A love story about two people of a differing age gap who meet in a coffee shop
The Coffee Shop
The sign outside the shop read, “The Coffee Shop.” It was a small cafe situated in a large shopping mall; with a quaint Victorian style look right down to having china cups and crockery. It stood out from other cafes and restaurants within the mall with a waiter service you made your order and found a seat. A friendly waitress would bring it to you very popular with shoppers in the mall.
Shortly after Easter on a busy lunchtime Lucy and Anne sat having coffee. Lucy had her usual Latte while Anne preferred a Cappuccino. The two had become friends since they started working together in the large department store close to the coffee shop. They always had their lunch break here it had a warm homely atmosphere. Lucy was nearly ten years Anne’s senior in her late forties and had taken Anne under her wing since she started as a new girl over a year ago.
Anne was busy talking about her new boyfriend; Lucy hardly heard her as she glanced over at the man sat opposite a few tables up. She guessed his age at around the late fifties, early sixties He appeared average in height with short silver hair, dressed casually, he was always very neat and tidy, as usual, he had a shopping bag with him filled with shopping; so she deduced he more than likely lived alone.
“Not him again,” Anne finally said seeing Lucy wasn’t listening to her.
“I Can’t help it, I think that he is so handsome,” Lucy replied sighing.
“But he must be, really old,” Anne said.
Lucy turned sharply to face Anne, frowning. “I’m no spring chicken myself now, and age is only a number right?” Lucy said looking across once more at the man.
He suddenly looked up and caught her staring then turned back to his Latte almost finished now. Lucy had known quite a few men in her life but never got close to any. Never had she been in bed with a man. She turned one or two down flat, and nearly done the deed with another; thinking him to be the one. Until finding out he was dating another woman at the same time. “What a lucky escape that had been.” Now Lucy wondered if she should have been less picky and jumped in the sack with one or two of the men she had known, in the past. It may have worked one of them might have been her Mr Right for all she knew.
“Well if that’s what you think why don’t you go and talk to him,” Anne said not sounding if she really meant it.
Lucy was considering doing just that. He was so handsome when she looked at him she went all shaky and felt a queasiness in her stomach. Suddenly Lucy felt flushed and needed the loo. “I’m just going to the toilet maybe I’ll go talk to him after,” Lucy said standing. Anne nodded as Lucy turned walking to the back of the cafe passing the man she glanced down at him, but he paid no attention to her. When she returned, he was gone Lucy sighed. “Well maybe next time,” she said sitting to finish her coffee.
The following week Lucy and Anne were sat in their usual seats; there was no sign of the man as yet. “Maybe he won’t come this week” Lucy mussed but then Anne leaned across and poked her arm and indicated by nodding her head looking over Lucy’s shoulder. Lucy sat with her back to the door so didn’t see him enter. She heard him order his usual Latte with a scone his voice having a mellow tone to her ears.
“You know maybe he is just lonely and could do with someone to talk to,” said Lucy.
“Well, you know what I said before go and talk to him.” Said Anne dismissively while busy texting her boyfriend. She didn’t think Lucy would do it all she ever did is talk about it never actually go and talk to the man. So she was shocked when Lucy stood up to do just that.
“Lucy! I wasn’t serious,” Anne exclaimed too loudly.
“Well I am,” Lucy retorted just as loud. Everyone in the cafe turned to see where the commotion was including Lucy’s intended target. Lucy picked up her Latte and strode to where he sat. Her heart beat faster and faster until she thought it might burst out of her chest. She never experienced anything like this before she usually had no trouble talking to men, but this was something else. She felt confused but managed to calm herself as she neared his table.
Tom looked up to see who caused the commotion. The two ladies who came most weeks here seemed, to be having some disagreement. He knew by the name badges they wore that they worked in the department store nearby. So often here for their lunch break. Both women were beautiful he thought. One was quite a few years younger than the other. He liked the older one the most she seemed to have a kind face and a confident manner about her. Both of course too young for him. “A pity,” he thought with a sigh. He was startled when the older lady came towards him carrying her coffee. She had shoulder length jet black hair and wore a light brown jacket and a blue skirt with black stiletto shoes that made her an inch or two taller than her actual height. Only now at close quarters did he realise how very attractive she appeared to him, bringing a flush to his cheeks. He wanted to get up and leave but felt trapped leaving now suddenly would only make his embarrassment worse.
“Do you mind if I sit next to you?” she asked her voice cool and collected she was relieved to note. When he didn’t respond immediately, she continued. “I’ve had a tiff with my friend over there, and I don’t want to sit alone.” Noticing there were nearby empty tables and needed more of an excuse to sit next to him. She looked over her shoulder at Anne who was staring across at them and gave her an angry look. Anne looked bemused, shrugged her shoulders and looked away. Lucy sat down not waiting for his answer.
“I had noticed that,” Tom said with a slight smile trying to make light of the situation to cover his embarrassment.
He was blushing Lucy thought, a full grown man of his age, blushing how charming. Lucy gave her best reassuring smile sipped her coffee and leaned over a little towards him staring into his deep blue eyes and asked his name.
“Tom,” he replied. “And you are Lucy. Indicating to her badge everybody in the cafe heard you’re little spat you’re famous now,” he said despite the calmness of his voice. Inside he was shaking “You stupid old fool she must be nearly twenty years younger,” what would such a woman want with me? She either feels sorry for me or is just playing games.
“A good sense of humour too,” Lucy hadn’t meant to say that out loud she leaned further over towards him. He had one hand on the table, and she felt compelled to grasp his hand in hers. A shock shivered through her as their hands were briefly together.
Frowning he pulled away from her. They finished their coffee in silence then unexpectedly he stood. Looking directly at her spoke quietly. “Look as much as I’m flattered by your attention shouldn’t a beautiful woman like you be looking for someone nearer your age. Don’t say age is just a number. I wish I had a pound for every time I’ve heard that line.” The words harsher than intended; he turned to leave.
Lucy felt shaken to the core that he would shun her in such a manner and angry too. “That’s what you think,” her bottom lip trembling with the shock of his rejection. Maybe she had been a bit to forward on reflexion. Yes, she had, but there was no need for that tone. She felt devastated. Lucy stood and returned to Anne who was looking at Lucy with some concern. Anne thought Lucy close to tears. Muttering words Anne turned and scowled at the man.
Tom realised too late he had overstepped the mark and hurt Lucy “What a fool I am, but it’s probably for the best anyway,” turning he walked over to their table. Anne kept scowling angrily at him. Tom considered, he better at least apologise to Lucy.
“Look I’m sorry, Lucy I was wrong to speak as I did and assume to know what’s best for you when I hardly know you,” he said with sincerity.
Lucy could tell he genuinely regretted what he said and that he upset her; she could see it in his eyes. The rejection still hurt; so she turned away and didn’t answer him. Anne, however, had a few choice words for him.
The following two weeks there was no sign of Tom in the cafe. Lucy asked the manager if she had seen him. Perhaps he had been in when they weren’t, but nobody had seen him. Anne told her to forget him, but Lucy had seen that look of regret in his eyes. “What was it about men with that wounded puppy dog look. That made women like Lucy want to hold them close to comfort and reassure that all will be well. Wasn’t it supposed to be the man’s job to reassure the woman? There again maybe it worked both ways.” Lucy decided that maybe it didn't matter, either way, he was so handsome she felt drawn to him like a moth to a flame. She still remembered when she held his hand in hers the sensation had sent a warm tingling down her arm that was almost sensual. “Well maybe that was an overreaction she liked touching him anyway it felt good and right,” continuing her train of thought. “Damn I think I’m falling for him and I hardly know him how ridiculous is that!”
Friday, on the third week and their lunch break, nearly half over. This time Lucy sat facing the door, so she saw him when he walked in. He glanced around the cafe and seeing them he hesitated. Lucy thought he might turn around and walk out again. He seemed to gather himself and order his usual Latte with cheesecake this time. She only now realised he liked some of the same things she did Latte, scone, cheesecake were some of her favourites as well. He glanced at them but didn’t speak as he walked past and found a spare table at the back of the room. Lucy waited while the waitress brought his coffee and cheesecake. Then she stood to go to him. Anne looked at her shaking her head. “Go on then, but if he says a wrong word to you he’ll have me to answer to,” Anne said with venom in her voice that it surprised Lucy.
“Thanks, Anne you are a good friend, I might be a bit late back to work can you cover for me?”
“Sure thing Lucy good luck but remember let know if he upsets you again and I’ll punch his lights out,” Anne answered with a giggle she waved Lucy off.
Tom looked up from his coffee hearing footsteps approach he knew who it would be even before looking up. They both spoke at the same time. “I want to apologise again,” he began, “We got off on the wrong foot.” She started to say. Then both paused. Tom waited for Lucy to speak first; they both smiled at one and other.
“Look, Tom, I know you think I’m too young for you but can’t we at least just be friends I like you. I’m not asking for anything else. I have no ulterior motive I find you an interesting man.” She said biting her bottom lip as she waited for his answer. Well, maybe I do have an ulterior motive what am I doing! Maybe he is right, what do I hope would come of the two of us just being friends. “Oh damn, just wing it and see where it goes,” she thought — giving up trying to reason with herself.
He seemed to consider for what seemed like an eternity to Lucy. His expression serious like someone weighing the odds of a critical decision. Finally, his mood lightened as his eyes met hers. “Fair enough, I find you an interesting person also. I can’t see any harm in us being friends, and I’ve missed female company to talk too.”
Lucy realised she had been holding her breath while waiting for his answer. She let it go as she finally sat down; she didn’t dare sit before. She was not going to push things just be grateful for what she had. He did not, could not know how she felt about him; she felt sure now that she was falling in love with him maybe had been from the time she first set eyes on him. Insane as that sounded to her. She knew he would only consider her as a friend now but maybe in time that would change. Lucy had to hope and be patient. “What was that he said---missing female company?” she considered this snippet of information a moment. “He was, married before, well obviously but he wore no wedding ring” Lucy deduced he didn’t seem like the divorcing kind. Leastways she wanted to believe that of him and the way he had said it. “His wife must have died. Maybe that was it?” She didn’t speak of that though remembering something he said on their unfortunate first encounter.
“By the way thank you for the compliment when last we spoke,” she said, he looked at her enquiringly. “A beautiful woman,” she said smiling. “You called me a beautiful woman remember?” A hint of redness came and went to his cheeks as he managed to control his embarrassment.
“You have a good memory though I’d sooner forget the last time,” he said wincing slightly. “Apart from that part which I meant and I’ll say again you are a beautiful woman.”
Lucy positively felt herself glowing with the compliment. “Oh, he is such a charmer when he wants to be.” She relished the prospect of further meetings like this with him, but for now, she had to get back to work.
“So how did it go?” Anne asked, excitedly wanting to know everything that they talked about and took place between them. “Well,” Anne tried again when Lucy didn’t answer and seemed distracted.
“Well what,” Lucy finally said with a faraway look.
“Wait, he didn’t say something to upset you again?” asked Anne her voice going up an octave.
“What no, no, keep your voice down,” began Lucy “He was a perfect gentleman and very charming,” explained Lucy. Anne was about to say something but suddenly stopped a sudden realisation came to her.
“OMG, OMG!” You have fallen for him, haven’t you! I mean you’re really in love with him,” Anne explained this time she held her voice low so only the two of them could hear.
“Took you long enough to figure it out,” said Lucy smiling.
“But---” Anne started to say before Lucy interrupted “
He is so old,” Lucy finished assuming what Anne was about to say. “Well not to me he isn’t,” Lucy stated.
“Well yes, I mean no! What, I mean to say is you hardly know him, and you’re in love with him. How long have you known.” Anne said getting confused this was a lot to take in. She couldn’t believe she hadn’t spotted the signs before.
“Almost from the first time I set eyes on him, though I didn’t realise it straight away then, after today I’m as certain as I can be,” Lucy paused. “He thinks of me as a friend, so don’t say anything to him when we meet in the future. I mean it, Anne, if you even give away a hint of how I feel about him accidentally and scare him off I might never see him again.” Lucy said making Anne promise not to reveal Lucy’s true feelings for Tom too, anyone it was to be their secret.
Weeks went by with Lucy and Tom regularly meeting and often seen sat together in deep conversation. Even Anne was growing to like him though she still thought he was a bit old for Lucy.
“I have a nice garden which I spend a lot of spare time during the summer,” Tom said as they sat talking.
“Oh I do like flowers, maybe I can see your garden sometime,” Lucy replied hopefully.
“Well, maybe or I can bring some photos of the garden for you to see,” Tom answered not quite saying yes or no.
Lucy took it as a maybe, and it would be good to see how good a gardener Tom is. She liked flowers and gardening although she didn’t have one herself. Lucy always wanted a garden of her own. She considered seeing his garden or even just photos of it may give her more insight into his character. And at least a small step closer to him.
Later that week the two sat together having a coffee and Tom brought some photos of his garden. Lucy was impressed. Tom had a lovely garden so many flowers and the colours and so neatly kept she could tell that Tom had put a lot of hard work, love and care into the garden.
“Oh, it’s so lovely Tom, So many beautiful flowers how I’d love to have a garden like that.” Lucy said looking through the photos, “thank you for letting me see your photos,” Lucy concluded with heartfelt sincerity. She was halfway reaching for his hand again and caught herself just in time
Tom appeared not to notice Lucy withdrawing her hand he was a little taken aback by such warm praise by Lucy.
“Well it’s not that good I’ve seen better,” he said modestly though still quietly pleased that she liked his garden so much. She seemed to understand the time and work he put into it.
The following week they sat together, and Anne joined them for a while before leaving early to meet her boyfriend.
“Is it getting serious with Anne and her boyfriend,” Tom enquired as he watched Anne rush out.
“Seems that way but you never know with Anne, she has had more boyfriends than I’ve had hot dinners,” said Lucy and they both laughed.
The Following week as Tom sat with Lucy and Anne, he noticed that Lucy seemed not quite herself and a little pale. “Are you keeping well Lucy you don’t seem yourself today?” Tom asked with concern.
Lucy gave a reassuring smile that made Tom feel at ease once more. “I’m fine Tom just a little under the weather I’ll be fine tomorrow,” Lucy said brightly.
“It’s not, err.. sort of a woman’s problem?” Tom enquired with a slight flush of embarrassment. Anne giggled at this and Lucy gave her an elbow in the arm.
“Ouch,” Anne retorted. “Serves you right Anne for embarrassing Tom that way,” Lucy said. “No Tom it’s nothing like that, and thank you for your concern you are such a dear for worrying about me,” Lucy concluded.
The next few weeks went by Tom noticed that Lucy still looked a little pale. It was midsummer when he entered the cafe as usual and saw Lucy and Anne sat they didn’t seem to notice him at first and were in a serious conversation with occasionally raised voices. So that he could catch snippets of what they were saying
“You have to tell..,” Anne was saying
Lucy shook her head, “... better not say anything either,” replied Lucy.
Anne sighed and nodded her head in agreement but didn’t look happy. The manager coughed loudly, and Lucy and Anne turned to see Tom; Lucy smiled beckoning him to join them.
Tom wondered what was going on as he sat the conversation seemed a little muted than usual he was beginning to think of the worst possible scenario was what he had overheard that Lucy had finally lost interest in him but was reluctant to tell him. “Well I suppose it couldn’t last anyway,” he would miss Lucy more than he thought possible. She is good company. He decided not to confront them on what he had overheard and to make the best of the here and now.
The next week Anne sat alone there was no sign of Lucy when Tom enquired about Lucy she merely said Lucy had a virus, but Tom suspected Anne wasn’t telling the truth as she didn’t quite look him in the eye when she spoke. The following week Lucy was there, and in good form laughing and joking as usual so much so that Tom dismissed his suspicions that Lucy was losing interest in him. Then again Lucy missed a week, and still, Anne said it was a minor complaint that Lucy would be alright next week, but Tom thought something was going on he felt sure of it, and it troubled him.
Then a few weeks later Anne sat alone as Tom entered the cafe and she quickly called to him. The look on her face was the most serious he had ever seen Anne. Tom sat down opposite as the waitress brought his usual Latte and a piece of cheesecake.
“I have some news about Lucy,” Anne began. Tom looked up after taking a sip of coffee. Anne seemed to be struggling with what to say. “Oh, finish your Latte first then I will tell you postponing what she needed to say concerning Lucy.
“What is it Anne is Lucy ill or had an accident,” Tom asked worriedly.
“No, nothing like that its nothing that serious, well maybe a little finish coffee first then I’ll tell you,” Anne said still clearly struggling with what she had to tell Tom.
Tom finished his coffee and cheesecake in silence concern for Lucy spoiling his usual enjoyment. Anne waited a few moments more before speaking
“Lucy has breast cancer,” she finally blurted out and waited for Tom’s reaction.
Tom’s face had a look of pure anguish; his mouth dropped open. “Oh I’m sorry,” is all he could say
“Lucy goes into hospital next week for the op to remove the lump, luckily they found it very early so she should be alright,” Anne rushed on and was about to say more when Tom suddenly stood to leave.
“Give her my best wishes, and I hope she gets well soon,” Tom said turning to leave
Anne was dumbstruck at Tom’s reaction. "Wait, don’t you want to visit her in hospital,” she called after him, but he had gone without even looking back to inquire when and where to visit Lucy in hospital. Anne was furious, she thought she had got to know Tom well enough and also began to like him, but his reaction seemed off hand and uncaring he must have some idea of how much he meant to Lucy even if it was just as a friend.
Anne sat beside Lucy’s bed; there were flowers on the table and get well cards from all her work colleagues. The operation had gone well, and there was no trace of cancer cells remaining the doctor had told her. Lucy sat up in bed drinking tea as she talked to Anne asking her about how things were going at work.
Lucy was silent a moment then broached the question of what had been on her mind all the time she had been in the hospital. “Have you heard anything from Tom?”
Anne scowled, “ I told you his reaction he couldn’t wait to get away when I told him never even asked what ward you were on or visiting times I didn’t get a chance to tell him he left that quick,” replied Anne scornfully.
Lucy frowned thinking to herself, “well he would know what ward to visit and times,” she thought then realised what that might mean. “Oh, of course, that’s why he reacted as he did the poor dear,” she explained
“What, are making excuses for him again he doesn’t deserve it, Lucy,” Anne began before Lucy interrupted her.
“No, No, his wife died from cancer, he told me five years ago that’s why,” Lucy said.
“Oh,” said Anne and shut her mouth
“Yes Oh indeed,” said Lucy.
Tom entered the hospital with some trepidation he had brought some flowers and a card for Lucy several times he thought about turning around and leaving again. The memories of his late wife came flooding back and seemed just as raw as ever he had to fight back the tears. “Not again, not again,” Tom kept repeating to himself then stopped in his tracks a realisation dawning on him. “Why - not again, well it wasn’t quite the same,” Lucy would get well again not like his late wife. That thought made his heart jump with joy confirming what the “why not again” meant just like his late wife he loved Lucy. But did Lucy love him he wasn’t sure, he would soon find out with renewed vigour in his step and hope in his heart he entered the ward.
Anne turned hearing a familiar voice at the desk talking to the ward nurse. Lucy distracted read one of the get-well-cards paid no attention to who was speaking. “I think you have a visitor,” Anne said with a sly smile.
Putting the card down, Lucy looked up to see Tom coming towards them and burst into tears of joy at the sight of him. If it not for Anne making her sit back, she would be out of bed and running to him.
“Oh, Tom thank you for coming. I know it must have been hard for you,” said Lucy wiping away tears.
“Shush now Lucy,” Tom replied sitting at the bedside.
“I’ll be off then, see you two tomorrow,” Both nodded in agreement as Anne left.
Lucy noticed a difference in Tom and was pleasantly surprised when he took her hand in his.
“Get well soon beautiful lady, so you can see my garden before the weather changes it’s supposed to be good weather for the next couple of weeks. Would you like to recuperate from my home?” Tom asked hopefully.
Lucy beamed with delight sitting upright she leaned forward and firmly kissed Tom on the cheek. Tom smiled “I could get used to that,” his cheeks turning red a little.
It was a warm late autumn day as Lucy and Tom sat in the garden drinking coffee.
“I always wanted a garden of my own,” said Lucy blissfully.
“Now you have my dear,” replied Tom smiling
Lucy felt in good health since the operation and very happy but hadn’t quite got all that she wanted. Marriage was the first thing, and maybe it wasn’t too late to have children. Lucy knew Tom had two daughters both lived away from home, one in France the other in London. She would like to meet them, but all in good time, she knew Tom didn’t want to rush things. She had learnt patience as far as Tom was concerned.
Three days before Christmas the shopping mall was heaving with people rushing about laden down with shopping, and boxes containing Christmas gifts for loved ones. Lucy, Tom, Anne and her boyfriend sat at a table enjoying a coffee. One or two work colleagues from the department store came too. They all knew that Tom and Lucy were about to tell them something and it could only mean one thing. Shirley, the manager of the coffee shop, came to join them.
Tom stood up, and they all fell silent waiting for him to speak. “Lucy and I are getting married in the spring,” announced Tom grandly. They all clapped and congratulated the couple.
Lucy never felt so happy; she was to meet Tom’s daughters before they wed. It would be just a simple do with a church blessing, with only close family and a few friends in attendance and a small reception afterwards. Neither of them wanted a lot of fuss. Tom felt proud of his new love it felt almost too good to believe but true it was, and he felt content and delighted in showing her to everyone he met.
Shirley offered to cater for their wedding, which they accepted and as it was only to be a small group of guests. The reception would be held in the coffee shop. As Shirley watched, the couple as they sat talking. She felt sure from the start that Lucy and Tom were always meant to be together. The coffee shop to Shirley meant more than just a place to have a coffee or tea and bite to eat. It was a place for people to come together and a chance to find some happiness in the process.