My head pounded and my eyelids sagged. I gripped the steering wheel of my rental car, “I need a latte and I need it now.”
I enjoyed my job, but sometimes I dreaded the business conferences
Two days ago I sat with my husband at our favorite coffee hangout and enjoyed a hot caramel macchiato. I love to pop the lid off the cup and dip my finger in the caramel laden foam.
“Our barista makes the best foam.” I played in the caramel sauce, “I’m going to miss you, Honey.” I licked my finger.
“You’re gonna miss your barista more,” Mark teased. “Down south those fancy coffees are hard to find.” His imitation of my boss made me spit coffee on him.
Being an Emerald City girl, I loved all things espresso. I’ll take it hot, cold, blended, frozen, or even mixed in brownies.
I assured him that the coffee industry would not fail me. He insulted me with brazen laughter, but I loved the way his eyes crinkled at the edges when he smiled at me. I remember brushing my fingers through the touch of silver just above his ear.
I missed him. My hand instinctively toyed with the heart necklace embellished with emeralds, my favorite Valentine gift. His birthstones trimmed the gold heart and rested just above my heart. Before tears could form, I punched his speed-dial number on my cell and listened to it ring in my blue-tooth. I needed to hear his voice.
“Hello,” the nonchalant way he answered failed to hide the fact that he missed me, too.
“Hey,” I needed him to carry the conversation so I could focus on my latte quest.
“What are you up to?”
“I’m on a break.” Do I confess to him what I’m doing?
“Are you driving?”
“Looking for coffee?” There seemed to be a smug twinge in his voice.
I gave in. “Yes, but I miss you more. Just so you know.”
“Pull over as soon as it’s safe.”
“What are you up to?” I eased my car into a gas station. I couldn’t help but think that if I were back in Seattle I’d be guaranteed a coffee stand in the front corner of this tiny parking lot.
“What street are you on?” Mark sounded all business.
I stretched to see out the passenger window and grunted, “I’m on Madison and 12th.”
“Okay, I found one. You’re about five minutes away from a Starbucks. I’ll give you directions.”
“Really? I love you. I only have fifteen minutes before the next session starts.”
“Then listen carefully. I’ll be your personal GPS and direct you back, too.”
Mark gave me step-by-step instructions and brought me right to the curb of the tiniest Starbucks I’d ever seen.
When I walked in, the familiar scent of fresh coffee embraced me. I quietly declared in my blue-tooth, “I’m positive Heaven will smell like Starbucks.”
Mark listened as I ordered, “I’ll take an iced-quad-venti-vanilla-nonfat latte.”
“Quad. You must really miss me if you’re ordering a quad-shot.”
I didn’t want people to think I talked to myself so I ignored Mark’s comment.
I had my straw poised and ready to shove into the lid before my drink hit the coffee bar. I closed my eyes and savored the first sip.
The young handsome barista stared at me. “How is it, Ma’am?” His southern drawl added charm to his mischievous smirk.
“Tastes like home, Toto.” I winked and shoved a dollar in the tip jar.
“Toto?” Mark snorted. “You really do miss the Emerald City, don’t you?”
“Alright, Oz, direct me back.” I could feel the caffeine rejuvenate me, bringing out my ornery side.
Over the next three days I made the trek back and forth to the tiny coffee-haven as I endured the long drawn out conference. Toto became my hero.
With numb-butt disease from the week and the long flight home, nothing looked more enticing then the sight that greeted me at the baggage claim.
There he stood. What a magnificent man. In his right hand he held a venti hot latte and in his left, an iced-cold one.
“I almost bought roses, but I knew this is what you really wanted.” His boyish grin made his blue eyes twinkle.
I bypassed the outstretched drinks and embraced my Oz. “You are what I really want.”
I clicked the heels of my sneakers together and whispered, “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.”
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