"You took the wrong street, moron," I grumble, turning up the heat to full blast.
"Did not! The guy specifically said it's a half mile past-"
"I don't even want a waffle anymore," I cross my arms and scowl at him.
"Are you serious? We just drove for an hour so you could have your stinking waffle and now you don't want one? Unbelievable," he momentarily averts his gaze from the road to scowl at me.
"I just need…coffee. I haven't had coffee in a really long time," I plead, pointing to a cozy looking place advertising that it has delicious coffee.
"But you had coffee yesterday!" he protests.
"And I want coffee today."
"You know there are probably no Starbucks around here. This is the only coffee shop for miles and it's probably going to be horrible."
"Oh come on, don't be a grumpy pants," I tease, using the nickname Gran gave him that he detests.
"Whatever," he shuts off the car and climbs out, grumpily muttering to himself about how he hopes I'll hate it.
"You're the best," I cry, twirling around in the snow.
"Yeah, yeah," he mumbles, "Get inside before I change my mind."
I giggle and race to the front door, "Rodenmaar's Reads and Trudy's Treats, Sweets, and Drinks."
"Also a bookstore? Fantastic," he shakes his head, "Now we're never going to leave."
"Maybe you'll actually like it," I punch him playfully and we open the door, making the bell jingle and causing the people inside to look up.
My name is Nina Martin and I'm 19 years old. My twin brother, Eddie Martin, and I just moved to England from America. We were offered a scholarship at a University here, so we took the chance as soon as we could. We're fraternal twins so we don't look or act anything alike. We were living with our Grandma in Los Angeles until the opportunity arose for a new adventure in a different country. Currently a new semester is just about to start. After a bit of research we realized the school would be perfect. I'm majoring in world history and it has tons of great classes for that career choice and a wonderful musical arts program for Eddie. The scholarship came a little late so naturally we rushed here as soon as we could, but luckily they'll still take us in. It'll be a bit before we actually have to attend school so for now we're just taking a look around.
At the counter of the bookstore part I spot a boy and girl handing a book to an older lady. At the coffee shop part I can see a redheaded girl and dark haired girl chatting while sipping from coffee cops. There are not really very many people here, just a scattered bunch who are quietly reading books and munching on pastries.
Eddie and I walk over to the coffee section and view all of the delectable goods. Cookies, cakes, candies, muffins, bagels, and treats galore!
The redheaded girl quits talking to her friend and turns to us with an impatient expression.
"What can I get for you two?" she asks, British accent very clear, and pulls out a pad of paper with a pen.
I spot her name tag, Patricia W, "I'd like a pumpkin spice latte and a blueberry muffin please."
"Well Patty," Eddie begins which makes her roll her eyes and her friend giggle, "I'd like an iced tea and a sugar cookie."
"It's Patricia," she snaps, "And we're out of sugar cookies."
"They're right there!" Eddie points to a batch of unfrosted sugar cookies near the counter.
"Not ready yet, sorry," she replies, her sardonic tone full of irritation towards my brother.
"Can't you just get me one when they're ready?" he scoffs.
"No can do," she shakes her head in mock sadness.
"Friendly service here," he sneers, "Nothing else for me then."
"That'll be £5."
Eddie pulls out some money out of his pocket and hands it to her.
"This is American money," she says slowly, enunciating every word, "We don't take that here."
"We don't take that here," he mimics and grumpily hands her the right money.
"Your order will be ready in a minute," she yanks the money from his hands and stuffs it into the machine.
We go to sit down and I chuckle, "I've never seen anybody treat you like that."
"Treat me like what? We were just talking, Nina."
"Didn't seem like it to me," I tease him, "Does somebody have a wittle cwush on a pwetty girl?"
"Oh shut up," he rolls his eyes, "That girl is so annoying. No wonder America split off from the British, they're the worst!"
I laugh, "I'm going to see if there are any good books," I point a stern finger at him, "Don't get into any trouble while I'm gone!"
"I will if I want to!" he childishly calls after me as I head for the bookstore section.
A dark, curly haired girl is at the counter, absorbed in a book. I don't want to disturb her so I head for the shelves of books. After a few minutes of browsing, I notice a boy not far from me. He seems to work here and is reaching on his tippy toes to place books back onto the shelves. If these are the kind of men Britain wants to offer me than I am extremely pleased. With his boyish cuteness and tousled brown hair, who could resist him? I tiptoe over to him, hoping to get a chance to talk with them.
The boy turns to me with an expression of surprise and a pile of books falls down on him. Blushing, he kneels down to pick them up and I join him. We both reach for the same book and after an awkward moment I decide to just take it. Then we both stand up and get a good look at each other. From up close I can see his soft blue eyes, oh wow is he cute!
"I'm Nina," I smile and offer my hand.
"Fabian," he says in return, shaking my hand and smiling kindly back. He is definitely British and I am definitely going to like the country a lot more now.
"American?" he asks, putting the books back on the shelves.
"I guess my accent kind of gives it away," I laugh, biting my lip.
"Well er, your shoes give it away a tad bit more."
I look down at my shoes in horror to see that they are my Vans with the American flag on them. Of all the shoes to wear I had to pick these? I am such a typical American!
"I'm so oblivious," I flush a crimson red, "Didn't even realize!"
He relaxes and laughs, his blue eyes twinkling, "It's alright. American doesn't always mean bad."
"That Patricia girl over there doesn't seem to think so," I comment, giving him back the book.
"Well she doesn't necessarily like anybody," he added, more as an afterthought, "Other than Joy."
"The other girl who works at the coffee shop," he explains to me.
"So you're all friends around here?"
"For the most part," he smiles then his eyes widen in horror, "Oops, I completely forgot! Do you need help with anything? Finding a book or…?"
"Oh!" I exclaim, slightly disappointed he switched the conversation so quickly, "Do you guys have the third Harry Potter, I think I left my copy back at home."
"Ah," he grins and leads me to a different section, "The Prisoner of Azkaban is one of my favorites."
"Me too! I just love Sirius Black," I gush.
"Couldn't agree more," he's once again on his tippy toes, reaching for the book. When he gets it he hands it to me and I take it gratefully, "Anything else?"
"Nah," I shake my head, "At least for now. I'm sure I'll be back!"
We walk back to the counter and he elbows Mara, "Oh, hello!"
"Mara, this is Nina. Nina, this is Mara," he introduces us and we shake hands.
"So you're American," she comments and I laugh uneasily, hoping she can't see my shoes.
"Indeed," I muse, "Nothing gets past you Brits."
They both laugh and I sigh with relief, thankful that they understand sarcasm. The man at the train station was not quite as fluent when Eddie and I were joking around about America.
"Nina's a Harry Potter fan," Fabian adds excitedly.
"Really?" Mara's smile becomes wider, "Anybody who likes Harry Potter is okay in my books."
"Americans," Patricia begins scathingly, who has just joined us and angrily thrusts the coffee and muffin into my hands, "Your only reference to the UK is Harry Potter, it's just so typical."
"Don't hate on Potterheads," chides Fabian, "If you really tried reading them-"
"Don't want to hear it," she cuts him off and walks back to her counter before he can say another word.
"She's very friendly," I remark sarcastically.
"Don't worry about Patricia, she's just mad that we have actual customers," enlightened Mara.
I raise an eyebrow, "Is it odd for you guys to have customers?"
They nod and Fabian shrugs, "Nobody really comes here."
"That's a shame," I pay for the book and thank them both, "Well it was nice meeting you two!"
"I hope I'll be seeing more of you," Fabian grins slightly then realizing his mistake, blushes, "I mean we! We want to see you again! "
Laughing, I wave goodbye and join Eddie once again at the table.
"Does somebody have a wittle cwush on a pwetty boy?" Eddie holds his hands together and sighs dramatically.
"I don't know what you're talking about," I grumble, taking a bite of my muffin and occasionally glancing back at Fabian. Our eyes meet and we both turn away, furiously blushing.
"Young love," Eddie smirks.
"Ha ha, very funny," I take a long deep from my coffee before teasing him anymore, "At least I'm not the only American here head over heels for a British person."
"I am not head over heels for that redheaded she beast," he retorts sulkily.
"That's what they all say," I tsk, "Now you're denying it but soon you'll be ogling over her like it's nobody's business."
"Fat chance," he scoffs, "The day I am attracted to that girl is the day that I no longer am an American."
"What a jolly good joke, my fellow English mate," I (horribly) attempt a British accent, "We Brits do love a wee joke these days."
"That is not how we talk," an annoyed Patricia is standing over us, Eddie's iced tea in hand and a scowl across her face. She must be a fan of eavesdropping and popping up at random times, "Here's your iced tea, Americano."
"You sure love to talk a lot, don't you?" Eddie yanks the iced tea from her hands, "Or as some people say, yack. I think I'm going to call you Yacker."
"Yacker?" she says through gritted teeth, "You little slimeball, don't you dare call me that."
I shove the muffin in my mouth to suppress the giggles coming out.
"Sorry Yacker but your nickname is already set in stone," he shakes his head mournfully, "I dub thee now and forever Yacker."
"You are unbelievable," she replies sourly and retreats back to the table, grumbling to herself about how idiotic Americans are.
"Catch you later, Yacker!" he cries eagerly, "Hope to hear that yacking voice of yours again soon!"
"You're so mean," I start to giggle, but glance around one more time to look at Fabian.
"Will you stop looking at him?!" Eddie groans, sticking a straw in his iced tea, "You are the most obvious person I have ever met!"
"It's true," I moan, facepalming, "Just look at my shoes!" I throw my foot up on the table to show Eddie.
"It can't be," he gasps in mock horror, "How could you do this to me?!" He yanks one of my shoes off.
"Eddie no!" I cry, laughing, "I need my shoes!"
"This won't do at all, now will it?" he scolds, holding the shoe high above his head as I try to reach for it.
"Give it back!" I stand up and grasp the shoe firmly in my hands, pulling back as hard as I can.
"Not strong enough," he grins, lazily leaning back in the chair, "This is too easy."
Finally I have the shoe back in my possession and hastily shove it back onto my foot, "You're such a dork!"
"Takes one to know one."
"Earth to Fabian? Is anybody in there? Hello?"
Jerkily, I turn away from Nina and glance up at Mara who's staring at me with a curious expression.
"We've made contact, there is life on this planet," she laughs.
"Sorry I was just…distracted."
"Distracted by the new American girl?" she wiggles her eyebrows smiling cunningly.
"What happened to the quiet and professional Mara who never invades anyone's private lives?" I question, quickly changing the subject.
"What happened to the Fabian who like books and not girls?" she teases.
"Well," I lean against the counter, a small smile playing on my face, "I just can't help it when I meet a cute girl who also likes books."
She gasps, pretending to be offended, "I'm not the only cute girl who likes books in your life? How can this be, I thought we had something more!"
Laughing, I absentmindedly rearrange a few books, "She's just…so different."
"I didn't know you were into exotic things," Mara giggles.
"What has gotten into you lately? All of a sudden you're interested in my love life!" I cry, prodding her playfully, "Don't go all girly on me."
"Don't you worry about that, but really, if you like her so much why don't you ask her out on a date?"
"A date?" my eyes widen in horror, "I'm not going to ask her on a date. We've only just met, I barely even know her."
"Then get to know her," Mara urges, "Maybe you can-Oh."
"What is it?" I ask quizzically but I see what she is staring at. Nina has put her foot up on the table and I notice that she is with another guy. They're both laughing and suddenly she's trying to grab something out of his hands.
"Oh," I mutter bleakly, "She's flirting with another guy."
"Maybe they're just friends?" she suggests feebly.
"Hardly. Guess I never really even had a chance with her."
"Don't give up hope Fabian!" she earnestly grabs my hands, "You can win her over!"
"Look at him," I cry, pointing to the other boy, "He's American and good looking! They're probably hopelessly in love."
"Well if she was flirting with you maybe that means she likes you more."
"I wish," I mumble dejectedly, "She probably wasn't even flirting with me. I am so pathetic."
She rubs my shoulders comfortingly, "I'm sorry Fabian."
Mara and I are pretty good friends.
No, not that kind of friends, mind you!
But either way, I'm getting off topic. We met at our university and since we're both majoring in Literature we obviously had many classes together. After various teachers partnering up we started hanging out more. Then she introduced me to where she worked, begging me to fill out an application so she wouldn't be so bored. I got to work at the front desk with her and later, Patricia and Joy also started working here. Patricia, despite her constant foul mood is actually quite funny if you dig beneath all of the scowls. Joy's nice enough, but she's constantly acting as if we're a couple, which in my opinion is rather odd, considering I've known her for what, three months? Mara is the one I get along with best. With our similar interests and ideas, what was the chance of us not becoming friends? But I guess the four of us are all sort of friends, in a way that one makes friends in situations where opportunities for such things are rare. On our breaks we'll drink coffee and eat a treat, occasionally talking about school, the weather, or whatever else comes to mind. I enjoy working here, despite the management. Victor, our manager, is a grouchy old man who is always yelling at customers and us. But luckily Trudy, who owns the coffee shop part of the place, is very sweet and motherly to us all, demanding that we help ourselves to anything we want. It had been a surprise that she agreed to work with Victor, but I suspect that she might fancy him, which is odd but love is blind as they say!
So as we lounge against the counter, with Mara soothing me, all that I can think about is Nina. Perhaps I am working myself up over nothing, I've only just met the girl! But there's just something special about her that I can't quite pinpoint and I have a burning desire to get to know her better.
Well and she's also very pretty.
And into books.
Did I mention she's very pretty?
Oh goodness, I am pathetic!
Patricia comes back from serving the two American customers and I'm eyeing them curiously.
"American huh," I muse, "That guy's pretty good looking, you have to admit. Well not as good looking as Fabian," I giggle.
"Really, Joy? Good looking?" she scoffs, "More like the devil's spawn. And will you stop talking about Fabian for once?" she groans, wiping the counter with a washcloth.
"I can't help it," I sigh, "He's just so cute and nice and smart and nerdy…"
"May I point out that you are none of these things. What do you two even have in common?"
"That we like each other," I laugh, raising my eyebrows, "Are you doubting the fact that we are practically made for each other?"
"Uh yes," she replies, "And you don't know if he likes you. It's been a few months since you two have met and nothing really has happened."
"You're not very helpful!" I cry, "This is Best Friend Stuff 101, geesh."
"I don't do lovey dovey gooey mushy stuff, sorry," she shakes her head, a grimace crossing over her face, "Talking about boys is just so…cliché."
"Really? You and the American were getting a little…"
"A little what?" she asks, her tone leaking annoyance.
"Likeinthemovieswhenpeoplearesoinlovethattheyareye llingbutthentheymakeout," I say quickly, not breathing in between my words.
"What was that?" she demands.
"Nothing!" I grin, grabbing a cupcake from underneath the counter, becoming extremely interested in unwrapping the paper.
"If you think that I like that weasel," she says his name as if it's poison in her mouth, "then you are sorely mistaken."
"If you say so," I say in a singsong voice, hardly believing her.
Finally it's time for our lunch break and the four of us sit at our usual table.
"So what do you guys think about the new customers?" Mara asks, drinking a cup of hot chocolate.
"I think the boy is sorta cute," I comment, watching for Fabian's reaction and to my dismay he barely even looks up.
"Same here," Mara agrees, "But I've never actually met him."
"I have," Patricia pipes in, throwing a glare in his direction, "He's a jerk, period."
"Is he really that bad, or just another human being whose very presence annoys you?" Fabian raises his eyebrows doubtfully.
"No really, he is just so full of himself," she groans, "I can't stand him."
"Maybe you should give him another try," Mara suggests wisely, "First impressions aren't always the best judge of character."
But Patricia just shakes her head, "I literally can't even stand to be around him."
Mara sighs, "Well the girl is really nice."
Fabian slightly perks up and smiles, "Her name is Nina and she's into books."
Is he blushing? Does he like her?
"Oh," I say meekly, "You two have met?"
"Sure have," he grins, glancing over to her, "She really likes Harry Potter, isn't that cool?"
"So cool," I mumble.
"I think we should invite them to sit with us," he adds hopefully, "Add to our little group of friends, you know?"
Patricia and I look back to the Americans, the girl is intently reading her book and the boy is jamming out the music. The thought of them sitting with us is a horrific one at this point.
"No!" we both cry at the same time and the other two look at us oddly.
"Why not?" Mara inquires, eyeing us suspiciously.
I give Patricia a pleading look and she moans, finally giving in.
"I don't like Americans," she crosses her arms defiantly.
"That's so prejudiced," Fabian scoffs.
"I don't care," she huffed, chin held high and proud.
"Patricia!" Mara scolds, "That's not very nice, I'm sure they're lovely people."
"They can sit with us when that American idiot says something nice to me."
"I bet I can get him to," Fabian says, surprisingly us by taking the challenge. Oh no. He does like Nina, no wonder he would bet against Patricia on something like this!
"You're on!" Patricia cries, shaking his hand, "If he doesn't then they can't sit with us and you have to stand up in front of the whole store, wearing your underwear outside your pants, announcing that you're a girlfriendless nerd and that I am the smartest person in the world."
Fabian is hesitant at first, but then grins mischievously, "Deal. If I win, then you have to read the first Harry Potter book and stand up in front of the entire shop, announcing that you are wrong because Harry Potter is the best book in the entire world, whilst wearing a Gryffindor scarf and holding a wand."
Patricia plays it cool and grins back, "It's a deal, Rutter."
I nudge Patricia under the table (Ouch! What was that for?), grimacing at her horrible plan, of course Fabian is going to win!
Mara checks her watch and exclaims, "Our shift is going to start soon, talk to you guys later!" she and Fabian both stand up and quickly head for their counter.
"You better win the bet," I grumble to Patricia, gathering up my food.
"Don't worry," she assures me, "I will make him hate me so much that he will not be physically able to say anything even remotely nice about me."
"I hope so, or Fabian is going to be with that Nina girl all the time!"
"Well you have to admit, that considering their similar interests they're probably pretty good for-" Patricia notices my frown and quickly adds, "I, uh, I mean they probably don't even like each other."
"We better hope so."
"Can we go now?"
"One more chapter!"
"Just let me finish this page!"
"Hurry, I want to take a nap!" he yawns dramatically and I roll my eyes, hardly understanding how he doesn't appreciate books as much as I do.
"Patience is a virtue."
"Not wasting my precious time is a virtue," Eddie retorts.
"I'm done," I tell him after a minute or so, "We can go now."
"Hooray!" he really jumps out of his seat, "We haven't even unpacked yet either."
Just before we exit I hear my name being called and turn around to see Fabian walking towards us.
"What's up?" I ask, smiling.
"Just wanted to say that I hope you liked the book."
I blush, hoping he was going to say something else, "I've read it before but it gets better every time."
"Very true," he grins at me, blue eyes twinkling, "Are you coming back tomorrow?"
"No," Eddie replies firmly as I excitedly say, "Of course!"
Biting his lip, Fabian gives me a confused expression.
"We'll definitely be coming back tomorrow," I clarify and his expressions softens into one of delight.
"Oh good, well," he blushes, "See you then."
"Goodbye!" Eddie says for me, nearly dragging me out the door.
"What was that for?" I demand, shoving him back and sulkily make my way to the car.
"I could tell you two were going to have some long and mushy goodbye," he turns the key, ignoring my furious glares.
"You had no right," I mutter unhappily.
"As your older brother…"
"By a minute!"
"Still makes me older," he sneers, "But either way as your older brother I must protect you from women seeking hooligans like him."
"You're a women seeking hooligan!"
"Indeed," he nods his head, grinning, "Glad you understand. But that makes it so I can easily spot another women seeking hooligan."
I sigh, extremely frustrated, "Just drive me home before I strangle you."
"I'd like to see you try," he scoffs.
"Don't tempt me," I warn, "For all you know, tonight you could wake up with a pillow over your head and me laughing manically over you."
"Sometimes you truly and deeply scare me, little sister," he mockingly shudders.
So we drive away from the coffee shop, both knowing that we'll be back tomorrow. Though Fabian's a reason for me to want to go back and Patricia's a reason for Eddie to stay away, it's actually a really nice little store. The kind that you're bound to make memories in, especially if you consider the brilliant people we've just met. What tomorrow brings is a mystery for now but I'm already excited to go back.