The parking lot was still dark when I unlocked the back door to the coffee shop. Turning on the lights and getting all the coffee machines in order for the day I heard the ding of the alarm coming from the back door.
"Mornin' Boss!" said the familiar voice of my friend and coworker Shayne. The prominent scent of her cedar shampoo followed as she walked toward one of the coffee stations.
"Don't call me that! It still feels so weird. I still can't believe I own this place" I said, popping a batch of Madelines in the oven.
"Come on, Juliet! We both knew Mrs. Stokes would sell you the shop when she was ready to retire. She took you under her wing the day she met you!" Shayne replied, as she began writing the day's specials on the coffee shop menu board.
As Shayne added the finishing touches to the menu by drawing a pair of croissants and a cup of coffee on the chalkboard, I loaded coffee beans into one of the grinders. Two additional baristas made their way into the shop ready to begin their shift.
By seven in the morning we were open to the public. I nervously looked at the clock while greeting customers and preparing their orders. Once seven-thirty in the morning rolled around I watched as the doors swung open and I felt excitement come over me. Finally, there she was, looking as gorgeous as always, she made her way to the dimly lit and quietest corner of the shop. She was a creature of habit.
Always sat in the same place, always walked in at the same time and always ordered an iced caramel macchiato easy on the ice. With her dark auburn hair in beach waves and looking stunning in just jeans and a shirt, there were mornings Shayne would have to pinch me in order to get me to snap out of the hypnosis she put over me.
Like a sailor to a siren, I was drawn to her. As much as I avoided looking in her direction she always caught me looking.
"Hello. Earth to Juliet." A familiar voice and the snap of some fingers brought me back to reality. Shayne was standing directly in front of me blocking my view of her trying to get my attention.
"Would you like a napkin to wipe the drool off your chin? Stop staring and stop being a weirdo, Juliet. You and that girl have been playing the same game for months now. Same small talk every morning. It's getting stale" Shayne said, with a growing smirk on her face.
"Yes, and she has never even bothered to ask my name. As far as she knows I'm just some barista who has memorized her order." I replied feeling my cheeks go pink.
"1. Your name is on your name tag. She knows your name. 2. Change things up. Take her out for a drink and see if she wants to do more than just small talk. Take a chance!" Shayne responded, sounding like a cheerleader getting ready to lead her team to a big game. She put the caramel macchiato in my hand and gave me a shove to get me moving.
"No way, Shayne!" I replied, stopping dead on my tracks. "She's a customer, a regular, I'd hate to make her feel uncomfortable. What if she's not interested?" I asked, feeling all my insecurities begin to rise. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed the girl who had sped up my heart unzipped her backpack and began to dig for her laptop.
"Juliet, you're asking her name and making conversation. You're not asking for her first born. Just go up to her, deliver the coffee and see where it goes!" Shayne responded.
As I made my way toward her table I felt myself begin to get nervous. My heart began beating like a drum and I was almost afraid she could see it beating through my shirt. As I put the drink on the table I felt myself panic.
"Hi. I'm um..." I said in a stutter. "Caramel macchiato, easy on the ice" I announced, focusing on smiling without making my lips tremble.
"Hi. I'm um...Ashlyn." She responded, smiling while pulling the coffee toward her.
"What?" I asked, caught off guard. I hadn't told her my name, why was she suddenly introducing herself?
"It was a joke that didn't land. '' She responded, her cheeks began to turn red.
"You said "Hi. I'm um...caramel macchiato. I thought I'd be funny and respond with my name." A nervous laugh escaped her mouth.
"Oh. No, no, it landed! I've just had too much coffee this morning. Sometimes, I'm all over the place. I'm Juliet." I replied, waving my hand over my name tag.
"I can't believe we see each other every day and this is the first time we exchange names" She said, a bright smile took over her face.
I watched as she cocked her head to the side.
"Is this a phone number?" She asked, her face was hard to read.
My heart began to race again when I realized it was a number. It was MY number.
I looked over at Shayne who was pretending to wipe down the counter while looking over at us. I wanted to run away but there was no way I could disappear. I owned the place.
"Yes, that's my number. I figured maybe you could use it sometime, text me your order in advance or something." I said, feeling proud of my quick and smooth recovery.
"The order you have memorized and bring me every day? Seems like you've got that covered. What if I use your number to ask you out some time instead?" Ashlyn responded, oozing the confidence I wished I had.
"You can use it for that, too..." I began to say when I heard one of my employees call my name.
"Shit. I gotta go, it's looking kind of busy over there. Use my number though" I replied, as I beelined back toward the busy counter.
Shayne was over by one of the machines making three coffees at the same time like a pro but somehow managed to give me a nod of approval.
What a way to start the morning!
Merci pour la lecture!
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