Late again. Always, always late. My mother is going to kill me!
I silently cursed myself. I knew I didn’t have time to curl my hair, but I did it anyway. It just fell so much softer when it was curled; my platinum blonde hair framing my face perfectly. I could have skipped the dramatic smokey eye, but the shimmery purple made my blue eyes glow. I could have simply thrown my hair into a messy bun, slipped on my favorite Vanderbilt hoodie and a pair of jeans. My makeup could have been more natural and less dramatic. Of course, I didn’t need a stop at Starbucks. Caffeine was necessary, but it was entirely possible for me to make my own rather than standing in a line to order a six buck latte.
Yes, I could have been on time. But if I had, I wouldn’t have met him. And that would have been a tragedy. I might have missed everything.
His blue eyes wouldn’t have pierced my soul when he turned around to excuse himself after bumping into my bag. That sweet smirk might never have been tossed my way. I might never have known how hot his skin would feel against mine.
“Lonnie,” he said, offering his hand. I took it and held on for just a bit longer than was necessary. I did not want to let go. “Lonnie Rhodes.”
“Quinn Smithson,” I replied and smiled. His hand still warm and tight around mine. I’d never been one to fall for the cliche of love at first sight, but as I studied his face, I knew there was something about him. It called to me like a favorite song playing in the background. Subtle. Sweet. Transformative.
He dropped my hand. Disappointment rushed through me.
“Let me buy you a coffee.” He winked, and I couldn’t say no.
“Not necessary, but thank you.” I felt the flames rise in my cheeks. I willed myself to get it together. I ordered my Americano and followed him to the side of the counter.
I checked the time on my phone. It was almost nine. Mom was definitely going to kill me. Or, at least harass me for hours on end about my inability to follow a schedule or read the time.
“Late?” He asked. His eyes sparkled as he gazed at me. It was if he were drinking me in, memorizing my face. The feeling was intoxicating.
“Yeah,” I said and nodded. “It’s my dad’s fiftieth birthday.”
I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. Everything about him was perfect. The way his chestnut brown hair fell in his eyes, the way it curled subtly at the ends. His sharp jawline and cheekbones. Those soft, kissable lips made me want to know what they might feel like pressed against mine. Electricity flowed through my veins at the thought.
“Where’s the party?” He asked.
“In Franklin,” I answered without thinking. “That’s where they live.”
“Fancy,” he said. “What’s a Franklin girl doing slumming in East Nasty?”
I laughed. It was a question my own mother often asked. “I like living away from the pomp and circumstance of old money.”
It was half true. I did like the calmness of the suburb my parents lived in. But the big houses and perfectly manicured lawns were suffocating. Mom’s house was practically covered in plastic. My brother and I were never allowed to touch anything. The house was always immaculate. Pristine. Much like the images of our family my mother plastered all over Facebook.
When I told her I was moving to East Nashville, she’d nearly vomited on her Tory Burch boots. Her nose turned up at the name as she spat it back at me. Though, that reaction was not nearly as bad as her response to my chosen profession. She couldn’t wrap her head around my desire to work and live in an area known for its crime and low incomes. Mom had never once stepped foot in my apartment, always insisting I come to them. I was fairly certain my mother had never been south of the airport, despite spending her entire life in Nashville.
“Hmm.” His lips vibrated. “‘Maybe I should have let you buy my latte.
“Next time,” I offered.
“It’s a date.” His smile spread across his face.
My Apple Watch buzzed on my wrist. Mom was calling for the hundredth time this morning. I help up a finger and mouthed an apology before turning my back to him and answering the phone.
“Hey, Mom,” I said casually as if I weren’t aware of the fact that I was supposed to be somewhere.
“Where are you?” She hissed. I could hear my dad in the background telling her to calm down.
Oh, Dad, you know better. I silently scolded him. My mother didn’t understand the meaning of calm down and bristled at the suggestion she do so.
“I’m at Starbucks right by the interstate. I’ll be there in half an hour.”
“You were supposed to be here an hour ago.” The annoyance in her voice crept through the phone. I pulled it away from my ear.
“Mom, I told you it be there at nine. It’s just now nine. I’ll see you soon. Love you. Bye!”
I hung up before she could argue and returned my attention to Lonnie. Suddenly, I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to stay and talk to him. Let his eyes hold me captive. I could get lost in them. For a moment, I did. I dove heart first into the ocean blueness and allowed myself to drown in the possibilities they held.
“Gotta go?” He asked and handed me my latte.
“Sadly,” I said and offered a shrug. “I am late for my Dad’s birthday party.”
We both stood there, my hand on his. He didn’t let go of the drink. I didn’t let go out his hand. I didn’t know if I could.
“I am going to hold you to that coffee date,” he said. “It was a pleasure to meet you, Quinn Smithson.”
“Likewise, Lonnie Rhodes.” His name rolled off my tongue smoothly. It made my lips tingle. Get it together, Quinn.
He offered one final smirk before heading to leave.
“Wait!” I called as I followed him out. “Don’t you need my phone number?” Even I could hear the desperation in my voice.
“You have mine,” he replied and nodded to the cup in my hand. I turned it and noticed he’d written his name and phone number on the sleeve.
I giggled and mouthed, “oh.”
Then, as quickly as he’d walked into my life, he was gone. I climbed into my Acura MDX, a graduation gift from Dad, and let my head rest on the back of the seat. I closed my eyes and images of his face appeared. I was fairly certain I’d be dreaming about him tonight.