Carmen Jenson is the kind of girl who loves to read books in bed, watch movies at home, and play board games on the weekends. Her girlfriend Patty, however, claims she's not exciting enough, and dumps her. Carmen decides she’s had enough of failed relationships and decides to stay single for a while, though in her heart she wants something more.
Nel Patrick is the bus driver on Carmen's daily route to work. She always teases Carmen about chasing down the bus because she’s late. Carmen thinks nothing of the friendly banter between them until a chance meeting on the bus. While talking about Carmen's desire for a meaningful relationship, Nel reacts in a way that’s totally unexpected, leaving Carmen at a loss to understand her strange behavior.
A few days later, Nel shows up at Carmen’s workplace. When Nel's attraction to Carmen comes out into the open, they go out on a date. A hot night of loving leads Carmen to wonder if she’s finally found the game girl she's always wanted.
Maybe it was because I had turned a new leaf or just decided to live and let live, but I was actually on time for the bus the next day. I don't know who was more shocked -- Nel or me.
"Well, well, well," she drawled as I got on the bus and tapped my card on the machine. "Did hell freeze over?" Okay, I wasn't really that bad, was I?
"Yeah, you're a funny lady, you know that?" I took a spot just behind the white line on the floor and held onto the rail above me as the bus started to move.
"Can you blame me?" Nel asked, eyes straight ahead as she navigated the bus through traffic. Her confidence behind the wheel always impressed me.
"I dunno. Maybe I should. You always give me such hard time when I'm late." I scratched the skin under the nose bridge of my glasses.
"That's because I know you secretly like it." Nel stopped the bus near Jersey and Lake to pick up a male passenger. Once he paid, the man moved behind me and grabbed hold of the same rail I was latched onto as the bus began to move again. He looked familiar.
"I do not secretly like ..." Before I finished my thought, the man next to me cut in and said, "Carmen Jenson? Is that you, girl?" I glanced at him, trying to place the face. Suddenly it dawned on me.
"Oh my God. John! Where've you been, hon?" I gave him a one-armed hug. "You just up and quit at the bookstore and didn't say why. What happened?" I hadn't seen him in six months. No wonder I didn't recognize him at first.
"I know, I know. I'm sorry about that, but Nathan got into a really bad accident and I had to play nursemaid for a while until he could get around on his own." Nathan was John's boyfriend, a really nice older guy with a lot of money. John hadn't really needed to work, but he did so because he loved being around books. Nathan indulged him, plus he liked it when John read to him in bed. Sweet, right? And John didn't want to feel like a kept boy, he wanted to have some level of independence.
"What? How is he now? Are you coming back to the store?" I glanced to see where we were on the route. Half a mile to the mall.
"I'm not sure yet. Nathan's been real stubborn about not wanting me to work again. We're trying to find middle ground. What about you? How's Patty?"
For some reason, it embarrassed me a little to talk about what happened, especially with Nel listening in. I cleared my throat and said, "Umm, well, she broke up with me, said I wasn't exciting enough and too much of a homebody. Gotta move on, you know?"
John was all indignation. "She did what? Such a bitch! A total user. I bet she's already found somebody else to fuck around with and ..." He stopped when he saw my expression.
"Honey, I'm sorry. Forgive me?" He leaned in to kiss my cheek, contrite.
I gave him a sad smile. "It's fine, John. I know you mean well, but it'll take a little time to move on. Maybe I am boring. Not everyone likes to watch movies on the couch, read books at home, snuggle in bed on cold nights or play board games on the weekends." The bus jerked to a sudden stop, and we were all propelled forward. I tightened my grip on the hand rail to stop my momentum, and saw others doing the same thing. I glanced over at Nel and noted she was blushing a little bit. Huh. That had never happened before.
She glanced at me but quickly looked away. Clearing her throat, Nel said briskly, "Sorry about that, folks. Mall stop!" I gave John another hug, told him to text me sometime and got off the bus. When I turned back to give Nel my customary wave, I caught her looking at me with the strangest expression on her face, like she’d never seen me before.