November 2018, 2nd week, Wednesday.
Noah, Angie, and the small Uhaul she’d rented rolled into Austin, Texas, about noon Wednesday afternoon. He’d driven up to Ft. Worth yesterday, hitched the Uhaul to his jeep, and with her following behind in her car they left.
A later start than he would have liked. Turns out leaving your husband isn’t easy, even if said husband is an affair having ass. Lewis, the soon to be ex, showed up at the hotel with one more baby please can you give me a second chance. Too late and the tears this time were, thankfully, his. Three hours of driving and they were back in Austin with Angie’s stuff in her house once again, and her with the beginning of her to do list to transform her house into a home again.
Don’t know what you got till it’s gone, and all that. Finally, Angie seemed to be free of him. He was sure she still felt some type of way about her little over a year marriage, but she was done crying over it, at least in front of others.
It was bringing in luggage and a few boxes after that, and it was time for him to make that run. A coffee run, and afternoon boost of energy to finish opening up Angie’s house. He hadn’t stopped by his home yet. Wanted to get Angie settled, and yeah it wasn’t about him.
“You still drinking those cortado’s?” He asked, lifting his lazy self off the couch, where he’d sat watching her clean up, put away, all manner of running around, working out the regrets, the elation or whatever else she was feeling from being home again. She was in the kitchen, making of a list of groceries to purchase.
“Yes.” She said, if not a little distracted.
“I’ll be back in a sec.” he said.
“Okay.” she said, still not bothering to look up. He was out the door, and moving toward the corner coffee shop before she was aware. He thought about stopping at his place, glancing at it as he moved past. The yard was kept neatly trimmed, courtesy of a lawn service, and the inside was probably in the same condition, courtesy of the monthly maid service. He modified both to fit the reduction in his time spent in Austin. And speaking of which, when was that, he wondered, exactly when was he here last. He couldn’t remember, which meant it was a while. Maybe Christmas? Or was he in California with Wes? Thanksgiving last year and he hadn’t stayed long, checked in, and things were different here without his buddy, Angie. She was in some town with Lewis, in some bar, probably. He’s missed her.
He arrived at Jessie’s, what once to be his & Angie’s preferred coffee spot before she got married and moved away, and he, too, to Houston. Jessie’s, home of the world famous coffee or not, was a four house over from his place, and six from Angie’s. A block from the bus stop that took Angie to work. Stuck in the heart of a residential district, it was a neighborhood favorite.
He and Angie in the old days would regularly stop in Sunday mornings after being up most of the night bar hopping. Coffee and tacos or breakfast sandwiches to soak up some of the alcohol they’d consumed in their search for good music.
He entered the shop, through the side door, which was the front door, really. Crowded or tightly arranged was the seating here. Five steps and you were at the counter. To the left was a curved bar with bar stools. Behind it were tables, standard size, in all shapes for larger groups. Two additional rooms were available for reservations or open to all. One in the back to the left and the other room was down about five steps just after you entered the shop. It wasn’t crowded he thought, after a quick scan, and made his way to the front counter, slightly unaware, lost in his thoughts of his time away, checking his phone for a text, a man and a song he’d promised a while ago, but couldn’t get fixed on it mentally yet.
“Can I help you?”
“Ah. . . “he said, looking up, and just kind of froze at the woman standing behind the counter. A wake up call for him for sure, as he immediately felt the stirrings in areas he had felt recently, but not in such a rush and demanding way. Wow and still no words or sounds sprang from his mouth for her, standing in front of him, tall like him, shaved head, built like . . . tits for days, hips and that ass though. He knew she was watching him look her over, waiting for him to respond and . . . and just wow was all he could think.
“Hello.” She said again, smiling this time.
The rest of her wasn’t enough. She had to add the smile, leaving him staring or a bit more wondering what the fuck was this thunderbolt from the sky that showed up at the most inopportune time. Was there such a thing as an ill-timed meeting a woman and the answer was no. Now was as good as time as any, especially in light of his physical response to seeing her.
“Are you okay?” She asked, concern etched across her face.
“Not that new. I’ve worked here a year, if that’s what you mean. So not so new.”
“I live near here, four houses down, haven’t seen you before, so you’re new to me.” He said.
“I assume you’re in here for some type of drink?” cause this dude, regardless of the way he looked at her, like he could eat her whole and there were others behind him she had to serve.
“And it is?” She said, smiling fully.
Beautiful teeth in between two shiny, succulent lips, Noah thought. “Two coffees. A cortado short and a medium flat white,” he said, reaching for his wallet.
“No problem. So four houses down and this is the first time I’m seeing you?” She asked, done with the order taking. Dude was handsome enough, she could be up for the eating her whole part.
“Yep. I live between here and Houston. Mostly Houston for a while. I’m an old customer.”
“Well, old customer, I’m Gabriella, but you can call me Gabby. Welcome back. You are back for a while?” She asked.
“In and out, but yeah.” he said, smiling his full one, watching her react to it, pleased with her response. It was partly true that he would be here now that Angie was back. He still had things to do in Houston, so he wouldn’t be one hundred percent here, and none of that did she need to know.
“Noah Rhymes as I live and breathe. Where have you been?” Jessie, the owner of this store, aka her brother-in-law, said, standing beside her now and interrupting a conversation that didn’t need interrupting Gabby thought.
“Gabby’s my baby sister-in-law.” moving from behind the counter to shake Noah’s hand, and engulf him in one of those bro hugs. “It’s been a while.” Jessie added, smiling at the face Gabby made. “She is on her way to being a great chef, which is why I hired her.”
“That and I’m family. He wants my sister to be happy. Nice to meet you Noah, right?”
“I’ll get your drinks.” She said, smiling, before turning away.
“You back for good then?” Jessie asked, watching dude watch Gabby. He wanted to smile, knew that bolt of lightning that came down from the sky, having experienced it himself with Gabby’s oldest sister, his wife of thirteen years.
“Nah, rode back with Angie.” Noah said, gaze still on Gabby’s that ass though and all his worries had been for nothing. Apparently, all he needed was Gabby to appear with that ass though, rounded hips, and those luscious breasts. A goddess of fertility.
“Angie’s home? What happened?” Jessie asked, hoping that would help bring dude thoughts back into his head. Jessie thought, watching him continue to stare at Gabby.
“It didn’t work out. She’ll have to tell you that rest.” Noah said, bringing this attention or at least his face to Jessie’s. “How you’ve been?”
“How long has it been?”
“Since I’ve been back.” Noah said, thinking. “Almost a year. Too long.” Noah said.
“Good times for real.”
“Yep.” He added, thinking of all the times he and Angie spent here, drinking, hanging out, late night and early afternoons.
“Hopefully, I’ll see you around more. Sorry to hear about Angie. Tell her hello for me.” He said, moving away.
“I will.” He said, moving his gaze back to Gabby, who was back with his drinks.
“Maybe I’ll see you around more. I’m usually here most mornings. I am the pastry chef here and all.” She said.
“Maybe you will.” He said, offering another one of his smiles. A smile he’d used thousands of time before, that gotten him everywhere he needed to be.