I park my car and take the keys out of the ignition. The 'Open' sign flickers from the window. Thank God. I really, really need something sweet. I get out of my vehicle and zip up my jacket hurriedly. It's quickly getting chillier in the air as autumn is beginning to set in because, I mean, it's already almost Halloween. My feet make dull thuds on the sidewalk as I approach the shop. I step in, and light immediately blinds me because it contrasts heavily with the darkness outside.
"Welcome to Scott's Sco-- oh, hey Mitch, what brings you in tonight?" Scott greets with a chuckle. I swear I'm in here every day of my life.
"I'm craving some cake, have any left?"
He moves from the rag he was washing the counter with to the display case. "Of course we do, you know Wednesdays are slow."
I smile. I do know that, that's why I stopped in at this hour, and that's also why I was relieved to find the store still open. Usually when there's no business Scott closes up early. For a split second I think maybe he was waiting for me, but I don't ask. I take my seat at the same table I always sit at, the one in the middle, pressed against the wall, and unzip my jacket to shrug it off. Scott walks over and sets the plate in front of me with a fork before turning back to continue wiping the counter down.
"I thought you weren't coming, I was getting worried."
"Well here I am. You know I need my fix." I pause. "What kind of cake is this?" I say, eyeing it up.
Scott answers, "Red velvet with creamcheese frosting. I'm trying out my new recipe for it, tell me what you think."
I take a bite and let it melt in my mouth for a moment before chewing and swallowing. "Delicious, as always."
"Really?" Scott questions, smiling and plopping the rag into the sani-bucket. He begins to lift chairs onto the tables. "You think so?"
"Absolutely." I keep eating until I've devoured the whole thing. Scott still has three tables left to go. "Can I ask you a question?"
He glances up to see how serious my face is before answering. "Anything."
"Do you automatically sell more scones because you named this place Scott's Scones?"
"Yep, it's kind of annoying actually. I sell out of them pretty fast so I'm constantly making more and trying to come up with new flavors."
I nod and stand, removing my plate from the table, bringing it behind the counter, and setting it by his sink. When I come back out, he has finished all the tables, including the one I was just at, and is unplugging the 'Open' sign. "When did Raven leave?" I ask, referring to one of his only workers.
"Oh, she had to leave early for a soccer game or something. I sent the other two home at seven." He pauses, then says, "I know I've offered it to you before, but I'm gonna say it again. Would you ever consider working here? You'd be perfect for it."
I smile and shake my head. "I really don't think it's for me."
"What's not for you?!" He exclaims with a grin. "The flexible hours? The reasonable pay? The fact that you can eat as many pastries as you want?"
"I... I.." I stutter. It sounds perfect, but I can't take it. It's bad enough I torture myself with seeing him every day, but having a commitment to see him every day would push my crush from "like a whole lot" to "love". I am not ready to admit that to myself yet. I can't love him.
Scott smirks at my face turning red. He reaches behind him to untie his flour-stained apron and maneuvers it off his neck. "And you'd look great in this apron." He dangles it in front of me before stepping behind me and puts it on, tying a bow like how you tie a shoe in the back, and then spins me around by my shoulders to face him. "Oh, yeah, that looks good." His skin crinkles by his eyes when he smiles. I breathe him in, hopefully going unnoticed. Flour and coffee, and still he manages to make that my favorite scent.
I look down at myself. "I won't say it looks horrible, but..." I shoot down his hopeful look with, "I still don't think I'm going to take the job."
He sighs. "I tried."
Instead of meeting his eyes, I look everywhere else. At the gray tile, at the beige counter, at the bright orange walls. His hands sliding down my arms brings my eyes back to him. "I better get home. Christian and Lindsey are waiting for me."
Right. He has a husband and a kid. I take off the apron and hand it to him. "Yeah." I clear my throat, trying to hide the disappointment that arises every time he brings up his family. "How are they doing?"
"Great! Christian got hired at one of the law offices downtown as a paralegal, and Lindsey just won her fourth grade spelling bee." Scott is beaming, incredibly proud.
I give a toothless smile. I didn't ask what they were doing, I asked how they are. I'm selfish.
"But really, I better head out. I'm really glad you enjoyed the cake. Would you mind just locking up whenever you leave?" He gathers his stuff, not really giving me a choice. I've done it before.
"You know where to find the keys?"
"Thanks a million, Mitch. I'll see you tomorrow, right?"
I watch as he opens the door. "Yeah, see you then."
He smiles and leaves. I lock the door with me on the inside, just to make sure no one can get in, and then I go to the kitchen, pour myself the rest of the cold coffee in the nearly empty pot, and drink it while dreaming of all the ways I could make Scott mine.