Chapter 3: Her Refuge

1036 Words
Rose parked in front of her favorite coffee shop in a daze. Her meeting with her father had not gone as she'd expected and what he'd said had blindsided her. Now she needed some caffeine and to commiserate with her best friend who owned the shop. Bean In the Moment was located on the corner of the block in the downtown area. It was a prime location and Rose's friend Jill had been lucky to score it as a restaurant that had been there for years had gone out of business. Jill had known the owners and they sold her everything she wanted besides giving her the lease on the place. Rose opened the door and the smell of coffee and cinnamon calmed her down. Since it was late morning and the rush was done, there were several empty tables including Rose's favorite, the comfortable chair by the fire. It wasn't cold out, but the fire was going anyway. “Hey, girl," Jill said from behind the counter, her body wrapped in a fall-themed apron with leaves and pumpkins on it. “Hey," Rose said wanting to lean on the counter and spill out her heart. “Something wrong?" Jill asked. “My father." Jill rolled her eyes as she'd listened to many tales about Rose's father. “Him again. Isn't he retiring?" “That's what I thought. Not yet." Jill looked around the place. “I need to check on rolls I'm baking to use for lunch today. Grab what you want and come on back." Another perk of knowing the owner was free coffee. Not that Rose couldn't afford it, because matchmakers didn't come cheap. Jill paused then looked back at her friend. “You need the comfy chair. Get your coffee and I'll be right out." Rose settled on the chair the faced the fire. She could also see shoppers passing by her on the sidewalk. She sipped her coffee and waited for her friend. Jill settled onto the chair across a small table from Rose and set a plate with a muffin in it. “Chocolate chip." “You're a lifesaver," Rose said, digging into the pastry. “This is amazing." “Dark chocolate chips." “You must have sold a lot of these," Rose said. “I did, but I saved one in case you came by." Jill wiped some hair out of her face. “What's going on?" “My father isn't retiring." “So the big meeting today wasn't about you taking over?" Rose wiped her mouth with a napkin then shook her head. “He won't retire until I find a husband." “How old-fashioned." “Well, his argument is that I'm a matchmaker. How can I be qualified if I hadn't found my own match." “You did and now you don't because the man was a b*stard. Who introduced you to that man?" Rose sighed. “My father." “He doesn't have an argument then. He matched you with the wrong person." “He didn't match us. He didn't introduce us so that we'd date, Jill. Jeff and I did that on our own." “Still, your father needs to retire and let you take over before the whole company becomes a dinosaur," Jill said. Rose agreed, but she wanted to finish her muffin before she commented. She never got the chance. “Incoming," Jill said and pointed out the window. Rose knew what she was talking about and tried to look casual as she stared out the window. The hottest man she'd ever seen strolled down the street and for a moment Rose hoped he'd enter the coffee shop. He did most days that Rose was here, and Jill had informed her he did on other days. Jill sighed. “That man could make a nun revoke her vows of chastity." His jeans hugged his body in all of the right spots without looking obscenely tight. He wore work boots, but neither of them had any idea what he did for a living. Rose didn't even know his name. They'd never asked, and he paid with cash so Jill couldn't get his name from his credit card. “He is a sight for sore eyes," Rose said. “Nice sight, really." He turned the corner and now Rose could watch him walk past the windows without turning her head. He strode on the sidewalk as if he owned the place. He might own the whole town with his attitude. It was sexy. His dark hair and husky blue eyes didn't hurt either. “I guess I better see what he needs," Jill said. “If it's a roll in the hay, I could take the day off," Rose said. Jill laughed as she walked across the cafe. “Good morning. What can I get you today? Your usual?" The man never ordered fancy coffee. Just a medium cup of black. He took it to-go and sadly never stayed to drink it. Rose couldn't see his interaction with Jill without turning her head and she figured if he looked her way, he'd know she was staring at him. “Yes, the usual, but can you put it in a mug?" he asked. Jill paused her hand hovering over a paper cup. “Sure. You need something else?" “Give her a refill," he said. Since Rose couldn't see him, she didn't know who he was referring to, but there weren't too many women in the place. “She just got hers." “Okay then. If she gets a refill, I'll pay for it." Expecting Jill to return, Rose put a smile on her face. Instead, the man they'd been ogling sat in the chair that Jill had occupied. He held his coffee mug with two large hands. “I'm Cade." “Rose," she said, not sure why this man who was obviously s*x on a stick was talking to her. “You're a matchmaker, I understand." “Yes." Rose wondered how he knew that. They'd never spoken to each other and she had no idea how he knew this. Cade looked down at his cup then back up to Rose's eyes. “I need a wife."
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