He wanted to sit at the front but she asked for a table facing the side street. The fluorescent tubes overhead buzzed faintly. The darkness outside was all but obscured and their faces reflected back in the window, slightly worse for wear.
“I don’t want anything from you, just so you know,” he explained.
“Nothing but cheap redemption,” she replied.
He looked down at the plasticized menu to hide his smile. He knew there was something about her he liked.
The waiter filled their coffee cups without asking and dropped a handful of creamers on the table. She quickly scanned the menu for the most expensive item. “I’ll have the steak and eggs. Medium well and over easy.”
“Yes, a side of fruit and cottage cheese.”
“Will that be all?” He waited with his pen poised over the order pad.
She paused. “And the same to go.”
“For you?” The waiter turned to her companion.
“That sounds good,” he didn’t miss a beat. “Same for me.”
“With the order to go as well?”
“Why not.” He was sure someone at the office would enjoy it, especially if they had the opportunity to steal it out of the fridge.
“So, tell me about yourself.” He leaned forward and stirred his coffee. His doctor had recommended adding milk or even cream if he couldn’t abstain.
“I thought you didn’t want anything from me,” she replied, flatly.
“Fair enough,” he considered her point. “I’ve been getting up before sunrise for the last few weeks since I can’t sleep through the night anymore. I usually go into work early….”
“Except for the times you get lost,” she interrupted him. “And mysteriously find yourself at a club?”
“Well, yes,” he said. “This is the first time anything of the sort has happened.”
“It always is, honey.”
Their plates arrived and he asked for hot sauce. “Sriracha or Frank’s RedHot?”
“Frank’s RedHot,” they replied in unison.
She chuckled to herself. He might be another run-of-the-mill dirtbag but at least he had some taste.
Her face softened when she smiled. What else made her drop her guard, he wondered, even for a moment or two?