Cara looked anxiously at the front door and then at her iPhone. It was already three minutes past 8. She looked at the front door of the coffee house again and sighed.
She tried to concentrate on the screen of the laptop in front of her. Her fingers moved expertly across the keyboard as she answered e-mails. Cara figured if she focused on cleaning out her inbox then she wouldn’t obsess over the fact that he was now four minutes late.
Maybe he's not coming today after all, she thought. Cara imagined all kinds of scenarios that would have prevented him from walking through the door this Friday morning. Perhaps he got a flat tire or maybe he was sick. Or maybe his girlfriend delayed him with some morning sex.
Cara shook her head. She didn’t want to imagine that Tim – the man she had been lusting over for the past five days – had a girlfriend. Of all the stories she had come up with about who Tim was – someone else’s boyfriend was not one of them.
She first noticed him that Monday after she heard the barista call out his name with his order – a large black coffee. Cara had looked up from her laptop only because her ex-boyfriend was also named Tim and for a heart-stopping second she thought it was him.
Their eyes met and Cara instinctively smiled. He raised his eyebrows to question if the smile was meant for him and then he smiled back. Cara stopped smiling and swiftly looked down at her laptop as he walked by her table.
The next morning, Cara heard his name called out again. She waited a few seconds before looking up. When she couldn’t resist any longer, she allowed her eyes to glance over the top of the screen. She didn’t see him at the counter and immediately Cara felt a pang of disappointment. Then she chided herself for acting so silly. She was about to pack up her laptop when she heard the scraping sound of a chair being pulled across the tiled floor. Cara turned and almost choked on her iced green tea. Tim was sitting at the table next to her. This time he smiled first.
Cara panicked again and looked away.
They stayed there in the coffee shop that morning for another 30 minutes or so. Through carefully orchestrated “nonchalant” glances in his direction, Cara tried to figure out who Tim was. His dark hair was neatly combed and he looked freshly shaved. He wore a blue pinstripe shirt with a gray tie and gray slacks. He didn’t have a briefcase or a laptop. Instead, he sat at the table sipping his coffee while thumbing through the newspaper.
The fact that he didn’t seem to be in a rush or was furiously typing on a phone or laptop led Cara to believe that he probably wasn’t a consultant like her who used the free WiFi to catch up on e-mails and research client projects.
Maybe he’s the CEO of a multimillion dollar company, Cara mused. That meant he could wine and dine her and send her expensive gifts like clothes and jewelry. But if that was the case then chances were he was also controlling and Cara didn’t do “controlling.”
She looked again at the way he leaned back in the chair and casually scanned the paper. Cara realized then that he couldn’t be a millionaire or a CEO – he looked too relaxed.
Maybe he’s in between jobs and scanning the classifieds, Cara wondered. She scrunched up her nose. Cara had done the jobless boyfriend thing before and it was fine. That is until said boyfriend found a new job and a brand new girlfriend to go along with it. That was the other Tim – stupid cheating ex-boyfriend Tim.
But this Tim – coffee house Tim – looked employed and loyal. Cara couldn’t see him cheating on someone he was supposed to love. Whatever he did for a living, Cara was sure it had to involve saving kids, puppies or both.
For the next few days, they continued their dance. She’d already be sitting at “her” table with her laptop on. He’d walk through the doors at exactly 8 a.m. After he picked up his drink, he’d sit at the table across from hers, smile and nod and then read his newspaper. They’d exchange glances here and there while Cara imagined all kinds of scenarios that usually ended with them going to her apartment and having sex for the rest of the day.
Cara looked at her phone again. It was already 8:15. She sighed. Tim wasn’t coming today. She didn’t want to imagine a story this time. It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that it looked like the dance was over.
She turned off her laptop and gathered her papers. Taking the last sip of her tea, Cara stood up and headed for the front door. She was about to push it forward when someone pulled it open for her.
It was coffee house Tim.
“Hi,” he said. Cara smiled and told him good morning. She hesitated. She wanted to say something else but nothing would come out of her mouth. So she nodded and started to walk away.
“Hey, laptop lady,” she heard him call out after her. Cara stopped and turned around. He walked over and pointed at her messenger bag.
"Sorry, I don’t know your name. You’re always on your laptop in there, so that’s what I call you.”
Cara was confused. “That’s what you call me? When?”
“When I think of this moment – when I finally get up the courage to ask you a question.”
She felt her knees buckle. He held out his hand. “Would you like to get some coffee?”
Cara grabbed Tim’s hand and let out the breath she had been holding for the past five days.
“I’d love some.”
995 words**This work of original fiction is owned and copyrighted by the author **