Zara flipped the page of the book she was reading.
Correction. The book that she was pretending to read. She was one of the regulars at this corner Starbucks outlet. Cherry, the store manager always greeted her with a cheery ‘good morning’ followed by an occasional compliment.
Zara adjusted the frame of her Gucci sunglasses. Pretentious, yes. But they served their purpose. From her corner seat, she had a perfect view of the surroundings. And his office.
Every day, since that day that she had first seen him, she used to sit here, on this very seat and watch him walk up the single flight of stairs, nod at the doorman and walk inside. She sighed, replaying the first time that they had met in her mind for the millionth time.
The music was blaring. Her ears hurt. She adjusted her dress, a bit conscious since it was really short and she knew a lot of people were checking her out. But she hated the attention.
She smiled at her friends, sitting across the table. It was Nicole’s twenty-ninth birthday. She and a bunch of common friends from work were at The Trampoline, a new pub in town; which surprisingly had a trampoline. Stupid idea. All that one needed was a bunch of drunk people jumping up and down. She was quite surprised that there were no broken bones being reported.
Nicole took her by the hand. “Let’s dance!”
A few people from the group joined them. Zara danced for a bit, and then excused herself under the pretext that her feet were hurting. High heels, you see. She was sitting on a bean bag, rubbing her ankles when she saw him. And she couldn’t look away. Dusky, tall with a lean build; she liked what she saw. He was dressed in black and had a bottle of beer in in hands. One of the friends on his table must have cracked a joke because he smiled and she knew she was a goner.
She kept on looking at him, discreetly. He got up from his seat and started walking towards the bar. Towards her. Their eyes met. She smiled at him, a bit shy. He smiled back and walked past her.
Cherry handed her the bill.
Zara blinked. It was nine AM. Sure enough in a few minutes, she saw him. She smiled. He looked good in Friday casuals. She signed on the receipt and walked out of the coffee shop. Tonight, she would make her move.
She was at The Trampoline again. Alone this time. Dressed in red. She waited in her car till she saw him walk inside with his friends. No women. She had observed him for two months now and they always went inside, in a bunch. Two of his friends, the blonde guy, and a short red-head always came out with different women each time. But he always walked out alone, always a little drunk.
She walked inside and headed straight for the bar. He was standing on her left,but she pretended not to notice him.
“A green-apple martini please.”
“Sure thing!” The bartender smiled and started preparing her drink.
“All alone?” The bartender winked at her.
She smiled,”Well…Mike,” as her eyes fell on his name-tag “I was waiting for my girlfriends to show up but their car broke down while they were returning from the hockey game today, so I came in anyway. No where else to go!”
“Aw, which team do you support?”
“The Blasters of course, who else?”
She could sense his eyes on her now.
“You support the Blasters?”
She turned around to look at him. “Hey…yes, I do.” Of course she did. She knew he supported them too. She’d seen him wear their T- Shirt to work on many occasions.
He grinned,”How rude of me, I’m Jake.”
She shook his hand,”Hi Jake, I’m Zara.”
He didn’t let go of her hand,”Zara. What an unusual name.”
“Thank you! It means light, in Hebrew.”
He smiled again.
“One apple martini.” Mike announced.
Jake looked at her,”Hey…I like that drink as well! When i’m not having a beer that is!”
“Shall i make that two then?” Mike winked at Jake.
Jake nodded,”Sure, why not?” He looked at Zara.
“So…what do you do Zara?”
“Well I own my own store. I make and sell pottery.” I also spy on you on in my free time, she silently added in her mind.”How about you?”
“Oh me? I have a boring job. I work for a bank. We finance high risk loans and all that jazz. What else do you do in your spare time?”
She took a sip of her martini,”Well…”
Three hours and five martinis later she knew he’d fallen for her, hook line and sinker. He liked fishing. So did she! They had the same favorite song, movie and actor. They both loved hockey and both of them uncannily worked at the same animal shelter.
What Jake didn’t know was that she’d signed up for the shelter after she had seen him go there every Saturday. And one night, when he was drunk, she had broken into his house and gone through his playlist, movie collections, photo albums, anything she could get her hand on. She knew him better than he knew himself maybe. She didn’t care much about Hockey either. No, she was more of a tennis fan. But he didn’t need to know that. He didn’t need to know any of this.
He dropped her at her doorstep.
“Wow. I had a great evening. When can I see you again?”
Without waiting for an answer, he leaned in to kiss her. She braced herself. First kisses were always awkward. He put his hands on her waist and drew her close, his lips grazed hers gently. She sighed and pulled him closer and kissed him deeply, her heart hammering in her chest.
After what seemed like forever their lips parted. He lifted her chin up.
“Where have you been?” He whispered softly and kissed her on her forehead.
Zara smiled.”I’ve been right here.” Right here, watching you so that this would happen.
“I’ll call you tomorrow. Dinner at 8?”
He kissed on her cheek and left.
She smiled smugly. Who said stalking didn’t work?