***unedited, subject to change***
Every time that damn door opened, I found myself looking up hoping to see her walk in. It had been a week since she'd came in giving Bobby the life changing news that she'd gotten him a book deal.
I'd seen Bobby since then. He'd come in to show me how he'd made the top headline on the home page of Publish Now's website.
"Why don't you just ask Bobby about her, instead of looking like a sad puppy every time the door opens?"
I rolled my eyes before turning to Suzette, my younger cousin and the barista/bartender. She was the reason that I'd been working behind the bar, dishing out coffee all day, followed by the celebratory shots in the evening for Bobby. She'd had a full day of classes that day, and hadn't been able to come into work until later in the afternoon, so I'd stepped in for her.
It had been so worth it, when I looked up to find the gorgeous woman, with toasted almond skin and striking grey eyes, staring curiously at me.
I still remembered the way her blouse hugged her breasts, the way her skirt showed off her round sexy ass, and her heels seemed to accentuate her long legs that I envisioned wrapped around me as I dove in and out of her–
The bell over the door rang, jerking me out of my fantasy. A couple of college students walked in I heard Suzette chuckle behind me as she added whipped cream to a latte. Rather than hear her continue to get on my case, I decided to head out and start restocking the shelves with our latest shipment of books.
I grabbed a box from the back, cut it open and then carried it up to the second floor. I sat the box down on one of the carts we kept up there for this specific reason and began to make my way through the aisles, refilling the shelves with books we'd sold out on.
I rounded the corner of one of the aisles and stopped. Sitting at one of the tables, that was hidden away in the back, was Carmen, lost in a book, sipping on straw out of one of our signature cups.
She looked completely different from when we'd met a week ago. Gone were the business clothes and neat bun. Now her hair fell past her shoulders in wild, corkscrew curls and she was wearing an open plaid shirt with a white tank top underneath, jeans and some kind of wedge heel. A pair of cat eye glasses were perched on the tip of her cute nose, and she kept pushing them on up on her face.
She was the sexiest black nerd I'd ever seen.
I couldn't gauge how long she'd been sitting there, but she looked comfortable and even though I'd been hoping to see her again – more than I cared to admit – I didn't want to disturb her. But just as I was about to push the cart full of books down another aisle, Carmen looked up.
Her face broke into a huge smile when she saw me, and I found myself smiling back at her.
"Looks like you're really into that book," I said, abandoning the cart to make my way over to where she was sitting.
Her cheeks heated as she closed the book and pushed it to the side, but not before I got a glimpse of the cover.
"Noble Surrender," I murmured, before looking back at her. "Must have been getting good."
"It was," she said.
"If I'm interrupting, I can get back to wor–"
"No!" she said, quickly. She pulled her bottom lip between her teeth. "I mean... if you're not too busy."
"Nah," I said, pulling out the chair across from her and sat down. We sat there staring at each other for an awkward moment before I finally spoke. "What were you reading that had you all engrossed over here?"
She waved her hand, the blush in her cheeks deepening even more. "There was aerial hammock and...other things...going on. You know, you should just read it. I wouldn't want to spoil it for you."
I shook my head. "Romance isn't really a preferred reading genre of mine."
Carmen laughed and the sound seemed to dance across my skin.
"Oh come on, you should give it a shot. You never know, you might actually like it."
"I'll pass," I chuckled.
"Plenty of men read romance novels, you know," she pointed out.
"Maybe so, but I don't see myself being one of those guys."
"So what were you reading the other day when I came by with the good news for Bobby?"
"Before the Fall," I said.
Carmen gasped, "That was a great book!"
"You've read it?"
"Of course I have," Carmen said. "And if you enjoyed that, you'll love Bobby's book."
"I did love it," I said, sitting back.
"You've read it?" she asked.
"I sure have. I was the one who suggested he submit his manuscript."
"Well, then I guess I have you to thank," she murmured.
"What was that?"
"Oh," she shook her head. "It's nothing really... I've kind of been trying to give the whole literary agent thing a go on my own. I was let go from my job last year."
"I'm sorry to hear that," I said.
Carmen waved off the apology as she continued, "I reached out to a friend over at Publish Now and got an ad put on their site, saying that I was searching for new clients and..."
"And Bobby submitted his work to you," I finished.
"I couldn't put it down," she whispered, leaning forward. "I mean... have you ever read anything quite like that?"
"No, actually, I can't say that I have. I can definitely see those books on the big screen one day."
Her lip tilted up in a conspiratorial grin as she said, "If I have my way, we'll be selling the movie rights in another month."
"So you're a cold ass literary agent, huh?"
"Well, I don't mean to brag," she teased.
"Nah, if you're at what you do, by all means, brag."
Her smile dimmed slightly as she said, "It's been a rough year, but I think things are starting to look up now."
"That's good," I said, reaching over to pat her hand encouragingly.
Her phone pinged at that moment and she pulled her hand from under mine to reach for her phone.
"Shit," she said, hopping up. "I lost track of time. I'm meeting a friend for lunch."
She quickly picked up her bag and I stood as well.
"I want to see you again," I blurted out. She was in a hurry, and there was no use in beating around the bush.
She slowed down at my words and smiled.
"When?" she asked.
"Do you have a pen?" I asked as I pulled one of my business cards out of my wallet.
She dug into her bag and found one. After she handed it to me, I scribbled on the back of my card, as I said, "Meet here, Saturday night."
I gave her the card and the pen back and she looked at the card, her brows scrunching up in confusion.
"Hemingway? What is this? Saturday's wifi password or something?"
I chuckled. "Not exactly. Just give that to the barista when you get here." I let my eyes boldly rake over her body, before adding, "Dress code is cocktail attire."
She tapped the card on chin for a moment before nodding. "Okay, Saturday... What time should I get here?"
"Is eight good for you?"
"Works for me." Her phone pinged again. "Damn, I've really gotta go or my friend is gonna kill me."
But even though she had somewhere to be, she didn't seem to be in a rush, as she slowly backed away, keeping her eyes on mine.
"I'll see you Saturday," I said.
"See you Saturday," she replied, before turning and disappearing down and aisle toward the stairs.
I turned, preparing to get back to work, when my eyes landed on the newly vacated table. And the book Carmen seemed to have forgotten all about.
I reached over, snatched it up and hurried down the stairs. I rushed through the first floor of the bookstore and out the front door, but by the time I got there, she was nowhere in sight. I turned, went back inside, ducking off between the aisles so I wouldn't have to hear Suzette and her big mouth, and headed for the stairs.
I absently flipped through the pages of the book, landing on the page Carmen had bookmarked. I leisurely skimmed over the words and my eyes grew wide as I read about the aerial hammock Carmen had mentioned earlier. And the things Ian was doing to Giselle in said hammock.
"Damn," I whispered as I sank down into a chair at a table when I made it back upstairs.
Maybe I should give these books a try.