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Fall to fly

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Lark has worked in the same small-town coffee shop for six years. She chats with the same regulars every day, keeping up with the local gossip. Until one day, Wren walks through the door and completely alters her summer. While she feels stuck in place, he can't seem to settle down. What will they learn from each other?

Romance / Adventure
Age Rating:

Chapter One

I daydreamed about a quaint cafe in Spain as I wiped down the silver handle of the espresso machine. In only an hour, I’d be done for the week and finally get to see someone under 55. I loved working at the cafe, but it was seriously an oasis for the elderly. One thing about old people in a small town is that they will find a common place to gather and chat for hours.

Don’t get me wrong, I quite enjoyed it. How else would I know all the drama with the new pastor at the Lutheran church? But, it would also be a breath of fresh air to see someone my own age. That’s why I was so excited about tonight. My friends and I were all spending the weekend at camp, which we hadn’t been able to do in two years. I was the only one who still came home for summers. Everyone else was off doing impressive internships or studying abroad in Italy. But I wasn’t bitter. Not at all.

My family owned the Broken Oar Cafe and I’d been working there since I was 14. At 20, I was growing tired of the same routine, but my parents needed the help. The bell jingled as a customer walked through the door. It must have been Dale, one of my most loyal regulars. He always came in right around four.

“Hey Dale, how was your –” I began as I looked up from my cleaning.

Only it wasn’t Dale. Nor was it any of my other regulars. This was not an old person at all, but a young man with light brown skin and shoulder-length locs. His expression was strained as he picked at a hangnail on his thumb. My interest was piqued. In a town of 1,000, I don’t remember the last time I saw someone my age in the shop who I didn’t recognize.

“Sorry about that, I thought you were someone else,” I laughed, slightly embarrassed. He didn’t so much as crack a smile at that.

“What can I get started for you?” I pushed past the awkwardness.

“Iced latte with oat milk.”

“Right… my main demographic here is usually retired farmers and the after-church crowd, so the best I can do for you is whole or skim,” I said.

“That’s great. I guess skim is fine.” It didn’t sound too great at all when he said it like that.

Alright then. “That’ll be four dollars,” I said. He swiped his card without another word.

I tried not to notice how he shifted impatiently while I pulled the espresso shot and poured it over the ice. I topped it all off with milk and stuck a pink straw through the lid. “Iced latte,” I said as I set the plastic cup on the counter. He silently grabbed it and walked to a table by the window.

As soon he sat down, his shoulders sagged. He looked dejected and, frankly, kind of pathetic. I tried to ignore his presence as I set to work on my side tasks so I could get the hell out of there when the clock hit five. However, I couldn’t help but glance at him every so often to see him shrinking further into his seat as he stared at his laptop hopelessly. Sure, he had been kind of a dick but now I just felt sorry for him.

Fuck it, I thought. I paused my sweeping to reach into the glass display case and pulled out a banana muffin and set it on a small orange plate. Dessert in hand, I made my way toward the corner where he sat. He looked up as I arrived, eyes widening and mouth slightly parting as I set the plate on his table. I walked away silently and went back to my sweeping behind the counter.

10 or so minutes passed and I was now wrapping up leftover pastries to take to my friends after work. I heard footsteps approaching and looked up to see the boy standing there. His eyes looked significantly gentler this time around.

“Thank you.” I waited for him to go on.

“And I’m sorry” I looked at him a little longer.

“I’ve just had a really rough day, and I totally took it out on you. I’m normally not like this. ”

“Thanks for apologizing, we all have those days. I hope the muffin helped at least.”

With that, he finally cracked a smile. “It definitely did,” he said, “It’s been the only bright spot in this otherwise shitty day.”

“What happened?” As a self-proclaimed nosy person and problem-solver, this was piquing my interest. “If you don’t mind my asking, of course, ” I was quick to add.

“My camper van broke down. I’m traveling and it’s where I sleep, so now I’m basically homeless until I can get it from the shop.”

Shit that was unfortunate. That explained why he was here, the only body shop was just catty-corner from the Broken Oar. “So, what’s your plan?” I probed.

He shook his head and blew out a breath. “I don’t know. That’s why I came here – to use the wifi and look up somewhere to stay tonight,” he explained. “But I have no car, and there are no hotels in this town, so I may be sleeping under the stars tonight.”

I thought for a second. I’m gonna regret saying this.

“I can drive you to Bluemont,” I finally said, “That’s the closest town with a hotel. It’s 30 minutes away, but it’s on the way to where I’m heading.” I thought about how life’s number one rule was not to get into a car with a strange man, and now here I was inviting one into mine.

He looked surprised. “No, I couldn’t make you do that.”

“Really, it’s no trouble. I’m off in 20 minutes and then I can take you.” It was a little bit of trouble, but I couldn’t help but be a fixer. I should at least learn the guy’s name, I figured. “I’m Lark, by the way. What’s your name?”

He laughed, a surprised intake of breath. “You’re kidding. My name’s Wren. And thank you.”

I raised my eyebrows at that. “Well, birds of a feather, I guess. Go sit down while I finish closing, and then we can go.”

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