First Impressions cover - 2nd editionWhen ugly socks attract.

Surly artist Jez just can’t help staring at the brightly colored socks of the businessman who sits opposite him on the train every day. He weaves a whole history for the mysterious stranger in a vain attempt to stave off his attraction, but it only ends up feeding his bizarre obsession. Then one hot morning, Jez finally snaps and starts sketching…


The first thing I noticed about him was his socks.

That was pretty unusual for me. No, wait, that was unprecedented. Usually I’ll notice a well-sculpted face, a long pair of legs, or a pert arse first (not necessarily in that order). I honestly couldn’t say I’d ever noticed a man’s socks before the rest of him.

They were the brightest things in the whole train carriage, a whirling pattern of lime and magenta that made my eyeballs itch. I could only see them because he had one pinstriped leg crossed over the other, hitching the fabric up enough to reveal a few startling inches between the tops of his shiny brogues and the hem of his trousers.

I tracked the stripes up his legs to the sheaf of paperwork in his lap, the neatly buttoned jacket, the Windsor knot at his throat, up farther to a face that was nondescript in every way. They weren’t the kind of features I’d be interested in sketching: pursed lips, regular nose, grayish eyes. Dark hair tamed down with product, with just a few unruly curls defying the Brylcreem tyranny. In appearance there was little to distinguish him from the thousands of other young businessmen making their way into London on the Metropolitan line every day.

Then he looked up at me.

Those eyes! In the sickly, fluorescent lighting they were bleached of any definite color, but the rings around the irises were dark, like targets. I was drawn in, against my will, and then the smug bastard only went and leered at me. Those priggish lips twisted themselves up into a filthy grin, the regulation eyebrows quirking into a lopsided come-on.