Aunt Millie bustled into the café like a train arriving at the station. She was a big woman, and despite the fact that she lived in a beach town, insisted on wearing almost all black. On this evening she wore a black caftan over flowing black pants with black sandals. She swished when she walked, and people noticed. Being a local, she knew most of the patrons and stopped to speak to them as she passed each table.
“How’s that carpel tunnel?”
“When will your grandbabies be coming?”
“Did you hear about Diedre falling off her own porch? Poor thing. I wonder if this’ll be the straw that makes her stop drinking?”
“Are you coming to the clean up next weekend?”
This last question was directed at me. She hadn’t even sat down yet and was already giving me the guilt trip.
“I’ll be there if I don’t have to work.”
“Oh poof! I know Cat. She’s been campaigning for a beach clean up day for ages. She better give you the time off, or I’ll…”
“Oh, I don’t know. I’ll bonk her on the head. How’s that?” She started laughing. It came from her belly and broke out on her face. It was infectious. Before long, I was chuckling like an idiot. Aunt Millie slapped me on the back. I’d taken a sip of my soft drink and it came out my nose. I’d just reached for a napkin when the door opened and in walked the customer from earlier in the day. She wore an aqua blouse that fell in all the right places and had the jewelry she’d purchased around her neck. She was laughing at something the person behind her said.
As I wiped my nose, I got a glimpse of him. I threw my hands out in surprise and knocked my drink over. The cola spread across the table and dripped onto the floor. Everyone’s head turned in my direction. Aunt Millie reached over and closed my mouth.
“Who is he?” she asked in her overly loud voice.
I wanted to climb under the table. How could this be? It was him. Dr. Right. Trent. The man I’d been day dreaming about for weeks. I ducked my head and tried to hide behind the paper menu. Of course, this didn’t work. He walked straight to our table.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” he said. His eyes were laughing and his lips twitched with merriment.
“Aunt Millie.” I motioned to Trent. “Meet Trent Jensen.”
“And just how do you two know each other?” She stood up and wrapped him in a hug that probably broke three ribs. He peeked over her shoulder at me with eyebrows raised high.
“I’m a vet. We met when she brought her cat into the clinic. We’ve become besties since then. Always running into one another at the oddest times.” He grinned. His teeth were straight and white.
“Any friend of Sam’s a friend of mine. Why don’t you and your lady friend sit with us? We haven’t ordered yet, so timing’s perfect.” She let him go and pulled out two chairs.
“If you insist,” Trent said. He spoke to her but directed his gaze at me. I wanted to die. Here he was with his wife, or mistress, or lover, and Aunt Millie had put him in the hot seat. Not to mention embarrassing me to death.
“You don’t have to…” I started.
“Oh, I think it’ll be great. We don’t know anybody else. This’ll be fun.” He pulled the offered chair out further and sat in it. The woman slid into her seat and gave me a smile I wasn&rsquo...