‘Why do so many stock photos of girls in coffee shops have them sitting with their chin in their hands, looking dreamy or wistful or even morose?’
It was a brief wondering that flit through her head as she sat in – what else? – a coffee shop. It was a warm respite from the world that blustered and blew outside. Her book sat splayed on the table, held down by her left hand as her fingers surround and drum softly on the saucer of her cup of smooth vanilla chai. The steam curls cunningly from the cup, just as the words of the story coil their way into her brain, filling it with characters that she was, admittedly, quickly falling in love with. She cut a rather lovely figure sitting there at her table, in her boots, stockings, skirt, and sweater, her body angled out to allow her to cross her legs. Suddenly, there was a bump against her ankle that drew her out of her world with a start!
“I am so sorry!” came a voice. Unfamiliar, male, but unmistakably apologetic. “Really, I am so very sorry!”
She looked up to find a pair of bright eyes and apologetic smile meeting her own brown-eyed gaze. He bent then to retrieve the offending culprit: a streusel muffin, now more the worse for wear. “Alas, poor Yorick…” the young man intoned, holding up the crumbly confection before depositing it on his plate. “Apologies, I didn’t mean to dive-bomb you with my snack.”
She found herself smiling without reservation, bending down to brush off her ankle with a chuckle. “No, no. It’s all right. I’m just sorry that your muffin didn’t make it.”
“Probably for the best,” he replied, poking the bygone muffin with a quirk of his mouth. He then glanced at the book, which had fallen closed on her tabletop. “Lackey. Is that her new one?” he then asks.
“Oh, yes. One of them. I haven’t gotten Blood Red yet,” she replied with a smile, “Are you a fan of the Elemental Masters?”
“I’ve read a few, yes,” he replies. Then, as if suddenly remembering that he was standing, he indicated the seat across from her, “Excuse me, may I?”
She nodded in acquiescence and he seated himself, introductions made all round and nicely. They fell into conversation as naturally as tripping on the sidewalk, and it soon spanned a myriad of topics and a plethora of stories.
Dark was starting to fall, the lights on the street outside blinking into being and the building windows starting to glow.
“I should go,” she said, reluctance lacing her voice.
He didn’t try to stay her but they said their goodbyes nicely, shaking hands all round. Then he handed her back her book, which he had borrowed from her for a moment.
“I’ll have to thank that muffin for its uneven bottom and well-time dive,” he said, giving her that smile again, “It was a pleasure to meet you.”
“It was a pleasure to meet you, too,” she replied, settling her creamy-colored hat over her dark hair.
He helped her on with her coat, held the door for her, wished her well, and then she stepped out once more into the cold. Her book was cradled under her arm, her hands tucked tightly into her pockets. Little did she know the book was carrying a brand new bookmark within its pages: a simple napkin pressed privately into service, waiting to be found twenty pages onward.