A huge stack of piping hot chocolate chip pancakes complete with whipped cream was placed in front of him and with it a cold, tall glass of milk to wash it all down.
“Thank you.” Xander said.
“You’re welcome, dear.” The waitress responded.
Xander had come to love the quaint diner. He knew all the wait staff now, and they treated him well. He breathed in the chocolaty, buttery, syrupy smell of perfection. Saturday was the only day where he could sleep in, eat breakfast at the diner, and read a book. It was his ritual. He was a people person at heart, but on Saturdays he enjoyed his own company. By the time Xander arrived at the diner, his stomach was growling. It was almost noon, so he didn’t waste any time digging into his meal. When he started feel full, he pulled out his book. In the midst of his reading; however, he felt it coming on. His eyes lost focus, and he was dizzy.
“Oh no.” He thought. “Not here.”
His arms and legs started twitching before he passed out.
Xander could hear voices. He cautiously opened his eyes. The whole diner was staring at him, including a familiar face. His face flushed.
“Annabeth? What’s going on?” He asked.
“Well look who’s awake. At least you know my name.” She responded. “Do you know where you are?”
“I’m at the diner, I think.”
“You moonlight as EMS or something?”
“What gave it away?” She joked.
“Oh nothing.” He teased.
“Do you know what happened?”
“Yeah, I’m assuming I had a seizure.”
“You did. Fortunately, you were wearing your bracelet. Have you had any other seizures recently?”
“No. I was doing well actually, until now, I suppose.”
“You’re doing okay now. Did you want to go to the hospital to get checked out?”
“No. I’m fine. Honestly, nobody needed to call you all. I’m used to this.”
“They were worried about you.” She said.
“How sweet.” He replied half sarcastically and half gratefully.
“Alright, just take it easy and call us if you need to.”
“Thanks, Beth. See you Monday?”
The rest of the weekend had been uneventful, and Monday reared its ugly head. Mondays were hard enough, but after the incident on Saturday, he wasn’t sure he had the balls to talk to her. Of course, he could be panicking for nothing because he didn’t even see her every day. They both worked for the Department of Children and Family Services, but he was a caseworker for CPS and she was a lawyer in the legal department. If he really wanted to, he could hide in his cubicle all day. “Yes, that’s a good idea.” He thought. He could have used his seizure as an excuse to call in sick, but he had a mountain of paperwork on his desk.
As the hours passed, Xander couldn’t help but think about Annabeth. He had managed to avoid her, but he also had the desire to thank her for being professional that day. Nobody at the office even knew what happened, and he wanted it kept that way. Needing a distraction anyway, Xander stood up before his mind even realized what his body was doing. He walked across his office and through the hallway to the legal unit. Then, he approached her office door.
He stood in front of Annabeth’s office and looked around. The walls were bare except for two frames. One of which was Annabeth’s law degree and the other was her law license. Annabeth sat at her desk. Her hair was in a perfect bun atop her head. Her small frame was hidden behind her computer. Xander could hear her fingers click-clacking away at the keyboard.
“Knock. Knock.” He said as he lightly tapped her door. This was awkward. He was regretting his decision, but it was too late.
“Hi Xander.” She smiled. “Come on in. Have a seat.” She gestured to a chair.
The lawyers were lucky. They had actual offices, and they were spacious too. When he approached her desk he could see that she was wearing a navy blue suit that had a subtle white pinstripe through it. She looked good; he loved a woman in a suit.
“I don’t want to bother you.”
“No bother at all. I could use a short break.” She said. “How are you feeling?” She whispered.
“Oh, I’m great. I came over to thank you for helping me. I’m sorry you had to see me like that. I’m quite embarrassed if I’m being honest.”
“Don’t think twice about it.” She said. “You don’t have to be embarrassed or apologetic. Trust me. I’ve seen more worse.”
“Oh yeah? Do tell.”
“It’s probably not the best time or place to tell a story like that.” She laughed.
“Then have dinner with me.” He had spoken those words before he could even filter what he was saying. “Now, she’ll really think I’m crazy.” “Oh God. I’m sorry. That just came out. It’s just I wanted to hear the story and… You don’t have to feel obligated.”
“I would love to.”
“Don’t sound so surprised.”
He chuckled. “I didn’t think you’d. ..never mind… I won’t have a seizure this time. I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” She winked. “I know this great Italian place. That is, assuming you like Italian. I’m also assuming I can’t interest you in going to the diner?”
“Italian is great. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be avoiding the diner for a while.”
“Pick me up at 6:00 on Friday?”
“She’s bold.” “I can do that.”
Their laughter could be heard from across the restaurant.
“I get there,” she says, “and they are stuck to each other, in bed!”
By now, Xander was snorting. “What did you do?”
“For starters, I bit my cheeks to keep from laughing. Fortunately, they were okay, but we couldn’t get them apart. We didn’t want to risk injuring them, so we had to bring them to the hospital like that! As soon as I made it back to the ambulance, I lost it.”
They laughed and laughed like children until their stomachs hurt and their eyes were watery. When they had settled, Annabeth spoke.
“I couldn’t help but notice your Harry Potter book the other day at the diner.”
“Let me have it. Go ahead, tease me.”
“No, I love Harry Potter! The Goblet of Fire is one of my favorites too.”
“Phew. I dodged a bullet there. Believe it or not, this is my first time reading it.”
“I won’t spoil anything for you.”
“You better not.”
At that moment, Xander was at a loss for words. Of course he thought she was pretty when he first started working with her, but after talking to her, he realized just how beautiful she was. Their conversation had become effortless and enjoyable.
“Xander? Earth to Xander?”
“You were staring at me.”
“I was, wasn’t I?” He smirked. “I can’t help it, you’re so beautiful. Would it be okay if I kissed you?”
“I would like that.”
He gently put his hands on the sides of her face and pulled her closer. Their lips touched and he knew he didn’t want it to stop.