"Green tea, please," Libby set the money next to the cash register, I turned around to find her in her ballet uniform, her hair was still in a tight bun on top of her head.
"You're alright?" I ask concerned. She leaned against the counter while I made her drink.
"Well, it’s this girl in my ballet class. She’s driving me insane!" She tells me out of frustration.
"Well, what does she do?" I set the tea in front of her. Looking around the cafe it was empty due to the hour of day, so I took my break, settling into my seat for a long story.
"Her name is Sasha. She’s been going to the academy as long as I have, since we were children. Her and I have always been at each other's throats. Today she made me slip while I was on point, making me hurt my ankle. Though Mother blamed it all on my poor technique." She sips at her tea.
"Back in Louisiana I was on the Newspaper Staff and there was this one girl, Betsy Milton. She always got her stories to our editor first and tried to make me look like a crappy writer. But, one day I wrote a nasty story about a girl name Bessy Nilton who was a goodie, goodie, she was so embarrassed." I smile remembering her face when she saw it in print.
"That’s quite a laugh," she snickered. "So the moral of the story is beat her at her own game?"
"I don’t advise it," I cover my tracks quickly before smiling, "But, if worse comes to worst."
"Thanks, darling." She got up to hug me. Just as we were pulling away, there was a ring at the door. I glanced in the direction seeing Elliot, glancing around the counter to see if someone was in the back. "Better get back to work," Libby winked at me. I made my way around to the front.
"Can I get something for you, sir," I smile, taking out my pen and paper from my apron.
"Uh," he looked surprise. "No, I’m not here for that." He stuttered nervously.
"For anything to drink," he shifted his weight.
"Then what are you here for?" I question him.
"You, actually," he chuckled, scratching the back of his head, obviously not able to explain. "I thought you and I could maybe you could come over and hang out or something along those lines."
"Are you... are you asking me on a date?" I put down the pen and paper.
"No, no of course not, just two people going out to get to know each other... more of a friend meeting of some sort," He blew off the topic but I knew he was lying.
"A friend meeting," I raise my eyebrows while he nods, "Sounds serious," I hold back laughter of the ridiculous term.
"It is serious. Something that shouldn’t be taken light-heartedly." He tried to restrain from smiling. "So will you attend?"
"I think I could fit it in," I finally break with my lips turning upward. "I get off in ten."
"I’ll be back," he smiles back before leaving.
Libby, who has been keeping her head low, sipping her tea in the corner of the cafe, came running to me.
"What was that?!" She hissed.
"He asked me to hang out," I shrug off.
"You mean to say the Elliot, king of the annoying self-centered jerks, just asked you on a date."
"Not a date, a friend meeting," I correct her while wiping off some of the tables.
"Oh, so you two have a secret language now?" She made an "Oo-la-la" face.
"No, nothing like that. Will you get out of here? I need to close up." I laugh. She finally gives up, telling me she will see me later tonight with many details from my friend meeting.
Ten minutes later I was in the back room, running my fingers through my hair, making sure I looked alright. I heard pounding at the door. I quickly went to go unlock it, letting in a very exhausted Elliot, who quickly closed the door behind him locking it for me.
"Hey there-" I start, but I’m cut off, with him pulling me to the back.
"We need to hide." He tells me. Once huddled in a corner, behind stacks of coffee beans, I try to understand why but he hushes me. We listen as we hear people at the door, pounding to get in, yelling things like "Who is she?!" "Do you like her?" "Elliot, just tell us her name!" After a few minutes they went away.
"I’m so sorry." He sighed, sitting down on the floor.
"What was that about?" I asked, taking a place next to him.
"Press, supposedly someone saw me talking to you through the windows and word got around." Elliot looked over at me. "Not such a great start to the date."
"No," I stop him, "Friend meeting." I remind him. He smiled, standing, holding out his hand to help me up. "Do you have a back door?"
"Yes," I take his hand, leading him to the exit. Popping up our hoods and putting on sunglasses, we tried to be discreet when leaving through the ally. When people passed by, I leaned against the building, while he blocked me, as though we were talking very closely. When we made it to a dead street, far from the cafe we relaxed.
"I felt like James Bond," I say out of thrill.
"That was pretty fun," he agreed.
"We would make awesome secret agents." I put my hand like it was a small gun, looking around suspiciously.
"You would be definitely better than me," he laughed.
"And why is that?" I ask, walking alongside him.
"Well, you have that innocent school girl look, they would underestimate you." He explains.
"I don’t look that young," I say in my defense. He glances over me again in speculation.
"Maybe not," shrugging, before we both laughed. We finally made our way back to his apartment, making our way up to his ‘flat’, as he called it. We passed the boys who were playing Xbox, letting their jaws drop, seeing us together. Upstairs, he let me into his bedroom. It was a giant room, with the walls painted blue and decent sized bed covered in dark brown sheets. There was a tall bookcase that reached far above my head, covered in classic literature. However, the one thing that really stood out were the photographs. Pinned to the wall, in frames on the dresser and even scattered on his desk, as if he were trying to pick a select few from the large stack.
"Wow," I silently gasp, admiring the pictures.
"I know, it’s a bit messy," he nervously picks up some clothes, tossing them to the corner of the room.
"No, the photos," I can’t pull my gaze.
"Oh, yeah those," he says nonchalantly.
"They are incredible," I complement.
"Just a hobby," he tells me. I’m stopped on one he took of Charlie. They are on a train, where Charlie is staring out of the window, into a fading a sunset, making half of Charlie’s image a silhouette. "We were on our way to a concert in the south, so we decided to take a train, we were afraid we wouldn’t make it," he reminisces, "However, as soon as we were out of the car, we walked straight onstage."
"Must be a thrill," I turn to look up at him.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean your lifestyle, being able to see the world so easily, getting to experience new cultures and meeting new people. Plus you get to do it all while doing the one thing you love," I continue to view the display.
"I guess I take a lot of it for granted," he gets honest. "When you put it that way."
"Oh, Elliot, I didn’t mean to put you down-"
"No, I know." He sits down on the bed. "But, I expect these things, not thinking much of it. Then I get around you and..."
"And..." I come to join him.
"And it just looks different. For example, if they told us to fly to Germany for two days, for one concert, I would just think it was work, but you see it as an emerging experience to enjoy every second." He explains. The reference to me makes my cheeks burn pink. I decide to change the conversation.
"So what made you interested in photography?" I ask.
"My grandfather used to take me out on walks, letting me use his old cameras, and ever since I’ve been hooked," he glanced around at the photos surrounding us.
"It’s admirable," I look at him.
"Thank you." It dawns on me that we are only a few inches away from each other. His eyes were so intoxicating, making my breath uneven. My stomach begins to do flips while my ears were filled with the sound of my heart beating faster and faster. I’ve never felt this lovely nervousness. I never felt the want to be so close to a person before in my life. I’ve never actually liked a guy this much.
"I should go," I say, looking down at my watch, realizing the time.
"Alright," he nods, escorting me downstairs, where he said one last goodbye, watching me leave before he shut the door.