She smiled gratefully just as a kid in the back seat screamed, “Mom, he hit me!”
I wanted to sympathize with her, but I was actually a little envious. I never had siblings, no cousins or anyone else who was my age whom I might have fought with or giggled with or whatever. Lisa had four brothers, but we always locked ourselves in her bedroom, or she came to my house, so I didn’t have much of that at her house, either. So, yeah, I was a little envious of the harried mother.
I turned away to answer the drive-thru intercom, just as Beth came up beside me again.
“You know him?”
“Know who?” I asked, as I pressed the buttons on the computer that corresponded with the new order.
“The guy at the front counter. He asked if you were working.”
I leaned back even as I asked the customer to drive forward, peeking around the corner to see who Beth was talking about. And there he was, Mr. Handsome, the guy I literally ran into at my ill-fated job interview. It’d been a week, and I had yet to hear from Ms. Tarek, but I wasn’t really holding my breath. I knew I didn’t get the job. A phone call telling me I didn’t get it would just be insult added to injury.
But what was he doing here? How did he know he could find me here?
“Do you know him?” Beth asked again.
“I met him last week. But I don’t know what he’s doing here.”
“Go ask him and find out.”
She slid the headset off of my head and pushed me in the appropriate direction even as I began to protest. And then he saw me and smiled, watching me as I approached the counter.
“Hi,” he said before I could get a word out. “I hope you don’t mind my coming here. I had something I wanted to talk to you about.”
“Is this about the job?”
“No,” he said, his eyes falling a little. “Unfortunately, we already filled that position.”
He must have seen something in my face because he looked uncomfortable for a second. He glanced at something behind me then cleared his throat. “I was wondering if I could take you to dinner, actually.”
He focused on me again. “Yeah. Would you be available tonight? Kind of early, if you don’t mind, because I have to be on site at six tomorrow morning.”
“Yes. I can do that.”
“Great. How about I pick you up here after your shift?”
“I actually get off in about an hour.”
“Then I’ll hang around,” he said.
I nodded, not sure what else to say. He’d just asked me out! My heart was pounding, and my mouth didn’t seem to know how to work. So I stammered a second as I walked backward, nearly walking straight into one of the coffee machines. Beth saved me at the last second, grabbing my arm and pulling me back over to the drive-thru cubby.
“Did he just ask you out?”
I looked at her and began to laugh, pressing my hand to my mouth to keep him from hearing.
“I wish I was you. Never thought I’d say that,” Beth said as she wandered over to the window to hand a customer her drink.
Thank God we were busy. I was rushing around so much that I only got to steal one or two glances at him. And those glances—he was so beautiful! I wanted to just stand there and stare at him for hours and hours. He sat next to the window and stared at his cellphone most of the time. The light behind him, the way his eyelashes made little shadows on his cheeks…I don’t think I’d ever seen a man quite like him before. And he wanted to go out with me. Every time that thought crossed my mind, my heart pounded, my hands shook, and I nearly splashed hot coffee on myself more than once.
“Get out of here,” Beth told me the moment the clock read five.
“Are you sure? You don’t want me to wait for Kyle?”
“No. Go. I’ll cover the drive-thru till he comes in.”
I slipped away before she could change her mind. I went into the bathroom and washed my face in the sink, running my fingers through my hair and then twisting it back into the knot I’d worn it in most of the day. It looked a little messy, a little too unwashed, but it would have to do. I pulled mascara and lip gloss from my bag, trying to improve my pale countenance a little. I wasn’t really one of those girls who wore makeup all the time—my aunts insisted it wasn’t necessary because I had the Giles family perfection when it came to skin—but a little makeup on special occasions couldn’t hurt. Right?
I really wished Lisa was here with her bag of magic tricks that included an entire drug store full of makeup selections.
I stared at myself in the mirror. I couldn’t imagine what he might see in me that inspired him to come all the way here to take me to dinner. My skin was always too pale, my freckles so dark against that pale skin that they looked like little marks made by the tip of a dark pen. My nose was too long, too thin. My eyes too wide and green. I liked my hair, most days. It was a deep mahogany that was naturally long and thick, much to Lisa’s chagrin. It was the one thing she had always openly envied while I envied her perfectly tanned skin, her blond hair, and her boyish curves. She looked like a supermodel, the kind of girl every guy I’d ever met wanted. But me, I had too many curves and there was nothing boyish about them. Lisa and I could share clothes, but I was always stretching out her sweaters, and her skirts tended to be a little short on me.