(Jenna) couldn’t quite stop staring at him.
Her rational brain ticked through the points—attractive guy, my age, waiting politely—while something within her urged her to look harder. Deeper. Before she missed something vital.
Then he raised his eyebrows and tipped his head, and she caught it. The flash of humor. The air of expectancy. The feeling that, in this moment, she was the only thing that mattered to him.
“Could I get a coffee, please?”
Hello, reality, you cruel bitch.
“Um . . . sure. Sorry. I’ll be right with you.”
Okay. So his desperate focus had been not on her, but the caffeine she represented. Nothing wrong with that. Better, even, than the possibilities being offered up by her imagination.
She returned to the register and focused on the order she needed to modify. It would be a lot easier if she wasn’t certain that he was following her every move, watching her hands glide across the keyboard like they held Harry Potter’s wand. Or maybe he was the one with the magic. It certainly took all of her resolve to stay on task when she had this sense that she was being compelled to turn back to him.
Lucky for her, learning to walk again had taught her a few things about determination.
At last the receipt was modified. She braced herself and returned to Mr. Compelling with the practiced smile she kept in her pocket for any situation requiring tact and/or faking.
“Sorry for the delay. One coffee, right?”
“Right. Milk, no sugar.”
“Let me deliver these and I’ll get right on that.”
She reached for the tray, but he placed a hand across it.
“Hang on,” he said.
Well, hell. There was nothing like watching a guy turn into an entitled, demanding jerk to crash through the Hormone Net.
“I’ll be right back.” She said it firmly, resisting the urge to explain playground rules about taking turns to him.
“That’s going to the table in the corner, right? The loud group?” At her nod, he added, “I’m with them. Add my coffee to the bill, let me pay up, and I’ll do the delivery myself.”
Her first thought was that Aunt Margie had got things seriously wrong when she said that all men were shortsighted asses who couldn’t see beyond the ends of their peckers.
Her second was that he’d caught her limping and felt sorry for her.
She straightened her shoulders, her backbone, her hips. “Thanks, but I can manage.”
“Sure you can. But I’m heading that way anyway.”
“That’s very kind of you, but I’ve kept them waiting long enough.”
“Yeah, well, I kept them waiting longer. If I come bearing gifts, they might be more forgiving.” The grin flashed again. “In fact, why don’t you toss a few of those muffins on the tray, too. I have a lot of groveling ahead. It might go better if I feed the beasts before I throw myself on their mercy.”
How was a girl supposed to resist that?
Kris Fletcher writes about small towns, big families, and the love that grows despite them. She has a thing for underdogs, which probably explains her lifelong devotion to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kris shares her central New York home – fondly known as Casa Kitty – with her husband, kids, two cats, and a large population of wild killer dust bunnies. You can learn more about Kris, her books, and the view from her balcony at http://www.krisfletcher.com.