She was bent over a stack of cakes and pastries when she felt a presence next to her. She raised her head, ready to put on her fake customer service smile, when she realized who was there. He smiled, slightly disheveled in a wrinkled oxford shirt and old jeans. They had reconnected via social media (didn't everyone) and he had mentioned he was moving near where she was living now. She stood and tried to think of something intelligent to say.
"No. Just his emissary."
"I always thought you'd make a good angel of death."
She looked down at her hands, cringing at her uniform of apron and company cap. She gave an embarrassed shrug.
"I look a mess."
"You look tired."
She smiled. He always said the obvious. There was never any subterfuge with him. Straight and to the point.
He put his arms around her, enveloping her in a big hug. She sunk into his embrace, surprised how the tension in her body dripped away. The two of them stood there, oblivious to the crowd and activity around them. She didn't care if her supervisor saw them. She put her head on his shoulder, wondering why she never realized before how well they fit together.
"How's your boyfriend?"
She jumped slightly and looked up at him. He really was quite handsome, his beard and hair lightly flecked with grey. She remembered how scrawny and awkward he had been in college; he was definitely someone who improved with age. She pulled away and crossed her arms in front of her. The tension began to creep back into her shoulders.
"How did you hear about that?"
"You can't keep anything from me. I am omnipresent. I know all."
He said the last bit in a funny, mock scary voice, but his easygoing manner was clouded by his eyes. A look of concern filled them like tears.
She tried to laugh it off, but the pain was still there.
"Then you must have heard. He's in a relationship. Seems everybody else knew. I spent all summer hoping we'd take it to the next level and he's all ready done that with someone else. I'm not getting any younger, I can't afford to waste time with men . . ."
She stared off into the distance, her voice catching slightly. She took a deep breath and gave him a cynical smile.
"At least I didn't sleep with him. I guess I'm not so dumb after all."
He looked at her with such sympathy. How could anyone as wonderful as her think she was stupid? He'd give her the moon and the stars, walk barefoot through coals to make her happy. He moved closer to her, letting his lips brush gently against her ear.
"It's a known fact, my darling, that you have lousy taste in men. At least, American men. I think it's time you came over to the dark side, and gave in to your desires for a slightly worn, but devilishly sexy Englishman."
She laughed, the first happy sound from her soul in months. She wondered why she hadn't seen this earlier. Maybe she had, and been too afraid to accept such a loving gift.
"I'm done with my shift in ten minutes. Can you wait?"
He smiled and took her face in his hands. For once his desire wasn't overshadowed by fear of rejection.
"I've waited twenty years, love, I can wait ten more minutes."
"You know that sounds like a cliche, don't you?"
"God, you're a pain in the ass. Let me have my leading man moment, just once."
"I'll let you have it what ever you want."
"Now who's being a cliché?"
He kissed her, right in the middle of the bakery section, amongst the cakes and pies. It was the sweetest thing he'd ever tasted.