“Oh my god, Livvie, don't look now, but Ryder Jamison just sat down in your section.” Rachel, my coworker clutched my arm in a death grip. Heat crawled across my cheeks at her words, and not just because the kitchen of Joe's Diner was sweltering, especially on this unusually warm October day.
“Well, I'm going to have to look at some point since I need to go take his order,” I said pragmatically, trying to stay calm.
Every girl on campus knew the name Ryder Jamison. He was the pitcher for the Tar Heels baseball team and had taken them all the way to The College World Series last year.
“Holy shit, he's gorgeous. You better get over there.”
I rolled my eyes at her whiplash change of direction. I wasn’t supposed to look, but I needed to get over there. Taking a deep breath, I headed over to table three, smoothing my sweat-dampened hair back off my face.
“What can I get you to drink?” I asked with more calmness than I felt. I didn't meet the eyes of anyone at the table.
"I'll take a coke. Gareth, what do you want?"
"Give me a raspberry lemonade please.”
My pen froze at the unusual request coming from someone with that deep of a voice. One that sent a shiver down my spine. It caused me to finally glance up, and my breath caught in my chest when my eyes collided with ones the color of warm toffee. I stared for an extra heartbeat and then jerked my gaze away when a throat cleared at my right.
“A—A coke and raspberry lemonade coming right up.”
Quickly I hustled back to the kitchen like my tail end was on fire. Rachel stood just inside the door and clapped her hands together when I burst past her.
“Did he talk to you? What did he say? Is he as gorgeous up close as he is far away? What did he smell like? Oh, I bet he smelled divine?” She sighed.
I realized she was talking about Ryder, and I couldn’t answer a single one of her questions. My entire focus had been on his friend. In fact, I couldn't even describe what her obsession looked like.
"Um, he's cute I guess, and I didn’t really smell him.”
"Cute? You guess?" Rachel screeched.
"Shh," I hushed her as my eyes darted wildly out the open window of the kitchen, hoping her words didn’t carry across the room to the table where the two men sat. “Keep your voice down.”
Rachel had zero tact.
“The hottest guy on the entire campus is hanging out in this diner, and you guess he's just cute?” She stage whispered through gritted teeth.
I shrugged. “Sorry.''
She threw her hands up in disgust and stormed off. In the meantime, I needed to get drinks out to that table without spilling them. Considering how sweaty my palms suddenly were, I hoped I didn't make a fool of myself. Carefully, I carried the two glasses across the room and set them down in front of each guy, then pulled out my order pad.
“Are you guys ready to order?" I asked, my eyes glued firmly on the paper in front of me.
“What do you recommend….Olivia?"
The way my name was spoken in that drawl once again had my eyes colliding with the darkly intense ones of the unknown man. My entire face heated at the way his gaze took me in. He didn't take his eyes off mine to suggestively travel down my body, yet I felt his stare deep down in my belly. Butterflies fluttered inside me. I blinked away the sensation when I realized he was waiting on my response. Then I blinked again in confusion.
“How did you know my name?”
His lips turned up in a half smile and a dimple appeared in his cheek. He gestured toward my chest with his finger.
“Your name tag.”
I wanted to crawl in a hole, but I maintained my composure. Barely. I giggled vapidly, something I don’t think I’d ever done in my life, and waved a stupid and silly little wave.
The stranger frowned a little at my awkward antics, but his expression cleared.
“So, what do you suggest?”
Keeping with the awkwardness, I stuttered. “Oh, um, the b-b-bacon cheeseburger is really popular.”
“Then it looks like I'll have one of those please. American cheese and extra pickles."
I quickly jotted down his order. “I'll put that in for you.”
Turning away so I could make my escape, I froze when another voice chimed in.
"Did you forget about me? I’d like to order as well.” There was amusement in the tone.
My eyes darted to the other man, Ryder, whose presence I’d completely forgotten about. He wore a bemused smile. Once again, my face flushed bright red, and I cursed my fair skin.
"I'm so sorry," I rushed out. “ What can I get for you?"
He laid down his menu. "I'll take a burger as well. Swiss cheese and hold the pickles, please.''
I scribbled down his order, acutely aware of laughing, toffee colored eyes boring into me.
“I'll get this right in for you.” I snatched up the menus from the table and raced back to the kitchen.
Oh my god. I can't believe I did that.
While their burgers were being made I waited on each of my tables and kept beverage glasses filled and hot food coming. Thankfully, business was starting to slow now that the lunch rush was ending. I delivered the two men’s food and disappeared again just as quickly. Something about the second man unsettled me. Not in a creepy way, but in a way that had my core heating and throbbing. Eventually the men left, and I went to clean off their table. When I picked up the cash lying on top of a napkin, I noticed something written on it.
Give me a call tonight.
I'd love to get to know you.
I picked up the napkin and cradled it against my chest with a goofy smile on my face.