My Protector

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Chapter 4: Again

Loren’s POV

It was another gloomy day in Seattle with heavy rain showers every hour. I was wearing my black rain boots, black jeans, and a cream colored sweater. My hair was pulled back into a low bun with a few strands left out in the front to frame my face. I threw on my tan trench coat and grabbed my backpack; making sure my wallet was there this time.

It was 3 and I was supposed to meet one of my best friends at the cafe soon. I met Melissa in a group project during one of our freshman introductory classes. We automatically clicked and became best friends shortly after.

She was the “realist” while I was the “dreamer” of the group. Based on her wisdom, i’m pretty sure she was actually an 80 year old woman stuck in a 25 year olds body. Melissa worked as a high school english teacher and volley ball coach, a job I could never handle. Her hair was a soft brown color and her eyes were big and blue. She was tall and lean, an advantage she had when she was on the volleyball team in college.

The other friend of the group was Emma. She lived in New York as a real estate agent and to be honest, no other job could fit her better. She was confident, social, and always had to be the center of attention. Her hair was a beautiful honey blonde and her skin was fair.

I have to admit that I never would have thought that we would become friends. I was envious of how social she was and how everybody seemed to love her. But she chose me as her friend, so I gave her a change. Which I am glad I did because she brought out the best in me. I soon realized that we were more similar than different.

I was about halfway to the cafe when my phone buzzed and my car automatically read the text from Melissa.

“Hey I can’t make it today... work is keeping me longer than anticipated. :( raincheck??”

“No worries, next time :)” I replied

Well, was already halfway there so I figured I would just go anyways instead of wasting my gas. What else was I going to do on such a gloomy day?

Besides, even though I wasn’t going to admit it, a little piece of me was hoping that I would see the man I ran into a few weeks ago. I could say it was because I wanted to pay him back but honestly I didn’t even know if that was the truth.

I pulled into “my spot” in front of the cafe and paid the meter. Stepping foot inside, the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans and baked goods overwhelmed my senses. I took a deep breath, not realizing how hungry I was and looked around for the perfect spot to settle down. The cafe had velvet couches and leather chairs spread out with industrial style tables amongst them. A single long leather bench lined the side of the wall, starting from the counter to the window. The walls were made of exposed brick and steel beams. Various plants were dispersed through the room and artwork was hung chaotically on the walls, but it flowed. Old world lightbulbs hung from the ceiling giving the whole cafe a warm and cozy glow.

After a minute I eventually settled on a booth seat near the window. Setting my stuff down, I asked a person close by to watch my stuff and walked over to the counter.

Browsing the chalk board menu above, I decided on a simple latte. The cafe was busy today so I had time to look at the bakery menu as well. I settled on a chocolate croissant and ordered from the Barista i’ve come to know as Anna.

“I’ll call out your name once your order is ready! Thanks Loren!” She gleamed.

I smiled and walked over to the end of the counter to wait for my order. Looking up at the wall I was admiring one of the pieces of art made by a local sidewalk artist. My gaze wandered down and landed on familiar yet unfamiliar face causing me to pause in place.

In front of me was that same tall man I couldn’t shake from my mind the past few weeks.

His eyes were a darker hazel today and held the same confidence as before. His hair was slicked back again and he was wearing a black suit today, slightly wet from the current downpour outside.

Speechless, I couldn’t say anything. I realized that I was staring too long and looked away to the floor.

“So, we meet again,” he chuckled.

“S-sorry?” I blurted, looking back up at him. I’m not quite sure why I was acting like I didn’t remember him. It’s not like his face kept popping up in my head during the most inconvenient times of the day.

This only made him smile. I was sure that the look on my face was a dead give away that I remembered who he was, and he knew it.

Thankfully we were interrupted by Anna calling out our orders, putting an end to this painful encounter.

“I have a latte and chocolate croissant for Loren! and a Mocha for Ian!”

I grabbed my drink and pastry as he grabbed his from the counter.

“I uh, have something for you” I revealed while glancing at him and started to walk back over to my spot.

“And what would that be?” He questioned as he raised his eyebrows.

“I need to repay you for the other day,” I spoke while looking in my backpack for my cash; something I was doing too much of in front of him.

“No need,” He spoke as he reached over and placed his hand on my arm, stopping me from looking any further.

My arm instantly felt like it was on fire. I looked down at the unfamiliar touch; his grip was gentle yet large veins laced his hands.

“No please I insist, you saved my day then. I had a huge interview and if it weren’t for you I would’ve either gotten a ticket which I cannot afford to get or I would’ve missed my interview. So please,” I took in a deep breath, his musky cologne filling my nose, “Take it..” and breathed out.

Babbling was something that I was known for when I got nervous. I was too focused on repaying him for his kindness and not seeming like a nervous wreck that I didn’t realize that he had now let go of his grip and was sitting in the seat across from me.

“Hm, okay then repay me with a good conversation.” He spoke, looking down at my mess of a backpack. I was so insulted by his comment that my backpack was a mess last week that I just left it as is. “Besides, by the time you find that wallet in that messy backpack of yours the sun would have already set” he joked.

I looked down at my backpack and back up to him. What was it with having to make comments about my backpack? “Well I know where everything is and that’s all that matters” I scoffed, only making him smile even more.

Suddenly a phone started to ring, breaking the tension between the two of us. Ian lost the smile on his face as he reached into his pocket for a phone. He glanced at his screen and let out a small sigh before answering,

“What Adam,” He gritted his teeth. He sat in his chair for a minute while listening to what the other person was saying. Apparently this was a conversation that he didn’t want me to hear as he held up a finger, telling me to wait and got up from his chair.

“Tell Val to tell him to wait. It is not my fault he decided to show up 2 hours before his appointment. He needs to respect the fact that i’m busy and cant drop everything for-” He was cut off as the door shut behind him.

You’re a very busy man yet you are spending your time sitting at a table entertaining a woman you haven’t even formally introduced yourself to...

I watched as Ian stood outside the coffee shop. He had his hand in his pocket but his shoulders continued to tense. Once he returned the phone to his pocket, he walked back inside.

Looking at me he grabbed his coffee and spoke, “As much as I wish I could stay and talk, our date has unfortunately been cut short. I will see you here again tomorrow. Same time. Understood?” His eyes finding mine waiting for an answer. His mood had changed.

“Uh-”

“Just say okay” He cut me off with a smirk, clearly in a rush to get to whatever just called him.

“Okay” I broke the eye contact, looking out the window. He nodded his head and exited the cafe, walking over to his BMW that was next to mine.

I was too busy thinking about him when I arrived that I didn’t even realize I parked next to him.

For the next hour I tried to focus on my work but the image of Ian kept disrupting me. There was so much mystery about him. The only thing I knew about him was his name. I felt so drawn to him yet I have only ever been in his presence for a total of maybe 20 minutes. I shouldn’t be feeling this way. Any normal person would see this as a red flag and would never come to this cafe ever again.

And who was he to call this encounter a “date”? I scoffed out loud, drawing the attention of the person across from me. I gave a shy smile in response and packed up my stuff before I wasted any more time here.

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