Only For You(16)

By: Genna Rulon

I smiled wryly, knowing I had contributed little to her decision. Having consumed sufficient coffee, I was finally ready to speak. “Glad to help. He seemed nice enough and was cute. Go and enjoy yourself, but be careful, there are crazies on the loose.”

I tried to joke, but we both had exercised caution when dating the past year. Prudence was a hindrance to casual dating. During my first two collegiate years I dated liberally, accepting most invitations. I generally liked people, and enjoyed a casual dinner while becoming acquainted; I was no hussy, though I did enjoy the attention of the opposite sex. When the attacks began, caution dictated I select my dates more discriminately. As the violence persisted, many suspected the perpetrator was a Hensley student, forcing me to exercise additional caution. With no suspects, I feared the possibility of finding myself on a first date with a perp. Consequently, I spent more time dancing with friends, such as Linc, than any potential suitor over the past year. One more reason to despise the lowlife—he was squelching my romantic pursuits.

“I’ll text him now to accept,” Sam announced animatedly.

Thinking of our recently established first date safety protocol, I said, “Remember to text me every few hours to check-in. I’ll expect you home by midnight if I don’t hear otherwise. Please don’t forget, I don’t want to contact the police for no reason. I read an article in Newsdaily that stated the police were inundated with missing person reports. The violence increased paranoia and spurred a ton of false alarms.”

“Yes, mom,” Sam chided me for my parental tone.

I arrived at work, ready to conquer the day. Higher Yearning was a staple in the community, located on one of the main thoroughfares in the central shopping area of Suffolk County. The middle to upper-class residential neighborhoods surrounding the shop provided ample clientele. A light brick exterior with large glass windows painted an inviting picture. The marquee, anchored above a black and grey striped awning, was mammoth and beveled with notched corners in espresso colored wood. The letters were scripted in a quirky font and inlaid silver. Between the word ‘Higher’ and ‘Yearning’ was a gold inlaid carving of a book resting beneath a coffee mug with wisps of steam rising up.

Inside the shop, walls of exposed brick were dressed with black and white photos of local landmarks framed in black. Crystal chandeliers hung from the ceiling and chic wall sconces provided ambient lighting. The seating area was spacious with a mixture of red velvet couches, modern wingback chairs in a gray damask, and espresso wood bistro sets, creating separate conversation areas that could be easily re-arranged. The wall behind the service counter was painted red to match the couches, serving as a dramatic backdrop for the multi-level glass showcase.

“Hi Marty, I’m here,” I greeted my boss.

“Thank God. The paper order arrived today but still needs to be checked and stored. The new girl called out…again. The bakery order needs to be placed for next week, and I still need you to go through the online catalogue of beans to select the special next month.” Marty always seemed frazzled, but today she was extra-tweaked.

“No problem, Marty. I will get it all accomplished.”

Over the past three years my responsibilities at Higher Yearning consistently increased. I managed the staff, scheduling, and supplies, while also keeping abreast of competition in the area and new trends. Marty eagerly relinquished any task for which I was willing to assume responsibility. She was a wonderful woman, but she was burnt out, after operating the successful business for twenty years. With an empty nest, Marty wanted to retire with her husband, allowing them to fulfill their dreams of traveling while young and fit.

Timing is everything in life. I came into Marty’s life when she began to contemplate her future retirement. Marty came into my life when I was discerning a career path and how to journey from ‘wanting’ to ‘doing.’ Voilà—two people with symbiotic needs and aspirations. I loved coffee the way a sommelier loved wine, the way Bill Clinton loved an intern; I knew I wanted my own business, where the fruits of my labor benefited me directly. Once I met Marty, I realized that my desire to own a business and my love for coffee could be combined to forge my profession.