“I don’t get paid enough for this,” Corinne mumbled to herself as she wiped mashed potatoes out of her hair that the brat at Table five had just flung in her direction when she had stopped to refill their drinks. She was thankful her shift was finally over for the day, and didn’t feel the least bit sorry that Mia would be the one to get the tip from them. Corinne had a feeling Mia would earn it.
“Don’t tell me ya didn’t see that one coming,” Sammy scolded in her raspy, New York accent. She leaned her tired, overweight body against a food-prep counter as she chewed a wad of gum with an open mouth. “That kid’s a nightmare. Louie sat them in my section last Friday. I slipped on the green beans he threw on the floor. Damn near broke my hip, I did.”
“Lucky me. Regulars,” Corinne snarked, rolling her eyes.
“Aww, you’re so cute when you act all cynical. You ain’t been around enough blocks to catch that attitude just yet. Give it another thirty years. Then we’ll talk.” Sammy straightened and her hand went to a sore spot on her lower back. She winced before spitting the wad of gum into a nearby trash can.
“You’ve been around here that long, Sammy?” Corinne asked in disbelief as she removed her apron and hung it on a hook by the swinging door that the other waitstaff were coming in and out of.
“Honey, I lost count a long time ago. Do yourself a favor and go back to school. Ain’t nothin ‘round here for a pretty young thing like you,” Sammy advised.
Just then, the bell on the entrance door jingled announcing a new customer. Corinne and Sammy both turned to look out the two-way mirror that separated the floor from the kitchen.
“Except for maybe him,” Sammy added as she motioned her head to point at the tall, dark, and handsome gentleman who Louie seated in Sammy’s section.
Corinne looked back at Sammy with wide eyes. “Who is that?” There was no point in trying to hide her attraction. The guy was gorgeous.
“That’s Aidan Burt. Some type of P.I. or military type. Wouldn’t I like to be twenty years younger,” Sammy teased, elbowing Corinne jokingly in the ribs.
“Tell me he’s a regular,” Corinne said, mostly to herself, as she stared at the Adonis at Table 17, admiring his svelte yet muscular body and the immaculate features that graced his face. Tattoos lined both of his muscular arms, giving him an almost menacing look if not for the half-smile he wore as he sat.
“Oh, he’s a regular alright. But he won’t be sitting there by himself for long. If you want a shot at that guy, you take it while you got the chance. He’ll have ten women following him out the door when he leaves this place. You hide and watch. Better yet, put that apron back on and go take his order. Guarantee ya, that one’s worth your while.” Sammy winked and nudged Corinne in the direction of the swinging door.
Corinne thought for a moment before a smile spread across her face, letting on that the challenge was accepted. She grabbed the apron, tied it back around her waist, and passed Mia coming in on her way out.
“Tall drink of water?” Corinne asked once she approached.
“Excuse me?” Aidan asked, looking up at the young waitress he’d never seen before.
“What can I start you out with tonight?” She smiled.
He looked down for another glance at the menu Louie had given him. He closed the menu and sat it on the table before looking up at Corinne. “Surprise me,” he said.
“Adventurous type, huh?” Corinne observed.
“Usually,” he replied with a mischievous gleam in his eyes.
“I like that in a guy. Alright. One surprise order, coming right up.” Corinne winked, then turned back toward the kitchen.
Aidan’s eyes followed her as she walked away, admiring her curvaceous derriere before she disappeared behind the door to the back.
“Sammy, what’s this guy like to drink? He told me to surprise him,” Corinne said once she was safely out of hearing distance.
“Surprise him? That’s a new one,” Sammy admitted. “He usually orders iced tea.”
Corinne got his iced tea and took it out, setting it on the table in front of him. “An iced tea for the handsome gentleman,” she said.
“Handsome? Baby doll, you don’t have to work that hard for a tip,” he laughed, brushing the stubble on his chin.
“Oh, it’s okay. I got off ten minutes ago. I’m not really working for a tip at all at the moment,” she informed him.
“Is that so?” he said, as he raised one eyebrow. Corinne nodded.
“Are you ready to order, or do you want another surprise?” she asked him, her hand now resting on her hip.
“Give me your best shot,” he said with a smug grin.
“You won’t be disappointed,” Corinne told him confidently, and headed back to turn in an order.
She ordered her favorite item off the menu that definitely didn’t include the mashed potatoes. When she brought it out to him, he gave her a nod of approval before motioning her to sit in the chair in front of him. Sammy and Mia watched from the opposite side of the mirror as Corinne slunk into the seat with nervous skepticism.
“I haven’t seen you around here before. What brings you to the Big City?” he asked before stuffing a bite in his delectable mouth.
Corinne looked down into her lap. “I guess you could say I needed a fresh start,” she said, hoping she wouldn’t have to elaborate, but expecting he didn’t really care anyway. Most men didn’t think too much into those kinds of things.
He nodded with a knowing look. “Two types of people come to live in this city. Those running toward something, and those running away. I take it you’re the latter.”
Corinne squirmed in her seat beneath his stare, but remained silent.
“I can help you forget, if that’s what you’re looking for,” he offered, and the suggestive innuendo was unmistakable.
She was tempted to take him up on his offer. The problem was, it wasn’t the forgetting she needed help with. It was the remembering.