"What's your name?"
She asks me this as if she's entitled to know. And maybe she is.
She definitely is.
"Why do you want to know?"
I challenge her, because I really want to know the answer to the question. I really do want to know why she would be interested in knowing anything about me.
"Well, first of all, you know my name."
"Yeah…and?" I say, playing with the little silver flippy thing on the sugar container. I briefly wonder what it's called. "Your name is on your badge, Bella."
My heart stutters a bit as I say it.
You know…out loud and all that.
I try to ignore it.
"That's true," she says. "But secondly," her voice lowers and I find that I'm sitting up straighter, listening more intently. "Mostly…" Her voice is just a whisper. "Mostly…I just want to know. You know, a little more about you."
And I'm speechless.
Like an idiot.
"What do you know about me?" I ask.
I'm holding my breath.
"Well," she says, biting down on her lower lip and tucking an imaginary strand of hair behind her ear. Her hair is pulled up. It's always pulled up. I wonder what it looks like hanging down around her shoulders. I imagine that it's soft. "I know you like coffee. Black with lots of sugar."
She looks down at my hand, at my finger that is still idly playing with the flippy thing. I vow to go home and look up what it is. It's bothering me now.
"I know that you come in the same time everyday and order the same thing. I know you like apple pie."
I wonder if she finds me boring and predictable.
"I know…I mean, I think I know that you like to read. You always have a book."
She motions to the worn paperback copy of Holidays on Ice in front of me. I wonder if she thinks it's strange because it's not Christmas. I just like Davis Sedaris. Maybe I should explain that to her?
"I do," I tell her. "Like to read."
My heart is beating…faster. I don't think it's the coffee, though I have had three cups this evening. I wonder if she notices that I'm drinking more…that I'm staying longer.
"Do you?" I ask.
"Like to read?"
And her eyes are looking at me. Brown and rich and deep.
"Yeah, I do."
She's biting her lip again and her nose scrunches up.
"What?" I ask.
"I just don't see what the big deal is about him."
"Who?" I ask.
I look back down again, nervous that she thinks that I wasn't listening. Nervous that she thinks I'm staring at her lips and eyes and nose. Her nose is cute.
Even when it's scrunched up.
Especially when it's scrunched up.
"You don't like him?"
I do. I do like him and it makes me feel nervous that she doesn't. Like I want her to like the same things as me and I don't know why.
"No, I like him just fine," she says. "But I mean it's almost like, we get it. You're witty. You listen to NPR and probably drink a ton of coffee."
"I listen to NPR," I mumble, as I look down at my almost empty third cup of coffee. "But I'm probably not witty."
"You could be," she says smiling. "You might be. I just don't know."
"What else?" I ask, trying to change the subject.
"What else do you know about me?"
She places her finger on her lips like she's thinking. Yes. Her lips are definitely…probably soft.
"Well, I also know that you have some sort of job."
"Yeah?" I ask, smiling. "And how do you know that?"
She motions to my briefcase on the stool next to me.
"Maybe I just carry that around to make pretty waitresses think I'm important."
I wink at her.
I don't know where it comes from – this flirting. I am not a good flirt. I never have been.
"You think I'm pretty?" she asks.
She's blushing and I fear I've embarrassed her. See? I told you, I'm not a good flirt. But the pink of her cheeks makes my mouth dry and I notice – not for the first time – just how pretty she really is.
I think she's beautiful.
"Maybe," I tell her, and she looks down.
Why did I say that?
"I know that you're generous," she says softly as she leans on the counter, putting her chin in her hands. She's closer to me now than she's ever been. I can smell her perfume and it's mixed with the scent of coffee and apple pie. It's nice. I breathe in. "You always leave a twenty on the counter when your order is always seven dollars and forty-five cents. That's a really generous tip."
"You're a really good waitress."
"They don't call us waitresses anymore," she explains, still leaning in. "They call us servers. It's not sexist."
"Oh," I say, hoping she won't move. "I didn't know."
"That they called us servers?" she asks. "Or that the term waitress is sexist?"
And she winks at me.
And I smile.
"And I know one more thing."
She's biting her lip again. It's even better close-up.
"Your hair is soft," she says. "I mean, well…I think it is. I think it would be."
And I feel the heat of my own blush.
"You think about my hair?"
She nods her head yes and even though she's still biting her lip, I can see her smile.
It's beautiful like her.
The bell on the door rings and another customer walks in.
"I guess I need to help them."
She stands up straight and my heart falls slightly.
"I guess I should get going."
She smiles shyly and I place a twenty dollar bill on the counter. It's crisp. I went to the ATM before I came in this evening. She walks over to the other customer as I collect my things. I wait, nervously, for her to come back.
"I guess I'll see you tomorrow," she says.
"Yeah," I tell her. "I guess you will."
I'm stalling, trying to think of something to say. She's faster.
"You never told me your name."
"It's Edward," I tell her.
"Edward," she repeats. "I like it."
So does she.
"I like Bella."
And I do.
Reviews are love.
Please leave me some.
A little something different.
A new chapter will post every morning this week.
Thank you for reading.
Thank you to Marvar for everything. Your mad beta skills. Your friendship…and your awesomeness in general. ILY.