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Home > Promised (One Night #1)(5)

Promised (One Night #1)(5)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

‘Latte, no sugar, and make it quick.’ He barely even looks at me before he answers his phone and walks away from the counter, dumping his briefcase on a chair.

I’m only semi-aware of Mr Wide Eyes leaving, but I’m more than aware of Sylvie’s biker boots marching up to me, where I’m tackling the coffee machine again. ‘I can’t believe you declined!’ she whispers harshly. ‘He was lovely.’

I make quick work of my third perfect coffee, not giving her shock the attention it deserves. ‘He was okay,’ I reply nonchalantly.

‘“Okay?”’

‘Yes, he was okay.’

I’m not looking at her, but I know she’s just rolled her eyes. ‘Unbelievable,’ she mutters, stomping off, her voluptuous rump matching the side-to-side sway of her black bob.

I’m smiling in triumph again as I deliver the coffee, and my grin doesn’t even fall away when the harassed businessman thrusts three pounds into my hand before snatching his cup and marching out, without so much as a thank you.

My feet don’t touch the ground for the rest of the day. I fly in and out of the kitchen, clean endless tables and make dozens of perfect coffees. On my breaks, I manage to check up on Nan, being told off each time for being a whittle-arse.

As five o’clock approaches, I sink into one of the brown leather couches and open a can of Coke, hoping the caffeine and sugar might snap me back to life. I’m knackered.

‘Livy, I’m just going to take the rubbish out,’ Sylvie calls over, yanking the black sack from one of the bins. ‘You okay?’

‘Fabulous.’ I hold my can up and rest my head back on the sofa, resisting the temptation to close my eyes, instead focusing on the spotlights in the ceiling. I can’t wait to fall into bed. My feet are aching, and I desperately need a shower.

‘Is anyone working or is it self-service?’

I jump up from the couch at the sound of the impatient but smooth voice, and swing around to tend to my customer. ‘Sorry!’ I rush to the counter, smacking my hip on the corner of the worktop and resisting the urge to curse out loud. ‘What can I get you?’ I ask, rubbing my hip as I look up.

I stagger back. And I definitely gasp. His piercing blue eyes are burning into me. Deep, deep into me. My gaze drifts and takes in his open suit jacket, a waistcoat and pale-blue shirt and tie, his dark stubbled jaw, and the way his lips are parted just so. Then I find those eyes again. They’re the sharpest blue I’ve ever seen, and they’re cutting right through me with an edge of curiosity. The definition of perfection is standing before me and it has me staring in wonder.

‘Do you often examine customers so thoroughly?’ His head cocks to the side, his perfect eyebrow arching expectantly.

‘What can I get you?’ I breathe, waving my pad at him.

‘Americano, four shots, two sugars, topped up halfway.’ The words roll from his mouth but I don’t hear them. I see them. I lip-read every word, writing them down while keeping my eyes on his mouth. Before I know what’s happened, my pen has drifted from my pad and I’m scribbling on my fingers. I glance down with a frown.

‘Hello?’ He sounds impatient again, prompting my eyes to snap up. I allow myself to step back and take in all of his face. I’m shocked, not because of how incredibly stunning he is, but because I’ve lost all of my bodily functions, except my eyes. They’re working just fine, and they can’t seem to disconnect from his flawlessness. I don’t even lose my concentration when he rests his palms on the counter and leans forward, encouraging a wave from his tousled dark hair to fall onto his forehead. ‘Am I making you feel uncomfortable?’ he asks. I lip-read that, too.

‘What can I get you?’ I breathe once more, waving my pad at him again.

He nods down to my pen. ‘You’ve already asked me. My order’s on your hand.’

I look down, seeing ink strewn all over my fingers, but it doesn’t make a bit of sense, not even when I try to match up the pad to where the pen has trailed off.

Slowly lifting my eyes, I meet his. There’s an element of knowing in them.

He looks smug. It’s thrown me completely.

I scan the information stored in my mind from the last few minutes, but I find no order for coffee, just saved images of his face. ‘Cappuccino?’ I ask hopefully.

‘Americano,’ he counters smoothly on a whisper. ‘Four shots, two sugars and topped up halfway.’

‘Right!’ I snap myself from my pathetic awestruck state and move to the coffee machine, my hands shaking, my heart thudding. I bash the filter on the wooden drawer to rid it of the used beans, hoping the loud smacking will knock some sense back into me. It doesn’t. I still feel . . . strange.

Pulling the lever on the grinder, I load the filter up. He’s staring at me. I can feel those piercing blues penetrating my back as I faff and fiddle with the machine that I’ve grown to love. It’s not loving me right now, though. It’s not doing anything I tell it to. I can’t secure the filter in the holder; my shaking hands are not helping in the slightest.

Taking a deep, calming breath, I start again, successfully loading the filter and placing the cup underneath. I press the button and wait for it to work its magic, keeping my back to the stranger behind me. In the whole week I’ve worked at Del’s Bistro, I’ve never known the machine to take this long to filter some coffee. I’m silently willing it to hurry the hell up.

When an eternity has passed, I take the cup and slip in two sugars, ready to top it up with water.

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