"You're late. Didn't stay up too late, did you?" Esme's text message read, as Penny dashed across town.
"2 minutes away, can you make me a drink?"
Penny had been up a little later than she would've liked. Between getting distracted while doing her art and her mind wandering as she tried to sleep, it was 2am before she got to bed, and the snooze button always seems so tempting on mornings like this.
Penny pushed open the door to the coffee shop. Esme was serving a customer, but there was a take-away cup sat on the counter - noticeably a size larger than normal. "I'm sorry, I need to-"
"Take it, we'll sort it later."
"Are you sure? I-"
"Can pay later."
Penny smiled, grabbing her drink. "I'll text you."
"Oh, I know you will." Esme replied, flashing a grin that made Penny just a little weak at the knees.
“You’re an absolute lifesaver. Just made my train.”
“All in a day’s work for Coffee Girl.”
“And last night?”
“All in a night’s work. I’m a superhero of diverse missions.”
“Well, thank you, I had a great time.”
“Me too. Your coffee was good, too.”
“High praise from you. Say, I don’t suppose you’d be interested in doing something, say, Wednesday afternoon?”
“I could be convinced. What do you have in mind?”
“No concrete plan yet, but I have a couple of ideas.”
“Need to check the availability of your bedroom first?”
“I already have a reservation for the evening.” Penny replied, before hastily adding. “Uh, if you want.”
“Sure, I love eating out.”
Penny choked on her coffee, drawing the stares of a train full of commuters. She typed and deleted a couple of different responses, before Esme got there first.
“If you want to pretend your train just arrived and that’s why your reply is slow, that’s okay. On the other hand, if you’d rather admit you’re flustered...”
“As a matter of fact,” Penny began to type as her train slowed to a stop. “We have actually just arrived.”
It took Penny a moment to put it together, then started to feel her cheeks burning as memories of last night flooded to her. “I’m in public!”
“Would you like me to stop?”
“Very good. Say, you’ve got a lunch break too, haven’t you?”
“Talk to you then!”
At 12:30 exactly, Penny’s phone pinged. “It’s pretty convenient we have a lunch break at the same time, isn’t it?”
“Convenient is a word. How’s work?”
“Not bad. Lots of coffee, unfortunately missing my favourite customer. And you?”
“Meetings, spreadsheets, water coolers. Feeling like I’m in a stereotypical office drama, but like, a really boring one.”
“Aww, I’m sorry. Where were we, anyway?”
“I believe you were telling me I was flustered.”
“I actually think you were telling me you were flustered, if not in so many words.”
“Can’t we agree to disagree?”
“You can agree to agree with me.”
Penny, having been thinking about hearing from Esme all day, had the forethought to find a quite nook to sit in over lunch. Being alone, however, didn’t mean she was any less squirmy. She realised it had been a minute or two of being distracted and she hadn’t replied.
Esme got there first. “You like your girls like you like your coffee, don’t you?”
“Strong, fills you with energy, and given to you without a whole lot of choice in the matter.”
“Hey, I like to have the choice to not have the choice.”
“Nice, isn’t it?”
“Sorry to drop out of the teasing for a moment, if we would like a repeat of last night, I was wondering if we could sit down and negotiate boundaries and wants sometime soon.”
“I… would very much like that.”
“Good! In the mean time, you can just imagine all the things you want me to do to you, so you can recount them all in excruciating detail when we talk. How does that sound?”
“You’re good for the time being with this level of chatting, though?”
“Very much so.”
“Good, so, we have about half an hour left of lunch...”