Mirela Garrett has always enjoyed the cliché and the romantic. One day, she finds her dream cliché romance. The problem?
He's a dick.
Romania was pleasant in the late summer, not too hot and not too cold. I held my father's hand as we walked through the busy streets of Oradea. He swung our arms as we walked, making me giggle. I was only a little girl and my hair was pulled up into pig tails. While we waited for the cars to pass, one honked its horn, making a shrill ringing noise.
I groaned and put my pillow over my head. My alarm clock kept ringing and I sighed. I stuck my arm out and slammed my hand on the nightstand until I found the old fashioned alarm clock. I pushed on the button and rolled onto my back. I glared up at my ceiling. It had been such a nice dream.
My phone buzzed and I rubbed my eyes as I looked at the text.
Don't forget to pick up milk on your way home from work! :-)
I stuck my tongue out at the screen. I sat up and stretched. My room was freezing and I shivered; my mother always loved a cold house. I shivered as I hurried to the bathroom and started the water, turning some music on as I did.
When I was finished with a very warm shower, I dried my hair and brushed it out. I took a minute to look at my reflection. My hair had always been straight. I've tried curling it but the curls always came back out. I got that from my father's side of the family. He had been Romanian and his mother had the same straight hair. I also got my really dark brown eyes and tan skin from him.
The rest of me was definitely from my mother. I had breasts that were too large for my comfort and curving hips.
"Perfect for bearing children," she always teased me.
"Yeah, and perfect for unwanted stares," I retorted.
Because I stuck out so much already, I had tried matching the Oklahoma style. I lived in the suburbs which meant blue jeans, flip flops, and a tank top was common place. The problem: my chest was too damn large for a normal tank top so I threw that out of the window. I also couldn't wear normal jeans because of my stupid hips. So, reluctantly, my fashion style was simple: yoga pants of varying colors and t-shirts. I preferred tennis shoes over flip flops simply because they were more comfortable.
I did a lot of walking. I worked remotely as an online consultant for websites and I did some tech support. There was a Starbucks two blocks from my house and I always worked there. It was a nice place to work from and the hopeless romantic in me wanted to live in a Hollywood romance for a moment and meet a charming young man. Today I would but not everything is like Hollywood.
It was nice out considering it was late summer. I dressed in black yoga pants, a red t-shirt, and my black tennis shoes. As I locked up, I put my headphones in my ears and plugged them into my phone. The sun was already up and I waved to my neighbors. My mother and I lived in a simple one story home with wood floors, a style that was in pretty much every home on the block.
I readjusted my laptop strap on my shoulder, tapping my left hand on my leg to the music. When I reached the Starbucks, I took one headphone out of my ear. I grinned at the barista, Stephen.
"You're a saint," I said when he passed me my already made venti iced white mocha.
I gave him the usual amount of cash and took my regular seat at a table in the back corner. I plugged my charger into the wall and opened my laptop. That's when I felt eyes on me.
I looked up. A young man was sitting at the table across from me. He had short black hair and hazel eyes. He was very handsome. His chin had just the right amount of stubble and I'm pretty sure he wore that black wife beater on purpose. It perfectly displayed his muscles and several tattoos. He winked at me but I just nodded and went back to my laptop.
I pulled up my email and sighed. Once again, my client John Mays was having trouble with his website glitching. I dialed his number.
"Thank God!" he said before I could even say good morning.
"What's the problem?" I asked, leaning back and smiling at Stephen when he gave me a muffin.
"It keeps refreshing every five minutes!"
I frowned and pulled up his website. I waited for a few minutes but nothing happened.
"Has anyone reported it doing that?"
"No. It just started today!"
"Okay. What are you doing when it refreshes?"
"I've been trying that keyboard shortcut you taught me. You know, the one where I just press the one key and it highlights the web bar thing so I can type in a web address?"
I smiled. "John, what key are you pressing?"
I tried not to laugh. "F5 is for when you want to refresh the page. If you want to type in a new web address, you press F6."
"Oh..." he said slowly. "Well. I feel like a fool." I giggled. "I'm so sorry I bothered you! I'll pay you for your time!"
"Don't worry about it John. We talked for maybe five minutes. Give me a call if you need anything else."
"Will do. Have a great day!"
"You, too," I said and laughed a little after I hung up.
"Panicked old man?"
The young man was leaning back in his chair, still watching me.
"Yes," I said, making notes on John's account. "He's trying to use keyboard shortcuts." I sighed, still smiling. "I guess it's true that sometimes you just can't teach an old dog a new trick."
"Can I join you?" he asked, pointing to the other side of the table.
"Sure," I said.
There was plenty of room and I had never had someone join me before; especially one that as handsome as he was. He stood up and brought his computer over. I held out my hand for his charging cord and plugged it in for him.
"I'm Mirela," I said, lifting my hand for him to shake.
He did so. "I'm Caleb."
I smiled politely then went back to my emails. Most of them were follow ups or problems I could address over email. As I worked, I knew Caleb kept looking at me. It was making me a little uncomfortable but I was used to it by now. The more time that went by, though, the more irritated I was getting.
"Take a picture, Caleb," I sighed after two hours.
He chuckled. "Why would I when I have the real thing in front of me?" he said, leaning in.
I cocked a brow. "Because the real thing will punch you in the face if you don't stop staring at her."
"Aw, don't be like that. It's not my fault you're incredibly sexy."
I rolled my eyes. Here we go.
"In fact," he said, "I have a shoot this weekend if you want to come."
"I'm busy," I said automatically then did a double take. "What do you mean by a shoot?"
He turned his laptop. "I'm a photographer," he explained, showing me a screen of pictures. "So, yeah, I guess I would like a picture."
My curiosity was piqued. "What's the style?"
"The only way you'll find out is if you show," he said with a smirk. He got out a business card and passed it to me. "Hit me up if your fake weekend plans change."
I scoffed. "Sure."
I put the card down and he winked again. We both worked in silence for a while longer until he had to leave. Absentmindedly, I unplugged his charger and passed it to him. Our fingers touched and he lingered longer than necessary. I narrowed my eyes at him. He smirked then packed up. I watched him leave, frowning in thought.