Snippet: Romance Opening Coffee House

As promised I’m posting snippets of my writing for varying WIPs I have. Some of these will become full books others are just bits of writing that I enjoyed getting out of my head. Today’s piece was an exercise I did on having two MC meet in a romance and balance the attraction without either insta-love or insta-hate. Hope you enjoy!

Hayley didn’t care who was watching as she collapsed face down onto the table at her favorite coffee house. The pain as her head smacked the surface was the perfect exclamation point to the failure of her day. Her best friend Rachael chuckled patting her arm in an offering of half-hearted comfort. 

“It was just an interview, how bad could it have been?”

Hayley turned her head glaring at her friend.  “They left me alone waiting in someone’s office.”

“So?” 

“You know what I do when I get nervous?” Haley sat up sighing.

Rachael stared at Hayley baffled. “You clean.”

“Yes!”

“It was an office, how dirty could it have been?” It was like her friend didn’t know her at all.

“When she came in I was alphabetizing her manuals and had already sorted the office supplies on her desk by size and use.”

Rachael raised her eyebrows. “Well that is a bit odd but-“

“I had also straightened the pictures on her wall and rearranged them in chronological order.”

Her friend shook her head. “How long were you in there?”

“I don’t know.  But she was less than amused.  I don’t think I’ll be getting a call back.”

“It was your first interview. Don’t get so caught up.” Rachel’s voice was that super cheery tone used by best friends everywhere to pretend everything was going to be OK. “You graduated top of your class with two degrees. Someone is going to scoop you up. “

“Are you kidding me? I’m lucky I have a cleaning job to pay my bills. I’m a freak and I know it.”

“You are not a freak!  Eccentric definitely but, I will not let you settle for cleaning houses and offices for a living.”

Hayley leaned forward and sighed. Her friend didn’t get just how deep her issues went. Ever since childhood she had struggled at being normal. Understanding how other people saw the world and why they didn’t notice the things she did. Always on the outside of friend groups only Rachel had ever accepted her quirks and all. “Look around this place and tell me what you see.”

Rachel swiveled her gaze around. “I don’t know a bunch of professionals out for a caffeine fix?”

Hayley looked around the room once then locked eyes with her friend, “In the corner there are three co-workers all pretending they like each other when really the two on either end would probably gauge each other’s eyes out if given the chance.  The girl by the register either has a drinking problem or is having serious life issues, her eyes are bloodshot she is wearing two different black pumps.”  Hayley’s voice raised a bit with frustration as she continued try and show her friend why she was different.  “The coffee’s on the shelf against the wall are out of order.  The seals on 3 of the boxes of cookies are broken, the word cappuccino is  spelled wrong on the order board and this hot guy.” Hayley pointed at a man sitting working at his laptop two tables away. “Has spy software installed on his lap top.   I can’t not see these things.  I can’t be normal!”  Hayley let the thump, as she dropped her head onto her arms, punctuate her rant.

“It’s ok.  Look you have mad skills and there has got to be a perfect job for you out there somewhere.”

“Excuse me.”  A deep masculine voice penetrated Hayley’s fog of self-pity and she looked up.  Standing next to their table was the businessman who had been working at his lap top two tables away.  He loomed over both of them with an angry scowl on his face.  Even with a menacing look he was stunning. Ebony hair perfectly cut framed a rough and masculine face.  He wore a suit that probably cost him a fortune and the muscles that were outlined by the expensive linen shirt spoke of significant time spent in the gym every day.

Hayley stared up with a mixture of shock and confusion.  She was not a social butterfly and though she wasn’t a bad looker, men like him did not randomly come up to her in a public venue. The annoyance on his face was familiar even if she wasn’t sure what she had done to trigger it in this darkly handsome man.  Her voice cracked as she spoke, “Yes?”

“Why did you say there was spy software on my laptop?”

Hayley’s brain froze then kicked into high gear. Images started racing through her mind as she started reviewing everything she had seen since entering the coffee shop. The comment had just been spouting off the babble in her mind to make a point to Rachael. “Not sure give me a minute.” Hayley closed her eyes to better focus on the memories.  She had perfect recall but often her subconscious brain needed a little jolt to let her conscious mind know where the various information came from. Most of the time she preferred to try and ignore the overload of information.

“Not sure? Saying that someone’s laptop has spyware on it isn’t something you just throw out there.” He leaned in his big presence intimidating. “Who the hell are you?”

Hayley felt the heat of his hand on her shoulder before she jerked back in her seat.  She didn’t like being touched. Especially not by strangers or when she was trying to think, but this man’s touch had sent thrills of pleasant sensations through her body.  Rachael’s protective voice echoed through the tiny shop. “Get your hands off her buddy!”

“She’s ignoring me.” He growled back.

“She’s not ignoring you. She’s thinking. And if she was ignoring you, it is her God given right to blow off interrupting pricks.”

Hayley tuned out her friend and the mysterious man and focused on her memories as she walked into the coffee shop.  Rushing in and scanning the room needing Rachael to share her misery.  Rachel waved and walked toward her.  As she passed the man he had switched to his desktop for a moment and selected an icon labeled, Vexter Inc.  The bottom right corner of the default blue screen contained a small section of pixels that were blurry and they flickered twice as he clicked the word file. 

Hayley stared up at the ceiling, “Guardian or I suppose some knock off is installed on your computer.”

Rachael and the man were still arguing but both went quiet at her words. Her friend compressed her lips and though she probably had no idea wht Hayley was talking about. Gave a ‘So there’ gesture to the man. 

Hotty in a suit shook his head. “I assure you I do not have spyware installed on my laptop”

Hayley rolled her eyes. “Gimmie.”  She made a clutching motion at his laptop.

 “Excuse me?”

“I will show you.”

 He moved as if physically protecting the electronics. “I am not allowing some stranger access to my laptop.”

Hayley snickered. Anyone using the open wifi at a coffee house was obviously clueless as far as security but she humored him.  “Fine. Look at the bottom right side of your desktop.”

He strode over and grabbed his laptop and brought it back placing it between Rachael and Hayley on the small table.  His cologne teased her senses barely there but sexy as hell. “What about it”

Hayley pointed to a section of the plain blue backdrop, “See that blurriness right there.”  Both the man and Racael leaned in.  

“Yes.” His voice held surprise.

“Double Click on it.”

He moved the mouse and clicked where she indicated.  A dashboard appeared with a list of files and websites with date stamps.  Hayley studied it for a minute then said, “Well it isn’t guardian but obviously is based off of their software.  If you want to give me some time with your laptop I can figure out if this is broadcasting to a web location or if they need access to your computer to get this information.”

He snapped the lid shut to his laptop. His knuckles white from clenched muscles.  “What is Guardian?” 

“It’s a teen monitoring software that creates snapshots of all the websites and files your child opens.  Some of the altered versions also include something to download the information and make them available for remote viewing.”

“Someone is tracking my keystrokes?”

His growling tone was sexy and his eyes sparked with a fire that Hayley found irresistible. Fantasies of him begging for her help to fix all his computer problems chased through her mind along with intimate late night conversations about security protocols. She would, of course, accept payment for her work in sexual favors. Pulling herself back on track she answered, “Possibly but more likely stealing your files, reading your emails, and tracking what you look at online.”

“You expect me to believe that you just happened to notice a blurry spot on my lap top and figured this all out from there?” His accusing tone and suspicious word ruined all the sexy fantasies. No matter how hot this guy was a stuck up jerk. And she didn’t need that in her life.

Rachael spoke up then, “Rude much.  We don’t expect you to believe anything.  If you remember we were just sitting here talking and you came over and bothered us.”

Pulling her pride into a shield she gave the computer dummy her coldest stare. “I don’t have to be insulted. Go away. I’m no longer interested in helping you.” Her softer helpful sice couldn’t help but add. “You should buy a new computer. Once that software is installed you are screwed.” She made a push away movement with her hands.

“Did you just seriously shew me?”  His quirked eyebrow made him even hotter but Hayley decided that no amount of hotness was worth his scorn and superiority.

“I did.” Hayley put on her best snobby look, “You have been dismissed, go and enjoy your infected laptop in privacy.”

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