More than coffee is brewing at Carver's, with the scent of love and cinnamon
|The aroma of cinnamon, the scent of spice, the delicate sweetness of whipped cream, and the rich fragrance of Italian dark-roasted coffee combined in a heavenly perfume. Chelsea took slow and appreciative sniffs to enjoy the wonderful bouquet.
She smiled her thanks to the barista who had handed her the cup. He was a handsome man, about her age, with a friendly manner and a winsome grin that brightened her morning.
“You’re new here,” she said. “Welcome to Carver’s Coffee. Barli got the day off?” Barli was the regular morning barista.
“Why, thank you. Yes, she's off for some appointments. I take it you’re a regular? And that I might have the pleasure of serving you again?”
“I am, and you might. I come here most mornings to work for a bit.” She saluted him with her cup then went to her favorite spot, where she settled in and booted her laptop before trying the coffee.
The first sip was morning glory: a sweet hint of cream followed by rich flavor and full body, with a smooth, buttery finish. There were so many beautiful things in the world, but surely that first sip of morning coffee came high on the list.
She licked her upper lip and admired the heart-shaped dollop of whipped cream floating on the ebony liquid. The new barista had done a good job with the Valentine Coffee she’d ordered. She glanced over at him with interest. He was busy behind the counter, replenishing supplies, cleaning equipment, stacking cups. He noted her glance and waved. “Be right with you.”
“I wondered if I might have a biscotti, please,” she called, blushing at being caught watching him. “A cherry-almond one?”
He brought the treat to her table. “How’s your coffee?”
“Wonderful. I like cinnamon in coffee, because it tastes and smells so nice. And the little heart on top is adorable.”
“It’s time for my break—may I join you? Only for a bit, since you’re here to work.”
“Espresso eyes!” she thought, caught in the dark pools of his gaze. She took a sip of coffee to cover the flutters in her tummy and waved to the chair opposite hers.
“Just let me get myself a coffee. I’ll be right back.”
He returned with a Valentine Coffee and biscotti. He toasted her with the cup, “Happy Lovers’ Day.” To her surprise, she felt none of the sadness she had previously associated with that special day.
“The same to you. Aren’t you drinking up the profits? What would the owner say?” she teased.
“He would say your order is on the house, since he’s me. Or I’m him. Hi, I’m Cameron Styles, and I’m the owner.”
“Good morning, Cameron. I’m Chelsea Wilder.” They shook hands across her laptop. She felt a thrill of pleasure at the contact, and regret when his hand left hers. “I always thought Barli was the owner.”
“Barli’s my manager, but she’s got other things going on—Did you know she’s pregnant?—and I’ve just retired, so I’m taking a more active role in the business while she gets a mommy break.”
Just then, more customers came in. He left to take their orders and she began work. Whenever he had a break, Cameron would come to join her, and each time she gladly abandoned her laptop, realizing how regimented her life had become, and how nice it was to again have a man’s company with morning coffee.
During the course of the morning, they compared careers and lives. He had been a research chemist, while she worked as a freelance marketing agent. Both had been widowed some years ago, went for long walks, enjoyed books and live theater, and loved coffee. They wound up in a heated and often-interrupted discussion of the Harry Potter books.
The coffee bar began to fill up with the lunch crowd, drawing Cameron back to the counter. Chelsea reluctantly closed her laptop. Dare to live the life you want, she remembered advising her teenage daughter years ago. She joined the line at the counter, toying with the idea of asking Cameron out.
“I still insist that Severus Snape was the real hero from an adult perspective,” he told her when she reached the head of the line, “and if you want to dispute the point you’d better do it over dinner. If you come by at four when I finish up, we can choose a good restaurant within walking distance.”
“You’re wrong about Snape. I’ll be here at four.” She almost giggled like a teenager being asked to the prom. “And we know a great place we can go for coffee afterwards, right?”