Leaving The Grind, the local coffee shop, the shwiring of milk being frothed and the rrring pulse of coffee beans being pulverized was followed by a high pitched growl after a very unpleasant discussion with one of the girls he was seeing. Jacob didn’t look back and pushed the door open and a whirlwind of a female with frizzy brown hair in a verbal tirade on her phone and colored ink pens sticking out of a messy chignon, slammed into him, knocking him backward. She lost all that she was holding, including her phone, messenger bag and several books. Jake bent down to help gather up everything, while caffeine anxious students maneuvered around the two of them trying to get through the door, when a student bumped into her. The frazzled woman came at him in a wild tumbling heap and she went down, literally falling into his lap, her knees hitting the concrete step, her head nailing his crotch like a bullet.
He went down with an, “Umph!” His nostrils flared with each breath as he moaned through the pain. She let out a squeak with a muffled repetitive, “Sorry, sorry, sorry. Oh Jesus, are you okay?” Her head came up with her hands on either side of his hips. She was almost on top of him.
Cracking his eyes open through the pain as he lay on his back, he could see she had the face more along the lines of a girl instead of woman as he first thought, but when her gaze held his he could see a weariness in her eyes that belied that youthfulness. When he blinked away the hold she had on him, he noticed the sprinkling of freckles across her nose and cheeks and her messy hair fluttering in wisps across pink cheeks and neck. His mother would call her, fairy kissed. Jacob’s lip curled into a half smile. Where else might he find her freckles, he wondered.
He shook his head when she cleared her throat.
“I’ll be fine,” he said, his voice strained as she sat back on her heels and he adjusted himself.
When she finally gathered her things and stood, Charlotte knew her cheeks were bright red, her clumsiness a common cause of her embarrassment. Her lips pressed in on her teeth and she grabbed her phone and put it to her ear. No one there. Good. She didn’t want to listen to her mother’s latest reason for using her against her father in the divorce. As if she could do that, she was twenty-two for goodness sake. She took a cleansing breath and looked down to make sure the man she had fallen on was okay.
Charlotte watched as he gathered himself and stood. Her jaw dropped open as he towered over her. He must be more than a foot taller than her 5’-6”, she thought.
She picked up her jaw and stepped back almost falling again, when he reached out for her. He gripped her upper arms before she embarrassed herself. He pulled her so close she could feel his chest rise and fall with each breath. He quickly stepped back and to the side. When she righted herself and didn’t wobble, she tried to step away but he pulled her further to the side away from the traffic in the doorway.
“Here.” He handed her one of her colored pens that had fallen out of her mass of hair. She patted the tangle she hadn’t bothered to wash this morning. Charlotte regretted that now.
“I’m Charlotte,” she said startled by the volume of her voice, her nerves getting the better of her.
His smile was slow, his teeth straighter than hers would ever be and his body…God he was attractive. Definitely out of her league. Yep, totally out of her league.
“Hi, Charlotte.” Her name dripped from his lips like a soft caress across her skin. Her heart beat stuttered. Her breathing…well she forgot to do that.
He reached out with a long tanned arm and she dared not move. His long fingers caught a stray hair and curled it around her ear, the tips of his finger then trailing down to flick her chandelier earring that was missing a bead. She hadn’t had time to fix it.
She shivered with the contact, his smile ratcheting up a notch. Charlotte licked her lips.
Jacob watched Charlotte’s small wet tongue swipe her lips and he had to hold back a groan. What the hell was he thinking? He just called it quits with a regular hook-up who was getting to clingy, now he was thinking about this girl. He looked down where he hadn’t realized his thumbs rubbed on the inside of her elbow. Her skin was warm and soft in is rough hands, the contrast something he wanted to explore.
No, dammit! He couldn’t do this to himself again.
One woman at a time. If he could just have a taste of the innocence she seemed to convey, would it somehow rub off on him. God, for a 28 year old he sure was an immature asshole. He really needed to get his life together. Jacob wasn’t going to be around campus much longer, hooking up with her once wouldn’t hurt anybody. He seemed to pause on that thought for a long time. No, I won’t do it, he thought. Something he’d seen in her eyes told him she had been broken at one time. Yes, he saw the innocence in her but there was a fire in her eyes, something darker too, just lingering under her skin. Could he do a one night stand with Charlotte? Jacob knew he wouldn’t let her go without giving her as much pleasure as possible. Would that be enough? Looking at the picture in his mind, leaving her in a rumpled bed, skipping out in the dark, imagining her waking to an empty space next to her… Jacob shook his head. He looked back through the window of the coffee shop. His now ex-hook-up glared at him. Jacob flinched and turned back to Charlotte. Of all the reasons he knew he wasn’t good for her he still couldn’t walk away.
Did he tell her his name? Charlotte thought.
“Were you going in for a coffee, Charlotte?” He kept smiling as if enjoying her discomfort. Jerk, she thought. I wish he would stop rubbing his thumbs along my arms, she thought. Charlotte almost stomped her foot. He knew perfectly well what she was doing here. And why was he acting so familiar with her? Did she know him? She didn’t think she had ever met him.
“Obviously. It is a coffee shop after all. You never did tell me your name.”
“Nope.” His eyes danced with laughter, which she could see now were a dark brown, like coffee beans that had been roasted long and hot. His flirting was making her head spin as she tried to recover her higher reasoning.
“Well, what is it? I think I should know whose ego I just nailed…I mean, bruised, I mean…never mind,” she said disgusted with herself.
He leaned back and laughed. Her lips trembled and she let go, couldn’t help but laugh too. The whole situation was crazy, ridiculous. But boy did he make her nervous.
“My name’s Jacob. But I think you can call me Jake, since you’re so familiar with my ego.”
When he finally let her arms go, and his warmth went with him, she sighed with disappointment. But then he reached out and took her free hand making contact again and it was like a zap to her girly parts, a reminder they could use a good dusting. Heat flushed her cheeks and she dropped his hand as if he had branded her with a hot poker. She wished something hot would poke her. Charlotte finally took a much needed breath. Dear God, what was Jake doing to her. She hadn’t thought of sex with…with, well she didn’t want to think about the last time. She had put up a sign, “Closed until further notice. Out of order.”, thinking she would never want to take it down. Ever. Things had gone so wrong the last and only time she’d had sex.
“You’re an art major?”
“Huh?” She grunted, caught again by the strong angles of his face and full lips. He had this cute divot in his chin too.
Jake pointed to the book she’d forgot she was holding.
“Oh. Yeah. I mean, no.” She shifted her messenger bag to her other shoulder shuffling her books for a better grip. He watched her do it. Why did she find that sexy, the way his eyes followed her every move? “Ah, I’m majoring in graphic design. Art history is a hobby of mine.”
“Yeah?” His expression looked confused. Most people were. They couldn’t understand how art history could be a hobby. It didn’t matter. She wouldn’t be sharing her passion for the antiquated with anyone any time soon. That was private and something she had shared with her grandmother.
Distracted by his unwavering stare, goose bumps rose on her skin and she could only nod, flustered. She needed to get her coffee and go; she had a project due and little time to finish. Talking to Jake was a waste of time. What was there to like about her? She had no sense of style, her hair was always a mess, and she was constantly falling or bumping into things.
His head nodded toward the door. “Let me help you.” Jake went to take her bag.
“No!” She shouted, quickly shifting her bag out of reach and attracting curious looks because of the outburst. “I mean, that’s okay. I got it.” She had other things in her bag that he didn’t need to see. Like the pile of cash, she needed to deposit at the bank before it closed. Charlotte definitely didn’t need to be explaining where all the money came from.
Her things wobbled perilously to one side. With a quicker reaction than she thought possible, Jake grabbed her shoulders and righted her and was suddenly leading her with his arm wrapped around her holding her by the elbow guiding her through the coffee house door, sitting her down close to the window on her favorite sofa. The light was perfect for drawing.
He stood staring down at her and she couldn’t take her eyes off his commanding demeanor. He just took her over, moving her where he wanted her. “What’s your drink?”
She blinked up at him. Charlotte really needed to go, but her words just poured out. “Medium mocha, extra shot of espresso.” A single nod and he was ordering at the counter. Her eyes didn’t leave this mysterious man. The light from the window seemed to make his sun-kissed hair glow. It was too long, brushing the edge of the top of his t-shirt. Her eyes trailed down his muscled back to a lean waist–but not too lean–where the cut muscles at his hips joined others to make a perfectly formed ass. Damn he was gorgeous.
When he her turned back she looked away quickly. He set her drink on the table in front of her and then sat down next to her stretching out his very long legs, resting them on the coffee table, one foot over the other. The man continued to crowd her as he reached his arms out across the back of the sofa brushing his fingers over her unruly hair. Her body heated up to burning. So turned on by this strange, sexy man, she didn’t know what to do with herself, or how to get rid of him. When he was finally comfortable, she turned away; ignoring him, and wrapped her shaking fingers around her coffee, and noticed his cowboy boots. Who wears cowboy boots around here? She turned back to ask him what he wanted with her and couldn’t help but admire the rest of him. Jeeze! Jakes body looked rock hard, everywhere. Would he feel as good as he looked, all that hard muscle on top of her? Her fingers gripped the cup tighter. Her eyes kept roaming and, very indecently, landed on his lap. He looked fully recovered now. Oh boy! She thought. Thanks to all those romance novels she’d read she knew that what he was carrying would be much better than her B.O.B. (Battery operated boyfriend).
“What?” He said, the crack of his smile peeking out, just as the sound of the grinder shut off.
Shit, did she say that aloud? Oh boy. She needed to get some new batteries.
Stay tuned for more of Jake and Charlotte – If you want to know why I created these two characters go to www.deadwoodwriters.org for my latest writer’s blog entry Soft, Hard, Harder, on May 10, 2014.