Meeting a Stranger

Manhattan Mocha was quite overcrowded for a chilly Wednesday morning. It was snowing outside and a majority of people were seeking shelter wherever they could find one. The café had never been so full of hustle bustle, it was usually quiet inside and that’s what the regulars loved about it. People were talking, laughing, ranting about the weather and some were lost in slurping their hot coffees. But Rachel had nothing to do. She was out of a job as the start-up she was working for had to dilute its assets. After the liquidation of the company, she had forwarded her CVs to various other companies. Unfortunately, she got no replies yet. 

Rachel loved this little café which was located near her old office. She had thought of grabbing a cup of coffee after packing up her belongings from the office.

She placed the cardboard box on a table facing the window and went to the counter to order a cup of coffee. After looking at the menu and changing the type of coffee she would like to have, Rachel at last settled for an Irish coffee, her favorite. She turned around in haste so that no one would take her seat in the bursting café and before she could even fathom what was happening; her hand smacked the coffee cup from the hands of a man clad in uniform behind her. The cup fell down and splattered its content on the wooden floor, but not before it wet the young man’s shirt.

“Oh fuck!” Rachel was flabbergasted at what she did. “I am so sorry. I’ll just clean it up.”

She picked up a tissue from the counter and started to pat dry the man’s t-shirt. She was even more mortified when she saw that the man was wearing a soldier’s uniform.

“It’s not a problem ma’am. You don’t need to do this.” the guy said calmly.

“How can it be not a problem? I just ruined your uniform. You were probably going on a tour for all I know.” Rachel exclaimed.

“No, it’s really okay ma’am. I was actually going back home, so it is alright.” The soldier said

“Umm, okay. But let me, at least, buy you another cup of coffee.” The guy was about to say no but Rachel continued before he could do so. “It will make me feel better. Please let me buy you coffee.”

He sighed, “Okay then. Who doesn’t love a free drink anyway?” he finished with an innocent smirk.

Rachel ordered a coffee for him too and both of them moved out of the line.

“Well, thanks for the coffee.”

“It’s the least I could do after ruining your shirt. I am so sorry for that. Sometimes I can be really reckless. Sorry again.” Rachel said.

“It’s really alright ma’am. You don’t need to apologize again and again.”

“Can you please not call me ma’am? It makes me feel a hundred years old.” Rachel laughed timidly and continued.

“I am Rachel by the way.” She introduced herself and let out her hand.

“Aiden.” He joined her hand in a firm handshake.

“Well, it’s a little overcrowded in here and I have got a table near the window, why don’t you join me?”

“Sure, I’d like that,” Aiden replied.

Both Rachel and Aiden settled in the single seat couches and waited for their coffees. But they didn’t have to wait long as their warm cups of happiness arrived soon.

“So, you are in the army huh?” Rachel asked

“Yes, in fact, I just got back from my second tour of duty.”

“Oh, where were you posted?”

“Iraq.” Replied Aiden

“My dad had been deployed to Iraq too.”

“Army brat, I see.” Aiden said

Soon, both of them were talking comfortably, getting to know each other.

Aiden found Rachel to be a tall and beautiful woman who had a gorgeous pair of emerald eyes and smooth red hair with light freckles sprinkled on her nose. Somehow it did not feel weird to be talking to a complete stranger at a coffee shop. He felt at ease with Rachel.

“So, what do you do Rachel? And how come you are in the coffee shop at this time on a Monday?”

“Umm well, my company just closed down so I went to the office to pick up my stuff. It’s my favorite coffee house so I thought of stopping by and have some coffee.”

“Oh I am sorry. I hope you find a job soon.”

“It’s okay. And thanks, I have applied to various places, let’s see what happens. What about you? Weren’t you supposed to head home?”

“Yes, I was. But it turns out that my mother is in a surgery and my father is upstate for some work and I don’t have the house keys.” Aiden replied.

“Shouldn’t you be in the hospital then? If your mom is in a surgery…” Rachel was a little perplexed

“Oh, no, no. She is a doctor and she is performing a surgery.” Aiden laughed

“I am sorry,” Rachel said, embarrassed for the third time.

“It’s my fault actually, should have specified.”

Rachel was quite surprised at herself. She was talking to a complete stranger, bought him coffee and now was laughing with him. She would never do that, she was the last person who would think of talking to a stranger but here she was, sharing a table with him. For some reason, Rachel couldn’t put her finger on the trait she liked the most about Aiden; whether it was his broad shoulders, eyes as brown as chocolate or his loving and friendly personality. It would have been facile on her part to like him for his brawny structure so she decided to go with his astounding personality.

Both of them were rather quite surprised on how much they connected. They were listening to each and every word the other spoke, very carefully. Both of them were into the conversations and they liked it. Outsiders would think that they have known each other since years, but it was exactly the opposite.

Their coffees were finished and both of them got up to leave the café. But before leaving the Barista shouted to Rachel, “Rachel, you still gotta pay for the mug.”

“Just write it in my account, Dave. I’ll pay you at the end of the month.”

Together, they stepped out when Aiden offered to pay for the cup.

“Not at all. My fault, I pay.” Rachel exclaimed in a businesslike manner.

Aiden raised his hands as he surrendered and asked if he could drop her off at her place.

“Sure, if you don’t have any issues with it. I don’t live very far off from here anyway.” Rachel said, setting the cardboard box on her waist.

“Please let me carry the box. It would be so ungentlemanly if I don’t. And I don’t want to be rebuked in the minds of the onlookers. So please, let me.” He smiled and took the box from her hands.

They walked into the snow and just a few blocks away, Rachel’s apartment came into sight.

“Well, nice to meet you.” A blush crept on her neck.

“Nice to meet you too, Rachel.” Aiden gave her a heartbreaking smile.

Both of them wanted to say something more but couldn’t make themselves speak anything.

“Umm, if it doesn’t sound creepy, I’d like to have your number. I am here for a month or so and would love to hang out with you.” Aiden gulped when Rachel didn’t say anything. “You can say no, if it isn’t comfortable with you.”

“No, no. Uh, I mean yes, I’d like to hang out with you.” She searched her cardboard box and handed a card to Aiden.

“This is my card and it has my cell phone number too. Give me a call sometime, whenever you’re free.”

Soon, they said their goodbyes and Rachel went inside her apartment. She was sitting on her couch, smiling like a kid when her phone beeped.

Thanks for the coffee

-Aiden

The message widened Rachel’s smile even more and replied to the text.

Thanks for being a gentleman and accompanying me to my place.

Rachel

 

Anytime. Looking forward to seeing you soon. – A

 

You too xD – R

Aiden smiled to himself and went home. He couldn’t wait to see the stranger he had met in the coffee shop.

Rachel couldn’t be happier on her recklessness and was actually glad that she got to meet a handsome and charming guy like Aiden.

 

This might be a start of something new for both Rachel and Aiden. Well, told you, a lot can happen over coffee…

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