~ Chapter 1 ~
“Is it opening seating?” Her hand shook as she stopped pouring the coffee for the couple at her table. That voice, she knew that voice, knew who it was before even turning around. She swallowed hard, looked at the couple who were looking back at her and then turned around to look at the man. Ten years later and he still looked the same; a dab of grey hairs and a couple of fine lines, but that was it; still just as sexy as ever. And as her eyes drank him in, her heart did that pitter patter that always happened when she saw him, and one she wished with all her might would stop.
“Um, oh, yes, sorry. Help yourself to any table,” she indicated with a wave of her hand to let her know he was free to sit wherever. He nodded and she watched him as he walked to a nearby booth and she finally turned her attention back to the couple. “I’ll be right back with your check.” They smiled at her and she walked over to the corner booth, to his booth. “What would you like to drink?”
“You look good Rose.” She nodded her thanks, not sure she could trust her voice much more than what she already asked. She locked eyes with him and then shifted her gaze, feeling his eyes once more on her, and then heard him clearing his throat as he answered, “ice tea please.”
“I’ll be right back with that and to take your order.” She left and went behind the counter, collecting her thoughts as she made his tea, recalling their past and how she always made it and out of habit, she found herself reaching for the sugar to make it like he liked it. Mentally she groaned. Guess ten years didn’t change everything. She shook her head as she finished and got the couple their check and dropped his drink off.
“Anything else you would like Jeff?”
He took a drink of his tea and smiled, giving her that rare one that brought those dimples out. “God, you still know how to make it?” She shrugged, struggling to hide the blush wanting to take over her cheeks. “What would you suggest?”
“The chicken fried steak is a company favorite. But the green chile cheeseburger is amazing to me and my personal favorite.”
“I’ll have that; I usually trust what you think.”
“I’ll go put that in.” She turned to walk away but his hand caught her arm. She closed her eyes, hoping that would close the memories off even more, but she knew better. Jeff had been her one true love and he broke her heart in two when he left their small town. And here he was, after ten years, for who the hell knew what.
“When do you get off? Or when do you have a break?”
“I get off in an hour,” she said as she checked her watched before glancing back at him, still refraining from keeping eye contact for more than a second or two.
“Great, I’ll stick around until then.” Rose nodded, unable to think about an hour from now, about talking to him, hell, what could even be said honestly? Ten years ago, when he walked out, he said everything he had to, wasn’t like much had changed around these parts. It was still a small ass town, out in the plain fields of Texas, where nothing ever happened.
Rose sighed as she watched the man from behind the safety of the counter. Nothing was left to distract her as the diner’s dinner rush was done and most of the things were ready to go for tomorrow. She was off, but if Jeff was staying in town, then maybe she would offer to come help, after all, Saturday’s tended to be one of their busiest days. But, she also spent time with her mama on Saturdays and her mama would have her behind if she missed it; especially if she was avoiding Jeff. And by now, her mama knew that man was back in town. After all, the great ol’ town of Skyville was a whole whoppin’ 1,063 people strong, word travels fast.
Rose signed again, grabbing his food and walked out, placing it in front of him. “There you go, would you like another tea?”
“Yes, please. This looks amazing.”
“It’s usually something I enjoy.”
“Are you nervous?” She titled her head as she looked at him. He had always made her nervous and he knew that. She had always told him throughout high school and when they got married, and especially on the day he walked out.
“You would think after all this time I wouldn’t be right? Kind of stupid to be, I think, but yes Jeff, you still make me that way. I’ll be right back with your tea.” And she walked away, her heart pounding. She wanted to push all the memories that came flooding back when she heard that voice, but they weren’t stopping. She hung her head for a moment, feeling the ache in her lower back; she could tell she wasn’t no spring chicken anymore. Time hadn’t been the best to her, aches were coming more, grey hairs were coming in daily and a dye kit was her best friend. She knew she had never looked her age, but she felt every bit of her 44 years. And Jeff? A few more tattoos from what she could see, but he still looked as gorgeous to her as the day he stepped into her sophomore English class.
“No Rose, don’t go there,” she muttered to herself. She finished making his tea and walked back over. She laid it down, along with his check. “No rush on that, whenever you’re ready,” she offered a smile that she knew didn’t reach her eyes. And if she knew Jeff, she knew he could tell as well.
“Here,” he pulled out his wallet and laid down his card. “Take your time, I’m waiting on you.” ‘God, how many times have I heard that and I lost belief in it,’ she thought.