I was sitting at one of the tables in the cafe, sipping on my coffee, when she walked in the door. Now, I’m not one of those creepy folks that goes to a cafe just to eyeball the local talent. I was there with my laptop in front of me, procrastinating on tackling one of my research papers. I figured that I could get another half hour or so of time spent not doing work before Hector’s nagging would dig deep enough into my conscience to make me get back to work.
Hector, of course, was doing his part to make me feel as guilty as possible. He was sitting at the other chair at my table, his eyes resting on me as he sipped from his own coffee. I felt as though I was being watched by a basset hound.
But then that girl walked in, and I nearly choked on my sip of coffee. She was gorgeous! She wore the black, thick-rimmed glasses that were the accessory of choice for hipsters everywhere, but hers helped offset waves of shining black hair, cascading down over her shoulders. She was dressed in a bright red leather jacket, hanging open to reveal a cyan sweater, and a pair of navy tights with little yellow stars showed off every curve of her long legs. On anyone else, all of those bright colors would have clashed, but she somehow pulled it off with the grace of a movie star.
“Hello!” I whispered to myself, sitting up straight as I forced down that errant mouthful of coffee. My eyes couldn’t be pulled away from her, watching as she stepped up to the counter and daintily, demurely ordered her drink. As she reached into her her tiny, beaded purse to find payment, I swung my arm toward Hector. “Hey! Grab that chair from the other table!”
My companion turned his gaze to me, but didn’t move. I glared at him, and then reached out and grabbed the empty seat myself, pulling it up to my little round table. And when the girl turned away from the counter, her eyes surveying across the small coffee shop, I gave her my friendliest wave and pointed to the vacant chair.
Finally, Hector caught on to what I was doing, and he also turned to look at the girl. “Whoa, no, no!” he exclaimed, his eyes going wide. “Sam, this is not the girl for you. Trust me on this one!”
His voice was a buzzing in my ears – the girl had returned my smile, and was making her way through the maze of tables and caffeine addicts towards me! She stopped at my table, only briefly raising her eyes to me. I caught a flash of brilliant blue before they were cast down to the open chair.
“Do I know you?” Her voice was deeper than I would have expected, with just the hint of a smoker’s rasp. It was undeniably sexy.
I shook my head. “No, but I’m always open to meeting new people!” I replied with as bright of a tone as I could muster. And it clearly did the job – the girl set her cup of coffee down on the table and slid into the seat across from me.
There was movement off to my side as Hector scooted around to get behind this girl, trying to stay in my field of view. My eyes flicked briefly up to him, and I saw that he was mouthing the word “No,” waving his hands back and forth. I ignored him.
“I’m Sam,” I said, holding out my hand to the girl.
“Zooey,” she returned, taking my proffered hand. Her fingers felt soft and delicate in my clumsy hand. I briefly wondered if the rest of her was equally soft, but then forced such inappropriate thoughts from my head.
“Hello Zooey!” I replied, fixing the name in my head. “Out getting your daily dose of caffeine, huh?” Behind the girl, Hector visibly face-palmed himself in response to this lame comment.
Zooey, bless her heart, didn’t seem to notice the awkwardness. “Yeah – I’m actually trying to get over a recent breakup,” she said. She took a sip of coffee as I mentally cheered at this information. She was single! “It was very messy,” she added.
In the background, Hector was still going crazy, his arms flying back and forth as he attempted to wave me off. “She’s crazy!” he shouted. “She’s a psycho!”
“That’s always rough,” I said to Zooey in my most sympathetic tone. “But it’s good that you aren’t dwelling on it! Sometimes it’s good to get out, meet new people.”
She nodded, and I watched her hair bounce in thick, lustrous curls from the movement. “Exactly,” she agreed. “I’m thinking that I just need to get out and find some fresh meat!” Her tinkling laugh reminded me of silver sleigh bells.
At this comment, however, Hector visibly choked, and coughed several times as he tried to catch his breath. “Crazy!” he managed to squeeze out. “Dude, let me talk to you!”
I rolled my eyes and sighed. “Excuse me for a minute,” I said to Zooey. “Would you mind keeping an eye on my things? I’ll be right back.”
She nodded, smiling up at me, and I stood and made my way to the bathroom. Hector bounded up and hurried behind me.
Once in the relative privacy of the coffee shop’s small bathroom, I turned to Hector. “Okay, what gives?” I demanded. “This girl looks amazing! She’s cute, and single! What could possibly be wrong with her?”
Hector waved his hands back and forth. “I don’t know, exactly,” he confessed. “But she’s got some seriously nasty karma going on! I don’t know what sins she’s been committing, but they’re the sort of thing that gets you locked up for years and years. Her aura’s pretty much blood red. You ought to be running away right now!”
This comment made me groan. “You know, having you around ruins all my fun. You are aware of that, right?”
My companion merely rolled his eyes. “You know that you love me. I’ve been your savior more than you can count.”
I pushed past him, roughly hitting the door open. My previously sunny mood had vanished. I clomped over to the table and sat back down in my seat. Zooey was still there, and she gave me a welcoming smile. “Listen, I have to run,” I said, unable to keep the note of regret out of my voice. “I’m sorry, but maybe I’ll see you around sometime.”
Zooey opened her mouth, looking a little put out, but I scooped up my laptop from the table, my bag from under my seat, and I hurried away. Hector kept up behind me until we were out of the coffee shop.
Once we were in the bright sunlight, I made sure to hit him with my heaviest glare. “Well, that sucked,” I said aloud, not caring if any pedestrians noticed me talking to the empty air. “I really hope that you didn’t just ruin my chances with a totally dynamite girl.”
Hector put one hand up to his chest, pressing into his white robe, a look of affront plastered across his face. “You know I’m here for your best interests,” he insisted. “Come on, I’m sure that there are plenty of other nice girls for you to meet.”
I headed down the street, back towards where I had parked my bike. Sometimes, I really disliked having a guardian angel. He claimed to be keeping me out of trouble, but I had no way of knowing if he was telling the truth! Sure, there was that one time where he had pulled me out of the way of a rogue, incoming car, but it still grew frustrating from time to time, having to take his word on faith.
Flying beside me as I biked, Hector was clearly feeling guilty. “Look, let’s go out to the club tonight,” he offered. “I’ll point out the girls who are feeling especially lonely. It’ll be fun.”
Despite my ire, I couldn’t stay mad at him for long, and my guardian angel knew it. “Fine,” I gave in. “But I’m not paying for your drinks!”