“You’re always reading,” Alexander said. He leaned across the table where they were seated and plucked the book from Faith’s hands.
“Hey,” she shouted, “Give that back! You’ll lose my place!”
A few customers turned in their seats to watch, but Faith didn’t care. She had worked at The Lovely Diner since high school and she had known Alexander even longer. It had been a busy day and she was grateful for the few moments of peace she was able to get during her lunchbreak.
Normally, Faith didn’t mind when Alexander showed up during her lunch hour. They were such old friends that his presence didn’t feel like an intrusion. They would pass the time in companionable silence at an empty table in the back. During that time, Faith would take the opportunity to indulge in two of her favorite guilty pleasures: romance novels and the famous Lovely Diner cinnamon rolls. While she indulged, Alexander would sit across from her and type away on his computer. Often, Faith teased him that he was writing the next great American novel.
Alexander was like a brother to her and she delighted in teasing him. When she joked like that, Alexander would just scowl and steal a bite of her cinnamon roll. Then, she would swat his hand away and they would both laugh.
However, today was different. It seemed to Faith that for some reason, Alexander had taken it upon himself to be particularly annoying.
She watched his expressive face as he peered down his nose at the front of the novel she had been reading. Faith felt her cheeks flush as he took in the image on the cover of a curvaceous princess wrapped in the arms of a pirate king.
“Seriously?” he asked with disdain, “How can you read this garbage?”
“Don’t book shame me,” Faith replied as she stood and plucked the novel from his hands. “I’m an independent woman and I can read whatever I want!”
“If you tried reading something educational for a change, you might actually learn something.”
Although he was relatively tall for someone who was Filipino, Alexander was still not much taller than Faith. She glared at him and took a step closer. They stood nose to nose, their gazes locked, with nothing but the scent of cinnamon hanging between them. The Lovely Diner always smelled like cinnamon rolls.
Faith blinked and looked away first. “Do you realize,” Alexander continued, “that with the amount of time you spent last year reading cheesy romance novels, you could have finished reading the complete works of Shakespeare?”
Faith bit her lip and continued to refuse to meet his gaze. The silence stretched out between them, but Alexander continued to stare at her. His gaze was unwavering. She felt as if he was looking right through her.
Self-consciously, Faith crossed her arms in front of herself and attempted to conceal her middle. She loathed the polo shirts she had to wear every day for work. She felt as if they made her look fat and she worried that they emphasized her stomach.
It particularly bothered Faith that the diner’s logo was a cinnamon roll and that it was embroidered on every one of her uniforms. For Faith, it seemed as if the diner’s logo was simply an invitation for everyone to laugh at her because she loved sweets and she worried her figure showed it. Despite the thousands of steps she took each day waiting on customers, she just couldn’t seem to lose any weight.
Faith felt as if Alexander was one of the few people who actually looked at her. She spent her days interacting with customers, refilling coffee mugs, and clearing dishes, but they never really saw her. Sometimes customers would nod politely and thank her, but she knew that they weren’t really looking at her.
Faith had no doubt that Alexander saw her. The only problem was, she often felt as if he didn’t like what he was seeing.
Faith frequently caught Alexander staring at her out of the corner of her eye. It made her nervous. She could never tell what he was thinking.
Alexander was incredibly smart. After high school, Faith was certain that he would leave their town to study at some fancy college. Alexander had always been the smart one. She had never enjoyed school.
When they were children, she often teased him that his glasses made him look like an egg head, but despite her teasing, Faith had always expected him to end up writing for some big newspaper like the New York Times or teaching at an Ivy League school. Instead, he remained in their small town and took a job at the local historical society. He could also frequently be found helping with odd jobs at his mother’s church.
“What’s so great about Shakespeare, anyway?” Faith asked as she tucked her novel safely behind the counter. Then, she grabbed a clean white cloth and a bucket of soapy water. Sadly, the princess would just have to wait a little longer to be reunited with her pirate lover. For now, there were tables that needed cleaned.
“Please tell me you did not just say that!” Alexander exclaimed.
“You know I don’t understand your fascination with old dead white guys,” Faith said as she started to wipe off a table.
“Well, I don’t understand your fascination with trashy romance novels.”
“They’re not all trashy,” Faith replied with a smile. “Why, just last week, I read an inspirational romance by a great new writer about a couple who God brought through all sorts of problems before they found one another. At the end, they had twins.”
“I wasn’t aware the Holy Spirit was in the business of matchmaking.”
“That’s where you’re wrong,” she said. Then, with a mischievous smile, Faith playfully flicked some of the water from her bucket at him. She couldn’t help but laugh at the face he made as the few drops of grimy water soaked through his jeans. “Don’t you know that anything is possible with God?”
“Honestly,” said Alexander, “don’t start lecturing me. My mom is a pastor. Don’t you think I hear enough of this at home?”
Just then, the bell over the door rang and Faith turned to see who had entered the restaurant. She could hear that Alexander was still talking, but she had stopped listening. Instead, her eyes were fixed on the incredibly handsome man who had just entered. She almost hadn’t recognized him at first, but without a doubt, it was Lance Miller.
Faith hadn’t seen Lance in over five years. After graduation, he had received a sports scholarship to run track at a college out of state. Faith had spent the majority of her teenage years pining away for Lance in secret. Back then, he had been cute in a lanky sort of way. Now, five years later, he had matured into a tall and broad shouldered man.
Faith couldn’t stop staring as Lance nonchalantly leaned against the counter and chatted with the hostess. He laughed at something the hostess said, and when he smiled, Faith couldn’t help but think that with his golden hair and chiseled features, he looked as if he had stepped right off the cover of one of her novels.
Lance felt someone staring at him and broke off his conversation. His gaze searched the restaurant. Before Faith could look away, his blue eyes found hers.
“Hey, Faith,” Lance said with a small smile. “It’s been a while.”
T. Forrest      5/06/19 7:01 AMI love the way this starts out! The cheeky banter back and forth. The snarky twists of words...I'm so hooked!
Rebecca Holland      5/08/19 12:57 PM
Awww! Thank you so much. Some of my favorite books have the best dialogue so I was trying to capture that same feel. Thank you again!
Michael D. Wright      4/30/19 11:06 AMBeautifully written....
Rebecca Holland      4/30/19 11:13 AM
Thank you so much!💚 I really appreciate it!
A. S. Deller      4/29/19 11:09 AMSuch a great setup! I am anxiously awaiting to see how these relationships develop already.
Rebecca Holland      4/30/19 11:13 AM
Thank you so much! And thanks for taking the time to comment :)
Jeanine Lunsford      4/28/19 7:51 PMOoooh, Lance😍!!! Love that he remembered Faith’s name after five years... ☺️
Rebecca Holland      4/28/19 9:29 PM
Lol- Some of my beta readers are very Team Lance as well 💚 Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment!
Sharon L. Clark      4/28/19 8:31 AMOops! Caught her looking! I like the banter and friendship between Faith and Alexander. Can’t wait to read more!
Rebecca Holland      4/28/19 9:30 PM
Thank you so much! I love books with witty banter and I was hoping to capture some of it. Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment! 💚