Chapter 4: Panera

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Caroline did everything she could think of to make the time pass. They finished Shark Tank, played Mario Party 3, had what they called a dance party (it was more like them picking an old-but-gold song and doing dance moves in such a pattern that they lookes as if they were spazzing out) and even managed to cram in some studying for midterms.

When they finally finished it was 6:30. "Well you did it." Nicole said as she sunk on the couch with Caroline.

"Did what?" Caroline became so caught up in trying to distract Nicole she managed to distract herself in the process.

"You completly killed time. It seems like it was 9:00 just a few minutes ago."

"Well its six thirty! We got to get you to Panera!" Caroline sprang up and pulled Nicole off of the couch with her.

"What?" Nicole asked, seeing Caroline just stop in her tracks. She was confused and, ironically, in a rush to get out the door to Panera.

"Does Otis know what your doing?"

"Why would he need to know? I'm just getting my hoodie back. Thats all."

"Okayyyy if you say so." After all the effort Caroline needed to put in to get Nicole distracted from the guy she just met she was definitely doubtful that it was just for the hoodie.

"What is that supposed to mean 'if you say so'?!"

"Well if it was just about the hoodie I doubt you would be looking foward to it like you are now."

"Well it is just about the hoodie. Besides, I don't even know his name."

"Okay okay I believe you! But come on we're going to be late. I like borrowing that hoodie to you know so you better get that shit back."

"Of course you do." Nicole yelled back at Caroline as she walked out of the door to head to the parking lot.

When she pulled into the Panera parking lot she felt a sense of warmth rise through her body. She looked down at her phone, 6:50. "Right on time." She got out of the car 'Goddamn what is it? -5 degrees out?!'. She scurried inside, feeling the releif of being in the warm building she stripped from her hat, scarf and jacket. Ordering a coffee to warm her insides she sat down at a table by the window.

Nicole was a few sips in when she heard a whisper in her ear "You're not going to spill that one on me are you?" Nicole jumped a little bit, those from-behind-whispers always get to her.

"No, but I almost just spilt it on myself thanks to you." The man gave a slight chuckle "

Well that would make us even then huh?"

Nicole smiled sarcastically but friendly at the same time, "I think lending you my favorite hoodie makes us even already."

"Touche. I see why its your favorite hoodie." He said gesturing to Nicole's hoodie, still wearing it.

"Ok tiger its still mine, why don't you hand it over to me so I can be my warm and comfy self again." They both laughed. And the man handed over her hoodie, still hoping she would change her mind and let him keep it. Nicole was about to get up, thinking that everything that they came here to do was done when she heard

"Leaving so soon, stay a while. I'm hungry. You want something? Their chicken noodle soup is sublime." Nicole didn't know why, but she was delighted that he asked her to stay.

"Well I do like soup." Nicole said with a smile.

Before he got up and walked over to the counter he managed to come up with one more snarky remark. "Just don't spill it on me this time."

"Very funny."

Soon after the man came back holding two steaming soups on a tray. Nicole took a big whiff and got the smell of carrots, celery, noodles and chicken combined into the sweet heaven called chicken noodle soup 'man how hungry am I?'.

"Alrighty we got one bowl for me, and one for you" He said gently setting the tray down and put the soups on the table.

As they were talking the man noticed Nicole concentrating on his face.

"You trying to take a mental picture or having a stroke." He joked and Nicole broke from her trance.

"Both." She smiled, causing a smile from him in return.

They stayed that way for a little more than normal time. Nicole remembered what Caroline was saying before she left which made her panic.

"Uh I have to go." She said breaking the eye contact they were sharing in a rush to get up.

"Where are you going?" He looked confused why she was all of a sudden in a hurry to leave.

"I just have to go." Nicole got up and walked outside to her car. 

She was just about to reach it when the man came running up behind her. "Hey wait a minute! Did I say something?"

"No its not you its just." Nicole turned around and it hit her. She remembered where she knew him from.

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