A Little Cup Of Latte

The party had been a disaster, but a cafe encounter might save the day…

Jack scowled at his blank screen, as if it was the laptop’s fault he had zero creativity this morning just when he needed it most.

He reached for his coffee cup then remembered he’d drunk it dry.

He searched the sea of café tables for his apprentice, who’d gone to fetch refills. Bea was a sweet girl, keen to follow in his footsteps as one of HighLife magazine’s feature columnists.

It wasn’t her fault they’d missed the society scoop of the year at last night’s Bennoven party.

As senior reporter, that was Jack’s job, and he now needed a good story for both their sakes! He sighed.

Then a flash of colour caught his eye.

The woman in the red dress was an enticing mix of mystery and boldness.

Diamond drops swung at her ears as she smiled at the customer letting her pass. Unforgettable!

Jack’s sigh this time was one of envy for whomever she went home to at nights.

Bea clutched her latte as she waited at the counter, hoping it would bring her luck. Or at least a spark of creativity so that she and Jack could produce an article to satisfy their angry editor, whom Bea was convinced was just waiting for an excuse to fire her.

To be fair, they had failed to bring home anything really newsworthy on award-winning director Hugo Bennoven’s sensational split with his wife, apart from a photo of his furious face as said wife swept from their mansion in the midst of his new film’s launch party.

Apparently, it was over his behaviour with a mystery woman, who’d turned up in a gorgeous flame-coloured gown and a cloud of Dior.

Some proclaimed it was a mere publicity stunt to stir up interest in the movie.

All Bea knew was that the event had come too soon for any chance of plying Jack with enough champagne that he’d forget she wasn’t six foot and sexy.

Oh, and she’d had the bad luck not only to need the toilet just when Audrey Bennoven was storming off, but then get stuck in a cubicle when the mystery woman herself was in the bathroom, boasting! By the time she’d been freed, all Bea could tell Jack was that she’d been wearing the cutest pair of jewelled kitten heels, undoubtedly bespoke.

Bea breathed in the enticing vapours of latte wisping from her cup. There was a lot to be said for that scent; it cleared the fog of sleepless night and unrequited love from her brain.

Glancing across at Jack, that delicious lock of hair flopping across his brow as he bent over his laptop, Bea reminded herself how lucky she was to have a job she loved with a colleague as cute and clever as he was.

Even if they were just friends.

Now, if she looked like that, she thought, watching the woman in red glide toward the counter, Jack would certainly have noticed her by now.

She turned back to collect his coffee – and it was then that her tired brain kicked into gear.

Listening to the murmurs drifting round the café, the woman smiled. For so long, she’d been almost invisible to people like these. Now they whispered and wondered about her.

And though Hugo Bennoven had insisted she disappear at the same time as his wife to add to the mystique, severely limiting her time in the limelight, she knew she would soon be back there again…

As Bea skidded into their table, Jack just had time to rescue his laptop from coffee-splash.

“We’re saved!” she hissed. “Bennoven’s mystery lady – she’s here!”

“What? Where?”

“Five minutes ago, I was still beating myself up about getting stuck in that toilet. But now, I’m so glad, because you can surely get us an exclusive…”

Jack took her hands to stop her talking.

“How can you be sure it’s her?”

“The shoes! They’re the same kittens I saw last night through the gap under the cubicle door. One of a kind – and so precious, she obviously can’t bear to take them off.”

Jack frowned.

“Bit clichéed, though, isn’t it? The whole ‘scarlet woman nwearing red’ thing.”

Shaking her head, Bea gently turned his.

“Not her…” She indicated the woman emerging from behind the counter. “Her.”

Jack’s eyes shifted down from the waitress’s scraped-back bun and serving uniform to a pair of silken sandals, tiny gemstones glinting in the heels.

“You beauty!” he breathed.

Then with a laugh, he pulled Bea forward and kissed her.

She held her breath, seeing in his eyes the exact moment when the attraction that had been tormenting her for months finally caught him, too.

“Bea…” he murmured, then moved in for another embrace.

She allowed herself a second to revel, then resolutely pulled out of reach.

“This’ll keep. Right now, you have an interview to get!”

As Jack left to work his magic, Bea breathed in deep, her smile pure bliss.

Who would have thought such a miserable morning could turn out so wonderful? It was all down to luck.

Well, luck, and a little cup of latte…

Our My Weekly Favourites series of lovely feel-good fiction from our archives continues on Mondays and Thursdays. Look out for the next one.
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