Evalyn Brewer lurched forward as the bus rolled to a stop. With a heavy sigh, she stood and stretched her arms overhead.
“We’ll be stopped for fifteen minutes to use the facilities and get some food. Next stop is two hours away,” the bus driver sang out.
“That man is far too happy,” she mumbled under her breath, trying not to inhale the strong exhaust from the bus.
“I know. He was actually whistlin’ earlier. Nobody likes to drive a bus that much,” came a scratchy voice from behind her.
Evalyn turned to see a tall, skinny man with a pointed nose, leaning on the bus seat behind her. She gave him a polite nod, tucking a strand of dark blonde hair behind her ear, before bending to gather her bundle and bag.
The man leaned over, his breath hot on the back of her neck, and whispered. “How ‘bout you let me buy you lunch? Then we can sit together for a while and get to know each other better.” His tongue flicked her ear.
Evalyn bolted up and slapped the man. “How dare you!”
The stranger grabbed his cheek and looked around at the other passengers. “I was just offerin’ to buy the lady lunch,” he explained. “Guess she ain’t hungry.”
He gave her an extra shove with his shoulder as he exited the bus. Evalyn scanned the other passengers, knowing her face was five shades of red, then turned back to her pack and hurried off the bus.
Keeping her bundle securely on the booth seat between the wall and herself, she ordered a bottle of milk and a ham sandwich at the roadside cafe. She was thankful the sandwich came quickly since her stomach was already growling at the smell of the chicken dinner special being served all around her. Her taste buds balked at the dry sandwich, wishing for chicken, but she reminded herself she had to watch what she spent, since she still had dinner and breakfast to purchase before getting back to Knollwood, Texas.
She had been hungry before. She had survived it then, and she would survive it now. Her time off the bus was almost over, but her backside still ached as she thought of the hours she had left. Another urge told her she should use the facilities before their departure.
The restrooms were at the back of the café; the only entrance was from the outside. After taking care of her needs, Evalyn hurried back toward the bus. Just as she rounded the corner a hand grabbed her, pulling her back and slamming her against the wall of the café.
She pulled her bundle close as the skinny man with the pointed nose stared down at her. “Think you can embarrass me like that and get away with it?”
“Let me go or I’ll scream.” She held the man’s gaze, fighting the urge to vomit at his stench of tobacco, dirt, and bad hygiene.
“Oh, I’ll make you scream all right.” He grabbed both shoulders and pushed her toward the men’s bathroom.