(If you’re new to 50 Plates make sure to read Part I and II as well as the synopsis up top)
Sidney was standing in the romance section at the local Barnes and Noble, perusing the titles–each more ridiculous than the last and debating on purchasing one as a good “pool read.” For such an activity, books that required no real brain work were much preferred. Distracted by one particularly ludicrous title and the hero whose flowing locks were longer than the half naked, fainting heroine on the cover, she failed to notice the other person walking hurriedly down the aisle. When she stepped back, shaking her head at the brief synopsis on the cover, she bumped into something–someone. She turned, an apology on her lips, crimson filling her cheeks and stared up into familiar blue eyes.
“I’m so terribly sorry,” she stuttered, eternally grateful she wasn’t holding any of the books she had been perusing.
“My fault,” he said with a brilliant smile.
She thought she saw his eyes flicker with recognition.
“Do I…know you?” he asked, his brows coming together over his perfectly straight nose as he looked down at her.
“I eat at House of Brunch quite a bit,” she admitted, feeling her cheeks heat again, fully aware that it was not in the attractive, romance novel rosy sense, but the beet red of a particularly intense workout.
“Oh of course! You always order Earl Grey tea,” he smiled again and Sidney felt a dangerous flutter in her stomach.
“Yes. I love House of Brunch,” she said lamely, lamenting her lapse in wit.
“Glad to hear it! I think we do a pretty good job,” he looked around. “Did I interrupt your shopping?” He raised an eyebrow at the shelves around them.
“No, no,” Sidney panicked for a moment. “I was just walking through on my way to the coffee shop. I have a friend who always stops in this aisle and tries to find the most ridiculous title.” It wasn’t entirely a lie.
“I see. Find any candidates?” he laughed.
“Too many to count,” she smiled tentatively. She looked at the stack of books under his arm, several crime novels, a cook book, and a book on Ireland. “You look like you need a shopping cart.”
“I will if I pick out anything else,” he smiled ruefully, shifting the books so that he had a better grip. He thrust out his hand. “I’m Damien.”
“I’m Sidney,” she took his hand and wondered if she was the only one that felt the buzz of electricity as their skin touched.
“Nice to meet you, Sidney.”
“You too, Damien.”
“Well, I’d better get going, I have to get ready for the dinner shift in an hour,” he sounded almost regretful. “Don’t get too attached to the coffee shop here, Sidney. I’d hate to lose you to a chain like this.”
“Don’t worry, I won’t,” she said, far too enamored with listening to him say her name. “Have a good evening at the restaurant,” she said as he turned to leave.
“Thanks, you have a nice night, too,” he grinned back at her.
She stood in the romance aisle staring at his retreating back until she realized she had not moved for several minutes. Abandoning the lurid, brightly colored shelves, she walked purposefully towards the crime section. She had been meaning to read some crime novels and those would make appropriate poolside reads as well. The bright red lettering on the cover of a book displayed on the end-cap caught her eye. It was the same book Damien had been carrying. Well, it was by an author she recognized and it was on the New York Times Bestseller list according to the sign. Plus, one of the store employees–named Stan–had given it 3 stars out of 4. Really, what other endorsement could she need? She picked the book up and walked purposefully to the register, refusing to give the romance aisle another glance.