Only For You(17)

By: Genna Rulon

Having accomplished my chores, I checked in up front to ensure all was under control, releasing the barista for her break. I poured myself a dark roast and enjoyed a few sips before ducking below the counter to take inventory of the flavored syrups. The chime alerted me to an incoming customer as I hurried to finish my count. As I popped up from my squat and greeted the unseen patron standing before me. Once recognition dawned, I froze…again.

Hunter stood before me in all his masculine glory. His hair was windblown, effortlessly sexy, begging me to tame the errant locks with my fingers. His aquamarine eyes absorbed the overhead lighting and reflected at me with laser precision. What was he doing here? I was prepared to snap at him when I remembered my intention to befriend him. I graced him with a wide genuine smile and started over.

“Hello Hunter, what a pleasant surprise. What can I get you? Any beverage you want, it’s on me.”

Hunter was dumbstruck, equally shocked to find me behind the counter as by my radical change in temperament. He studied me for several moments, assessing my sincerity, but not reaching a conclusion. I stifled a snort when he tilted his head and shifted slightly as if a new angle might bring the situation into focus.

“Hi Everleigh, it’s nice to see you, too. I’ll have a large black coffee.” His apprehension pronounced, unsure if I was escalating our game to another level.

“Sure thing. What type did you want? Is it to stay or to go?” I questioned in my sweetest voice.

“Just black, no sweetener or milk. To stay,” he said with growing concern on his face.

“No problem, but what type of coffee? Columbian, Brazilian Santos, Papua New Guinea, Ethiopian Yirgacheffe, Costa Rican Tarrazu? The menu is on the wall if you want to review all the options. Oh, we have an amazing Kona special this month, it’s a bit pricy but we all need to indulge once in a while,” I smile encouragingly.

“Are you trying to mess with me again?” he accused cynically.

“What? Absolutely not. I just want to make sure I pour your preferred bean. I can usually guess a customer’s preference, but you’re tough to predict. There’s more to you than meets the eye, something deeper beneath the surface.”

I hoped he comprehended my acknowledgment of his secret and that it made no difference to me.

“Beneath the surface, huh?” He suddenly looked incredibly uncomfortable. “I’m not familiar with most of the coffees you just listed. I’ll stick to Columbian, it’s the only one I recognize.”

His apologetic tone was familiar; first-timers were unprepared for our vast selection. Usually I poured medium-bodied Columbian when I spotted the overwhelmed expression.

“Coming right up.”

He watched my every move cautiously, and I became disconcerted by the attention. “You can take a seat. I’ll bring it over in a minute.”

“That’s okay, I’ll wait for you to finish,” he replied, reluctant to leave me unattended with his beverage.

Was he afraid I was going to poison him? Did he not notice how nice I was being?

“Hunter, I’m not going to poison you. This is my place of work, it would be unprofessional and bad for business. Furthermore, I have a feeling we are going to become good friends; poisoning you may put a damper on that budding friendship.”

“Thank God, if it weren’t for the sarcasm I would’ve been concerned you had been body snatched by aliens.” He offered me one of his dazzling smiles, “So we are going to be good friends? Why the change of heart? I thought your opinions of me were resolutely in enemy territory.”

“Absolutely we will be friends; in fact I need to officially introduce you to my best friend, Sam, who was at the self-defense seminar. You’ll love her.”

“I remember. She seems like a nice girl—very pretty—but I’m not interested in a relationship with her if you’re playing matchmaker.”

He thought he had identified the motive for my change in disposition, and I rolled my eyes at him.

“You are ridiculous. I’m not trying to set you up with Sam, you’re not attracted to her, it would make no sense.”

“Okay,” he was lost after I denied his theory. “I didn’t want ambiguity or assumptions to cause disappointment,” he explained, unconvinced I was on the level.