“Rowena,” she said, holding out her hand.
“Keir.” I wiped my hand on my apron and extended it.
Hers was a firm grip, almost masculine. I have to admit, I like that in a woman. I’m not one for girly girls, they bore me after a while. I like a woman who can keep up with me, and doesn’t need to be pampered to stay happy. Grinning, I handed her the food. She tried to pay me and I waved it away.
“You gave me enough earlier to cover it.”
“That was a tip.”
“And much appreciated.” I gave a look at the crowd, which had thinned to a trickle. Taking off my apron, I trotted down the steps. “Mind if I join you?”
“I’d like that.”
We took a seat at a nearby table. Now that we were sitting down, I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I’m not good at small talk, and it didn’t look like she was either. She took a sip of her coffee. Closing her eyes, she rolled it over her tongue.
“Oh, god, that’s good,” she sighed. Another sip and it turned to a soft moan.
I chuckled. “Best response my coffee ever got.”
“It’s the best coffee I’ve had in weeks. Most offices specialize in the most horrific coffee known to man. This is orgasmic.”
“Don’t you mean organic?”
Her eyes twinkled at me over the cup as she gave a fair imitation of my wry grin. “Silly question.”
Laughing, I cut a bite of her pie and held the fork up to her lips. Hesitantly, she took the proffered bite. Her tongue flickered out, grabbing a crumb off her lip. Eyes closed once more as she savored it.
“And I thought the coffee was good! That tastes like home,” she whispered.
Tears formed in the corners of her eyes, threatening to fall. I couldn’t stop myself from picking up her napkin, catching the first drop with the corner. Her lips trembled and she sighed, but this time it was just about the saddest sound I’d ever heard.
“Sorry.” She took another bite, avoiding my gaze.
“It’s nothing.” She shook her head and her curls bounced in counterpoint.
“I guess you don’t know that food truck guys are like bartenders. You can pour out your troubles and we listen, keeping your secrets safe.”
“I thought that was priests.”
“Do I look like a priest?”
She scanned me from head to toe, all six foot three inches of me. “Not any that I’ve ever met. Which is good, because if you were, what a damn waste.”
I burst out laughing, unable to control myself. Crazy, bizarre and flattering, that comment set my insides on fire. She was beautiful, vulnerable…. I might like a woman who’s self-possessed, but when she does show a moment of weakness, I want to fix it. I had a therapist, in my teen years, who called it a Sir Galahad Complex. I’m not sure if that’s a real thing, but I surely do have it. This gorgeous woman was suffering and I had to do something to make it better.
Her eyelids fluttered, green eyes meeting my baby blues. “Mississippi.”
“Long way, indeed. What part?”
“Little place on the coast, called Pass Christian.”
I’d never heard of it, but didn’t say so. “What brings you all the way to the Inhospitable North?”
“My job. New out of the academy, you go where they send. I had hoped to be closer to home, but that didn’t pan out. My dad’s sick and I hated to leave. But my family’s all there….”
“Sucks to be far way, though.”
“Yeah. You from here?” She took up the napkin and dabbed at her eyes.
“I grew up in a small town about an hour northeast, called Maryville. About the only folks who’ve heard of it, are from there. Great place, but not a lot of job possibilities. I’ve always liked to cook, so I bought the truck and started a business.”
“Your food is amazing. I loved my salad and this pie…yum!”
“I can’t take credit for the pie. A friend of mine has a bakery and he stocks my pies and pastries. Coffee’s all me.” I pointed to the cup.
Rowena raised it to her lips, taking another happy sip. “It’s delicious.”
I wished her lips were on me, not the cup. I’ve never been so immediately, ridiculously attracted to a woman as I was her.
“How do you know Bernadette?” I asked.
My laugh burst out again. “Yeah.”
“I’m investigating in their office, not that she knows that. She was put in charge of showing me around, getting me oriented. She seemed to think that meant she could tell me her most intimate secrets.” She shuddered. “I’m not sure why she got in line for your truck, when she didn’t buy anything.”
I ducked my head. “We used to date.”
“Ooooh, that makes her barbed comments clear now. Is it true?”
©2021 Dellani Oakes