“What can I get you guys today?”
Not that I needed to ask. Corned beef on wheat with fries for Jason, turkey on white with fries for Steve, and two Cokes. They always ordered the same thing and came in at least twice a week.
“Should we be hurt that she keeps asking us that, Steve?” Jason asked his tablemate with a grin.
“Maybe you’re not as memorable as you think you are, man,” Steve retorted with a laugh.
Steve was so wrong; Jason was very memorable. Six feet tall, slender with tawny-blond hair, crystal blue eyes and a smile to die for; he was difficult, nay impossible, to forget. I guessed him to be around thirty. Not that Steve was bad looking; he was actually quite…hot. But I’d never been interested in the tall, dark and handsome type and they never were interested in me, so it worked.
“So, let me see,” I said, giving a mock-thoughtful look. “Veggie sandwiches for both of you, right?” I grinned.
Jason gave a mock-horrified look. “I am truly wounded, Kyra. To suggest such an unmanly food item.” He put his hand over his heart. “Do you not know me at all?” he teased, looking directly into my eyes and making my heart skip a beat.
I blushed furiously. “Corned beef and turkey sandwiches coming right up,” I mumbled and walked away quickly and to the computer that faced away from the tables. I took deep breaths to regain my regular heartbeat as I entered their order into the computer.
“What’s wrong, Kyra?” Maria, my coworker, asked with a giggle. “Did he look at you again?”
I hit the send button on the screen. “He has to look at me. He’s polite that way.”
“You should ask him out. He is definitely interested in you.”
I stared at my co-worker. “What on earth would he be interested in me for? He’s…a genius! I’m a frickin’ waitress.”
Jason really was a genius. He was the youngest chemical engineering professor at ASU. He’d been published in multiple research journals and was well known in the industry.
“Server,” Maria corrected.
I rolled my eyes at the politically correct term.
“He comes in here at least twice a week and always sits in your section,” Maria pointed out. “I don’t think he’s here just for the food.”
“We serve good food here.” Sure, the diner it wasn’t five-star gourmet, but the sandwiches were really good.
“There are at least five other good places to eat between here and the university,” Maria continued. “Why else would he make the trek all the way here?”
I shrugged in answer to Maria’s question. “We have excellent fries.” I filled two plastic cups with soda, put the straws in my apron pocket and headed back to Jason and Steve’s table. The door jingled and I turned to greet the newcomers.
A tall man with a military haircut stood in the doorway, dark-brown eyes sweeping the restaurant as if he were searching for something. He wore jeans and a white dress shirt with a blue blazer over it. I always felt sorry for guys who had to wear jackets in the Phoenix summers.
A man with red hair and freckles, without the boyish aura that usually accompanied that description, walked in behind him. He said something to the dark-eyed man who nodded and then walked back outside.
I welcomed the dark-eyed man with a smile. “Feel free to take any available table. We’ll be with you in a sec.”
“Thanks.” Dark–Eyed Man looked me up and down and smiled then walked to a table in my section. I looked down at my white uniform dress, wondering if I’d spilled something on it.
I dropped the sodas off at Jason and Steve’s table with a shy smile, and then gave Maria an apologetic look as I picked up a menu to take to my new table. When I turned around I saw that the table now had four men sitting around it. After grabbing three more menus, I went to greet them.
“Hi, my name’s Kyra,” I said as I handed them each a menu. “Can I get you guys something to drink while you look over the menu?”
One of the men that hadn’t been there when the others came in grinned at me, his blue-green eyes mischievous beneath light brown hair. “Hey, sweetheart, I’ll take…” he began in a flirtatious tone, but stopped when Dark-Eyed Man gave him a look. “Er, Coke.”
The others ordered the same and I walked away, returning a few minutes later with a tray of sodas. Jason caught my eye and smiled warmly at me, making me blush and tip the tray slightly. I grabbed the tray with my other hand before I dumped the sodas all over the floor.
“Is that your boyfriend?” Dark-Eyed Man asked as I stopped next to their table. His eyes were so dark they almost look black.
“What?” I exclaimed, stopping midway through putting a soda in front of him to stare. I blinked several times and finished placing the cup on the table. “No,” I shook my head and gave a mix of a sigh and nervous giggle. “No, definitely not a boyfriend.” I wish.
“Why do you say that?” he asked with an amused expression.
“I…” I looked down at myself then over at Jason with longing and shook my head again. “I don’t think I’m his type. Have you decided what you’d like?” I asked, changing the subject.
He gave me an amused smile and ordered a BLT, handing me the menu back. The rest of the men gave their orders and I went back to the computer, avoiding looking at Jason’s table. When Jason and Steve’s sandwiches came up I almost asked Maria to deliver them. I was certain that Jason had overheard the conversation and was thoroughly embarrassed. But Maria had gone in the back and I couldn’t avoid them. I took a deep breath and picked up the plates.
“Hey, Kyra,” Jason said as I placed their sandwiches in front of them. He cleared his throat and looked nervous. “I, uh, was wondering…um, if you were doing anything tomorrow night?”
I tilted my head, trying to understand why he was asking me that question. Why would he care? “No. I mean, nothing other than my normal Friday night stuff,” I added quickly with a casual shrug. I didn’t want to admit that my usual “Friday night stuff” involved hanging out at my apartment watching a movie…or reading a book. “Why do you ask?” I asked out of morbid curiosity.
Jason ran his hand through his hair, looking sheepish. “I was just wondering if you’d like to have dinner with me, but if you’re busy…I understand.”
My heart pounded as I stared at him, not quite sure I’d heard him correctly. He’s asking me out to dinner? With him? Me? I realized I was staring and looked at the ground. “Oh. Well…” How do I back out of what I said without looking like a complete idiot? “I mean, my usual stuff isn’t concrete or anything…nothing formally planned…that might be nice….to go out to dinner…with you.” God, I sound stupid. Might? Really?
His eyes brightened. “Really?”
I was stunned by the happiness in his eyes. That couldn’t possibly be from what I said. “You really want to take me out to dinner?”
Jason laughed. “Well, that is why I asked. It would be kinda stupid to ask you if I didn’t want to.”
“Yeah.” I smiled shyly. “I guess.”
“How does seven o’clock sound?” Astonishingly, he sounded eager.
Am I dreaming? “That sounds great,” I said softly.
He grinned. “Cool. Give me your phone number and I’ll text you and then you can text me your address.”
“My phone’s in the back.” I gestured towards the back of the building.
“No prob. Text me when you get off.”
I gave him my number and he typed it into his smartphone. “There. Text me when you have a chance.”
“Ok.” I smiled shyly and then walked back to the counter, staring wide-eyed at Maria.
“Did he ask you out?” she asked in an excited whisper.
“Yeah, he did.” I was certain I had a stupid grin on my face. “I can’t believe it…” I shook my head and looked at my new table to see if they needed anything and saw the dark-eyed man looking at Jason’s table. It looked almost as if he were studying them. “What do you think of those guys?” I asked Maria softly. There was something…scary about them.
“Cute.” Maria grinned and pulled the plates one for one of her tables. “Why, you want a date with them too?” She winked and walked away.
I looked back at Dark-Eyed Man. Something seemed…off. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but he seemed …dangerous.
The men’s food appeared in the window and I delivered it. Dark-Eyed Man shifted in his seat as I put his plate in front of him and I saw something under his jacket. Omigod! Is that a gun? I froze and looked at him with wide eyes. He met my eyes and smiled calmly. “Nothing to worry about Kyra,” he said softly and motioned to the counter. “Go back to work. You didn’t see anything.”
The other men chuckled as I nodded and walked away, stunned. It was legal to carry guns in Arizona but not many did around here. I tried to not shake as cleaned the counter, but noticed Dark-Eyed Man watching Jason and Steve several times. Was he going to do something to them? The man caught my eye and I looked away quickly, willing myself to not look again.
The lunch rush began and I got busy. Jason found me before he left and reminded me to text him my address. Dark-Eyed Man and his friends left a few minutes later.
I’m just imagining things. I read too many books. It’s just a coincidence. I pushed the questions out of my mind and concentrated on being a good server so I could make my portion of rent this month.