Home > Collide (Collide #1)(8)

Collide (Collide #1)(8)
Author: Gail McHugh

Considering they didn’t have time to go out to eat breakfast, Emily wound up cooking for them. After cleaning up, Dillon left for work. She got ready for her shift and then called her sister, Lisa, who lived in California. She missed her tremendously. Older than Emily by ten years, Lisa was like a second mother. She married her high-school sweetheart, Michael, six years ago. Because of her absentee father, Emily looked to Michael in ways that she would’ve looked to her own father had he been there. Lisa and Michael meant the world to Emily. Not that seeing them was easy before her mom died, but literally being on opposite sides of the continent now, Emily knew that their visits would be less frequent. However, they made a tentative date to try to see each other within the next few months.

Once finished, Emily jumped in a taxi and headed to work. On her way, she found herself remembering how much her mom wanted to visit New York. She went as far as booking tickets to a show on Broadway, but she fell ill shortly after. The rapid-fire pace of events after she was sick prevented her from being able to go. It was a bittersweet thought in Emily’s head at that moment. Here she was in the city her mother longed to visit, but she wasn’t there with her. As she made her way into the restaurant, Emily tried to push the sorrow invading her thoughts to the side.

“Hey! You no gonna say hi to me?” Roberto, the Spanish cook, asked Emily. “Me like you, Emmy. Me like you a lot.”

“Hi, Roberto,” she laughed. “I like you, too.”

He blushed as Emily punched her card through the time clock. Fallon let her know that they felt she was strong enough to have her own station. Since she was able to pull her weight during the rush yesterday, they gave her a few tables to start with. Her first set of customers was a few New York City police officers.

Antonio watched her closely as she approached them.

“Hello, my name’s Emily. I’ll be taking care of you today.” Smiling, she pulled her pen and pad out of her apron. “Would you gentlemen like to place your drink orders, or do you know what you want?”

The oldest officer, a man with salt-and-pepper hair, smiled back. “You’re not our regular waitress.”

“No, sir, I’m not. I just started working here yesterday, so you gentlemen need to take it easy on me, okay?” Emily gestured over her shoulder to Antonio. “My boss is watching.”

With warm faces, they laughed, clearly amused at her remark.

The youngest cop chimed in. “Who? Antonio? Nah, he’s harmless.”

The middle-aged cop gave a smirk. “Don’t worry. We’ll try to be nice, but sometimes we can be a pain in the ass.”

“Well, don’t be too hard on me, boys.” Emily smiled, happy that they all had a sense of humor. “What can I get you gentlemen to drink?”

Emily took their orders and sent them back to the kitchen. She had another few tables come in before the lunch rush really picked up. The place went from being pretty calm to a madhouse layered with every type of customer she could’ve imagined.

As Emily walked out with one table’s orders, Antonio called out to her. “Hey, Country,” he said, motioning to one of her booths in the corner. “You just got sat again. Are you okay to take another?”

She adjusted the tray she was carrying on her shoulder. “Yeah, I’m cool. I’ll be right there.”

He nodded and whisked off to the front door to greet more customers.

She reached for a tray stand, sat the food down, and handed the plates out to a party of five. “Does anyone need anything else?” she asked the group.

An attractive brunette in a summer dress looked up, holding an empty glass of soda. “I need a refill, please.”

Emily gave a hurried smile and grabbed the glass. “I’ll be right back.”

She headed over to the soda fountain, glancing over to the table where she could barely see the lone gentleman that she had yet to greet. “Shit,” she mumbled to herself.

Quickly returning to the party of five, she handed the woman her drink. “Sorry about that. Does anyone need anything else?” she asked, inwardly praying no one did.

They all shook their heads no.

Emily let out a soft sigh of relief and let them know she’d be back to check on them. Walking away, she pulled her order pad from her apron and rounded the corner. Sliding her hand across her sweaty forehead, she approached the table and accidentally dropped her pen to the ground in front of the booth. She knelt down to pick it up, but before she could, the stranger’s hand reached for it.

“Thank you,” Emily said, still crouched on the floor. “I appreciate that. Can I…” Her voice trailed off when she made eye contact with the patron.

It was Mr. Tall, Dark, and Fuckable Handsome from the elevator. Her breath caught at the sight of him sitting there casually as she slowly stood up. She literally had to hold onto the table for balance. He was even better looking than she remembered. Not that less than twenty-four hours could erase his image from her head, but now he was just so there, so male, and so enthralling. He sparked that all too familiar tingle across her skin. He had his suit jacket off, hung neatly on a hook next to the booth. He was wearing a crisp white button-down shirt, and the stark absence of color only emphasized his clear blue eyes.

Gavin’s lips curled into a smile. “You don’t look too happy to see me.”

“I’m just a little…I…” Emily struggled to find her words.

Gavin wasn’t about to admit that his need to see her again was intense—so fucking intense that he actually canceled a meeting with a large account in hopes of catching her at work. Nor would he tell her that when the elevator doors closed last night, he was left feeling oddly robbed by her departure.

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