I drop Caleb off home and head back to my apartment, replaying tonight's events over and over again inside my head. His face flashes through my mind and I inhale sharply, thinking of his blue eyes that feel like they're searching every inch of my soul when he looks at me.
"Stop it Mia, don't ruin a good thing." I mutter under my breath, knowing that I need this job. I shake my head and lean forward, turning the radio up in my car to distract myself. The same song Caleb choose in the diner begins to play loudly --
"Unbelievable!" I exclaim, throwing my hands up in the air. I quickly switch the radio off and decide to drive home in complete silence. I need to stop thinking about Caleb Stonehouse . . . And fast.
The next morning is slightly uncomfortable. As usual, Caleb gets in my car and fastens his seatbelt. As soon as he does, I begin driving towards the direction of his work.
"How are you today?" I ask him, attempting to make conversation. I feel him shift in his seat beside me and the aura coming from him seems . . . distracted.
"Fine." Caleb mutters, tapping away angrily on his phone. I nod my head at his blunt response, observing him from the corner of my eye. His hair is dishevelled, clothes crumpled and he looks like he had a rough night. I bite on my lower lip, wondering whether I should say something or leave it be. Caleb definitely does not look like he wants to engage in conversation but my caring nature for people gets in the way --
"Are you sure? You look a little stressed." I say softly. I pull up to a red light and come to a slow stop. Beside me, Caleb sighs and leans back in his seat before closing his eyes.
"I'm tired." He whispers, his words spoken softly. For a brief moment, the wall built around Caleb crumbles down and I see him for who he really is. I feel my sense soften at the sight of him and my hand reaches out and lands on his leg. I physically feel him tense underneath me and immediately worry that I've made the wrong move. My hand flies off him and I silently curse myself for wanting to comfort him.
"Do you want to talk about it?" I ask him, trying to ignore the tension built up in the air between us. The light turns green and I begin driving again, keeping my eyes firmly on the road. Caleb sighs heavily, reaching up to run a hand over his face.
"If only I could." He murmurs. He doesn't speak for the remainder of the journey which gives me plenty of time to ponder over his choice of words.
Why can't Caleb talk to me?
Because he chooses not to or because something or someone is stopping him?
Just like every other day, I drop him off by the coffee shop and watch him walk inside. For a brief second, I wonder whether I should wait and follow him to see where Caleb Stonehouse actually works.
"That's crazy Mia." I tell myself, suddenly realising how delusional I sound. I set my car in reverse and set off to begin another long day in the diner. Hopefully it'll be a distraction away from Caleb Stonehouse and the mystery around him that continues to grow day by day.
When I get to the diner, Lila is waiting for me to come inside. As I push open the doors and fasten my uniform apron over my head, she comes charging up to me.
"Mia! I have the biggest favour to ask you!" She says, giving me wide puppy dog eyes. I scrape my hair back and secure it into a ponytail, watching her carefully.
"Yes?" I ask her slowly, my voice suspicious. She breathes in deeply, clasping her hands in front of her in a literal begging pose.
"Please please can you cover my late shift? I promised Kian I would go to this open house thing with him and I completely forgot I was working late tonight." Lila says quickly, almost stumbling over her words. I laugh at her, holding my hand in the air.
"You owe me." I tell her firmly. She squeals and jumps at me, wrapping her arms around my neck in a tight embrace.
"Thank you, thank you! Both me and Kian owe you." She grins before running off. I roll my eyes at her and glance down at my watch, mentally preparing myself for the long shift I have ahead of me.
"Only ten hours to go until close." I mutter to myself, heading to my locker to put my things away. Five hours into my shift, Kian walks in wearing denim jeans, a black jacket and dark sunglasses. I'm wiping the countertop when he calls out my name --
"Mia! Fancy seeing you here." He smiles, taking his sunglasses off. I laugh, giving him a small smile.
"I work here Kian. You know that."
He smiles coyly at me, shaking his sunglasses in my direction.
"True, I did know that. Is Lila running late? I have to be at this open house thing in the next twenty minutes." He huffs, glancing down at his watch. I walk backwards and peek into the storage room to see Lila getting her belongings.
"She'll only be a few minutes." I tell him. He leans forward on the bar and looks directly at me. The movement reminds me of Caleb and I bite down on my lower lip, wondering why I can't seem to shake him from my thoughts.
"What are you doing tonight? After work, of course." He says, taking me by surprise. I decide not to tell him I never have any plans beside from sitting in front of my television with a glass of wine and my plants. I figure that piece of information wouldn't paint me in the best light. . .
"I don't have any plans." I shrug casually. Kian grins, his eyes sparkling in my direction.
"It's a Friday evening."
"I'm aware of that Kian." I laugh. He nudges closer, following my every step as I tidy up behind the bar.
"On Friday's, we party." Kian responds.
"Do we?" I question, my eyebrow raised playfully at him. He nods his head -
"Do we what?" Lila says from behind us. She's dressed in her denim jacket with her backpack flung over her shoulder.
"Apparently we party on Friday's." I repeat Kian's words. Lila laughs, shaking her head at him.
"You're a party whore Kian but . . . We could use a night on the town." Lila shrugs, looking in my direction.
"What do you say Mia?" Kian says, a wide grin on his face. I pause for a moment, deciding I should be able to enjoy myself.
"What's work without no play? I'm in." I smirk at both of them. They cheer loudly and head towards the door. Before they leave, Kian turns and looks at me over his shoulder --
"Be ready for eleven sweetheart."
I feel a little flutter inside my stomach and hold back a grin as I nod my head, waving goodbye to them both. I watch Kian as he walks towards his car, his strides confident and smooth. I know he's my best friend's brother but I can't deny there's a spark between us. A slight wave of electricity that I'm unsure whether I want to explore or not. I decide not to overthink it too much and get on with the rest of my shift, eagerly awaiting the end so I can get ready to party.