...It was four o’clock in the morning and ninety degrees with ninety-five percent humidity. Mike Lawson wiped sweat from his brow and leaned out over the curb to check for the bus for the third time. The first day of his new job waiting tables at O’Malley’s Irish Bar in the French Quarter had ended an hour ago, and he was bone tired.
He’d tossed his apron over his shoulder, and after the six-block walk up Bourbon Street—still filled with party-goes and out-of-town drunks—to Canal Street, his shirt clung to his back like a damp towel. It wasn’t even May yet.
He closed his eyes and dreamed of the air-conditioned bus due any minute.
The rumble of streetcars farther down fog-draped Canal and the occasional clang of their bells roused him from his thoughts. Even the streetcar with the breeze blowing through its open windows as it rocked its way down the tracks would be cooler than just standing here. But he couldn’t get home on the streetcar; they no longer ran all the way to the end of the line like they did fifty years ago.
He leaned out again, looking toward the river, and spotted a hulking shape with its large headlights’ glow refracted in the darkness. At last. Thank you, Jesus.
Growing larger, interior lights shining through its wide windows, the bus was a relief. As it approached, Mike checked the illuminated front marquee to see if it was the right one.
The bus lumbered toward the curb and halted. The doors swooshed open and the elderly driver gave him a smile and a nod.
“Hey, Mr. Roberts,” Mike said, reading the driver’s nametag, “where y’at?”
“Right here driving this old bus, just like I been the last thirty years,” the old man replied in a sing-song New Orleans accent. “You’re new. Working the late shift?”
“Yeah. Got a job at O’Malley’s waiting tables,” Mike answered.
“Any job’s a good job, my momma always said.”
“Yeah, you right.” Mike grinned and nodded.
He climbed up, swiped his bus pass and looked down the aisle to choose his seat. At this time of night, the bus should be empty and he’d have his pick of the seats, but tonight, a lone passenger sat just behind the rear door exit.
The young man looked up, their gazes locked, and Mike felt the impact to the very soles of his shoes.
The doors hissed shut and the bus pulled away from the curb. Mike tottered down the aisle, hands grabbing onto the metal bars on top of the seatbacks, drawn to the stranger like a lake trout on the end of a fishing line.
The guy was pale, with dark hair that fell in wisps over his forehead and to his shoulders. He wore a fancy embroidered vest over a plain white high-collared shirt with the sleeves buttoned tight at the wrists.
Mike’s first thought was, Man, I’ll bet he’s hot, then his second thought was, Damn, he’s hot!
The guy smiled at him, igniting Mike’s arousal.
“Hey.” Mike swung into the seat across the aisle from him. “Where y’at?”
The stranger stared at him, head tilted like a bird. “Are you talking to me?” He pointed to his chest.
“Who else?” Mike looked around and shrugged.
The man gave a tentative smile. “No one usually pays any attention to me.”
“Oh.” Mike didn’t know what that meant; the guy was sexy. “Just getting off work myself. You?” He had no idea what to say. He just knew he wanted to talk to this guy.
“Yes, my night is ending, too.” The guy looked out the window. His hands rested on the thighs of his black pants, fingers out and relaxed.
“My name is Mike Lawson.” Mike held out his hand.
The man stared at it and then gave Mike a shy smile. “Jacob Foster.” He took Mike’s hand and they shook.
Mike registered a cool, dry palm and firm grip, and the shock of pressing flesh to flesh. His cock hardened and he knew what that meant for him; he just didn’t know if it meant anything to Jacob...