I slid the last tray of crispy tarts into the display case, straightened the price tag at the front and slid the case shut. A sweet smell began to fill the small space and I smiled. I had outdone myself this time.
“These tarts are going to kill me,” I playfully joked to no one in particular.
It was twelve in the afternoon and the food rush had slowly died down. One and two persons ventured inside but otherwise it was pretty slow now. I owned a medium sized bakery halfway around the corner from Wall Street. I had to spend an arm and leg for the renters to save me the spot and luckily I won their favor. Once I’d set up shop, the business had filtered in and I was content with progress.
I pulled my apron off and turned to my server, Andrea.
“Andy, you’ve got to recommend these tarts to the next person that steps in” I instructed using her nickname.
She had been working with me for the past three months and despite being her employer, we were good friends. She nodded over at me from the table she was cleaning.
“I hope you saved one for you know who” She teased.
I threw her a mock glare and pursed my lips. I knew exactly who she was talking about. He had been a regular customer for the past six months and it was obvious by now that I was a blundering mess whenever he showed up.
“I hate to be predictable but he’s about to show up in ten seconds” She quipped.
I brushed off the counter and straightened a few napkins by the cash register. He always showed up after the afternoon rush so I was use to his schedule.
“You know, a man can change his mind, Andy” I replied as I bent below the counter to reach for something.
The bell at the door rung as I did this and I heard Andy mutter “highly unlikely” loud enough for me to hear.
“Don’t make me stuff you with cake!” I threatened as I straightened back up.
“Oh shit!” I squeaked. My finger hit the end of the counter and my eyes met his over the cash register. He was dressed in his uniform today with Miami Police Department abbreviated on the bulletproof vest he donned over it. I blushed as I realized he must have heard my words just now.
“Though I’d love to stuffed with cake, I’m afraid that’ll have to be another day”
His deep voice touched my ears and I held back a moan. His voice was doing things to me but I steeled myself to focus this time. He gave me a million dollar smile, his blonde messy curls cut short to his ear and his blue eyes looked behind me.
“I’ve had a full one eighty all night, I need some coffee first” He clarified and pulled out his wallet.
I knew how he liked it so he didn’t have to elaborate. I rang up his order and turned to the coffeemaker. I slipped a blue mountain packet into the grinder and let it swirl around in the warm water before pressing the button to let it flow into the paper cup. I then added two spoons of sugar and a dash of milk. I went back to the counter and covered it.
“Is there anything else?” I asked.
He passed me the money and I cashed him.
“Nah, just this should do me for now” He answered.
I extended his change and he gently slipped it from my fingers. He gave me one last smile before sipping his coffee and walking to the exit. He tapped his chest once at the radio in his top pocket and a scratchy voice came over the speaker.
“I hope you got coffee for all of us, asshole”
Andy tilted her head to me in surprise and covered her giggles. He still heard her but just shook his head. He turned back to the counter and held up three fingers. I quickly made three more coffees and placed them in a carrier.
“Jaxon, I hope you fucking heard me” The scratchy voice came again. “Seeing as how you fail to respond, don’t make come in there”
He pressed a button on the top and gave me an apologetic smile.
“I heard you loud and clear, Dane. Get off my ass” He replied.
I eyed his badge a little better and caught a glimpse of his last name.
I guess I knew his name now. He paid me for the extra coffees then made his way out the door in record time. Andy peeked out the glass window after him and sighed dreamily. I cleared my throat which brought her back to attention.
“Jaxon Palmer,” I informed her. “How fitting”
She giggled like a school girl and gave me a wide smile. I frowned. I knew that smile. She usually had it when she had a stupid, or worse, crazy idea.
“No” I stated before she could say anything.
She stopped smiling and slumped her shoulders deflated. “I haven’t even said anything yet”
I took a seat at one of the cleaned tables and rested my chin on my upturned hand.
“You don’t have to”
Andy gave me a serious glare before returning to her work. I knew she was going to suggest I should ask him out. That was out of the question. I’d swore off law enforcement since one of my exes was a very avid drug dealer. When I found out I ended the relationship immediately but still, being seen with a cop would give him the wrong idea.
The ultimate last thing I needed was my ex having a reason to come back. Additionally too, policemen weren’t my usual cup of tea but surprisingly this one had caught my eye. He was extremely handsome with a lean, muscular body that seemed to spend its every waking moment at the gym or wrapped up in a fitted blue and black uniform.
“If you’re not going to ask him out, may I?”
I focused on Andy as the question left her lips. She awkwardly looked away but made eye contact with me again.
“He’s fair game,” I replied nonchalantly. “I wish you the best of luck”
Andy stared at me in surprise. She finished cleaning the few tables, put away the cleaning supplies and slid into the booth with me.
“Are you crazy!” She screeched. “The man barely addresses me. If I had your face then sure, but I was only joking.”
I laughed at her childishness and relaxed in my seat.
It had been a rollercoaster for the past half year but I highly doubt that I’d make time to see him outside of work. He was a slight mystery and I decided I liked it better that way. My feelings were nothing more than due to not having copious amounts of sex and I had effectively replaced it with drinking coffee that seemed to do the trick.
He was off limits. Even to me.
Andy countered my thoughts with her own unexpected response. “It’d take your mind off things, even it’s only for one night. I know you haven’t taken a break in forever from that orphanage and I think it’s about time you took one”
She was right again. That’s where I’d spend most of time off because kids were my world. Having another boyfriend or love interest after three years was almost comical but I didn’t have much determination to go on blind dates.
“He looks like a keeper” Andy sung in a high pitcher voice.
I restrained myself from smiling with her. “If you don’t get back to work, you’ll realize I’m not a keeper as the next guy”
She marched off with a sharp “Yes Boss” and focused on the half rolled cookie dough she had kneaded earlier. I watched her hands work until I felt I had finally removed him from my mind.