Musical Selection: L.T.D.|Holding On (When Love Is Gone)
I didn’t think he’d see me staring at him. I tried to fiddle with the People magazine in my hand — darted my eyes over the cuckoo clock above the Barista’s head.
He spotted me. And I couldn’t backpedal, couldn’t turn away fast enough. He was the color of pre-evening with onyx eyes and a James Earl Jones voice.
My entire body convulsed when he said, “I think you dropped this.” I looked down and he was holding my pen. I had been tackling a crossword puzzle, and the sleek writing tool must’ve escaped my grip when I saw him.
“I, uh … Yes, that’s mine.” I started tripping over my words. What was I doing?! Where was my head? I dragged the pen from his grip.
“I’m Loyal.” He extended his very manicured right hand to me.
“Um … I’m trustworthy.”
He giggled. I heard cherubs singing. I hadn’t caught the humor until he casually said, “No. Loyal is my name. Loyal Manor.”
His hand was still waiting for mine. I slapped it nervously, cupped it, then gave it two quick shakes.
“Oh! Oh! Haha. My apologies. I’m Grace … Grace Baron. It’s nice to meet you, Loyal.”
I glanced over at the Barista, who flawlessly prepares my order daily, and she flashed me a wink.
“Well, I’ll let you get back to your puzzle, Grace. Will you be here tomorrow?”
“WILL I?! I mean … Sure, I’ll be here.”
The dimple in his left cheek made my acquaintance, and I became as giddy as a schoolgirl. Everything about Loyal was smooth as a cup of pour-over coffee, and I wanted to learn more about him.
“Okay, then. I’ll see you tomorrow, Grace Baron.”
“Uh huh. Yes. Yes, you will.”
He turned to exit the building, and I knew it was rude to watch, but I wanted to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
The Barista tipped her hat in my direction, and flashed me another wink. The server bought me a second cup of coffee and patted my hand. A piece of paper bounced off my knuckles.
There, on a strawberry-scented blueprint piece of stationery, was Loyal’s phone number.