Lydia sighed with relief when she saw the gray car parked outside the train station, as promised. For once during this trip, things went exactly as planned. The driver was doing something on his phone. Probably checking the Uber app. He didn’t see Lydia, but that was all right; she didn’t need help with her bag.
She threw her bag on the back seat and sat in the front passenger seat. Her driver looked at her with a mixture of amusement and confusion.
“Hi, I’m Lydia,” she greeted him cheerfully.
“Josh,” the driver replied. “Can I help you?”
She decided to ignore the undertone of sass in his voice. It might have been better to go directly to her new apartment, but on the spur of the moment Lydia decided there was something she needed more. “Can you get me to the best coffee around these parts?”
Josh stared at her for a moment, then shrugged and chuckled. “I don’t see why not.” He started the car engine and pulled out his parking space.
“Do you do this a lot?” Josh asked curiously, while waiting for his chance to merge into the traffic.
“Just a couple of times,” she told him. “I must say,” Lydia glanced at him, “I’ve not encountered an Uber driver who wears a suit before.”
“Ah.” Josh responded, as if things suddenly made sense to him. He chuckled again. “Well, that’s because I’m not really an Uber driver.”
“Oh. No, of course. We all do what we need to do,” Lydia nodded sympathetically. “You must do something creative, right? Waiting for your big break?”
For some reason Josh found that funny. “Yeah, something like that,” he said when he was done laughing. “I’m a freelance investment consultant.”
“Oh,” Lydia said. She didn’t really know anything about investing. Luckily Josh changed the subject.
“What do you do?”
“I… am in between jobs right now.” Lydia was about to start her new job next week, but decided she wasn’t going to give out too much information. Josh seemed nice, but it was still better to be careful. Before Josh could ask her another question, Lydia’s phone let out a little ding. She fished it out of her purse to see who was contacting her.
“What the hell?” Lydia looked at Josh. “Someone claiming to be you says he’s been waiting outside the train station for five minutes.”
“That’s probably right,” Josh nodded. “Like I said, I’m not an Uber driver,”
“What? B-but…” Lydia started blushing with embarrassment.
“Do you want me to drive you back?”
Lydia checked her phone. “They already left,” she said, defeated.
“Shame,” Josh replied without sounding too upset about it.
“I am so, so sorry,” Lydia’s voice was muffled because she was hiding her face in her hands. She was horrified with her behavior.
“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Josh was chuckling again. “I get to take a beautiful lady for coffee.”
“But…I…” Lydia didn’t know why her first instinct was to protest. It would be really rude to turn him down now. And to be honest, she would probably have accepted if Josh had asked under different circumstances. On top of that, he appeared to have a good sense of humor. “At least let me buy you the coffee.”
“No, no. I insist.”
“They don’t have the best coffee in these parts,” Josh said, holding open the door to the coffee house for Lydia, “They are a close second, though. And they give free refills and have free wifi.”
“You sold me,” Lydia grinned.
They strolled towards the counter. It was warm enough inside that Lydia took her coat off. From the corner of her eye she noticed Josh watching her. She smiled, still feeling a little awkward about the whole situation. It didn’t help much that Josh was pretty good looking. What exactly was happening? Did this turn into a date?
“So you look like a girl who enjoys vanilla,” Josh said.
The comment took Lydia off guard. She swallowed her laugh, turning it into a cough. She turned to look at Josh with raised eyebrows and a little smirk. “Do I?”
Instantly the confident, amused expression Josh had been wearing since Lydia got into his car disappeared. A blush crept onto his cheeks. “In your coffee. French vanilla. Flavored sugar. For coffee,” he clarified quickly, almost stumbling over his words.
“Right, right,” Lydia responded. She was enjoying this role reversal. It made her feel a little better about herself. Also, Josh was cute when he looked awkward.
“Right,” Josh cleared his throat. “Um, why don’t you get us a table? I’ll get the coffee.”
Lydia found a table for two people next to a window. From her seat, she could see Josh place their order. She wondered if he would get it “right”. Coffee tastes were pretty much like movie or music tastes. If the differences in preference were too big, that didn’t necessarily ruin any chances of a relationship, but it would take effort and never ending compromise to make things work. Actually, with headphones and today’s plethora of devices that could play movies, coffee was the bigger obstacle. Getting coffee “right” was important.
It took Lydia a second to catch up to her own train of though. Any chances of a relationship? She met this man all of 15 minutes ago, and that was where her mind was at? Lydia was shocked at herself.
On the other hand, if she and Josh did end up in a relationship, they would have the world’s most amazing how-we-met story to tell. Besides, he was cute, he seemed nice and had a good sense of humor. It had to be worth at least making a move, right?
As she sat mulling over maybes, Josh walked up with their coffees. Lydia sat up with interest. Silly as it seemed, this felt like a make or break moment. She thanked Josh as she took her cup and carefully took a sip, half prepared to be disappointed.
“Wow,” Lydia said, honestly surprised. “This really is good coffee.”
“Right? I come here all the time.”
“Now you got me really curious,” Lydia smiled as she looked at josh over the rim of her coffee cup.
“You made it clear that this coffee is only second best around these parts. Of course, now I want to know where I can find the best.”
“Ah.” Josh leaned back in his chair. “Well, I don’t mean to brag,” He said, drawing the words out in such a way that made it clear bragging was exactly what he was doing, “But the very best cup of coffee can be found at my place. I make the best coffee.”
“That is a bold claim.” Lydia smirked.
“One I stand behind,” Josh confidently replied.
“You understand that I can’t simply take you on your word…”
“Then I will have to make you a cup someday,” He grinned.
“In that case,” Lydia pulled her phone out of her purse, “we better exchange contact information.” Josh happily agreed and took out his own phone as well.
“One question, though,” Lydia asked when she finished putting in Josh’s digits. Josh looked up from his screen. A little spark of mischief twinkled in Lydia’s eyes. “Does your coffee come with vanilla?”