Lucy Harris adjusted the bodice of her red corset, shifting in the bus seat as the vehicle came to a stop with a hiss of the breaks, crossing her right leg over her left. Normally, she let one of her mates from the club give her a ride home after a late night entertaining at Spider's Web, but tonight, she had the strangest urge to go it alone. There was nothing wrong with a woman being independent every now and again, and she prided herself on that. She didn't need anyone to look after her. She could take care of herself. Turning towards the window, she rested her elbow against the back of her seat and stared out at the shadowy downtown city streets of London.
"Pardon me miss, is this seat taken?" A voice inquired.
Turning her head, she looked up and noticed the tall, brown-eyed and attractive looking man before her, clad in a black bowler hat and matching wool coat, gray slacks and black boots, clutching a small black bag to his chest. She glanced down at the empty space beside her then up at him. "No, not at all." She scooted over a few inches, allowing him to sit down beside her. "By all means, sit."
"Thank you." The man said with a nod of regard.
As he sat down beside her, she couldn't help but notice the short beard along his jaw line, and his long dark hair, that was pulled back into a ponytail. He was certainly not your average English gentlemen, least not the ones she saw on a nightly basis. "So, where you headed, handsome?" She asked as the bus began moving once more.
"Home," he replied, his cheeks flushing bashfully, "as I suspect everyone else is at this hour."
"Naturally. I'm Lucy, Lucy Harris, and who might you be?"
"Well, it's nice to meet, Henry," she said, turning to face him, draping her arm over the back of his seat.
"Lovely to meet you too, Ms. Harris."
"You can call me Lucy. I haven't been a miss in quite some time. Not after I tried my best to charm the pants off the Prince of Whales, hoping he'd make me the queen of England. I suppose I wasn't proper enough for him."
"Well, no offense intended, Lucy," he glanced down at her ensemble, his cheeks flushing once more, "but that's not exactly the outfit of a proper lady."
"I didn't choose this outfit, Henry. It chose me." Lucy shrugged his words off. "Came with the job, unfortunately. Care to know how I manage to keep a roof over my head?"
"While I'm curious, I'm not quite sure that's a suitable topic of conversation at the moment."
Lucy scoffed. "What do I look like? A prostitute?" Henry looked awkwardly down at his lap, but said nothing. She chuckled softly, removing his hat and letting her fingers run over the top of his head, smoothing down his hair, causing him to look up at her expectantly with a sheepish smile. "I can be a bit of a bad girl, but I can also be quite tender, gentle even, if that's what you want. You get what you pay for, I always say."
"Sorry to disappoint you, Lucy. You seem like a very nice woman, but I'm afraid I'm not available, and I'm not exactly the type of man who will pay a stranger for a night of..." His voice trailed off as Lucy leaned closer to him, dangerously close, her breasts inches away from him, her fingers continuing to stroke the slick dark hair over his scalp. Henry noticeably pushed a lump down in his throat, "pleasure."
Lucy glanced down at his left hand. No wedding ring. So if he wasn't married, he was either engaged or dating someone. "Got a lady waiting for you at home already?"
"Not exactly. Not at home anyway. I've got some unfinished business to take care of, in my laboratory, an experiment that I'm hard at work on."
Lucy's ears perked up, her brows arching in interest. "An experiment? And just what kind of experiment would that be?"
"Well it's...a little hard to explain, but I'm attempting to create a chemical formula that will alter the patterns of a man's personality, that guide him towards good or evil. If I can successful extract the evil from even one man, my father for starters, the world would be a much better place."
A pensive expression crossed Lucy's face. "That sounds oddly fascinating, Henry. So you're a doctor?"
"I'm a scientist," he nodded at her. "Dr. Henry Jekyll at your service."
Her brows arched once more in surprise, a smile creeping across her face. "A doctor and a gentlemen? Well, if I may say, this lady you've got, whoever she may be, must be quite lucky to have someone like you round."
Henry's cheeks flushed as he looked down at his lap. "She is, and thank you. That's very kind of you. What about you? Do you have someone to go home to?"
She sighed softly, pulling her arm away from the back of his seat, fluffing her hair a couple times with a scowl. "No, no man to speak of, unfortunately." She looked down at her hands, her voice tinged with sadness. "In my line of work, it's hard to find a suitable man these days, or even a proper gentlemen for that matter. Seems the men I come in contact with only want one thing from me. I'm sure you're smart enough to figure out what that is."
"Yes," he said softly. "I'm sorry to hear that."
She shrugged. "No need for apologies. I brought this life on myself."
"If I may say, Lucy, a woman as beautiful as you deserves better."
Her heart warmed at his words and the tenderness in his face. She smiled softly, placing her hand against the right side of his face and leaning in, pressing a kiss to his cheek. "Thanks for reminding me."
Henry blinked in surprise and leaned back a few inches, clearly taken by surprise by her sudden affectionate gesture. "You're right. I hardly think your line of work is such a reliable place to find the right man, but you really shouldn't let that stop you. I'm certain you'll find a suitable gentlemen someday. He might be right under your nose, and you'd never know it. One really never knows what the future will bring."
"I suppose you're right. One really never does, do they?"
The bus slowed to a halt, the breaks hissing as it came to a sudden stop. "Arling Street," said the driver over the loudspeaker.
Henry looked up at the name. With a clear of his throat, he glanced over at Lucy, "I'm afraid this is my stop. I have to go." Picking up his hat, he placed it back on his head and rose to his feet, slipping his free hand into his pocket and pulling out a business card, handing it over to her, "if anytime you need a friend."
Despite the fact that she couldn't read, Lucy still took the card from him, shrugging her shoulders. "You never know. Thanks Henry."
He turned to leave then froze, slowly turning back to her, "when you do find a suitable man, Ms. Harris, I certainly hope he treats you with as much love and respect as you deserve."
Her heart filled with warmth and appreciation, as she stared into his sweet, kind and gentle face. "Hopefully he'll be as kind and gracious a gentlemen as you are."
His cheeks flushed as he glanced down at his feet with a smile. "Yes, I do hope so. Take care of yourself, Lucy. Good-bye." Turning away from her, Henry walked down the aisle toward the front of the bus, and stepped off of it.
"If I don't, who will?" She muttered to no one in particular but herself. Turning to stare out of the bus window, she sighed sadly, a single tear escaping the corner of her eye and rolling down her cheek. Taking a breath, she began to sing softly to herself. "I peer through windows, watch life go by, dream of tomorrow, and wonder why. The past is holding me, keeping life at bay. I wander lost, in yesterday, wanting to fly, but scared to try, but if someone like you, loved someone like me, then suddenly, nothing would ever be the same, my heart would take wing, and I'd feel so alive, if someone like you loved me.."
She wondered if she'd ever see the nice doctor again, but as he'd suggested, if ever she needed a friend, at least she knew where to find him.