"Raegan darling!" I heard someone calling my name in a sing-song voice. It sounded like Rachel. "Where is my beautiful yankee doodle?" Oh yes, that was definitely Rachel. That was the nickname she had christened me with on my first day of work a week ago.
"Yeah Rachel? What can I do for you?" I yelled back nicely.
She shuffled out of the stockroom with her hands full of bags of coffee beans. "We just got a new shipment in. Beans and all. All the boxes of tea are in the back room, would you mind bringing them out here? I'll help, there's so much to bring out."
"Of course!" It had been a slow night here at Rachel's Place, but it was still fun working nonetheless. I could honestly say I loved my job already. My boss, Rachel, is awesome and really fun to talk to. She gives really good advice and has great stories because she's traveled all over the world. She's been to more countries and places than I can count. The best thing about Rachel is that she's kind. She is always willing to lend a hand, hear you out, be willing to work around your schedule, and give you a second chance if you mess something up. I also just loved the cafe in general. It was small, but never crowded. There was always a paper laying around to read, and so many good books just filling random bookshelves all over the place. The Christmas lights spelled out words like "hope" and "love" and Rachel was ALWAYS playing good music. She even had open mic nights sometimes. She told me a few days ago that she loves jazz music as much as I do, and hasn't found a good jazz club in the city yet, despite having lived here for a few years now. So far, the customers were great too. They all had a story to tell and were laid back. No snobs ever came through the door, just a friendly variety of people. My co-workers were great too. There was Nick, a retired army general who needed something to do during the day so he wouldn't get bored, Lucy, the single mom who worked part time in addition to her full time job, Morgan, who was Rachel's niece, and Sarah who attended Trinity just like me. All in all, this place was great.
I went in the back room to help out Rachel. Sarah was running the register and front area. She wouldn't need me right now anyways, we hadn't a customer in the last half hour. I started grabbing boxes of tea bags. My eyes nearly popped out of my head at the sight of all the varieties. There was raspberry, peppermint, chamomile, sleepy tea, energizing tea, black tea, grey tea, chai tea, green tea, white tea, and so many more. And each flavor had so many brands offering it. I grabbed a handful of boxes and headed out to the front so I could set them all up on the display where customers picked the one they wanted. It took me about twenty-five minutes to bring all the coffee beans, tea, plastic silverware, takeaway mugs, creamers, sugar, cups and lids to the front to be organized and stocked.
Next, I organized all the things I had just brought out. For being the new girl, I was pretty knowledgeable about where everything went. The coffee beans went on the shelf underneath the grinders, the tea went on the display cases and the leftovers went on the shelf next to the coffee beans, the plastic silverware went in the holders on the other side of the counter where customers picked up their order, the to-go mugs went behind that counter, the creamers, sugar, cups, and lids all went next to the plastic silverware. It took me another twenty minutes to finish putting everything away and by the time I finished, my shift was almost over. I headed back around the counters to wipe some stuff down, when I heard the bell by the door ring. I walked over to the ordering counter where the register was to help the customer. When I looked up I was pleasantly surprised to see that Jake was waiting to order.
He looked up from his phone and noticed it was me. "I didn't know you worked here! I was just about to call you!"
"I just started last week. I probably would have told you next time I saw you. What can I get for you?" I asked him.
"Can I get a medium coffee with extra cream and no sugar, and raspberry tart please?"
"Sure thing." I punched the order into the register. "Are you working right now?" I asked. Sarah started making the coffee and I went to grab the raspberry tart.
"Yeah I am. It’s been a bit slow tonight" he said.
I made sure to give him the biggest tart out of the bunch. Sarah brought over his coffee and slid it across the counter. "That will be 3 euros please." He handed me his card. "Would you like your receipt?"
"No thanks. Don't need it. Thanks for the coffee."
"No problem." I said. "I'll see you around."
He waved and started walking out. I was a little disappointed we couldn't talk more, but he seemed like he was in a rush. I watched him as he walked out. Suddenly he stopped and turned around, heading back towards the register, as I headed to the stock room for a second.
"Wait Raegan!" he said. I turned back around. "I am such an idiot for not asking you just now. Will you go out with me tomorrow night? There's this great place I want to take you, but I want it to be a surprise. Will you go with me?"
"Yeah I would love to go."
He leaned over the counter and kissed me on the cheek. In the corner of my eye I saw both Sarah and Rachel's eyebrows raise up with smirks on their faces. "Great. I'll pick you up at seven okay?"
"Okay." I said with a small smile. He turned around and walked out the door. I could feel my cheeks getting red. That was unexpected.
"Ooooooheeeeee! I see young love blooming right before my eyes." Rachel teased.
"It's nothing" I said. "We've only been on one date. Geesh." I rolled my eyes.
"Hey, you never know, my husband told me he fell in love with me on the very first date. Actually, the moment he laid eyes on me is what he usually says." I jokingly batted her eyelashes and danced to whatever music was playing inside her head.
"Yeah, you never know Yankee, what if he's the one?” Great, now Sarah was calling me Yankee too. I rolled my eyes at her just like I did Rachel.
"I don't know you guys. He is really sweet, and does everything right, but I'm still a little hesitant."
"Why?" they both said at the same time. It was obvious that Sarah’s been working here since the place opened. Her and Rachel are almost the same person in two different bodies by this point.
"I had this weird dream about him that kind of shook me up. In my dream he was banging at my door screaming at me trying to get in my apartment. To be honest....." I said, kind of trailing off. They looked at me urging me to go on. ".....It was kind of terrifying. And it definitely creeped me out."
"Oh forget about the dream Raegan. Humans dream the craziest things,” Rachel scoffed.
"I agree with her," added Sarah. "Just forget about it. He seems real sweet. It's not worth getting creeped about a great guy for no reason."
"True that. Well I gotta head out. Night you guys." I bid them farewell and left the café. I thought about what they said. I guess I should just drop it. A dream is just a dream, after all I am a psychology major, and I know that dreams have no influence on fate or real life. After thinking it through on my way back home, I felt a lot better about it. I wasn't just going to drop Jake over a freaky nightmare. He was a nice guy, fun to be around and had given me no reason to doubt him.
Sitting in my Child Development class, I was getting very bored. I had already drawn a page worth of doodles in my notebook. Scribbles, swirlies, flowers, clouds and random song lyrics littered the lined paper. The class had dragged on and thankfully it was over in less than a minute. I folded my notebook closed and began to zip my bag up. The professor finally dismissed us in his monotone voice and everyone headed for the door. As I was leaving, I suddenly felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see a girl with dark brown hair in bun looking back at me.
"Uh, Hi, I'm Callie. You're Raegan right?" she stuck her hand out to shake mine. I shook her hand apprehensively.
"Uh yeah, I'm Raegan."
"Look, I'm sorry to be all awkward like this but I think I should let you know of something. I couldn't help but overhear you talking to your friend before class about Jake Murphy. I think there are some things you should know about him. Would you like to go sit at the tables?"
"Uh, sure" was all I had to say. I was a little uncomfortable at the fact that she had heard me talking about Jake to Sarah, who had a class in the room next to me, and at the fact that she needed to talk to me about it. I followed her out into the courtyard toward some tables. We sat down and she immediately started talking.
"Once again, I'm sorry for being so awkward and mysterious. If it were the other way around I know I would be weirded out." she said. You could say that again.
"Anyways, as I said before I couldn't help but hear you talking about Jake." I noticed a change in the tone of her voice, and she quickly became less animated as she spoke. "You see, my best friend used to go here and she was in his year. This was about a year ago. She and Jake started dating in the beginning of the school year. She was crazy about him. He took her out all the time, and really charmed the pants of her."
"Okay......" I said. "And this involves me how?"
"Well I could tell by the way you were talking about him that you're rather fond of him. Am I right?"
"Well a month into dating my friend, you should know that he became very clingy. He began to follow her around without her knowing. He would go through her phone every chance he got. He had other cab drivers follow her around when they didn't have anywhere to be. When my friend found out all of this, she broke up with him. Then after the break-up things got really bad. He began stalking her way worse than before. She had to change her phone number and move back in with her parents because he didn't know where their house was, and he kept harassing her at her apartment. This went on for weeks. He even threatened her. She was so terrified that she didn't even want to contact the guards. One day he found her after class and told her he would never stop following her, and that he couldn't live without her. The next day she dropped out of Uni and transferred schools. I'm one of the only people besides her parents who knows where she goes now."
"Are you serious? That's seems a little far-fetched don't you think?" I asked her. I was astounded at what she had just told me, and a little freaked out. It resonated with my dream a little too much.
"Raegan, I'm telling you the truth. That is what he does. He reels you in and then he gets all crazy clingy. He really threatened her. Told her he would hurt her if she kept avoiding him. The way you were talking about him made it sound like he was really charming and has done everything perfectly right all charming and such, right?"
"Uh yeah, he is really sweet."
"That's his whole plan. He does everything right, acts like the perfect guy, and then once he thinks he has you, he'll get crazy! Don't you get it?" she said, cocking her head to one side.
I didn't know what to think. This complete stranger just told me that the great guy I was interest in was possibly a psycho stalker. Part of me wanted to believe her, but I couldn't. He didn't show any signs of being a maniac. He was kind, treated me with respect, and not once pressured me into anything. In fact, I was going on a date with him tonight to a surprise location! I didn't know what to think! What was I supposed to do?
"Look, Raegan, I'm not trying to invade your personal life and get in your business. I just think you have the right to know this. I'm sorry if I've burdened your day." She had a look of pity on her face, which dumbfounded me even more.
"It's okay. I appreciate you telling me this. But I've got to go now. Thanks again." I got up quickly and left. I wanted out of that situation. Suddenly I heard her yelling.
"Hey wait!" I turned around to look at her. "I forgot to tell you that I love your One Direction pin! You know! The one on your bag!" I looked down at my backpack. I forgot that pin was even on there.
"Thanks!" I yelled, it was obvious I was still uncomfortable and a little annoyed. I scurried across the courtyard heading for my apartment.
7:55 PM. Jake was supposed to be here in about five minutes, and I was a little nervous, but not as much as last time. I hadn't been able to stop thinking about what that Callie girl had said to me today. It definitely rattled my cage. But I also questioned her motives. Maybe her best friend had put her up to this because of some issue she had with Jake? Or maybe this girl was just nuts? I told myself an hour ago that I should just forget about it and just be a little more cautious with Jake. Besides, this is only our second date, meaning there was plenty of time for this thing to not even go that far.
There was knock on my door. I checked my reflection in the mirror once more and opened the door.
"Hi" I said kind of shyly.
"Hi. Once again you look lovely." I was wearing a wearing a green loose button down, skinny jeans, and my black toms. I added enough accessories to make the outfit a teeny but fancier, but Jake had texted me telling me I didn't have to dress up or anything like that.
"Thanks. You look rather dapper yourself." I told him.
"Dapper?" He teased with a smirk.
"Oh stop making fun of the Yank, it's a classy old American term." I told him jokingly rolling my eyes.
"Whatever you say Yankee." He grabbed a hold of my hand and led me to the lift.
We made it out to the street pretty quickly when it dawned on me that I still didn't know where we were going.
"Jake, where are we going?"
"Can't tell you until we get there. Sorry. I want to tell you, especially since you look so lovely this evening, but it's a surprise." I gave him a puppy dog face.
"Please tell me! I don't need it to be a surprise."
"Yeah well I do because I can't wait to see the look on your face." he said with a smile. We continued walking for a while. I noticed we were taking a lot of turns going through quite a few alleys that I probably wouldn't have approached if I was alone, and was even a little cautious of with Jake being here. Finally, we stopped in the middle of a dark alley. I could see a door towards the end with light seeping through the cracks around the edges, but all in all it seemed creepy.
"Raegan, are you ready for your surprise and our second date?"
"This isn't a strip club is it?! If it is I'll kill you."
"What?! God no! Don't be a gimp!" He shoved the door open and tugged me inside. I was greeted by a purple glow coming from the lamps surrounding the big room and large purple stage curtains covering a stage. The walls were covered in pictures and posters of famous musicians. Jazz musicians. I could hear the sweet sounds of Billie Holiday playing through the speakers and it dawned on me that we were in a jazz club. An actual jazz club!
"It took me ages of searching online to find a jazz club around here. But I found one. And the best part is, it's decked out in purple!" he said to me. "Do you like it?"
"Wow…yes, it’s perfect.” I tell him, still in awe of the efforts he went through and how happy I was to be in a place like this.
"Good, now let’s get a seat. I think a local musician is performing tonight."
"Jake. I need to ask you something." It was the intermission of the performance. Which was incredible. This local could play the saxophone so well, and performed like he owned the stage. "Some girl Callie, from my Child Development class said something to me today. About you." I was hesitant on asking him about the situation. What if he freaked out? Or accused me of being a weirdo or something?
"Let me guess. She told you I was a stalker psycho threatening boyfriend to her best friend?"
"Uh yeah, that's exactly it I guess." I probably should have kept my mouth shut. He seemed very irritated now.
"Everything she said is a lie. In fact, it's the other way around. Her best friend did all that stuff to me. She threatened me. She followed me home from campus everyday. She had her friends follow me! The only reason she stopped was because her parents made her transfer to a school closer to home."
"So you're not a super stalker or anything like that?" I asked looking down as my knees. This was awkward.
He grabbed my chin and gently lifted my head so I was looking right at his eyes.
"I am not a super stalker. I am not that creepy guy she made me out to be. Trust me. I promise you." With that he leaned across the table, grabbed my face gently, and kissed me. It was a more forceful and passionate kiss, as if he was trying extra hard to get his point across. Nonetheless, it was enjoyable. We broke apart after a moment and he looked right into my eyes. Those eyes wouldn't lie to me right?
Unfortunately, all good things must come to an end, and that included the performance in the jazz club. I couldn't have been happier with the show, and the whole date itself. I learned a lot while I was there too. The locals told me that the venue had been around for ages and used to be an old theater. But back in thirties the place went broke, and sold all the seating to make some quick cash.
Once all the seats were gone, there was no way for spectators to see the shows, because they had nowhere to sit. So they put some tables in there, added wooden crates for seats and turned it into a place for local talent to perform. In the eighties, the venue started losing money and the place was sold to an American jazz enthusiast who turned the place into a jazz club.
I couldn't wait to come back again. I would have to bring my family here when they visit next year. My whole family loves jazz music, and my brothers always enjoy a good show with a local crowd. I would also have to tell Rachel since she told me she hadn't found any jazz clubs in the city yet.
Walking back seemed to take forever this time, but I didn't mind. Jake held my hand the whole way and we just talked about school and work. When we reached my apartment, I was disappointed, I didn't want the night to end. We walked into the lobby and as Jake waited for the elevator, I walked over to all the mailboxes. I hadn't checked my mail, so I wanted to check before I went upstairs. I opened the little box with my number on it and found just one item. It was a purple envelope addressed to me, and looked like a card. I walked back over to the lift just in time as it opened right as I arrived. Jake let me in first and we headed up.
"What is that?"
"I think it's my birthday card from my Mom and Dad. My birthday isn't until October 16th, but they are going on a two month long business/vacation trip to tons of different places, and my Dad said he wanted to send me my present now in case he couldn't do it later."
"Oh that's nice of him. I forgot you're not 18 yet. You child"
"Hey! Being the youngest can be a good thing!"
"Not when I want to have a pint with my lovely date and she can't yet because she's the youngest girl on campus."
"I am not the youngest girl on campus!" I retorted.
"Sure you're not." he said sarcastically.
"Whatever you say." I rolled my eyes and smiled. He looked over at me and went in for a kiss, but then the lift door opened and two people from the second floor got on. I giggled at his failed attempt.
When we arrived at my door, I didn't want to say goodbye. But like I said, all good things must come to an end.
"I had a lovely time with you this evening. The look on your face was priceless."
"Well thank you for taking me. It was a great surprise." I said. I leaned in and kissed him. I kept it short and sweet even though I wanted more. But I was tired and ready for bed as well. "Goodnight Jake. Thanks again."
"Anytime. I'll call you soon okay?"
"Goodnight." He left with a wave and I turned to open my door. As soon as the door shut I ripped open the purple envelope to see what was inside. Inside was a written note from my mother and father along with four signatures from my brothers. How sweet, they actually signed the card themselves for once. Along with the note were two tickets to the One Direction signing. I did a little jig once more, then headed to bed. What a great night it had been.