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Megan snatched her hand away and glared at James. The flood of all those bad memories. The constant let-downs, the endless fighting, the way he spoke to and over her. It all came crashing over her in a wave, finally dousing that final flicker of flame she had held onto. Yes, there was electricity between them, and maybe that would never leave her. But there was no love there. No respect. This whole thing wasn’t a waste of time because now she got to do this.

Without a word, she stood up, grabbed her bag and coat from the back of the chair, and stalked out of the restaurant. She could hear him trailing her but refused to look back. By sheer luck, a bus stood outside the restaurant, ready to leave. She hopped on just as the doors closed and watched with a smile as he stood at the window, crestfallen as the bus pulled away.

Megan stood in the aisle and rocked with the motion of the bus. She looked around at everyone with their headphones on and heads down, absorbed in their phones. The evening, though cut short, had been exhausting. A seat would have been welcome.

“Excuse me, miss?”

She turned to face a chest barely contained in a well-fitting white shirt.

“Take my seat.” He pointed to the suddenly empty seat near the front of the bus. She smiled gratefully and moved to sit, only for a surly teen to swoop in at the last second. With a sigh, she jostled back to the man.

“Oh well. Thanks anyway. That was kind of you.”

“Not at all. Do you want me to ask him to move?”

“You’d dare take on a teenager for me? Brave.”

He chuckled. “Good point. But I will if you want me to.”

She smiled at him. “No, it’s ok. No need to risk your life. I’ve not got too far to go.”

“Me too. So. Nice date?”

“How did you know I was on a date?”

“An assumption. Am I wrong?”

“Yes and no,” she said before adding, “It’s complicated.”

“No second date, then?”

“Not a chance,” she spat out. Her hands began to tremble at the thought of seeing James again. Not in this lifetime.

“So, would it be too forward of me to ask you out for coffee sometime?”

She gawked at him. Picking a woman up on a bus? Who does that?

As if reading her mind, he took a step back. “Sorry, I shouldn’t have asked. I’ll leave you alone.”

His eyes moved to the floor as his smile faded. He was cute. Tall. Muscular. He seemed kind. Yes, it was weird and unexpected, but Megan found herself wanting to know him better.

“Coffee sounds great. Tomorrow?”

His eyes lit up again. “Tomorrow would be perfect. There’s a lovely little indie cafe on Broad Street. Caffenation. Meet you there?”

The bus pulled into her stop. “Sure,” she said as she moved toward the exit. “Seven am?”

“Great!” he shouted as the doors closed behind her.

Great, she thought as she walked toward home. Even if it didn’t work out, it was fine. After all, she needed to find a new coffee place anyway. But part of her hoped it would. There was a new light humming inside her, ready to spark. One that couldn’t catch with the embers of James still glowing in her. Now those embers were well and truly dowsed, she could finally shine.

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