"Venti Soy Vanilla Latte, Extra Shot!"
This was so embarrassing. I was down to my last $20 as it was. Twenty. Freaking. Dollars. To last me a whole two days, and here I was splurging on coffee. But finals were here, and I was desperate for the caffeine fix.
"VENTI SOY VANILLA LATTE, EXTRA SHOT!"
Fuck. Me. I knew there was a $20 bill in this purse. It's the only reason I took this purse to the library with me anyway. As if I'm not ashamed enough that the barista has had to call my order more than once, I now needed to go to the counter and claim the drink before they tossed it. Meekly, abstractly searching for the funds I know are buried within the depths of my bag, I wave down the barista and attempt to explain the issue. Attempt, because before I can open my mouth, a very expensive arm in a French cuff shirt hands the barista a $50 bill.
"For the Soy Vanilla and the triple Espresso. There's a hefty tip in it for you if you can rustle up a couple of those turkey paninis you guys sell here."
In this moment, all is forgiven. The barista smiles, accepts the money, and quickly moves to fill the order. I nod sheepishly at the man and then stop to really look at him. I'm officially more embarrassed than ever. He's no mere man. I blink twice and ogle him longer than is socially allowed. He's gorgeous, and not just in a "pretty boy" kind of way. He's got this wild sex hair, kind of copper colored. His eyes are green. Not moss green or even tree green, but full on St. Patrick's Day Parade green and his jaw. His fucking jaw! I'm ashamed of what I'd do to that jaw. I'm ashamed of what I'd do to the rest of him. They say beards are like makeup for men, and I just know that he'd be hot even clean shaven.
At this point, I know I've been staring longer than socially acceptable so I continue to take him in. He's in a slim fit suit and it has been impeccably tailored. White shirt, opened minimally at the collar. He's handsome and dressed well and there's a part of me that's intimidated, but also a part of me that's ashamed.
I clear my throat and tuck a stray tendril of my mousy brown hair behind my ear. Standing next to him in my ratty sweats and stubby fingernails feels wrong. I feel unworthy. He's smirking at me, so I see he isn't upset, but it still feels wrong for me to be the one standing next to him, the recipient of free java.
"Thanks Sir. For the coffee, I mean. Do you happen to have a card or something? I'd really like to pay you back sometime."
"You're going to pay me back, alright. You're rail thin, and caffeine is probably the last thing you need. You're going to sit across from me at a table of your choosing, consume every last morsel of your panini, and answer every last one of my questions."
I felt my cheeks heat. Being "rail thin" has never been my problem. And who did he think he was? Expensive suit and shirt, artfully messy hair, ridiculously cocky attitude. I didn't have to answer to him. Except I felt my head nod and my feet shuffle and I was going to do every last thing he said.
"Oh. And before you sit, tell me your name."
I knew my blush was betraying me. I could feel it.
"Bella. My name is Bella Swan."
"Isabella. I'll meet you at our table soon. Please grab us some napkins."
My feet move and it's like I don't have the power to stop them. As I grab enough napkins to become solely responsible for the shortage of trees in our area, I try to come up with a list of ways out of this. My plan was to spend the entire day after lunch in the library. My grades were the only good thing I had going for me right now.
I started to chew my nails when Mr. Green Eyes sat down at the table.
"It isn't fair that I know your name and you don't know mine. I'm Edward. Edward Cullen. Perhaps you've heard of me?"
More heat in my cheeks. More blinking. The guy probably thought I was an imbecile as incoherent sounds began to cross my lips.
"Edward Cullen. Cullen Engineering. You used to be a chemical engineer full time until you founded your company. You've got the most aesthetically pleasing office space in the city of Chicago."
If I thought he was hot before, he was lava now. Knowing that little tidbit of information about him earned me a megawatt smile that could've given energy to the entire city. A genuine smile, nothing like the smirk he gave me earlier.
"Impressive that you've heard of me."
"Heard of you? You've somehow, and I still don't understand the science behind it, managed to create plastic malleable enough to make water bottles, strong enough so that it's literally held up under the weight of several cars, yet biodegradable."
"If you're smart enough to care about why that's impressive, this conversation will be pleasant for both of us then. Now. Stop stalling. Open the sandwich and eat."
I become self conscious then. Based on past interactions, I know I tend to babble when excited or embarrassed or intrigued. I know that I must have been going a mile a minute. I'm about to open my mouth for more word vomit when he stops me.
"I don't know anyone in the world who willingly consumes a turkey sandwich without a condiment. I grabbed mustard, mayo and honey mustard from the barista. She was all too happy to oblige."
I smile then. Most people dislike honey mustard. It's a stupid, small thing, but I'm grateful to him and I take it as a good sign.
"I'll have honey mustard please. Thank you for getting it. And the sandwich. And the latte. For everything really."
"Good girl. Now please. Shut your mouth and eat."
For some reason I don't challenge him. I'm not sure if it's his age, or some weird halo effect, but I eat. I try to remember to take smaller bites and wipe my mouth with a napkin frequently. I feel out of place sitting here with him.
All of a sudden I become thirsty. I'm hesitant to drink my latte. It feels out of place with the sandwich. As I resign myself to the knowledge that I'll need to face the barista to get another drink, he slides a cup holding clear liquid, and a straw to me.
"I got this from the barista as well. It's Sierra Mist. They didn't have Sprite, and you don't strike me as a water kind of girl."
I slowly take the drink from him. There's something about him I trust. I know that he hasn't spiked it with anything. He doesn't need to. I'm already under the influence of something. Sipping slowly on the cold drink, I realize I'm grateful to him. I was going to have my latte for lunch, and I'm glad to have the unplanned meal. He's watching me with approval. When I've eaten approximately one quarter of the sandwich, I stop for a moment.
"What's this really about?"
"Isabella, I have some questions for you."
"Please. Call me Bella."
"Your clothes are too big. Big enough to hide the shape of your hips and your breasts, which is such a shame. Because in clothes tailored to fit, I'm sure you'd be a knock out. Your hair is clean, yet unkempt, suggesting that you take comfort in the length of it, but don't know much about styling it. You're beautiful, but also smart. When I told you my name, you cited my work with polymerization, not the fact that I graced the cover of the society pages with yet another blonde last week.
You like honey mustard, which indicates that you like sweet, yet sharp things. You're currently staring at me as if I have two heads, but the reality of the situation is that you're a struggling college student. I noticed the purse, and the advanced calculus textbooks in your messenger bag, and the hole in your boot all in the first few minutes of looking at you. I don't say this to be mean, but I know you can't afford the coffee you ordered. I saw you root around in that thing for the cash. So really, it's about something simple really. Isabella, do you have a boyfriend?"