I sat down at the open table to wait for the barista to make my espresso. While I waited, I looked around the coffee shop at the other customers. There were college students pouring over textbooks, an older man reading the newspaper over the rim of his gold rimmed spectacles, and the couple in the corner sat with the heads close together, deep in conversation. By the way the girl was gesturing with her hands dramatically, it didn't seem to be a happy moment for the two.
"Order for J!" The barista called out.
I stood up and reached for my drink just as another hand went
for the cup as well. My hand pulled back out of instinct, and I glanced up into
a pair of deep green eyes.
"Oh-I'm so sorry," I mumbled, trying not to sound like
a complete idiot.
The smile he gave me in return didn’t help my fluttering heart.
“Don’t worry about it,” he replied, “but I do think this is my order.”
“No, I believe it’s mine.” I replied firmly, his charm fading before my eyes. I was quite possessive with my coffee and with being right.
He reached for the cup again and read the sticker with the order.
Blonde Espresso (Large)
5 sugar packets
5 pumps of SF Vanilla
The way he smirked at my order frustrated me and any reaction I had to his charm a minute ago faded completely.
“I’m sorry is there something funny about my order?”
“No, no, I just don’t why people like you come to a coffee place and don’t order actual coffee.”
I glared at him and grabbed my order out of his hands, sending a few sprays of coffee on the rude stranger. I knew I should apologize but I didn’t have it in me. I did have sarcasm though.
“Well, at least I didn’t get coffee or that would be a bare of a stain to get out.”
I turned on my heel and left him standing there, not letting myself glance back, though I did hope I left him standing there feeling bad but impressed with my witty comeback. I was impressed with myself honestly, usually I couldn’t think of comebacks like that until later, long after the interaction. I was reveling in my success when my coffee cup brought me into contact with another stranger, and this time it wasn’t just a few specks that splashed on him. We hit straight on, my coffee splashed all over his blue button up shirt and down to his brown leather shoes, which were probably as expensive as the Rolex on his wrist reflecting the afternoon sun straight in my eyes.
“I’m so sorry!” I moaned as I reached out to help stem the damage made by my blonde espresso.
“It’s okay- I wasn’t watching where I was going either.”
He pulled at his shirt a little to shake out the remaining liquid, and our hands met. I dared to glance up, despite my cheeks burning red in embarrassment. They only got redder when I saw his face. His skin was tanned his face clean shaven, and the whiff of his cologne released the butterflies in my stomach.
“Hi,” I said squeakily.
“Hi,” he replied, with a bright smile and gleaming white teeth.
“I’m so sorry- again. Let me give you some money for the dry cleaning. Or there’s shop nearby I can go and buy you another shirt because I’m sure you have to go somewhere and I”-
“Please it’s really okay. I keep extra shirts in my car for emergencies. You don’t need to pay for dry cleaning, but you could give me your number.”
I pulled back a little, suddenly realizing how close I was standing to this handsome stranger. I tried not to seem over excited that he was asking for my number, but I knew my emotions showed easily.
“Well, I suppose I do owe it to you for ruining your shirt.”
He handed me his phone and I added my name and number into his contacts.
“I’ll give you a call, then.” He said with a final shiny smile.
I felt a little taken aback by his sudden departure, but I figured a guy like him had places to be and now he had to go change shirts. I didn’t make it too far before my phone rang, I didn’t recognize the number but answered it anyway.
The voice on the other end sounded familiar but I couldn’t quite place it.
“Sorry it took me so long to call you.” The voice said jokingly.
A lightbulb flicked on, and I looked back to see the handsome stranger standing not far away, looking at me with his phone up to his ear.
I smiled, “Yeah, I was starting to think I’d never hear from you again.”
“Would you like to have lunch with me tomorrow in the park? I’m thinking a picnic?”
Handsome and romantic? I was suddenly extremely thankful for the flimsy cups from the coffee shop.
“I’d like that, can I bring anything?”
“Hmmm… definitely not coffee. Just bring yourself.”
I laughed, glad he had a joking attitude towards our literal run in, “I can do that.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow at noon. Meet me at the fountain in the park.”
“See you then.”
We waved and hung up, both of us staring a little longer at each other before turning back and heading off in our different directions. The rest of the day into the next morning felt like the longest hours. I scanned through my closet for a good ‘picnic’ outfit and decided on three different ones before finalizing a pair of comfy shorts and spring top. Of course, in the morning I rethought the shorts and top and ended up picking a lightweight dress with a swinging skirt, putting on a pair of shorts underneath in case we ate on the ground like they did for picnics in the movies. I left my house in plenty of time, making sure I wouldn’t be late but also not early. I’d rather walk up to him then be sitting at the fountain looking too eager for the date.
But when I arrived, he wasn’t at the fountain. I was disappointed but I tried not to let it dampen my excitement. He looked like a business guy, so maybe he was just running late, stuck at the office probably. Yeah, that was it. That’s what I wanted to believe. I glanced at my phone making sure I hadn’t missed his call to tell me he was running late but my screen was empty. I walked around the fountain, the water bubbling up and reflecting rainbows in the afternoon spring sun. After 20 minutes I sat down on the fountain’s ledge and opened the book I’d brought with me. I always made sure to bring one, but I had hoped not to have to use it for this date. I tried playing aloof, hoping if he came up it wouldn’t look like was silently panicking inside, afraid he wasn’t going to show up.
“Hey coffee girl,” a voice above me said.
My heart jumped a little, but I took a moment before looking up at-
Not my handsome stranger!
Instead, I looked into the face of the rude stranger from the coffee shop who thought my order was his.
I felt my face fall and I rolled my eyes back down to my book.
“Wow- what a wonderful greeting.” He said sitting down facing me.
“I’m sorry can I help you? Or were you not done making fun of me?”
“Hey, listen, I’m sorry about that but you do have to admit it’s funny that people like you go to coffee shops and you order drinks that are more sugar and milk than coffee. But you’re right,” he said holding his hands up in defense. “I shouldn’t have laughed at your order, I apologize.”
I gave him a hard stare, trying to determine if he was serious. “Fine,” I said looking back at my book, “I accept your apology.”
He laughed, and I hoped that was that, but there he sat, staring at me.
“Is there something else?” I asked, not hiding my annoyance.
“No, can’t a guy just sit and enjoy a nice spring day at the park. I mean the weather is perfect, there’s a slight breeze, and the honeysuckle is so fragrant it smells like a perfume store exploded.”
I tried not to laugh but a smirk escaped me. I didn’t say anything back though, not wanting to cultivate a conversational atmosphere for him to feel comfortable in staying. I didn’t want my handsome stranger to come and see me talking to another guy, especially rude coffee shop guy.
“So, what are you reading?”
“A book,” I replied, silently congratulating myself on another sarcastic reply.
“Must be really interesting for you to barely look up and see what’s going on around you?”
I sighed, my attitude growing beyond annoyance to full out perturbed.
I slammed my book shut and glared at him, “Listen-
“Listen Jason, I’m not sure why you’ve decided to pick me to annoy, but I really don’t appreciate it. I’m actually waiting on someone, so if you don’t mind”-.
“Would this someone be a well-dressed man who ran into a girl who wasn’t paying attention and spilt coffee all over his nice button up shirt?”
My stomach dropped and I felt like I could be sick. I clutched the book to my chest and looked everywhere but at Jason.
“How… how… do you know that?”
“Well, I saw the interaction, then as I was leaving, I heard your all’s phone call- very private by the way- and as you both walked off, I heard him laughing, and talking to someone on his phone. He said- well it doesn’t really matter exactly what he said but it was clear to anyone listening he wasn’t really planning on meeting you here.”
I knew the ending to his tragic story before he even said it. It felt obvious now, and I should have never believed a handsome stranger who I spilled coffee on would actually want to have lunch with me. Especially something as romantic as a picnic. I stared at the street artists working on their canvas’ to keep my attention distracted and hoping it would keep my eyes from watering. I was more mad than sad, but the mad was masking itself in tears.
Jason remained blessedly quiet and for once I was thankful for his presence, so I wasn’t sitting there teary eyed by myself. When I finally felt the water dry in my eyes a thought hit me with surprise.
“Wait, you heard our conversation.”
“Yeah, like I said you all weren’t having a very private conversation.”
“Right, but you heard where we were meeting and when.”
Suddenly, Jason looked a little different to me. I noticed his wavy black hair styled in one of those ‘I don’t care’ styles, the scruff on his face didn’t seem unkept just like it was a part of him, and he smelled like leather, not the leather of a car but like those leather-bound books in the used bookstores I loved to shop at.
“You came here to make sure I wasn’t sitting alone- didn’t you?”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” He said in mocked surprise. “I just happened to be at the same fountain around the same time of day that you were supposed to be meeting the annoying coffee splattered man.”
I laughed, “Oh is that what happened?”
“It is.” He said confidently avoiding my eyes.
“Well, isn’t that just an amazing coincidence.”
He glanced at me with that smirk I’d found annoying just a few minutes ago. “Yeah, an amazing coincidence indeed.”
“Do you want to go get coffee?” I asked.
“As long as it’s really coffee,” he replied.