Written On the Sky
“Don’t do it," a warm voice said, startling Ella.
She looked up from the crumpled cash she was placing on the counter. She blinked at the guy snapping a lid onto her coffee cup. Small silver hoops winked against his dark ears. She tilted her head in surprise at the sky-blue of his eyes. How had she missed those before? He flashed a grin and handed over her cup.
“Um,” she mumbled, distracted from her morbid thoughts by an unexpected dimple. “Don’t do what?”
He shrugged. “Whatever it was you were thinking just then. Don’t do it.”
“Oh, right.” She flushed and lifted her cup as she turned. “Thanks for the joe.”
“Hang on,” he said when Ella’s hand pressed the door to leave. She paused and watched him call to his coworker, “Ester, cover me for a sec?”
A couple customers huddled at their tables around the small shop, reading or sipping silently. Slow evening. The redhead drying mugs at the counter lifted her chin, glanced up and down Ella once, then shrugged and returned to her drying.
The guy stepped around the register and met Ella at the door. When he pushed it open a bell dinged. Outside he took off his green apron and folded it on the curb of the tiny parking lot.
Ella frowned and shook her head, unsure what to do. He gestured for her to sit on the green square of apron, then sat on the cement next to it. He pulled a pod with earbuds out of his back pocket and scrolled to a song as Ella sat cross-legged. Handing the pod over, he tucked one of the buds into her ear, one into his. When the music started, she couldn’t help but close her eyes to listen.
It wasn't what she’d expected.
It finished much too soon.
When she opened her eyes again she was immediately distracted by that dimple. She looked away as she pulled the bud from her ear, fumbled it back to him, and fiddled with the top of her cup.
“So?” he asked.
He chuckled soft. “Here,” he said as he took the cup from her hands and leaned slightly toward her. Ella held her breath, again unsure what to do. He pulled a Sharpie out of his back pocket and hunched over the cup.
Ella let out her breath with a huff. “Do you have a Mary Poppin's pocket back there or something?”
He didn’t look up, but dimpled. “Is it sad that I get that reference?”
No, not sad. Not at all.
When he handed the cup back a line of black digits was scrawled under the word ‘Chase’ in typical guy scribble.
Ella quirked one brow. “Is that your name or a suggestion?”
“You’ll have to call the number to find out.”
He took her hand and lifted her to her feet, then grabbed his apron and tied it low around his hips as he walked backwards toward the door.
“You should do that,” he said.
“Do what?” she asked, rubbing her thumb over the writing on her cup.
He paused, something indistinguishable written on the sky of his eyes. “Whatever it was you were thinking just then. Do that instead.”