Jared had arrived at his residence with only a half hour to spare before he had to be to work. He had made quick work of a shower and the unceremonious throwing on of his dreaded uniform. He managed to run a comb through his hair and then beat feet out the door.
Luckily, he didn’t run into traffic. But what did he expect on a Friday at seven o’clock in the morning? When he made it to his job on time to open the door before any customers showed up, he breathed a sigh of relief. As he unlocked the door he thought of how much he despised being late. It was just one of his quirks, he decided. Ever since he was a young lad he had never cared much for being tardy in any situation.
Shivering at the unnecessary cold and cursing his boss for forbidding the staff from “fooling around” with the thermostat, Jared went through the motions of opening up the famed Dunkin’ Donuts and in no time found himself behind the counter waiting for customers that he knew would come through the door, sooner or later.
Jared greeted Paul when he came in to run the drive thru and was given a huge grin accompanied with a jarring high-five. When the place was quickly swarmed with the morning rush he decided sooner would be the more accurate deduction.
With orders that requested everything from iced coffee to glazed donuts, Jared did the best he could to service them and even humored the few that seemed fond of small talk. When the commotion died down and the steady stream of customers thinned he took a deep breath and settled into what had been the norm for most of the summer. Nothing surprised him because he had seen it all.
There were only so many choices on that menu hanging precariously above his head. He had ask Jim to get on that before it fell and cracked someone in the head … While his thoughts drifted away and he was partially unaware to the “nothing special” atmosphere around him … that was when she walked in. Giving him the shock of his life.
God she was beautiful … Not much earlier when he had seen her sweet BMW pull up, close to the front door instead of pulling around to the drive-thru, he had dismissed it quickly.
Just another random customer that would have no substantial effect on his life. A stranger passing through, that just wanted their order taken so they could leave. But when she stepped around that pillar to stand in front of him he was enraptured. He knew he must have looked like an idiot but he couldn’t help himself.
He took in her dark brown hair that just draped past her shoulders and if he looked closely, which he did of course, he noticed that it curled just slightly toward the ends. He took in her tall, willowy frame that didn’t lack in its gracefulness. Her body was just a knock out and that was all he could say.
In her blue hoodie and skinny jeans, she looked as if she had stepped off a modeling set and he would know. But the looks of the models he had seen couldn’t hold a candle to this girl’s. Who was she? With that stubborn jaw of hers, she could most likely hold her own in a row.
When she finally looked him in the eye, after an obvious perusal of her own that warmed him to his toes, she seemed surprised to see that she hadn’t been the only one who’s eyes had lingered a bit too long.
Jared smiled at her, hoping that would encourage the girl to come closer so he could get a better look at her. When she started forward his entire body felt like one of those high tension wires. Crackling with electricity.
As she continued to approach the counter that was separating them, she didn’t get any less stunning but with every step he noticed that she didn’t seem comfortable.
He smiled at her again, hoping to loosen her up and then he started with the universal fast food restaurant beginnings of conversation. Usually it didn’t bother him, just annoyed him how dead his summer job was.
But with this girl he wanted to be asking her for her name and any means of contacting her again, not what she wanted to order. Though, that is what she had come there for. Not to make friends or even potential, more- than- friends-friends.
Because of that, he opened his mouth and said, “Can I help you?” He sensed a bit of hesitation in her. She had placed threaded fingers on the counter before him when she had come to stand closer a few seconds ago. Fingers that he wanted to do things with that he never imagined himself wanting to really do with fingers …
She silently slid those fingers into those sexy jeans of hers and seemed to come to some conclusion. About what, he didn’t know but he guessed it was about what she wanted to order. She then flashed him a smile that almost sent him reeling back into the various coffee machines behind him it was so dazzling in quality.
Jared knew how sappy his thoughts had become but he couldn’t help but think that when she spoke the words, “Yes you can, actually,” while having raised the most startling shade of sapphire eyes he had ever seen to that ever swinging menu above him, that it was the most beautifully spoken sentence he had ever heard, and he would do anything to hear her speak again.
Taking a deep breath he said, “What can I get you?” He held that previously drawn in breath, in anticipation of the next words she would say.
Without giving him her eyes again she said, “Can I have an ice coffee with, like, ten Splendas in it, and a plain bagel with the cream cheese in the bag, please?” Breathing what looked like a sigh of relief, she looked at him again.
He then he remembered that it was his job to get what she had asked for and bustled around to get what it was she wanted, after pausing for a moment to remember what she had said. He felt her eyes on his back as he moved around behind the counter and he wondered if she liked what she saw. Slowing down he decided he wanted to get to know this stranger before she walked out of his life forever.
“So …” He started, giving her a slanted glance over his shoulder. She seemed startled that he had begun to stray the conversation away from standard, fast food, employee to customer dialogue. He smiled to himself and continued.
Jared decided to go for something easy to start. “What’s your name?”
She was silent for a few moments and he was beginning to think she wouldn’t answer when she said, “Allison,” her words were softer than before but unexpectedly, she continued. “Allison Gilbert.”
In the midst of putting Splenda number five out of ten into her iced coffee he turned around, a hand outstretched toward her with a smile. When he took her hand, an almost violent jolt, of what felt like electricity, flew up his arm. But regardless, he had to force himself to let go of her hand. “Nice to make your acquaintance, Ally. Is it okay if I call you that? Allison is quite a mouthful.”
When she nodded he pushed on and not knowing what to say he glanced around. Eyes landing on the bagel he had been reaching for he said, “I’m Jared Lord by the way … So why a bagel and not a donut?” She didn’t say anything for so long he turned around … to her smiling that brilliant smile at him.
“What?” He asked, smiling back. “Just trying to make small talk.”
“And that’s the best you could do?” She countered, mockingly.
He frowned trying to think of something else to say, while spreading cream cheese on her bagel. Knowing what to say to girls had never been a problem before, but then it hadn't really mattered ... with this girl ... Ally, he felt that it was a different matter all together.
“Hey!” She exclaimed. “I asked for the cream cheese to be inside the bag.”
Jared smiled again, over his shoulder, “Well I figured I could save you having to do all this work, when a professional like myself could easily do the job for you.”
“I’d hardly call you a professional. You work in a Dunkin’ Donuts and what happened to the customer's always right?”
“You wound me! First off, even customer's can be a bit off at times and second, how could this not be considered professional?” He waved the knife that he had spread cream cheese with a minute ago impressively. Or so he hoped. He looked to her to see she had a small grin on her face.
“All you did was wave that knife around, and you expect me to believe that makes you qualify as a full-fledged professional?” She still had that smile on her face so Jared knew she was enjoying herself. He bagged up her bagel, set it on the counter. And when Jared placed her more Splenda than coffee drink on the counter next to it, he also knew that he needed to figure out how to keep her there with him ... just a while longer.