Character study, or the day I met Hottie McWow

He looks like he belongs inside the issue of Men’s Health that he’s clutching in his hands. Muscled, veiny hands, with thick, long fingers and veins that convey strength. All of him looks strong, really, which is why I notice him sitting on a bench. We’re both on the third floor of the parking garage at SEA-TAC Airport, waiting to take a shuttle into the city. I’m sitting 20 feet away, but even from that distance, I can’t miss him. He’s broad – his shoulders are so broad that all I can think is “lumberjack” or “personal trainer.” He’s wearing a simple white t-shirt, but it clings to his biceps in a way that makes my mouth water. A white t-shirt never looked so good. When he stands to grab his bag, I can see that he’s easily 6 feet tall or more. Narrow hips. Strong thighs encased in worn denim that fits him ridiculously well.

Minutes later, I climb into the back seat of the shuttle and tap out some texts. The van shakes as the next person comes in and when I look up, it’s him. He smiles at me and I’m pretty sure a little bit of my breath whooshes right out of me. I feel like giggling, except women over the age of 14 should never giggle, even when Adonis sits right next to them. He’s got light brown hair, cropped short but with just enough length that it curls along his forehead. A day’s worth of growth makes his jaw even more defined. And his eyes… Brown. Soulful. I can tell in that instant that he’s not just a pretty face. (Or a pretty everything.) Since I don’t know his name, I dub him Hottie McWow.

As the van leaves the parking garage and merges into Seattle-bound traffic, I look out the window and listen to the chatter of the older couple in front of me. Hottie McWow says nothing; he just keeps checking is phone. Once we get close to downtown, I’m so happy to be back in Seattle that I manage to momentarily forget about the fine specimen of man next to me.

One by one, the driver lets people off at their respective hotels and the van clears out until it’s just the two of us in the backseat. After watching our driver nearly get into an accident, I make a comment about how insane traffic is.

Hottie McWow (or HMW) says that he’s from San Francisco and that traffic is far worse down there. I tell him that I hail from a land of cornfields and cows and our traffic, while exasperating when I’m sitting in the middle of it, cannot quite compare to the insanity of Seattle.

The van weaves through city streets and I ask HMW why he’s in Seattle. He smiles a small smile (and my heart thuds against my ribs because, seriously, wow) and says that he’s here to see his ex-girlfriend.

I smile. “Your ex, huh?”

“Yeah,” he nods. “We broke up two and a half years ago and she moved up here to Seattle about two years ago.”

“And she invited you up?”

“Yep,” he smiles. “She was supposed to pick me up at the airport but got stuck at work so she told me to take a shuttle to the hotel and said she’d meet me there.”

I smile because he’s blushing. “I don’t have a single ex-boyfriend that I’d even meet at the local McDonald’s,” I tell him, “let alone fly up to Seattle to visit.”

“She’s amazing,” he breathes out, a bit of awe in his voice.

I laugh. “How long are you here?”

“Just a few days.”

The van slides to a stop in front of his hotel. “Enjoy your stay,” he tells me as he stands up. (I check out his backside. I can’t help it. It’s practically chiseled out of granite.)

“Good luck with your soon-to-be-no-longer-ex girlfriend,” I call after him.

He turns back and smiles at me, a grin full of mischief and hope. I swear I even see his eyes twinkle as he says, “Thanks.”

As he grabs his luggage from the back of the van, I stare at hid sculpted back muscles (seriously, how do they move like that? It’s like music!) and realize that I’ve just met a real-life romance novel character. He’s exactly like I read about in the books that I love so much. He’s handsome to the point of almost being too perfect to be true, he’s witty, he’s charming, and most of all, he’s full of hope that the woman he obviously still loves wants to be with him again. He has hope enough to put his normal life aside and hop a jet to Seattle, where he’s never been, to see her.

When the van pulls away from the curb, I turn to look back one more time. He’s standing in front of the hotel, his eyes on the sign above the door. His broad shoulders seem hunched. He’s nervous! It’s surprising to see someone, who is the very essence of what is considered sexy and beautiful, let that raw part of himself be so exposed. I silently wish him luck. After all, he’s right out of the pages of a romance novel and the good ones, the ones worth reading more than once, always have a happy ending, even if it takes the characters two years to find one another again.

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