1 Something about Tom

Madison stared at him from behind the espresso machine. This particular coffee shop had plenty of interesting customers due to its location, but few of them made the presence in the room change the way he did. He stood at the register ordering his coffee, the barista serving him stumbling over her words, face flushed. She had spoken with "Tom" at the register enough times to get a good look at his face. His scarlet hair was combed back and well kept, his green eyes piercing hers, rarely breaking eye contact with her when talking. His smile is devilish, perfect white teeth seeming almost fang like. Tall and slender, he moved elegantly. His well-tailored suit fitting him in all the right places. Most the girls she has worked with here swoon at the sight of him and most of them make fools of themselves whenever they're in his presence. He never seems to be more than mildly amused with their attempts to ask him out and rarely takes them up on it. Tom would usually pick up his order from the end of the counter, then retreat to be found in the corner arm chair, one long leg crossed over the other with his "name brand" sun glasses propped on his head and some dusty looking book in his hand.

He would also make a habit of watching Madison. Sometimes nonchalantly peering over his book, looking away before he could be caught by others. Other times, staring boldly at her, a smirk crossing his face when she'd glare at him.

After a month and a half of this same routine he stands up, the movement almost too fluid to seem real. He closes his book softly and set it down on the chair before he steps toward the counter. He clears his throat gently to grab her attention. Madison sighed, rolling her eyes before turning to him and giving him a customer service smile.

"What can I do for you, Tom?" She asked, not knowing how to feel about the way he was looking at her. His eyes twinkling with promised mischief. He placed his hands on the counter and leaned closer to her. She noticed for the first time how toned his fore arms were and how his hands seemed strong when they normally just appeared to be nimble and slender. She also noted the tiny scars on his hands. He drew a shallow breath before speaking.

"I was wondering if I could ask you to accompany me for dinner?" His voice was smooth, the kind of whisper that could convince the most chaste woman of submitting to his will. The smirk that lingered on his face proved that he knew what he could accomplish. The Barista working with Madison turned as soon as she heard Tom speaking, glaring at the back of Madison's head.

Her eyebrow cocked in confusion. After turning down all the advances of her co workers, Madison was left wondering why he chose this moment to ask HER on a date. Why did he ask at all. What is he playing at? She crouched down to check the stock in the fridge that she was standing next to, she was still at work after all and she needed to collect her thoughts.

~What do I tell him?~ She thought. ~Surely, I can't answer him here… Becky is setting my head on fire with her intense staring. I'd never hear the end of it.~

She stood up. Ready to deliver a firm and resounding NO, but Tom was back in his seat, reading his book. She began to wonder If she had imagined the whole thing, but the fact that Becky wouldn't speak to her the rest of their shift told her it really had happened. The rest of the evening was uneventful. A few more customers came and went, Tom left an hour before close. As Madison walked through the lobby, intent on locking the door and going home, she stopped by the suede arm chair that Tom occupied during his visits. On the seat cushion sat a dusty old book. Tom's book. The corners were rounded and worn, the leather beginning to turn grey with a tan undertone of what once was surely a marvelous, rich mahogany color. It had tarnished brass embellishments with beautifully crafted engravings all over. There was no title on the cover, but there were odd looking symbols all along the spine.

"This thing looks ancient… and these symbols look like something out of Lord of the Rings." She muttered under her breath, picking up the book and holding it in her hands. A paper was hidden under the tome, with a phone number on it and a smiley face. She huffed as she tucked the book under arm and firmly locked the door.

"That cheeky bastard."

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