Leaving a note on the counter and a snoozing Dave in her bed, a sleepy Rachel made her way to work with too many thoughts filling her mind. She held her head as it pounded, echoing Dave’s words. She had no idea what to do with them. Should she store them away, pretending he hadn’t said what he did? The last thing she wanted to do was bring it up, feeling the awkwardness already. But, from experience, she knew it was the way to go. She cringed inwardly at the thought, rehearsing the words in her head.
At noon, Dave strolled into the Diner, just as the note she left had asked him to do, with hands shoved in his pocket and a crooked smile creasing his cheeks. She smiled across the room as she noticed his entry, but finished the task ahead of her.
Sitting at the front counter, He waited patiently for her to greet him, but pretended not to notice as she strolled over and leaned against the counter in front of him.
"Hey, good lookin’."
Dave couldn’t help but scoff out a small giggle at her lame comment, placing the menu down on the marbled counter in front of him.
"Hey there, beautiful." He leaned over and kissed her loudly, squeaking against her mouth and drawing the attention of a few other guests.
Caroline blushed as she looked their direction, smiling and dipping her head. She shook her head lightly in amusement. The flowers must have worked.
"Hungry? What can I bring you?"
Dave looked over the menu, clicking his tongue then pushing his pucker from one side of his face to the other.
"Do you guys have a club sandwich on the menu?"
"No, but I can make you one. Wheat or white?"
"Wheat, please. Mayonnaise on the side."
"Real mayo or salad dressing?"
"Real if you have it."
Rachel scurried off, catching her breath as she tossed the bread into the toaster and turned to Caroline.
"He wants a club. Mayo on the side."
Rachel stood quietly in the corner, out of Dave’s sight but still able to watch him. He rested his chin on his fists, looking around the room and waiting for her to return. Caroline was quick to notice.
"What are you doing? You sure are acting strange."
Rachel kept her eyes on Dave, but spoke to her boss in a whisper.
"He told me he loved me last night. He slept over…and woke up in the middle of the night to pee and told me he loved me."
"Stayed over? Did you…"
"No. He just didn’t wanna be alone so I let him stay."
"So what’s the issue?"
"I don’t know if I should say something about it. I don’t know if he remembers. He was half asleep!"
"Did you say it back?"
"So wait and see if he says it again."
"Just wait? I shouldn’t bring it up?"
"No. If too much time passes before he says it again, then he didn’t mean to say it. If he says it again within the next couple of days he did. Simple."
"I may have a heart attack before then."
"Oh, Rachel, don’t be silly! You’ve known the man for years! You act like he’s a stranger."
Rachel rose her voice for a moment, catching herself and bringing it back down to a whisper as she pointed in his direction.
"That man is not the man he used to be. He talks about shit you wouldn’t believe. Yoguw, when he asked me out, we were in the middle of an argument? He’s different. Something has changed."
"Life tends to do that to you."
"Its more than that. He looks at me like I’m crazy for the most common things. He couldn’t believe I slept with a top sheet on my bed! How strange is that?"
"He’s gonna really think you’re crazy if you don’t go take his drink order."
"Shit I forgot. I’ll be right back."
She cleared her throat, taking a deep breath as she made her way back to him.
"I’m sorry. I forgot to ask what you wanted to drink."
"Coffee, if you don’t mind. With a glass of water."
Save smiled, nodding his head and shrugging one shoulder. Rachel turned away from him, pulling the coffee pot from the warmer and filling a cup, then filling a glass full of water and sliding them both to him.
"Sugar or cream?"
"Black is great."
"Club on wheat! Mayo on the side!"
Rachel turned and took the plate from Caroline through the window and thanked her.
"Take your lunch now, honey. The crowd has thinned out. I can handle it for a few minutes."
Rachel nodded and smiled, grateful to be able to sit down for a while.
"Dave, do you wanna bring your food to the office and eat with Rachel?"
"Sure. Thank you ma’am."
Caroline smiled and nodded at him, as Rachel pointed him in the right direction. “Through that door right there. I’m gonna grab my lunch, then I’ll be right there. I’ll bring your coffee.”
Dave kissed her cheek as he stood up and carried his plate through the kitchen and into the office area. Rachel thanked Caroline again and threw a sand which together, following in Dave’s wake.
She balanced her food and their drinks on a large tray, strolling into the office and closing the door behind her. Dave hadn’t eaten yet, waiting patiently for Rachel.
"You didn’t have to wait on me."
"I don’t mind. Your boss is great. Very sweet lady."
Rachel nodded as she bit into her sandwich, covering her mouth and mumbling through the bite.
"I really hit the jackpot with her. She’s wonderful."
"Its strange…to see you in your element…ya know? Back in the day, when you worked at the record store, you kinda just hung out to make sure Jo one robbed it. I’ve never seen this side of you."
"I could say the same about you."
"What do you mean?"
"I wish I could explain it. There’s just something different about you. You look different, of course, but its something else. Something big. Its probably staring me right in the face, but I just can’t seem to place it."
Dave shrugged and sipped his coffee. “I don’t know what it could be. Lots has happened since then. Maybe its just age.”
Rachel immediately felt guilty as realization washed over her. Of course he was different. He dealt with a great deal of loss in the last three years. How could she be so foolish?
"So what do you have planned tonight?"
Rachel shook her head as she whiped the crumbs from her mouth. “Nothing. Jamie has a date. She wouldn’t say with who though.”
Dave chuckled. “What a coincidence. So does Taylor.”
The pair laughed together for a moment as the giddily realized their best friends had hit it off. What a small world it felt like. All of the sudden, after pretending for years that he no longer existed, Dave had engulfed her life once again.
"You wanna come to my place? Or hang at yours? If you’re up for company, I mean."
"Sure. I need to clean up my place. Mind if we hang there?"
Dave shrugged. “Fine with me. I’ll let you get back to work.”
Dmhe slapped his knees, standing up and picking his plate up. Rachel protested.
"No I’ll get it. Just leave it there."
Dave did as he was told and took a step towards her, looking down at her and catching her attention as he blinked his long dark lashes at her. He pecked her lips once, then rested against her mouth for a long moment, inhaling her in through his nose.
"I’ll see you tonight then. Call me when you get home and I’ll come on over."
He winked at her and patted her rear end before stepping out the door and exiting the building. Rachel gathered the plates and cups back onto the tray and headed back towards the kitchen. He hasn’t said it, and to her surprise, she was disappointed.