts up in a smirk. I don't know if I want to kiss him or slap him. I settle for huffing in annoyance and giving him a dirty look, hoping I don't look too constipated.

The rest of his lips join in, so now he's full on grinning at me. I glare at him in response, narrowing my eyes into the evilest look I can muster—which probably makes me look more like a scared kitten—and decide to say fuck it; if he wants to be a jerk, I can be one right back.

I stand to my full height, practically dragging myself up the front of his body, my erect nipples grazing his firm torso as I go. The train screeches into the stop and tilts again, causing my legs to hit the seat and me to pitch backward. Thankfully, before my ass can hit the seat, a strong arm is wraps around my waist and I'm pressed fully up against the hot stranger's chest.

Christ, he smells good. I close my eyes and momentarily lose myself in his smell, dragging my nose up his shirt and inhaling deeply.

I look up at him and arch my brow, glancing back down at his hand on the side of my waist, and up again at his face, willing him to let me go, so a) I'm not late for work, and b) I don't burst into flames. My scowl has softened to something closer to "resting bitch face," but I decide it'll have to do considering the current circumstances.

The train comes to a complete stop, and I can see the doors are opening. I can't be late, so I hastily push myself away from his body and duck around him, darting out the door right before it closes.

As the train pulls away, I can see him staring at me through the window, an indiscernible expression on his face.

He's all I can think about as I walk the rest of the way to work. I'm practically dripping, thinking about his firm chest and the way my nipples felt rubbing against it. I'm half horny and half mortified over the situation. Why couldn't he have moved out of my way? Did I really want him to move, after all? I kind of liked that he had to save me from falling into that seat, and I kind of liked the way my body felt against his.

As I reach the door to my office building, I wonder what our bodies would feel like pressed together without clothes. I'm definitely glad for that change of panties now.

I walk by Alice, and she waves at me. I wave back and motion toward the break room. She nods, and I head back there to change before starting my shift.

I don't do much all day but think of him and what might happen on the train ride home. Alice tries to distract me a few times with inane chatter, but I keep my mouth shut, telling her everything's okay and my weekend was boring, as usual. I don't want to add fuel to anything she may be gossiping about, and the last thing I need is someone interfering in my business.

Alice's big mouth has a reputation around the office. She's one of my closest friends, but Lord knows I don't tell her much. Being an introverted freak has its advantages. People tend to steer clear of me sometimes because they don't know how to handle my quiet contemplation. It's a good thing my job usually involves a lot of concentration, so I'm left alone in my office during most of the day.

During those times where I need to get out of my head for a little while, Alice does most of the talking, and I'm okay with that. Her chatter is like background noise. If she wasn't such a genuinely nice person—apart from the spreading rumours, which I'm not even sure she's aware of doing—I'd have dropped her ass a long time ago.

Our jobs as data entry technicians get boring after a while, but the pay is decent. That's how I met Alice three years ago. I'd gotten this job as a way to make ends meet before getting something else. But, I found the hours were regular and the pay was pretty good, so here I am three years later with no plans of going anywhere else. Some may look at my business degree as a waste, but I think it was a good stepping stone to get me where I am now.

"Any plans tonight?" Alice asks as I'm hastily getting my things together, ready to walk out the door at five thirty. I know if I can make it to the subway for the five forty-three train, chances are I'll run into Hard Crotch Guy again. He's occupied my head for most of my day and I am desperate for another fix.

"No more than the usual." I give her a soft smile and pick up my bag, hoping she understands I'm in a hurry.

"How's Jake?" she asks, eyes hopeful. Jake is my downstairs neighbor. He's a nice guy, but judging from the way he was kissing his roommate, I'm pretty sure he's batting for the other team. Her interest in him is sweet, but I doubt he'll ever reciprocate.

"Still seeing Sam," I answer quietly, hoping she gets the hint. She's always asking about him and telling me how cute she thinks he is.

Her eyebrows pucker and she looks deflated. "That's nice."

"Sorry, Alice." I look at my watch and sigh. No point in trying, I know I'll miss my train. May as well wait another fifteen minutes and take the next one. My chances of seeing the object of my obsession are slim for this evening, but I know I'll see him tomorrow morning for sure. He's always there in the morning, whereas evenings are touch and go.

"Do you think Jake's little brother's gonna come over next weekend?" she wonders, oblivious to the fact I just want to leave already.

I frown and take a deep cleansing breath, because really, what am I, her errand girl? "I didn't know you knew Jasper."

She rolls her eyes at my obvious annoyed tone. "Yeah, remember the party in your building a few weeks ago?"

Of course I remember, how could I forget? The boys were doing their Saturday night thing, while Alice and I had rented a movie, opting for a girls' night in. At hearing all the commotion, she'd taunted me into introducing her to my neighbors. She's been hounding me about Jake ever since. "Of course I remember. It was loud and you ditched me for cheap beer and loose morals."

"No, Bella, you ditched me because it was late and you said you wanted to go to sleep. I swear, sometimes you're like an old maid." She looks at her nails and tucks a piece of hair behind her ear. "Anyway, Jake mentioned a single brother. I just thought I'd ask."

"Sorry," I concede. "I haven't seen him much. My stalking has toned down a bit since I got a life." I raise an eyebrow.

"I didn't tell you to stalk him, I was just wondering about his brother. What's with you?" she asks, leaning against my desk. My palms are starting to sweat as the need to run down to the subway station grows exponentially. In spite of what I've just told her, it would seem stalking has become my favourite hobby.

"I'm tired," I lie. "You know it takes a while to get home and it's been a long day."

She nods. "I know. I'm sorry." She smiles sympathetically and pats my arm. "Mondays suck, right? Tomorrow's another day."

I nod, relieved. "Yeah, bad case of the Mondays."

She walks me out; our conversation finally over. Thank fuck because I've wasted almost half an hour, but I know for sure he won't be in that car now.

Dammit.