Chapter 1

Copyright© 2011 by Patch0341

"I hate Mondays..." Eric thought on his long walk to the bus stop.

The thirty year old man walked wearily through a driving rain to catch a bus to his workplace. He was a young professional, trying to work his way through paying for his student loans and his rent. After being honorably discharged from the Marine Corps, he found that combat hardened infantrymen were not in high demand in the corporate world. Not wanting to work security or be a cop for the rest of his life, he worked hard to get an Information Technology degree from a local college and found a decent paying job at an office firm.

He tried to stay in shape, running and exercising in his free time and eating right. He was 5'10" and still in the same fighting trim as he was in the Marines. His brown hair was cut short and his boyish face often revealed his mood before he would like. Just then it showed a weary scowl.

Eric trudged to the bus stop in a foul mood as the rain soaked his clothes. Forgetting his umbrella seemed to be at the forefront of his thoughts, as well as a particular disdain for Mondays. As he approached the stop a careless driver picked that opportune moment to hit the large puddle near the curb. Now completely drenched from head to toe and beginning to shiver he sighed heavily and hoped the pneumonia would catch quickly so he could just die and get it all over with.

Plopping onto the seat, Eric looked across the street to see a woman beginning to cross. He watched with no small amount of satisfaction as she got nailed by another inconsiderate puddle that happened to be flying from its hole. She gasped and stood frozen in shock, and Eric realized how beautiful she looked with all of her emotions flashing across her face. His eyes drank in the sight of the water cascading down her red, curly hair; over her face; dripping from her nose and glasses; and down to her chest. A very nice chest he noted which happened to be prominently on display as the water had made her white blouse almost transparent.

Jumping up and removing his coat, Eric rushed across the street, headless of the traffic, and threw it around her. He caught a good view of her lacy bra and pink nipples pressing through her shirt, before the coat swallowed her small frame. The coat hung almost to her knees, it would have been comical if they both weren't sopping wet. He pulled himself from her breasts in time to hear her speak.

"Thanks." The woman muttered and blushed slightly as she realized her goods were on display.

"I'm Eric, pleasure to meet you. I only wish it were under better circumstances" He said looking skyward as she covered herself with his coat.

"Ironically, my name is Rain. Same here, Eric." She said with a smile.

As they walked back across the street, the bus pulled away from the stop.

"Perfect." They said in unison and began laughing.

"Well, I work only a few blocks from here, would you mind walking me to work so I can return your jacket?" Rain asked through giggles.

"Sure, but how about getting a cup of coffee on the way? I'm freezing. I'm sure we'll both be late and it'll give me a chance to get to know the woman borrowing my clothes. I usually reserve that for at least the second date." Eric said with a sly grin.

"I guess it's the least I can do for my knight in rain-soaked armor." Rain said, smiling.

"So ... Which direction is work?" He said, glancing absently about at the buildings around them.

"Five blocks east of here." Rain replied, pointing vaguely over her shoulder, "Do you know where the community college is?"

"Yeah ... I work about a block and a half past the college ... Do you work near the college or for the college?" Eric replied, offering her his arm. Rain blushed as she slid her arm into his, and began walking towards the college.

"Yeah..." She said, as if coming out of a daydream. "I mean, I work for the college. I'm a professor. English Lit. I also assist the art professor a bit with whatever I can."

"A professor? Really? I would never have guessed! I mean, you look so young for someone who has gone through that much schooling." Eric gushed, not knowing how to stop chewing on his feet.

Rain raised an eyebrow and flashed him a grin. "Actually I am fairly young to be a professor ... My parents were somewhat overbearing when I was a child, and when I was studying they left me alone. So I devoted myself to studying and to avoiding them as much as possible. I know, that sounds horrid of me, but if you knew them, you'd understand. I was 16 when I graduated high school; and 19 when I received my BA in English. I was 20 when I received my teaching credentials, and 23 when I finished my Masters. I just finished my Doctorate last spring. I'm 25 now. This is only my first year teaching officially. I've been assisting and tutoring since I started college courses."

"Wow! That's amazing! I feel like a slacker compared to you!" Eric said in amazement. "I'm 30, and all I've done since high school graduation is a brief stint in the Marines, and an IT degree."

"Don't look at it that way. You've done something I doubt I could do. I find anyone who joins the military as someone amazing and to be commended. You gave yourself to something higher than yourself, without regards to personal gain. You were willing to put yourself in harm's way to protect what's right, knowing the outcome could be grim. There is honor in that, so be proud."

They smiled at one another, then looked around and noticed they had already reached the coffee house across from the school. Once they had both ordered and received their coffees, they sat at a cozy table with two chairs.

"So do you miss it?" Rain said, breaking their temporary hiatus from conversation.

"What?" Eric said, surprised, and not quite sure what she was talking about.

"The military; do you miss it?"

"Well, yes and no..." He began, "I loved the job, and the people. I couldn't stand the politics."

Rain looked at him, confused. "What do you mean? Like, Washington politics?"

"No, no, no; Office politics. If you're well-liked, and grease the right wheels you can get promotions, or a cushy post, or things like that. The problem was is that I'm not a 'typical' Marine. Have you ever heard the anagram for the Marines?" He asked.

Rain shook her head as she sipped her coffee.

"Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential." He said with a smile. Rain burst out laughing, drawing stares from the rest of the cafe. He grinned as she blushed brightly.

"Well, I have a mind of my own and am not afraid to speak it." Eric said quietly. "Needless to say, I didn't make many friends with the non-coms and the officers. I was a permanent Lance Coolie."

"Lance Coolie?" Rain asked quizzically.

"Lance Corporal, E-3, and the highest you can go without becoming an NCO. But I really didn't mind, you see, Lance Corporals run the Marine Corps. There are more E-3's than any other rank. We're like Radar O'Riley; we can get anything done, by hook or by crook! We're everywhere and hear everything. My sergeant used to joke that there was a 'Lance Corporal Underground' that was going to take over the Corps one day."

Rain laughed and began asking questions as their conversation was lost in the small cafe as students bustled about them and the day wore on; Eric's heart leapt as she smiled, lighting his day and chasing the clouds away. He hardly remembered the hours spent in the small cafe talking, joking and secretly wishing that Rain would never look at her watch. As the light from the setting sun filtered between the buildings, Rain suddenly sat up and looked around.

"Oh, my God! Have we really been sitting here all day? I had a stack of reviews to do for work." Rain said in a rush. She hurriedly gathered her things and rushed from the cafe, kissing him lightly on the cheek like they were old friends as she passed.

Eric's hand covered the spot she kissed and his face grew hot. He grinned madly and turned just in time to see her exit the door. She stopped dead a few feet out of the cafe and visibly blushed. She looks quickly back at him, smiled, and disappeared into the growing darkness. Eric sat for a long time in the cafe and pondered this mysterious woman that made him feel young, carefree and has rekindled his love for rainy Mondays.

Throughout the rest of the evening, Eric's thoughts wandered back to the cafe, and Rain's beautiful face. The conversation was delightful, and she had asked some pointed questions that really challenged his views. He couldn't get her out of his head. He imagined her hair as he showered, the red curls cascading down her shoulders. Seeing her lips curved in a small smile as he brushed his teeth, or imagining her piercing blue eyes looking into his soul as he drifted to sleep.

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