Collin didn't hear from Heather for two days. He kept his phone charged, and the volume was on, but no calls. No messages.
Not that he reached out to her, either.
Something had changed on Saturday. A spark had flown and landed in some kindling, causing some smoke to rise. It looked like it was going to catch fire. But Avery had been a damp rag, snuffing out the flame before it had a chance to blaze.
Maybe they both needed a little space to dry off. To think, reflect, breathe. And that was okay. If it was meant to be, there'd be another spark, another chance for some heat. Collin was sure of it.
He and Sam spent Sunday drinking foamy beer from the keg while doing a shit job completing homework and studying for finals. Then he spent Monday regretting his life decisions as he sat through both Latin and his discussion session for Ancient Greek Literature while hung over. And his discussion session was led by Jordan, super gay TA extraordinaire, who always expected Collin to participate.
Now it was Tuesday morning, which meant another work day. Collin opened up the store with Tom as usual, and right before seven, he ran across the street for coffee.
There were two people in line when he walked in through the door, but he caught Heather's eye right away. The corner of her lips twitched, and then she turned her attention back to the woman she was ringing up.
Collin let his eyes wander the cafe, not wanting to stare awkwardly at her while she worked. The chalkboard menu boasted that they now served breakfast sandwiches. The ficus tree in the corner had a few brown leaves. They had hung new art on the exposed-brick walls: black and white photographs of surfers, some up close on a paddling arm, others silhouettes against waves and a setting sun.
When the person in front of him was done being helped, Collin stepped forward and met Heather's smile with one of his own. "Fancy seeing you here."
"Long time no see," she responded, and immediately Collin regretted not texting her Sunday morning to invite her over to destroy her liver along with him and Sam.
"Sorry, this is the first time I've been sober since..." He scrunched up his face. "Since the Saturn Cafe."
"Oh, really?" She cocked a brow.
"And that keg is still stubbornly full."
"I have faith in you."
Someone behind Collin shuffled impatiently.
"The usual, please. Two black coffees." He pulled out his wallet.
"You know, telling me your order defeats the purpose of calling it 'the usual.'" She rolled her eyes and turned around to fill two paper cups.
"Well, I don't always get a coffee for Tom, do I?" he asked her back.
"If it's seven on a Tuesday, you do," she answered as she turned back around.
"Are you getting off at the usual time today?"
"Yeah." She bit her bottom lip.
"Then maybe I'll see you around." He winked, turned around, and strutted out the door with a coffee in each hand. He didn't need to look back to know she was shaking her head and trying not to laugh.
Collin was still smiling when he walked back into the smoothie shop and handed Tom his cup.
"So, did you two finally hook up at that party?" Tom asked, taking a tentative sip from the steaming cup.
"Dude, the night was crazy. Cops busted the party up before I'd even had my second drink." Collin set his coffee down by the second register, hidden from a customer's view, then he proactively placed a blender under the orange juicer, and picked up a rag to wipe down around the toaster.
YOU ARE READING
All That and a Bag of ChipsRomance
|2022 WATTY WINNER| An homage to the 90s rom com with a trans twist: Heartbroken when his long-term girlfriend dumps him for a woman, trans guy Collin makes a bet with a buddy that he can land a date with the hot new barista across the street. Thing...