Damn but the coffee was good here. Emily took another sip and savoured the rich, creamy texture and full flavour of her double espresso. She’d almost decided against dropping into her regular café this morning, especially after the shocking start she’d had to the day. It was four blocks from her apartment and in the opposite direction to her office, but the siren call of the coffee was too strong to resist. There was simply no better in town.
She had to be honest, though, and admit that coffee wasn’t the only thing that had drawn her here today.
As she gazed at her iPad she felt someone’s eyes on her, and she was delighted when she looked up to see a handsome blonde man seated a few tables away, smiling at her. He was impeccably dressed in an expensive Italian suit, and he looked like a quintessential Wall Street millionaire. She’d never dated a rich, powerful man before and the thought gave her a little thrill. It was about time she set her sights on someone successful instead of the lowly paid losers she usually ended up with. She was so tired of slackers and commitment-phobics.
She’d seen the man here a couple of times before and he’d always smiled at her in a flirty kind of way but she’d never smiled back. Today was different; today was her birthday and the start of a whole new era in her life. Out with the old and in with the new was her motto for her twenty-eighth year.
She gave him what she hoped was a sexy smile in return, and their eyes locked. For a moment it looked like he was actually going to come over and talk to her. She moistened her lips and flicked her hair back in anticipation.
A loud crash from behind the counter interrupted the moment, causing the man to glance towards the front of the café. Without looking at her again he casually slipped his hand into his pocket and returned to the paper. Emily silently cursed the stupid barista who had dropped a jar of coffee beans, spilling them everywhere. From where she was sitting she could see him scrambling around on his knees cleaning up the mess. She gave a snort of contempt and tried to focus her attention back on her iPad.
She had just taken a final sip of her coffee and she was gathering her things to leave when the clumsy barista appeared at the table with another cup in his hand.
“A short macchiato,” he said.
“I didn’t order that.”
“I know, that guy over there ordered it for you.” She looked over to see the handsome stranger smiling at her again. He nodded at her and she inclined her head towards him and mouthed “Thank you.”
“It’s great to see that chivalry isn’t completely dead.” The steamed milk had been shaped into a perfect love heart. “Look a heart, how sweet.”
“The heart is from me.”
“Oh.” She didn’t know how to respond so she raised the cup to take a sip. It was even better than the last. He’d outdone himself with this one. “Well, thank you, I guess.” She hoped he’d just walk away and leave her alone, but he continued to linger.
The last thing she wanted to do was look into his deep brown eyes, the colour of the richest, most flavoursome of coffee beans, but she couldn’t resist. What she saw there made her draw her breath in sharply. It was love, pure and simple, she couldn’t deny it. Before she could say another word he’d dropped down onto one knee and taken her hand.
“This is not the way I’d planned for this to happen. I wanted to wait till tonight but I can see I’m going to have to do it now or someone else might steal you away before the day is over. Emily, will you marry me?”
“You mean you didn’t forget my birthday?”
“No. I have a romantic dinner all planned for you at your favourite restaurant. I thought if I pretended to forget it would make it even more of a surprise. So what’s the answer going to be?” Tears sprang into her eyes and she threw her arms around his neck.
“Of course it’s yes, you big loser.” It was only when the café broke out in applause that Emily snapped back to reality and saw that they had an audience for this most intimate of moments. The handsome stranger appeared to be very surprised, and she gave him a sheepish look. He abruptly raised the newspaper so she couldn’t see his face anymore, but she could see the distinctive tan line on his finger where it seemed a wedding band usually belonged.