Dominique and Other Stories
Brenda Murphy © 2016
All Rights Reserved
She flinched at the tone. Kurt was forever uptalking, and it made Gina nuts.
“There is a lady out here, says she knows you, and wants to talk to you about coffee service for a group.”
“She needs to talk to Bill. He handles all the catering arrangements.” Gina turned back to measuring coffee beans.
“Kurt, for the love of all that is holy, please let me do this, or we’ll be buried in the rush.”
“She says she only wants to talk to you. She’s kinda scary.”
Gina rolled her eyes. Kurt was over six feet tall and looked like he lived at the gym. What the hell could be so scary? After tossing the scoop onto the counter, Gina walked to the front of the shop, grabbing the catering brochure on her way out.
“Our owner would…” Gina stopped.
Miranda’s face—signature lipstick and smoldering look—made Gina’s heart hitch. She had played this scene in her head so many times, but now that she was in it, she found she had no words.
“Miranda.” Looking down at the floor, her knuckles white on the counter, Gina swallowed hard. “You need to talk to Bill. Here’s his number.” She handed Miranda the catering menu. “You still know how to use a phone, right—or do you have people to do it for you now?”
“Can we talk?” Miranda stepped closer to the counter. Her eyes locked on Gina’s face, and she raised her hand as if to touch Gina’s cheek.
Gina took a step back. “I think the time for that has passed.”
“Are you so sure?” Her voice rubbed against Gina’s resolve like raw silk. She wanted to say, The hell with it. To say yes, to toss her apron at Kurt, leap the counter, and…then what? She didn’t know. She only knew she didn’t want to ever feel that particular kind of heartache again. She shoved her hands in her pockets to keep them still.
“No. Yes. The hell, Miranda? You walk in here like it’s five years ago, and expect to pick up where we left off. What is wrong with you?” Her eyes pinned Miranda to the spot, or, at least, that was what she intended. Instead, Gina was as lost in the ice-blue depths of Miranda’s eyes as she had ever been. She bit her lip to keep it from quivering, blinking back the tears that threatened to fall.
The clanging of the door chimes startled them.
“I’ll go. I’m so sorry. Truly sorry.” Miranda lowered her head, shoulders sagging. She slid a card across the counter toward Gina.
Gina swept it to the floor, looking around Miranda at the small woman behind her.
“Hi, Mona, do you want your usual?”
“Oh, yes, honey. I need my fix this morning.”
Mona stepped around her to pay, squinting at Miranda’s face.
“Hey, are you that woman? You know, the one everyone is talking about—Dominique somebody. You make those dreadfully scary movies my grandkids always want to show me?”
“Well, how about that? Would you sign something for me?” She snatched a napkin out of the holder. “Gina, honey, can I borrow a pen?”
“Sure, Mona.” Gina passed her pen over and left the two of them there, Miranda making Mona laugh like a schoolgirl. Gina sent Kurt out to make Mona’s tea.
In the bathroom, Gina splashed water on her face. She looked at herself in the mirror. Five years was a long time. The bit of gray that started at her widow’s peak had widened to a blaze across the top of her short dark hair. The smile lines along her mouth and eyes were deeper. She liked to think she hadn’t changed much in five years, given that Miranda sure as hell hadn’t changed. But Gina had changed. She was a little less impetuous now. A little less bold. She worked hard to protect her heart, not trusting anyone to keep it safe.
And make it up to her? How could Miranda make up five years of wondering what the hell those blissful nine months had been about? Five years of wondering why, or what if, or how? Screw that, Gina thought as she slammed the door behind her.
Walking to the front of the shop, she saw Miranda’s card on the floor and picked it up, meaning to fling it into the trash. She caught the scent of the white gardenia perfume that, like all things Miranda, had never changed. Gina turned the card over in her hand. Miranda had scrawled her hotel information across the front. Gina ran her thumb over the embossed print and shoved the card in her pocket.