Pierre's was bustling with patrons coming in for their daily dose of caffeine and delicious pastries. It was this small Cafe in the midst of Paris. Being summer most patrons prefer sitting on the tables on the roadside watching the different tourists and enjoying the weather.
Today is not one such day. It rained. As I bussed the tables, the lilting voices of Parisians and tourists speaking other languages intermingling was somewhat familiar and comforting even though I understood only a few words of the former.
I smiled at the couple sitting on the table speaking and stealing kisses in between words of love and devotion. I guessed, they might be talking about their dog giving birth back in their home and I wouldn't know the difference. I placed their orders in front of them before walking away with a muttered `Bon Appétitʼ.
Being one of the few Cafés open in this corner of Paris, when most Parisians are on holidays and more shops and bistros closed. We are never short on patrons. Most days we are so busy that afterwards when I return to my apartment I will be too exhausted to think of anything else.
I had just returned the tray and was standing behind the counter with Louisa who also works as a waitress here, when Pierre walked into the Cafe. Tall, lean and gorgeous with light features, light brown hair, sky blue eyes, he is the guy most women dreamed of marrying, sadly he doesn't do it for me. My taste in men have irrevocably changed whether it was for the best or worst. I had no idea.
I quickly avoided meeting his eyes as Lou chatted my ears off about the party she had invited me—and I had declined last night. I pretended I was interested in her chatter even though I didn't understand most of it.
One thing with Pierre is he could be tenacious, my avoiding his gaze didn't deter him, he stride towards me with a purpose, his handsome face determined. His eyes heated with something I refuse to acknowledge—as they ran over sandals covered feet, naked legs and half naked thighs, over my jeans shorts and my turquoise blue sleeveless top. My hair was high up in a loose ponytail.
Pierre's just as the name outside indicate belongs to Pierre. The Cafe was something his grandfather had started and he'd taken over. Pierre is 26 years old. He's funny, considerate and his smile could light up your day, but that didn't mean shit when it came to my heart. Even I couldn't control the organ to do what I wanted. And him being insistent and clinging is starting to irritate me.
I've known him for two months now. Beth had introduced him to me, I'd only started working here a month ago and I consider him a good friend. He'd been extremely kind and caring and had helped me acclimate to this country, him and Beth. He was her close friend, someone she had known since her move here two years ago.
I didn't come all the way from New York to Paris to start a relationship, I was running away from one. Kinda. Not to mention I was currently living a lie, using a name that wasn't mine.
I busy myself cleaning up the counter with a towel, he leaned against the counter when reached me, sending me that pining look, even though you could tell there's hurt in his eyes. And I knew I was the one who had unintentionally put that look there.
“Hi,” he said nervously.
“Hi,” I replied then winced when I remember I was supposed to meet up with him last night. Guilt assailed me even though I didn't stand him up deliberately.
“What happened last night? Why didn't you meet up with me? I waited for you long into the night” Pierre said in accented English, he sounded disappointed.
I was a sucker for guys with accents, unfortunately I met Pierre at the wrong time of my life. If I had met him back in the state some months back,before shit hit the fan I might have fallen for him. Hard.
“I'm sorry but I was honest with you Pierre, I told you I might not make it, I didn't mean to fall asleep or stand you up though, but I did. It wasn't intentional, I might have been tired. I didn't remember anything until this morning, I'm sorry.” I half lied guiltily.
Biting my lip, I really felt bad for him, it's just I didn't want to start something with him when I'm still too raw inside and will soon be leaving Paris. Though I liked him and we've bonded, I've never given him the impression that we could be something more to begin with, or show him in any way that I was interested. I had been straight with him and he knew it.
“It's okay, I understand. But Katie I'm not giving up. I'm going to court, woo and seduce you, until you give me a chance to show you how good we can be together. All I ask is for you to spend a little bit of your time with me.” he smiled seductively leaning over the counter, I got a whiff of his aftershave and cool cologne he always smells good always have. Definitely not earthy and musky.
“I'm not going to lead you on Pierre, you are a good friend to me and I honestly don't want to hurt you. You should know I'm going back next week.” his face fell.
“Katie can't you…”
“Hi boss” Lou cut through our conversation interrupting whatever it was Pierre wanted to say.
“Katie there are new customers waiting to place an order and your favorite customer just got here,” Lou said tilting her head in the direction of the entrance of the Pierre's Bistro.
I glanced back and saw Mr Donald and his bodyguard coming in, the guard pushing his wheelchair,dressed in a black three piece suit and a matching black fedora with a black scarf to complete the look.
The guard folded the umbrella before they walked down the tables.
I waited until his guard made space for his wheelchair behind the table and he was comfortably seated in his favorite part of the Cafe, near the back entrance, his bodyguard standing stoic behind him. While I attended to the new customers.
Outside through the glass wall the sun had started peeking out behind dark gray clouds, the August rain is finally easing, allowing the tourists to roam about. Pierre and Beth had told me Paris in August is mostly empty, not many tourists or locals around as most Parisians went for their holidays to southern France or other places.
To me it's still full, though I noticed some of the shops were closed and it wasn't as populated as when I arrived here almost three months ago. After I had served the others. I approached him, leaving the menu behind. I already knew what he would order.
It was always the same thing he'd ordered every single day since I started working over a month ago. Ever since I served him that first time he walked in here. He always asked for me whenever he came here. He was a lively old man, he's already growing on me. If I had any grandparents I suspect that is how they will be.
He always used to come here every morning for his breakfast, and he would sit right there in his corner, dipping croissants into too sweet and creamy coffee, sometimes he would ask me to sit with him while ate, his bodyguard watching us, he would talk and talk a mile a minute. Telling me interesting stories.
At first I was weary of him, I thought he was a perverted old man, then I became suspicious and thought Nicklaus had sent him to capture me. I had become suspicious of everything and everyone, always thinking of the worst , something I wouldn't have thought of anyone before, now I'm a little cautious and judgmental.
Paranoid even, and I hate it. This isn't who I was, but what I'd experience had made me more guarded than I usually was. But as Don frequented the Cafe with time we bonded, I realized he's just a rich widowed lonely old man.
We would talk about almost anything, books, foods, his late wife and politics but mostly I just listened to him, his words of wisdom and his philosophical view of the world fascinate me. He knows how to spin a story in such an interesting compelling way in his heavily accented voice, I couldn't placed—that you can't help being hypnotized.
“Hi Don,” I said with an honest smile. He returned the smile, the corners of his eyes crinkling, his weathered tan face was clean shaven, bright in the cool morning, he was a kind old man. Probably in his early sixties, he'd met with an accident years ago which had resulted in a back injury, he told me he could walk but the pain afterwards isn't worth it.
“Hello Katie my dear, how are you?” he asked beaming at me.
“I'm great Don, thank you. Let me bring your order, same thing as every day?” I asked teasingly despite knowing the answer. He chuckles.
“Yes darling, I'm a creature of habit. My Maria had spoiled me with her cooking. Pierre's croissants are the only pastries that came close to how she used to make hers.” he said with a whimsical smile. Probably remembering his late wife. His accented voice thick with emotions.
“Alright, let me bring it to you, are you sure you don't want to add something more?” I asked.
“Just the usual.”
“Alright, I will be right back.”
I hurried away. Five minutes later I carry the tray containing a mug of coffee, cream and sugar and a plate with three freshly baked croissants on it and a little something I thought he might like which I had baked myself.
“Here you go,” I muttered before carefully placing his order on the table in front of him.
My eyes briefly glanced to where his guard was standing. The man never eats or drinks anything, he actually told me he doesn't like coffee, instead prefers tea. It's incredulous. No man I know who doesn't like coffee, but whatever.
“Ah! What do we have here? Profiteroles for me?” he asked with exaggerated giddiness rubbing his hands together. I chuckle.
“Yes, since you have a sweet tooth I decided you should be the one to taste my first baked profiterole, I will like to know what you think, and if you like it?”
He took one of the baked fluffy goodness filled with cream and drizzle with chocolate and bit into it, chewing slowly. I knew the instant he tasted the combined ingredients, butter, sugar, cream and chocolate coming together to create an almost orgasmic goodness in the mouth. His eyes went wide as he took another bite. Yeah, I've learned from the best.
“My God! Katie, you know the way to a man's heart. This profiterole tasted like my Maria's,your hands must be blessed.” he crooned, my cheeks heated with embarrassment, he was exaggerating. I wasn't that good.
“I take it we have finally added something to your breakfast preference then?”
“Yes you have succeeded. I'm going to be one fat old man before you go back to the state. By the way, when are you leaving?” he asked with a somber face, that question made my heart heavy and my face scrunched. My stay here had been wonderful, peaceful even, I've made great friends here, good people I would terribly miss.
But my leaving here has been long overdue, not to mention I've had this nagging feeling that someone has been watching me for days now. I didn't want to sound paranoid, that's why when I talked to Beth last night—who was on her honeymoon in Venice I didn't tell her anything.
I didn't want her to cut short their trip for my sake. I'm just waiting for her to come back and then I will leave. I must have space out for a long time because Don suddenly knocked on the table which startled me out of my thoughts.