by Enthusiastic Fish
Delilah generally tried not to make a habit of swearing in public. She considered it to be crass. It wasn’t that she’d never used a swear word in her life, but it wasn’t for public consumption.
But today was a bad day. It wasn’t even eight o’clock and she was calling it bad. Everything had gone wrong that morning, from her alarm deciding to go off every half hour, starting at four a.m., to the hot water not working in her apartment. Then, her coffee pot had decided to go on the fritz as well.
Where did that leave her?
Standing in line in a coffee shop with more than half of the Metro area, it seemed. Everyone wanted coffee at the same moment. She would likely be late for work, and she hated the crowds.
Finally, though, she managed to reach the counter and place her order. The man in front of her seemed to be a foot taller than she was, and she couldn’t see around him, but she tried to be patient.
She really tried.
At long last, she got to pick up her coffee. She decided not to get a pastry, too, even though she was hungry. There just was not the time this morning. Someone usually had donuts at work. She could get something later. Right now, all she wanted was to get out of this coffee shop.
She grabbed her coffee and spun around, intent on getting out.
Unfortunately, she didn’t even get to take more than one step.
The man who had been in front of her was just turning to get something from the table right as she was turning around, coffee in hand.
The lid popped off her cup and the coffee seemed to explode all over the man. In fact, she realized that his own coffee had joined hers, although most of his was just on the floor. Inside, she groaned, wishing that he had been just two feet further from her. She swore silently. Now, she would definitely be late.
On the outside, however, she didn’t say anything about that.
“Oh, no! I’m so sorry!” she said and started fumbling for napkins. “That was all my fault.”
“It’s all right. I think we were probably both to blame. I didn’t even see you behind me.”
The man started dabbing at his coat. Delilah could see that it was an expensive one. It would probably cost a fortune to clean, but she had been raised to take responsibility for her own mistakes and she would not disappoint her mother by not offering to pay.
“Is it ruined?” she asked.
“I doubt it,” he said. “I can get it cleaned.”
He smiled and shook his head.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Delilah felt like she had to put a crick in her neck to look up at him. They were standing much too close together, but there was so little room in this crowded shop that there wasn’t much she could do about that.
One of the baristas came out to help clean up the mess and the man took off his coat, folding it so that the coffee stains were facing inward. He didn’t seem to be in a hurry at all. Delilah wished he would hurry it up so that she could just leave.
In fact, with the barista helping out and the man saying that she didn’t need to pay, Delilah was incredibly tempted to just remove herself from this situation completely. She even took a step toward the door.
“Wait, just a second,” the man said.
She stopped, swearing inwardly again.
The man shook off the barista’s questions, thanking her for her time, and gestured for her to go back to work. Then, he helped Delilah weave her way through the crowd and out of the shop. Out on the sidewalk, Delilah couldn’t help taking a deep breath of relief.
“I could barely hear myself think in there,” the man said. “I really wasn’t paying attention to anything else. I just wanted to get out. I should have known better than to get coffee here at this time of day.”
“That’s exactly what I was thinking. Look, I’m really sorry, but...”
The man interrupted her, although Delilah didn’t think he’d realized. He seemed a little preoccupied, actually.
“Since we’re both without coffee, right now, why don’t we go down the street to the place with the more expensive stuff and I’ll buy.”
“I spilled the coffee on you,” Delilah said. “Mine and yours.”
“I was in your way,” he said, and smiled.
It wasn’t the kind of overbearing, flirtatious smile she expected from a lot of men. It was almost shy, as if he wasn’t sure how she’d react to his invitation. For the first time, she really looked at him. He was a lot taller than she was, but he wasn’t overly bulky. His eyes were a bright green and he was definitely not bad to look at.
“My name is Tim McGee,” he said and held out his hand.
“Delilah Fielding,” she said and shook his hand firmly.
“So? How about it? I’ll even throw in a pastry if you’re willing to give me your number.”
Delilah smiled because any other man saying that would be leering, but Tim wasn’t. He seemed to feel a little clumsy but sincere, and it was a nice change.
“And what happens then?”
“If you give me the time of day, I’ll probably call you and ask for a date. What do you think?”
Delilah thought about it.
“I think that doesn’t sound half bad. Lead on.”
Tim smiled again and Delilah decided he had a very nice smile.
They walked down the street to the more expensive coffee shop which was less crowded. Tim let her order her coffee and he ordered his. Then, he gestured to the pastry case.
“Well?” he asked.
Delilah looked at him for a few seconds and then stepped up to the counter and looked in the case.
“I’ll take an apricot fritter,” she said.
Tim’s smile widened and he turned to pay for the coffee and pastry. He got a donut with sprinkles for himself.
Then, he handed her the bag with her fritter.
“You probably have to get to work, I’m guessing. So I won’t keep you.”
“Don’t you?” she asked, worried for a moment that she’d picked someone more complicated than he seemed to be.
He shrugged. “Long story, but I’d be willing to tell you about it, if...”
Delilah laughed. “I can’t pass that up.” She fished in her purse and pulled out a business card. Then, she wrote her cell number and gave it to him. “I hope you’ll call.”
Tim grinned. “I will. I’m glad you ran into me, today.”
Delilah smiled. “What can I say? I have good aim.”
“You have great aim.”
Delilah took her coffee and fritter and hurried to work, hoping that she’d have a message on her phone later.