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It was like a compulsion. Since that day two weeks before when I had dropped into Goddess for a quick coffee on my way to a client meeting and seen her, I couldn't walk past the place without feeling like some kind of magnet was drawing me in.
That day was no different. I parked my car in its usual place and started walking toward the office a block away. The walk took me past the narrow, cobbled lane with its little jewelry and gift stores and its general Bohemian air that reminded me of the London I'd seen on my last visit to England. My steps faltered in a way that was becoming familiar, and my eyes were drawn to the coffee shop half way down the lane. It was still early--before eight in the morning--but it already had a steady flow of traffic as my fellow office workers jacked up on caffeine to get them through the morning.
I didn't even realize the direction my steps had taken until I heard the click of my heels change as I moved from the street to the cobbles. The uneven surface of the lane hadn't been designed for high heeled shoes, but I kept walking until I reached the door of Goddess. I stopped there for a moment, gnawed on my lower lip and felt how I imagined a teenage boy would feel going into the drug store for his first pack of condoms.
But I wasn't a teenage boy. I was a twenty-eight-year-old woman; a successful lawyer, widely traveled, wearing the best pair of Jimmy Choo's my bank account would allow. With the confidence that only a really great pair of shoes could provide, I mentally squared my shoulders and pushed open the door. I stepped to the side to let another customer pass on his way out before moving to a table in the corner. I sat in a big,overstuffed chair and crossed my legs. My eyes roamed around the room in a way that I hoped looked nonchalant while my stomach twisted and my fingers drummed on the arm of the chair.
I caught the eye of the waitress. She smiled brightly and wandered over. "Well, hi there. You're becoming quite the regular. The usual?"
I felt my face warm with embarrassment. "Uh, yes, yes. Thank you."
"How about something to eat this morning? Our blueberry muffins are to die for." She was bouncing on the balls of her feet. Either this girl, whose name tag read Sophie, was really a morning person or they were paying her in espresso.
"No, thank you. Just coffee." My fingers were still tapping out a nervous beat on the arm of the chair, my eyes flicking beyond the waitress.
"Watching your figure, huh?" She stepped closer and lowered her voice. "If you ask me, you have nothing to worry about there." She winked playfully, and I felt myself blush. Without waiting for a reply--that I probably wouldn't have been able to supply, she turned on her heel and headed in the direction of the kitchen.
To give myself something to do I took out my laptop, placed it on the low table and started it up. I was going over my calendar for the day when I felt a presence beside me. Expecting to find the waitress with my coffee, I smiled and turned. But the smile froze when I saw not the energetic red-head, but her.
That very first time I had seen her, standing by the counter, her long, dark blonde hair shining under the overhead light, long, slender limbs encased in tight jeans that rested on gently rounded hips, my body's reaction to her had been almost frightening. Never in my life had I experienced a physical attraction so intense that it actually took the breath from my lungs. I had wanted to run then, to get as far away as I could as quickly as I could. But I couldn't seem to make my feet move. I just stood there and stared open-mouthed. When she turned and saw me, she smiled, and I'd actually felt dizzy.
I looked up at her now, standing beside me, and felt that same warm, shivery sensation run through my body and heat pooled between my legs.
"Good morning." She smiled in that way that lit up her smoky gray eyes and made my stomach clench, and proffered a tall cup. "How are you today?"
I took the cup in fingers that trembled. "I'm fine, thank you ... and you?" I cringed inwardly--I sounded like a tongue-tied fourteen year old.
"It's Friday, the sun is shining. Life is good." She really had a beautiful smile. And skin that looked as soft and smooth as...
I took a quick drink of coffee to cut the thought off and immediately regretted it as the hot liquid scorched my tongue and throat. I gasped, the cup tilted and coffee splashed over my hand. "Fuck!" I put the cup on the table and shook the coffee off my hand. When I looked at her again, I knew that embarrassment had stained my cheeks a deep red. "Sorry," I muttered. "I'm such a klutz." Which, actually, was not true at all.
"Don't worry about it, here; let me see your hand." Without waiting, she took my hand in hers and gently ran her thumb over the pinkened skin. I sucked in an involuntary breath, and her eyes met mine.
"Does it hurt?"