Saturday, June 27, 2015

17. Cup of the Usual

“Hi, Gabe,” said Beth, seeing the blonde man entering the shop.  He ducked a nod and smiled shyly before retreating quickly to the corner seat that he had claimed the previous few visits.  She turned back to the customers she was pouring drinks for.  She was behind the counter today instead of on the floor (Stephen had beat her at rock-paper-scissors).  “Here you go,” she said to the guy in a business suit, handing him a carrier with four hot drinks.
“Thanks, have a good day,” said the man as he turned away with his order.
Beth kept an eye on Gabe as she continued to make drinks and bag muffins and other pastries for the inflow of late commuters.  Gabe pulled out his computer and began opening something idly, looking around a little but shrinking back anytime someone looked back at him.
“Want me to send Stephen over with a cup of the usual?” she asked loudly once a break from the constant stream of customers allowed her to nudge close enough to be heard over the din of conversation in the dining room.
Gabe’s head whipped around at her, his eyes wide and surprised.  “Um...yah, that’d be...nice.”  He stammered a little and blinked rapidly at her, hands suspended above the keyboard, twitching with agitation.
Poor man sees so surprised.  “I don’t remember if I introduced myself before,” she said closing the distance to the table, a hand outstretched towards him, “I’m Beth.”
He hastily stood, shoving his chair back awkwardly so he could take her hand.  “I’m Gabe,” he said quietly, a faint blush turning the tips of his ears pink.  He looked lost as to what to say.
She released his hand and smiled up at him.  He didn’t seem to know how to react, his eyes darting up at her then back down at the floor.  “Theo will be in, in about forty minutes,” she said glancing at the clock on the wall on the nearest wall.  She didn’t miss the way his eyes flickered up to her face then back down.  Well, maybe there is something mutual going on.
“Thanks, Beth,” he said quietly.  She moved away slowly, heading back to the counter where a new customer was contemplating the drink options on the board.  Out of the corner of her eye she saw him sit back down, his shoulders slumped in on himself.
“Hey Stephen,” she said to the waiter bent over the table saying something to a few college girls giggling and blushing.  He looked over his shoulder at her and then said something to the girls making them giggle again before sauntering over to her.
“What can I do for you, Beth?” he asked with his grin.
“Firstly stop flirting with every girl that walks through the door,” she said without any real force.  Might as well ask the sun to stop shining.  “Also, that guy in the corner,” she said tipping her head towards Gabe, “is a friend of Theo’s.  I’m behind the counter,” she glanced back at the customer who looked ready to order.  “Can you bring him a chicory coffee and whatever is good to munch on?”  She began angling towards getting behind the counter to help the customer.
Stephen followed easily, “What’s up with this ‘friend?’” he asked jokingly, his grin mischievous.  “You sure he isn’t your ‘friend’?”
She glared at him, her sky eyes narrowing.  “Be nice to him, he seems really shy.”  Stephen doesn’t know about Theo, though he might suspect that he’s gay.  “Seriously, I have to go,” she said quickly before walking quickly back to the front of the counter where the middle aged woman was beginning to get restless.
“What can I do for you?” she asked with a smile.

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