Disclaimer: The characters, with the exception of those not in the original line-up, don't belong to me they remain the property of Paxson Entertainment and PebbleHut. I'm just borrowing them for a while.
Chance Meeting on a Train
She really should have packed a little lighter, but she would never learn. She needed to be sure she had enough clothes for the week in case the moving truck didn't arrive today as planned. Sleeping on the floor wouldn't be fun, but at least she would have clothes to go to start her new job if needed. She still couldn't believe what a huge step she was taking. She had lived on her own before, but this was different. She never could have dreamed when she studied hospitality in college she would end up here in Washington DC. As she tried to settle into the seat on the Metro Train, she pulled her bags in close and tried to examine the map to see how many more stops to go. Only 4 more stops and she was home. A gargled message came across the intercom, "kaaahakaaahkakahaaa".
"Oh great, what's that supposed to mean?" That didn't sound good she thought.
"It's ok luv, just a little delay." Now that was the most delectable accent she had heard in her life. He couldn't be serious; did he just call her love? She thought the accent was amazing, and then she looked up into his beautiful eyes.
"Umm, thank you." Oh yeah, he was very good looking. He was smiling at her and he had the most adorable dimples.
"First time in the big city?" She was beautiful, hair all astray and looking a little embarrassed. Was he making her nervous? His smiled deepened at the thought.
"How could you tell?" Ok that was a dumb question. Of course he could tell by all her luggage. "The bags huh?" Her ears started to turn red.
"I used my keen observation as an FBI agent and took in all the telltale signs." He said with a grin. He was making her squirm a little. What was it about this woman? He'd never met anyone on the train like her before. Thank god his car didn't start this morning or he might never have met her. He wanted to know everything about her. "I'm Bobby Manning." He held out his hand.
She took the hand he offered and shook it. "Lydia Madison."
"Nice to meet you Lydia. So what brings you to town?" He decided to use their delay of their train ride to his advantage.
"I am starting a new job on Monday. And I'm heading to my new apartment. I can't wait to just relax after my 14 hour Amtrak ride. So you really work for the FBI or are you just saying that to try to impress me?"
"Oh I really work for the FBI." He handed her his badge. He wasn't always sure how people would react with him working for the FBI, but she seemed intrigued. She was studying his picture on his ID quite closely.
"Nice picture. Doesn't really do you justice though." She smiled. "Must have been a bad picture day when this one was done". He snatched the ID back, and she started giggling.
So she had a good sense of humor. He was beginning to like her even more. A smile crossed his face.
"So I've heard FBI agents have a certain skill or training. What's yours?"
Well he wasn't expecting that. But she was very different than any other woman he'd ever met. "My background is in explosives, but I decided that being an agent was what was for me. I still get to use my skills on cases every once in a while. But my job really isn't all that interesting. Tell me more about this amazing job that would make you pack up and move here all the way from…?"
"Maine, I'm from Maine." Geez why did he make her so nervous?
"I've heard its beautiful there, lots of parks and the coast; it looks amazing from the pictures I've seen. I love the ocean. Were you near the ocean?"
"Pretty close. I was in southern Maine, not far from Portland. Do you know Maine?"
"I've seen a lot of pictures. Always wanted to visit. I miss the coast. Nothing like it." He smiled at her again with those dimples.
"Yeah I know what you mean. I miss it already." She seemed a little sad. "Where are you from in Australia?"
"What gave it away, the accent?" He saw her blush. "Melbourne."
"Oh right in the Hobson's Bay, I've seen a lot of beautiful pictures from there." She saw him raise one eyebrow in question. "I was a travel and tourism major in college. Australia was always a place I wanted to visit. I haven't had a chance yet though, but someday!"
"Travel and tourism. So are you a travel agent?" He enjoyed watching her get so excited talking about travel. Hopefully someday she would get an opportunity to go to Australia.
"Oh no, my major was focused on event planning. It all falls under the same umbrella of travel and tourism; hotels, airlines, restaurants, convention centers. I'm actually going to be the new event planner at the Capital Hilton."
"What kind of events will you be helping to plan there?" He had no idea what this job entailed, but he wanted to know more about what she was going to do. She sounded like she might be taking on a lot with this new job and moving to a new city.
"Weddings, anniversaries parties, meetings, auctions, fundraisers…there are so many different types. I would discuss what the client wants or needs. Cost, setup, coordinate with other vendors. It's exciting, but I'm hopefully not biting off more than I can chew." She knew this wouldn't be easy.
"Wow it sounds like you're going to be a busy lady. Don't forget to take in some of the city and have fun once in a while, luv. This city has a lot to offer." He noticed her blush again when he called her luv.
There was that word again, love. She hoped he didn't notice the heat she felt rising up in her cheeks. "I'm hoping to, I don't know where anything is, but I bought a map." She smiled as she held up a laminated map.
"You're best bet is to find yourself a tour guide. Someone that knows the city like the back of his hand. Can show you all the best spots. If you find yourself looking for one, let me know, I'd be happy to show you around." He handed her his business card which gave the details for the FBI building along with his desk and cell phone numbers, as he stood up.
She hadn't even noticed the train was moving again, she had been so engrossed in their conversation. She smiled at him as she took the card, "Which stop is this? I seem to have lost track of where we are." She was a little embarrassed to admit this to a perfect stranger.
"It's Cleveland Park. Unfortunately this is my stop. I wish I could talk with you longer." He really did.
"Oh, this is my stop too. I wasn't even paying attention." She started gathering her large suitcase and duffle bags.
Bobby went to grab her duffle bags, "I can help you carry those. How did you get from the Amtrak to the Metro with all of this?"
"Hmm, I must have looked pretty foolish. That's ok; you don't have to do that." She didn't want him to think she couldn't handle carrying her bags alone.
There was no way he wasn't going to help her. "So where are you headed? We gotta make sure you're headed in the right direction." Hopefully she was nearby.
"320 Porter St NW", she saw his head spin around. "What, is that a bad area?" Great, just what she needed, she was moving to a horrible neighborhood.
"Well, I've got some bad news for you. Looks like we're going to be seeing a lot more of each other. We're neighbors. That's my building too." Could this day get any better? He hefted both bags onto his shoulder. He couldn't fight the grin on his face.
"You're kidding. This has been the strangest day. I just need to check in with the landlord when we get there to get my keys."
"No problem. I'll bring you by Tom's office. He should still be in. It's just another block and we're there." They walked the last block in a comfortable silence. Bobby used his key to open the door to enter the building. They walked down a small hallway to a door at the end of the hall. Bobby knocked gently. Their landlord Tom opened the door. "Hey Bobby, how can I help you?" As he stepped to the side, he caught sight of Lydia.
"You must be Lydia. It's so nice to finally meet you. I have your keys and a copy of your lease right here on my desk." He turned to his desk and grabbed a folder and handed the folder to her. "I see you've met your neighbor Bobby. Couldn't have a better neighbor. He's a great guy." The landlord said with a smile, "Is he going to show you to your apartment?"
"Umm, I hadn't asked him to, he's already done so much helping me here from the train. I just have what I could carry for now. I was hoping the moving truck would be here tonight, but I just got a message and it won't be here until tomorrow morning." It was going to be a long night.
"Yeah I can show you around. Have a good night Tom." Bobby picked up her bags and turned to show Lydia towards the elevator. He guided her with his hand at the small of her back. This felt so normal, but he didn't want her thinking he was being too forward. "So what's the apartment number? I can show you to your floor.
"Well, let's see." She pulled the key out of the folder. She wondered if he felt the jolt that she did when he touched her back. "Apartment 302. So, third floor I'm guessing?"
"Alright this keeps getting stranger. I'm in 301. Guess we really are neighbors. I'm right across the hall." Oh he was wrong, this day just got a whole lot better.
"Yeah, talk about a chance encounter." Well at least she knew one of her neighbors and she was close by the one person in this whole city that she knew. They exited the elevator and he directed her to the left. Her apartment was the last door down on the right. She placed the key in the lock and turned it. The door opened and she gazed into her new apartment. She rolled her suitcase into the living room area. There was an open concept living room and kitchen. "Wow it looks even better than the pictures I saw online."
"Well I should probably let you get to a little unpacking and settling in. If you need any help with the moving truck tomorrow let me know." He wasn't ready to say goodnight yet, but wasn't sure what else to say. "Do you need any cleaning supplies?" It was worth a shot.
"I really appreciate that, you've done so much to help me tonight already. I don't know how I'll repay you." Wow did she just say that? "If you have a roll of paper towels and some cleaning spray that would be great." She didn't want him to leave yet.
He could think of a few things she could do to repay him; dinner, dessert, breakfast…but he needed to focus. Don't get ahead of yourself he thought. "Sure, I'm just going to change and I'll be right back."
"Sounds good. I was thinking the same thing." Lydia grabbed her suitcase and pulled it into the master bedroom. So, no curtains. Well at least she had shades until all her stuff arrived tomorrow. She pulled a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt out of her suitcase and went into the bathroom. She changed and returned to the kitchen. She had so much potential here. She heard a soft knock at the door. A smile came to her face. She was glad he offered to bring cleaning stuff. She enjoyed his company. When she opened the door, she was surprised to find Bobby with his arms full. "What's all this?"
"I've got paper towels, cleaning supplies, a blanket, broom and dustpan. Oh and I hope you don't mind, I ordered us a pizza. Thought you might be hungry." He was looking to make sure she didn't feel he was coming on too strong.
"Oh, no that's great. I hadn't even thought about food. I don't even remember when I ate last actually. You think of everything. You're a very resourceful guy to have around." She could definitely get used to this.
"You have no idea luv." He couldn't resist seeing the reaction he usually received and added a wink for good measure. It was definitely worth it.
"What's with the blanket?"
"Well I figured without a bed, you needed something to go under your sleeping bag. I have a couch that you're welcome to, but it's not very comfortable." Now he was the one turning red as he sat everything down on the floor and shoved his hands in his pockets.
Did he just ask her to spend the night in his apartment? "Well thank you for the offer, would it be more comfortable than sleeping on the floor?" She loved seeing him squirm.
"Uhh I guess that's up to you. So where would you like me to start? Windows, kitchen, bathroom?"
"Bobby I don't expect you to help me clean. I'm sure you have other things you'd like to do tonight." She was hoping he would say no.
"None that I can think of. I have to work tomorrow, so nothing planned for tonight. Besides it will be easier to clean your apartment now before the movers come tomorrow. Really I'd like to help." There was nowhere else he'd rather be.
"Ok, well I can't tell you how much I appreciate that. I'll take all the help I can get. So whatever you feel like helping with. I'm going to call my parents real quick to let them know I'm here." He grabbed some paper towels and Windex and started cleaning the windows in the living room.
Lydia dialed her parent's phone number and waited for someone to pick up. After 2 rings, she heard a click and her mother's voice saying hello. "Hi mom." She walked around the kitchen. "Are you there?" her mother had a little concern in her voice. "Yeah I'm standing in my kitchen right now. It's so beautiful mom." Lydia walked over and grabbed some paper towels and some kitchen cleaner. "You made if from the train ok?" Lydia rolled her eyes slightly. "Yes mom, I'm not far from the train, I even met one of my neighbors and he helped me with my bags and introduced me to the landlord." She scrunched her face and waited for her mother's reaction. "Is he nice? What's his name?" Bobby didn't want to intrude on her conversation so went in to clean the windows in the bedrooms. On his way he heard her say, "His name is Bobby, he's very nice mom. He works for the FBI. He just stopped by and said he'd ordered a pizza and is helping me clean the apartment." She knew her mother was probably a little concerned about her letting a stranger into her apartment. "Well just be careful. You don't know him very well. I'm glad you know one of your neighbors though. Well I should probably let you get back to cleaning and dinner. Your father is working or I'd let you say hi." Must have been some outages back home Lydia thought. "Alright well tell dad I said hi. I love you both and I'll check in with you soon." Her mother said goodbye and after the call disconnected she set her phone on the kitchen island. She busied herself wiping down the cupboards from top to bottom and inside and out. She jumped when she heard a loud buzzing.
"Oops, sorry. I told the pizza place to buzz your apartment when they got here. I was hoping you wouldn't turn me down for dinner." He winked as he headed for the door and buzzed the delivery man up. While waiting for the pizza, he turned to her. "Did you get to check in with your mum?"
She needed to learn not to blush every time he smiled at, winked at or called her love. "Yeah, she was waiting to hear from me patiently by the phone. I guess my dad got called into work. I'll have to check in with him tomorrow."
"I'm sure they're worried about you coming down here all alone. Not sure what kind of people you're going to meet!" He paid the delivery man and brought the pizza box over to the kitchen counter.
"Wow that smells amazing!" She said as she took the paper plates and napkins on top and separated them and handed one to Bobby.
"Yeah it's one of my favorite places to order from. I'll admit I'm a regular."
"Don't cook much huh?" He opened the box and they both grabbed a piece of piping hot pizza. "Nah, never really learned. Confirmed bachelor ya know. I'm lucky there are so many take out places so close to home." He smiled.
"Well when I get settled and have an actual kitchen, maybe I can give you some lessons. Really impresses the ladies." She said with a wink. Two could play at this game.
"Is that so? What's your specialty?" He could feel his cheeks getting warm. Was she trying to give him a hint?
"No specialty really. I love to cook Italian food, but I'll try anything. My downfall is desserts. Cookies, cakes, brownies. I definitely have a sweet tooth." Way to make yourself seem like a foodaholic!
"Oh boy, I'm definitely happy you moved in next door. If you ever need a taste tester, call me day or night." He glanced at her up and down to check out her figure as she turned to grab another piece of pizza. She looked pretty healthy to him. Course he was trying to keep his mind from imagining her body underneath her baggy t-shirt and sweats. What was this Sheila doing to him? "Too bad we don't have any music." He said as he grabbed another piece of pizza too.
"I can take care of that. And don't worry; I will let you try the first batch of whatever I make." She ran off to her room to grab her IPod and small travel docking station. She plugged it in on the kitchen island and picked some oldies songs. "Hope you like the oldies."
" Love em, grew up listening to them with my mum." He finished the last of his pizza and grabbed more paper towels. "I'm off to clean the bathroom if you need me." He needed to take a breath so he wouldn't get caught staring at her again. She was very beautiful.
Lydia grabbed the broom and dust pan near the door. He really had thought of everything. She decided to sweep the kitchen/living room and the bedrooms. She then went back and cleaned the sink and checked the oven to find it seemed pretty clean. Apparently the previous tenant didn't cook much either. She grabbed some paper from her purse and started making out a grocery list. She had an idea to plan a nice dinner. She had just finished when Bobby came out of the bathroom. "I finished the bathroom. It looks pretty good in here. He looked at his watch, "Whoa, is it 10 already, I should probably let you get some rest.
"Well it's thanks to you it's looking good. You're a regular knight in shining armor. And you need to get your rest too. You have to work tomorrow. Thank you again for everything. I'll see you tomorrow?" Hopefully that didn't sound to enthusiastic.
He was starting to hope he'd be able to see her every day. "Of course you'll see me. And believe me I'm no knight in shining armor. Just wanted to help where I could." He gave her a wink. "Are you all set for the night?"
"Yes, thank you. Have a good night and I'll see you tomorrow." She waved goodnight standing in her doorway as he unlocked the door to his apartment and waved goodnight as well. She closed the door and leaned against it with her back. She took a deep breath. Time to get ready for bed. She brushed her teeth and washed her face. She laid the blanket Bobby had brought over on the floor and placed her sleeping bag on top. She lay down and attempted to get comfortable. As she moved, she caught a whiff of his cologne. It made her heart race. It reminded her of when she'd brushed against him in the landlord's office and caught a hint of it. She smiled as she remembered it. As enjoyable as this one, the floor was not. This was not going to work.
Bobby walked into his apartment and shut the door. He stood with his back against it and let out a deep breath. What a day. He was pretty sure he wouldn't get much sleep tonight. He went into his bathroom and brushed his teeth. Shutting the light off, he was walking to his bedroom when he heard a soft knock on his front door. A smile curled to his lips. He walked over and looked out the peep hole. What was she up to? "Forget something?" he said as he opened to door to find Lydia standing outside his door.
She looked up at him timidly. "Does your offer still stand? The floor isn't very comfortable, even with your blanket." Which she held in her hands.
"Of course. Umm come on in. Don't mind the mess; I had been working late this week. Let me clear the couch off." He ushered her inside and shut the door. He picked up some files that were on the couch and put them on the coffee table. "Let me grab you a pillow. Make yourself comfortable."
Lydia sat on the couch and spread the blanket out over her legs. When Bobby came back with the pillow he placed it on the end of the couch. "I'll try not to make too much noise in the morning when I'm getting ready for work. Goodnight."
"Goodnight Bobby. And thank you again." Bobby gave her a smile, one more lingering look and walked back to his room.
Lydia lay back on the pillow and closed her eyes. The pillow smelled of his cologne too. Oh yeah she wasn't going to get much sleep tonight. She was remembering their evening together as she dozed off on his couch.
Bobby's last thoughts were similar as he drifted off. He was dreaming of the new woman he had met and how he was sure she was going to make his life interesting.