It's Monday morning when he thuds into the coffee shop near his flat. Percy is exhausted, to say the least – three late nights and an awful exam tend to do that.
The first thing he notices when he gets in the queue is the blonde haired girl in front of him. She comes up to his chin and carries a load of books in her arms so that they hang a little under the weight. Surreptitiously, he sidles along so he can see her out of the corner of his eye. She is very pretty, he soon realises, with big grey eyes that are framed by thick lashes, tan skin and a light flush on her cheeks caused by the slight warmth of the room. Her curly hair almost makes her look like a princess, but she carries a tough look at the same time in the stiffness of her jaw and her tilted-upwards head.
She glances at her watch and by instinct, Percy looks over at it. Seven thirty exactly – he's already going to be late.
The woman behind the till clears her throat and Percy almost jumps a foot in the air. She tries not to smile as she sees his surprised expression and instead says kindly, "And what can I get for you two lovelies?"
Like a magnet, his eyes snap to the girl beside him and he's shocked to see that she is staring right back at him, the colour of her cheeks steadily deepening.
"Oh, we're not together –"
"I don't know him, sorry –"
They speak in unison as they turn back to the woman, and her eyes widen slightly. "Oh, I'm very sorry," she says, "You two would make such a cute couple."
He doesn't really know how to feel about this. On the one hand, this is hilarious. He's being set up by a stranger, with another stranger, in a coffee shop. On the other hand, he is mortified – what are you supposed to say to that?
Percy looks back at the girl, a growing smile playing on his lips. She smiles back feebly and then turns to the woman.
"I'll have a skinny latte, please."
He stares at her in surprise and barely hears the woman asking him for his order.
"Huh? Oh, the same, thanks."
She blinks at him then, and he blushes and looks away. Come on, Percy, he thinks to himself, Be cool.
"So," he says loudly, accidently drawing the attention of some other customers, "What's your name?"
"Um – Annabeth?" She says it as more of a question and he almost tells her not to worry, he's just as embarrassed, but he refrains.
"Awesome. I'm uh, Percy." Uh, Percy? He berates himself internally – she must think he's an idiot.
They shift along in the queue then, as another customer leaves, and Annabeth heaves her large pile of books onto the counter so that she can access her purse. Percy watches as she takes a few coins from her bag and drops them into the open hand of the barista. He does the same, and soon Annabeth is being handed a cup. She picks up her books with one arm and the coffee with the other and sweeps out of the shop, with a thanks to the woman at the till and a smile and nod to him.
It takes him only two seconds to realise that Annabeth has left behind one book. He picks it up without hesitation and flips it over in his hand, glancing over the embossed words that read Architecture in Ancient Greece and Rome before turning the front page over.
And there it is. Her name and phone number, scrawled messily into the front cover in a dark ink. Slowly but surely, his lips quirk upwards and grow into a wide grin.
Moments later, Percy takes his coffee from the counter and turns on his heel, walking out of the shop. He speed walks down the street, book and coffee in hand, searching for the blonde head of hair…there.
Either he has very good luck or she left the book there deliberately, Percy reasons internally. And whichever way, as he taps her on the shoulder – smirk adorned – Percy could not be happier with how his Monday morning is going.
(He can miss the first few minutes of class, right?)