By: Penny Wylder

AtYourService: Would coffee cheer you up? I know a great little place not far from the building, over on Madison. And I happen to be free this evening.

I smile. Sure, the bad idea alarms are still going off, but they’re buried deep in the back of my mind now, under a few layers of my crappy workday, my friends all being busy, and, admittedly, my hormones still in full-on raging after last night’s photo exchange.

CallMeClove: Actually, yeah, coffee sounds great. Meet you there?

He sends me the address and I get onto the subway train with a renewed pep in my step. I check myself out in the mirror and fix my hair, add a touch of lipstick. My favorite distraction when I feel tired—bright red lipstick because then people won’t notice your other flaws.

I actually don’t look too bad by the time I step off the train at the other end. I guess an overdose of coffee and stress is a decent remedy for sleepless bedhead after all.

The coffee shop Zayne picked turns out to be a cute place a few blocks from my apartment that I’ve been eyeballing for months. It opened last summer but I hadn’t made it over here yet. It’s funny how you get set in your routines. You don’t even know that they need breaking until someone comes along and smashes them.

And hell if Zayne isn’t doing a damn good job of that right now. The moment I step through the front doors into the cozy little café, I spot him. He’s impossible to miss now that I’ve finally tuned into his frequency. His eyes catch me from across the room and nearly pin me to my spot in the doorway. My heartbeat speeds up and suddenly it’s hard to focus on anything but the extremely hot man standing up, drawing out a chair for me, eyes locked on mine all the while. In the warm café lighting, his cheekbones stand out sharper than ever. He looks sexy as hell in jeans and a T-shirt, relaxed and off duty, like a completely different person from the uniformed hottie who saved me last night.

Was it only last night? It feels like so long ago now. Like so much has already changed.

For one thing, I finally woke up to notice the guy I’ve spent the last two years walking right past, blind as a bat.

I take a seat across from him and look down to find he’s already ordered. There’s a latte cooling in front of me, a little heart drawn into the foam.

I smile and lift it to tap against his in a cheers. “How did you know my drink?”

“Educated guess. I figure, you’re a twenty-something bookworm with good taste, you probably like your coffee strong with a dash of sweet.”

I glance into his cup and find he’s drinking the same thing. “Great minds think alike,” I point out.

His smile widens. “But fools seldom differ.”

I laugh. Everybody always forgets the second half of that quote. “Touché,” I say, and take a long sip of my latte. It’s delicious.

“So, tell me all about your shitty day,” he says, leaning back in his chair. It shows off his muscles to perfect advantage, which I’m sure was the point. I can’t help letting my gaze wander down across his chest, along his arms, before I force myself to look back at his face.

He lets his eyes wander too, and he doesn’t seem to care that I see him checking me out. I shiver. There’s something sexy about a man who’s blatantly turned on by you and doesn’t mind that you know it. His gaze lingers on my curves, my dress, then darts back to my face.

“You really want to hear about my crappy work problems?” I counter.

He laughs. “Only if you want to talk about them.”

I heave a sigh. “Where to even start?”

“Start with what’s got you so stressed out that your shoulders are up to your ears,” he suggests.

I force myself to relax my posture, shooting him another glance. Normally guys aren’t interested in hearing about my day-to-day life. But okay, I’ll give him a try. I tell him about how my boss is annoyed at me for missing my deadline and how my project fell below par.

“But you don’t normally have a tricky relationship with her?” he asks.

I nod. “Normally we get on great. Normally I perform better than this.”

“Well everyone has off days. She understands that, I’m sure.”

I feel myself bobbing my head. Why is he so easy to talk to? I blink and shake my head, pulling myself out of my own world. “But this has got to be boring for you,” I admit, realizing we’ve just spent the last 15 minutes talking about my office politics.

“If you’d prefer, we can change the subject. Talk about something more distracting.”

“You do seem good at distracting women,” I reply with a smirk, letting my gaze drip over his body.

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