Aubrey sat on top of the counter and swung her legs, giving them a good stretch. She kept promising to buy herself a pair of decent work shoes to relieve her aching feet, but for now, her beaten and food-spotted sneakers were all she could afford. She rested her head on the side of the commercial coffee maker, one that she shut down earlier but remained warm, and closed her eyes for what seemed to be a second.
The bells sounded on the front entrance. The noise often awoke her senses as hearing them ring alerted her to new patrons. They were nautical pieces strung together that she picked up at one of the stores in town. The long strand of shells and bells twined together gave off a delicate ring with each customer who entered.
Jumping down off the counter and straightening out her apron, she apologized to the patron before she even regarded his or her face. As she glanced up, she hesitated. A sudden awareness touched her neck, as if a strand of her hair had fallen loosely from being pinned up and swept across her skin. The feeling lingered, definitely something out of the ordinary.
“Hey, no apologies. Just wanted some coffee,” the rough voice stated.
“Good morning. I am Aubrey. Your coffee is coming right up. Are you from the area?” She tried to lighten up the mood, knowing he was definitely not a local.
“No, not from here. I’m just waiting on a friend from the train station. I was feeling a bit tired so I thought the coffee would do me good.” His voice was wary and reluctant.
Although he seemed polite, she watched as his eyes shifted around the place, checking it out. In that moment, she took in his large build, the few tattoos, and a definite shadow on his cheeks from not shaving. His features were chiseled, and although he appeared rough, he was handsome with a slight kindness to his face. Politeness rose from the depths of his deep voice. She was staring at him but then kept glancing away. He had that rugged sexiness that none of the locals displayed.
“Would you like cream or sugar?” Politely asking, she poured the hot coffee.
“Both,” he simply stated.
“Anything else I can bring you?” She slid the coffee across the counter to him. She suggested the Red Velvet iced cupcakes, as only a few remained.
“Thank you, but no thank you,” he replied in his deep voice, deliberately skimming his hand against hers when he grabbed the cup. At first it felt like their skin connected, and oddly enough, their hands remained touching for what was only a second. That brief moment, he felt an intense sensation of warmth from her. Tate contemplated the cupcakes because he was certain they were good, but when he eyeballed them, he caught the thick red icing. They made his stomach turn instantly.
Aubrey pulled back nervously from his intrusive touch as he took his cup of coffee. Although in that brief skin-on-skin moment, she experienced that sensation once again. He left a couple singles on the counter. When she didn’t reach back out to take them from his hand, she could see disappointment in his eyes. Aubrey counted the money. She intended to tell him he’d left too much, but he was already out the door. She watched as he sat on the bench across the street and two doors down. Remembering the heaviness of his boots on his exit, she’d recognize if he came back to cause problems.
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