Steam whispers from the teacup before me, the scalding liquid untouched as I wait patiently for it to cool. I peer around the room, studying each face around me with utmost fascination. Meredith is here this morning, her Shih Tzu peeking out of her purse as she feeds the scrawny beast crumbs from her toast. Laura by the corner wall as always, her nose yet again buried deep in a novel. I squint, faintly making out Pride and Prejudice scrawled across the cover. I approve. Joe and Paula chuckle over sugar cookies and a fresh brew of coffee. I wonder how their grandchildren are faring.

The café is dimly lit. Dark green wallpaper lining the walls, pairing magnificently with the dark polished wood. This place reminded me of a forest, dark and soothing. Not the forest you race through with fear, the one you go to when you need to be alone with your thoughts. Distractedly, I glide my hand across the table before me, crimson painted nails creating ripples in the white lace tablecloth. A small plate sits beside the tea, a blueberry muffin gracing the air with its delectable aroma, tendrils of steam float up, mingling with the heat from the tea. Its all too good to be true.

I take a bite of the muffin, the sweet syrupy fruit melting in my mouth. I sigh in contentment, mouth full. Is this what heaven is like, I wonder.

The doorbell jingles and another customer walks in. The movement draws my attention from that heavenly muffin and to the new arrival.

People watching.

That activity is one of my guilty pleasures. Watching strangers secretly, trying to figure out what kind of life they hold.

It was a man who slipped through the door this time, I have never seen him before. I look him up and down, curious.

He is wearing a thick black coat, a white shirt tucked into obnoxious burgundy trousers. Tight boots hug his ankles, slight scuffs marring the otherwise flawless shoes. His hair is tousled slightly as though he recently ran his hands through the brown locks. I can’t see his eyes. Shame. I always seem to discover so much more whilst looking into a person’s eyes. They are the window to the soul after all.  

He speaks to Celina, the girl just fresh out of high school, who greets me by name each time I show up. I listen carefully, straining my ears just to know his simple order.

A chai macchiato in a mug, one slice of cinnamon toast, extra cinnamon and a strawberry tart, please.

Not what I was expecting, this man looks stiff and uptight, like the CEO of an important company. I had expected an Espresso shot or two, eggs and bacon on toast. As I have discerned, most businessmen seem to be cut from the same cloth, a pretty basic design if you ask me. All about work, work, work.

This man clearly is tailored from a different fabric. Or perhaps he’s not even a businessman at all. Then what of that simple black briefcase he is grasping so tight?

He takes a seat by the window not too far from me. ‘Perfect’ I smirk, applying another coat of red lipstick. I watch silently as he gazes out the bay window, his eye color still a mystery to me. A slight shade of stubble covers his sharply cut jaw, his chin resting comfortably in his palm. I wonder at his thoughts, wishing I could be inside his head for even a moment.

Celina walks over balancing the plates on her lower arms. She reaches the man; he turns and smiles.

“There you go, Mr. Garrett. I hope everything will be to you’re liking.” Celina says, gently placing his food on the table. He thanks her, his voice rich and deep. I found myself wishing it was me he was talking to.

He takes a sip of his coffee, eyes closing as he savors the rich flavor. His eyes collide with mine over top of his mug. The vivid blue depths gazing deep into my soul. My breath catches in my throat. I have to remind my heart to start beating once more. I look away, although somewhat hesitant to break the instant connection. 

I sip my tea, gazing out of the window. Almost too nervous to look back at the stranger for fear he may be watching me. I fight the urge but fail, I glance over and sure enough he’s watching me. I stare back, a smile spreads across his face, the expression so contagious I can’t help but smile too. Moments tick by, I start to feel awkward, a feeling I very rarely have to deal with. I wonder what it is about this specific man, that is chipping away at my practiced composure.

I take another bite of my muffin, the gooey texture blissful. I close my eyes, savoring every crumb. I can feel the man’s eyes on me, but I don’t look back. ‘Let him stare.’ I think, ‘It’s just a taste of my own medicine.’

Sudden movement catches my eye. I turn, eyes widening as I see the tall man collecting his plates and coffee and walking my way.

We lock eyes, “Is this seat taken?”

“Uh n-no?” I stutter, my guard shooting up.

He smiles, his teeth are straight and white, one tooth twisted slightly mars the otherwise flawless smile. Placing his food on the table, he pulls out the chair and takes a seat.

“You fascinate me.” He starts, resting his chin on his interlocked fingers.

“What?!” my calm composure shattered, I inhale a deep breath, ‘remember your training’.

He smiles again, “I’m Lucas by the way.”

“Destiny,” I reply, this whole conversation baffling me.

“I know this may sound crazy, but I think I’ve figured you out.”

I laugh, the sound feels out of place in my mouth. “Go on,” I give him an incredulous look.

“So, aha.” He laughs almost awkwardly, “I have this hobby of sorts, right. It’s random I know, so don’t judge me.” He holds his hands up in front of him as if to defend himself. “But I watch people and try to figure them out. It’s related to my job a bit, but I like to practice on strangers.”

My grey eyes widen, but I stay silent.

“So, I think you’re a schoolteacher. Like the sort of mysterious kind that the students all love.” He rubs his jaw, “Or perhaps a librarian, yes. Something like that.”

Amusement flickers across my face. “Well, I hate to break it to you but you’re wrong.” I smirk, “But I made an assumption about you.”

Lucas looks surprised, “Really? Tell me more.”

“My first thought was that you’re a businessman, perhaps the CEO of a major company, or a car dealership. But your order wasn’t entirely compatible with my theory, and I didn’t have enough time to figure you out completely, so now I’m not sure.”

His lips lifted into a lopsided smirk, he picks up his coffee, taking a long sip. “Well, I also have to disappoint you and say you weren’t even close.”

I laugh, amused by the situation.

Celina comes over, interrupting the conversation briefly, “Did either of you need anything else?

I gesture to my empty teacup, “A refill would be nice.”

The girl nods, and ducks away before returning mere moments later with a fresh brew of green tea. She pours the steaming liquid into the teacup, a drop splashing over the edge and dissolving into the tablecloth. I thank her, mixing in a drizzle of honey, before drawing the rim to my lips.

Lucas leans forward, resting his elbows on the table, “So tell me, what are you then?”

I lean against the cushioned back of my chair, the fabric of my black jeans pulling tight against my thighs as I cross my legs, “Well, that is for me to know and you to find out.”

“Ah, so she is mysterious.” He murmurs, a glint in his eye.

A phone rings a moment later, the sharp tone stark against the hush of the café. Lucas fumbles in his coat pockets, pulling first a pager from his pocket then a phone. He checks the number, then with a glance my way, he says, “Sorry I must take this.”

I nod, watching as he bustles from the table in haste, speaking into the phone in a hushed voice.

He stands in a corner, back facing the wall. He speaks fast, his hands gesturing madly. I am devastatingly curious, if only I was a fly on the wall. I wonder at the pager, not many people have those these days. As I think the words, my own pager starts beeping. ‘Weird coincidence’ I think checking the number and pulling out my phone.

“Yes?” I answer, not knowing what to expect.

“Agent Farlon, we have a mission for you.”

A trill of excitement courses through my veins. I steady my voice, not wishing to betray my emotions, “Go ahead.”

“We have intercepted correspondence between a band of drug and firearm dealers on the East side. Your mission is to team up with another agent to flood them out. We have a team waiting for you.”

“Of course.”

“There is a car waiting outside, you shall find everything you need in there.” The voice drones, emotionless and cold.

“Who is my partner?” I ask, confused that they would leave out that information.

“He is there.” *Beep*

“Uh, hello? Hello?” No response. The line is dead.

I frown, unsure why they would withhold this information from me. I stand, pushing away from the table. I glance at Celina briefly, she nods. I stride from the café, murmuring a goodbye to Paula and Joe as I pass them on my way out. They smile sweetly, the corners of their eyes creased from years of laughter.

A black SUV is parked on the curb, drastically out of place in the picturesque street. I glance around, noting I am alone. I casually walk to it and clamber into the driver’s seat. Two large black duffel bags rest on the back seat. I rummage through one, initials embroidered onto the side, indicating its mine. I hastily change into my gear. The driver’s door clicks open as I strap on the shoulder holster, a familiar man jumps inside.


My eyes widened, Lucas’s face contorting with the same look of confusion I know I’m wearing.

“Of all the people, its you.” He grins.

“Turns out you’re just as mysterious as I am.” I reply, as he buckles in. I switch into gear, press my foot to the floor and we speed away.

February 05, 2022 02:42

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09:11 Feb 12, 2022

HI your story came up in critique circle, what great writing! the action and suspense is really good, great tension in their conversation buildup. My only suggestion might be to begin immediately with the action "People watching...." and fill in the descriptive details later or leave some out. btw the way you describe the physical reactions in the conversation is really well done, I'm still learning that. Hope to see more of your writing in the future;).


Jessamie R.
00:39 Feb 13, 2022

hey thanks so much for commenting. I'll remember ur suggestion for next time:)


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