Breakfast time in the Carpenter household was always chaotic and for Carla it never ceased to be a constant cause of stress and frustration. This was, as usual brought about by her younger sister Jane who insisted in hogging the bathroom for way too long.  On this particular Monday Jane seemed to be taking even longer to “put her face on” as she put it. Carla had yelled on more than one occasion that she was going to be late for her train, her father had hammered on the bathroom door at least twice, but it was all to no avail. Jane was the singularly most selfish, spoilt brat Carla had ever known.

Naturally, the delay had a knock-on effect and breakfast was more rushed than usual and Carla had to make do with a single slice of cold toast that her mother had made twenty minutes before. She noticed princess tippy toes was alright though, her mother fussed around her as if she was still twelve. Carla did wonder at times if her parents could see what a monster they had created in her younger sister. She glanced from her father to her mother and back again. Nope, they hadn’t a clue. She looked at the clock, it was 6.30 she would have to get her skates on or she really would miss her train.

Just as she started to get up her father inadvertently backed into the small kitchen table. Carla watched in horror as a half full bottle of milk teetered in slow motion before toppling over and landing square in her lap.

“Oh…bloody hell no!” she shrieked as she snatched it out of harm’s way. It was too late for her skirt though, which was now dripping in milk.

“For god’s sake Derek look at the mess you’ve made,” her mother scolded whilst reaching for a towel.

“Sorry love, I’m a bit all at sixes and sevens,” her father replied with a suitably chastened expression.

“I’ll have to get changed, I’ll miss my train,” Carla grumbled as she tried to carry out damage limitation and prevent the milk from seeping through into her underwear.”

“I don’t know what into my love,” her mother said as she started to clean the floor, “I haven’t done the washing yet. All you’ve got are your Jeans.”

“Mum! I can’t wear jeans to work!” Carla shrieked. God, what was her mother thinking she would be sent straight home if she turned up at work wearing jeans.

Her mother looked at her for a moment, obviously deep in thought. At the same time Carla thought she caught the slightest semblance of a smile on Jane's face, The little bitch was obviously reveling in her sisters predicament.

“Here come with me,” Carla’s mother said as she headed off into the hallway and up the stairs.

Carla dutifully followed wondering what remedy her mother had up her sleeve. Once she was at the top of the stairs her mother went into Jane's room returning moments later with one of Jane's skirts.

“Put this on, if you’re quick you’ll still catch your train.”

Carla looked with ill-disguised disdain at the woefully short pleated skirt her mother held up in front of her.

“I’ll look like a hooker in that,” Carla said shaking her head.

“No, you’ll actually look trendy Carla. It’s about time you stopped walking around as if you were mother bloody superior.”

Carla thought about arguing the point, but the reality was she hadn’t got a choice and she was just going to have to grin and bear it. She grabbed the offending article and with an exasperated sigh pulled it up around her waist.

“There that’s not so bad is it,” her mother said as she brushed the creases out with her hand. Carla looked across at herself in the mirror. The skirt was much shorter than anything she herself possessed, most of which hung well below her knees. Fortunately, it didn’t look out of place with the Primrose yellow cardigan she was wearing, and she had to grudgingly admit it didn’t look that bad.  

“It’ll have to do, thanks mum,” Carla said as she turned and made her way back down the stairs.

“Bye all, see you tonight,” she yelled as she grabbed her coat and handbag. She looked at her watch, her mother was right if she was quick, she should just catch her train. In the event she needn’t have rushed the train was fifteen minutes late and she caught it with plenty of time to spare.

 Carla was a creature of habit and always sat in the second carriage from the back. Where possible she always sat in the same seat as well, which was in row nine. It was rarely taken, her stop being only the second on the line and the train always had plenty of capacity at this stage of its journey.

She took her seat and sat back deep in thought. They were troubling times as far as work was concerned. Grainger’s, the company for which she worked was currently the subject of a takeover bid and she, as well as most of her colleagues faced an uncertain future. She sincerely hoped they would all come through unscathed. She’d only been with the company for a short time, but during which she’d come to both love her job and the people she worked with. They were a good bunch at Grainger’s, it would be a shame if it all came to an end and they were scattered to the four winds.

She felt the train slowing for its next stop and watched with idle interest as the next batch of passengers boarded the train. Among them was as a tall, good looking man with a briefcase and a copy of the Financial Times tucked under his arm. Carla could tell at a glance, the tailored suit he was wearing was expensive, definitely more Saville row than man at C&A she thought as she tried not to stare. Whether or not he’d realised she was taking more than a passing interest in him she didn’t know, but after a moments indecision he made his way down the aisle toward her. He chose a seat diagonally across from her on the other side of the aisle and Carla’s heart palpably missed a beat when he flashed a boyish smile and said hi.

Carla smiled what she hoped was a sweet smile and said hi back, the man looked like he was about to say something by return when they were interrupted by the ticket collector. Much to Carla’s disappointment when she glanced back across the aisle after paying her fare the man had disappeared from view behind his Financial Times. Carla went back to staring with no little frustration out of the window as she was sure she’d felt a spark or connection between them. She looked across at the pink pages of the FT, maybe it was just her who felt it she thought with a sigh.

She wasn’t really paying attention to anything much when she noticed his reflection. He was holding his financial times in his hands as if he were reading it, but Carla could see he was very definitely checking out her legs. She shuffled uncomfortably in her chair and turned toward him, but he quickly retreated back behind the paper’s broad pages. She didn’t know why but she found herself smiling and much as she hated to admit it, felt a bit of a thrill.

She turned back to the window as if she was once again watching the outside world flash by. In reality she was keeping a close eye on the reflection of the man in row 10, and mentally worked out he was sitting in seat 10A. In that moment she christened him Mr 10A. It didn’t take long before the corner of the Financial Times was surreptitiously tilted in such a fashion gravity caused the top corner to droop backwards and once again Mr 10A was looking at her legs. Carla held her breath as he slowly ran his eyes from her feet up to her thighs. She felt she should be shocked or outraged but instead she found she was finding the whole experience a little bit of a turn on.

Once again she turned back to look across the aisle and the FT was quickly raised. This time Carla didn’t turn back to the window, instead she patiently waited for the paper to tentatively move to one side which it inevitably did. She watched as Mr 10A ran an appreciative eye up and down her legs, when he reached the bottom of her skirt she very deliberately moved her right leg to one side. As she did so she caught Mr 10A’s eye, she could see his first reaction was to retreat back behind his paper but something stopped him. They held one another’s gaze and in that moment something conspiratorial passed between them. Carla wasn’t entirely sure what it was, but she knew she didn’t want it to end. She’d never felt like this before, there was an elation and an excitement along with a feeling of nervous apprehension.

There was another feeling too which was hard to describe. It was as if she knew she’d been naughty flashing her legs at Mr 10A, but instead of feeling bad she’d felt an overpowering exhilaration. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, she needed to calm herself down. She was a good girl and good girls didn’t flash at strangers on a train. Only if that were true why did she feel like she wanted to do it again?

Mr 10A finally got off at the station which was one stop before Carla’s. When he stood up he looked across to Carla and nodded almost imperceptibly to her before heading off down the aisle. Carla watched him go every inch of every step of the way. A whole host of emotions were coursing through her body. Some of which she hadn’t felt before, but was quite certain she wanted to feel again.

She found herself walking the short walk from the station to her office with a definite spring in her step. Something which didn’t go unnoticed throughout the day and was even commented on during the afternoon coffee break.

“You seem very happy with yourself today,” Sue from the typing pool said.

“Yeah you look different Carla, maybe it’s the skirt, it suits you. You should dress like it more often,” her friend Wendy added.

Carla had just smiled. The first thing she intended doing when she finished work was to nip across the street and buy herself a new wardrobe.

The following morning Carla was on the station platform in good time. She was wearing a completely new outfit which she had bought the afternoon before. The skirt wasn’t as short as the one she wore yesterday; she still had her standards after all. She smiled at the irony and wondered how far she was letting her standards slip by flashing her thighs at a complete and utter stranger on a train.

When the train drew she took her customary seat in the second carriage and as it rocked and rolled its way to the next station Carla thought back to her family’s reactions when she she’d joined them at the breakfast table.

Her mothers had been nothing but positive, she thought Carla’s new look was well overdue. Her sister Jane on the other hand had snorted a haughty “Welcome to the 20th Century,” before changing the subject back onto her. Carla couldn’t prevent a wry smile from spreading across her face, when she realised for the first time ever her sister was a little bit jealous.

When the train pulled into the next station Carla waited with bated breath as the carriage doors slid back. She didn’t have long to wait, Mr 10A was first through the door making a rapid bee-line for row 10. The only other passenger, a middle-aged woman, went to the rear of the carriage and wouldn’t interfere with what Carla had in mind.

Mr 10A followed the same routine as the day before and was quickly hidden from view behind the financial times. Carla watched his reflection in the window and sure enough once the train was underway the corner of the paper slowly dropped back. Carla decided Mr 10A could wait a little and for most of the journey stayed as she was and continued staring out the window. The further they traveled the more she saw the paper twitching with an increasing frequency which amused her no end. She decided she liked being a tease. When they were about a mile from his station she turned her attention from the window back to Mr 10A. Just like yesterday he met her gaze and even raised a questioning eyebrow. It was a barely imperceptible movement, but it was there.

Carla looked past him down the aisle to make sure the guard wasn’t approaching and then moved her right leg slowly to one side. She held it there for a while, longer than yesterday, then slowly put it back to a more modest position. Once again Mr 10A stood up and gave her a little nod when it was his turn to get off, Carla gave him a little smile and subconsciously found herself checking out his ring finger. Why are you doing that she thought. You silly girl. Even so she couldn’t help but feel slightly elated when she saw there was no wedding ring.

Every morning for the rest of the week Carla and Mr 10A followed the same routine. Sometimes Carla would be a little more daring and sometimes she would not show so much. Keep him guessing, keep him hungry she thought, that’s the way to go.  More than anything she liked being the one in control and found it quite the turn on, in an empowering sort of way.

The intervening weekend had found her in a particularly foul mood. She couldn’t work out why at first, but she gradually realised she was missing Mr 10A and their little routine. How can I miss someone I don’t even know? I haven’t even spoken to him she thought. She did wonder if she would ever speak to Mr 10A;  to lose their anonymity would surely break the spell. She didn’t want that, but the more she thought about Mr 10A the more she thought in time, she really would like to get to know him better.

 She was sitting on the end of her bed at the time and caught sight of herself in her bedroom mirror. She imagined her reflection was Mr 10A and with a naughty little smirk moved her leg to one side in the same manner she had on the train. The smirk was immediately replaced with a look of abject horror when she realised she’d shown  more than just a bit of leg. It was too late now.  She'd done what she'd done and she couldn't undo it. The question was would she do it again? Good Carla said no way, but the new Carla, the one who was enjoying her flirtatious episodes with an older man seemed to think otherwise.

It was on the following Monday afternoon when a dark cloud appeared on Carla’s new-found horizon. Mr. Grainger had called a staff meeting and informed everyone the company would be sold as of the coming Friday. He would be staying on for an interim period, but the new owners had already intimated there would be changes and staff redundancies may be inevitable.

Carla felt sick to the core, last in first out, isn’t that the general rule?  She wasn’t the last one in, that was Wendy, but she was second to last. Another sickening thought hit her, one which troubled her far more than it should. If she was made redundant as likely as not she wouldn’t be catching the train any more. No More Mr 10A. Her mood became very dark, people tried to console her, but she couldn’t snap out of it. Naturally, everyone assumed it was the situation at work, which in a way it was, so she let them carry on with that assumption.

Maybe it was a mother’s intuition as she collared Carla one morning when she was half way down the garden path.

“Carla, you can talk to me about anything you know. If somethings upsetting you other than work.”

 “I’m OK,” Carla answered brightly, maybe too brightly.

“Is there a boy? Is that why you’ve smartened yourself up?”

 “No mum, there isn’t a boy.” Which wasn’t a lie. Mr 10A was very much a man not a boy. Her mother didn’t look convinced and tilted her head back. Something she did when she knew her daughters were lying to her.

 “Carla just remember I was your age once, so if you need to talk I’m always here.”

“I know mum, thanks but I’m alright,” she pecked her mother on the cheek and fled quickly down the garden path before she could be questioned further.

As the week progressed the mood at work got more and more depressing as the mongers of doom did their level best to make everybody feel thoroughly miserable. The only time Carla was happy was when she was on the train with Mr 10A. She did come to a decision though and if Friday did turn out to be her last day she was going to do something special for him.

Thursday lunch break saw her nipping over the road to the lady’s fashion store. She went straight to the lingerie department which in itself was a novelty. She had never bought anything the slightest bit risque in her life and here she was with all sorts of dazzling underwear options. Mr 10A was certainly opening up all sorts of new horizons to her. Thirty minutes later she was back in her office with a pair of seamless stockings stashed in her bag. Her mood appreciably lifted during the afternoon as she thought about Mr 10A’s little surprise. She really hoped he would like it.

Friday morning dawned and Carla couldn’t get to the station quick enough. She found wearing stockings to be strange at first, strange but sexy. God what a difference two weeks had made she thought as she caught sight of the pretty, confident young woman staring back at her from a shop window. What a difference indeed. 

As was her custom she hastily took up her seat in row nine and eagerly waited for a glimpse of Mr 10A as the train pulled into his station. That was when disaster struck and a large group of Japanese tourists boarded in front of Mr 10A and settled in row 10. Carla saw the look of irritation on his face as he was forced to take a seat further away. He looked at her imploringly down the length of the carriage and in that moment, she knew she had to do something. She stood up, picked up her handbag and walked toward Mr 10A who was watching her with a bemused look on his face. Carla’s initial plan was to find another seat opposite him but that wasn’t possible. In this part of the carriage the seats all faced the same direction. There was only one course of action left.

“Is this seat taken?” she asked Mr 10A.

“No be my guest,” he answered with that boyish smile, the one which made Carla go weak at the knees.  She sat down beside him, drinking in his very masculine cologne. He was older than she thought, probably close to thirty, but god he was handsome. Handsome, educated and sophisticated, everything Carla had ever dreamed of in a man.

“I’m Carla,” she said tentatively holding out her hand.

 “I’m David, friends call me Dave,” he answered gently taking her hand in his.

“And which category do I fall in?” Carla asked.

“Very definitely a friend,” Dave answered deliberately glancing down toward the hem line of her dress. Carla felt an electric thrill shoot through her body and had to try very hard to keep her composure. It all seemed so surreal, here she was, little Carla Carpenter from Ackworth Street talking and flirting with this gorgeous man. How she wished her sister Jane was there to see her now.

“Believe it or not I had a special surprise for you today” Carla said whilst losing herself in the depths of his deep, blue eyes.

Dave looked genuinely crest fallen at the thought of what might have been.

“I suppose I’ll have to wait till Monday now,” he replied in a voice which said he didn’t really want to.

Nor did Carla and on impulse took his right hand in her left and guided it down toward her leg. Dave or Mr 10A as Carla still liked to call him looked around nervously for a second, but there was no one who could see. She felt him relax as she guided his hand up her thigh to her stocking top.

“My you are a naughty girl,” Mr 10A whispered into her ear.

“Not usually, but you seem to be having this effect on me.”

“Well you’re definitely having an effect on me. I’ve never looked forward to catching a train in my life as much as I have these last two weeks.”

Carla laughed “No me neither,” she replied as their eyes met and she felt her heart race. His warm fingers brushed against the cool skin of her inner thigh causing it to race just that little more.

“Do you want to know something else?” Mr 10A whispered huskily, so close she could feel his hot breath on the side of her cheek.

“Go on,” Carla answered, totally and utterly spellbound in the intimacy of the moment.

“I usually catch the next train. I had to go to work early when I saw you the first time, I’ve been getting up early ever since just to see you.”

Before Carla could answer she felt the train shuddering to a stop. They were at Mr 10A’s station and the spell was broken. She saw a look of indecision on Mr 10A’s face, neither of them wanted whatever they were having to end, but end it must.

“See you Monday,” he said with a heavy sigh whilst getting to his feet

“Hopefully,” Carla answered as much to herself as anyone else. “Hopefully…”



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