Except From Seeking Tranquility

The bell on the front door jingled. “I’ll go out,” Christy said. 

“Yell if you need me,” Diane called, reaching for a potholder to pull the trays from the oven. She heard a male’s voice and the sound of surprise in Christy’s cheerful response. Setting the pan on the cooling rack, she peeked into the storeroom. 

“Yes, please. Assorted would be great.”

The young man pushed his glasses up onto the bridge of his nose and looked around the shop.

“How do you like it here so far?” Christy asked as she added doughnuts to a box.

“I don’t know yet. This is actually my first trip onto the island. I’ve only been here for a week.”

“Where are you staying?”

They clearly knew each other, which Diane found interesting. Christy didn’t seem to know anyone except the few people she worked with and Molly’s teacher.

“They’ve got a few cottages on site for interns. I share one with another guy. He’s from Lancaster. In Pennsylvania.”

Christy’s hand stopped mid-air, and she smiled at the man. “Yes, I know where Lancaster is.”

“Oh, sorry.” His face reddened, and he pushed up his glasses again. A nervous habit, then, rather than a poor fit. “I didn’t know if you were from this area.”

Christy resumed packing the box and said, “From the Western side of the Chesapeake Bay originally, but yeah, the Mid-Atlantic area. What about you? Where are you from?”

“A few different places. I’ve lived in Massachusetts for a while now, college and grad school.” He looked away, seemingly embarrassed, and Diane wondered why.

“Boston?” Christy asked as she closed the pastry case.

The man shook his head. “Cambridge.” He looked away again, and Christy’s mouth hung open for a moment before she closed it.

“Oh,” she said before tucking the wax paper neatly into the box. “The big H. Fred went there, too.”

“Yeah, I know. He was one of the reasons I applied. I always hoped maybe he’d do a guest professor gig there or something.”

Christy smiled. “Actually, he would have liked that. He was a fantastic teacher as far as Molly was concerned. Wait until you meet her. She’s going to blow you away.”

Diane watched as Christy walked to the cash register and rang up the order. The man—he really was quite cute with that curly hair, those big, blue eyes, and his adorable shyness—reached into his pocket and produced a credit card.

“Can I use this? It belongs to NASA.”

“No problem. Any coffee? We really do make the best around.”

“We’ve got one of those Keurig things, but thanks.”

Diane smiled at that.

“But maybe…”

Christy looked up. 

“Maybe I could get one to go. Since you said it’s the best.”

He gave what almost passed for a smile, his cheeks flooding with color, and Diane’s own heart pitter-pattered. Yes, he really was adorable. And just about Christy’s age…

“Okay,” Christy said. “Let me get that.”

“Um, can we go ahead and run these through first? I don’t want to charge the coffee on this card.”

Christy stopped and nodded. “Oh, yeah, sure. That makes sense.”


The young man watched Christy’s hands gracefully run the card, but when she looked up to hand him his receipt, he quickly looked away and took it with a nervous but polite motion. 

“Cream or sugar in your coffee?”

“No, thanks.”

When Christy stepped away to make his coffee, his eyes followed her every movement, from picking up his to-go cup, to filling the cup from the spout, to carefully sealing the lid. Only, Diane realized, his eyes weren’t on her hands but on the hair that streamed down from her ponytail and the bit of her face that he could see when she turned to reach for the lid. As she turned around, he blushed again and looked directly at the cup she was carrying rather than her face.

It was a beautiful dance they orchestrated as Christy made the coffee, glided to the register, and finished the sale while his eyes followed her back and forth behind the counter as though mesmerized by the sway of a honeybee in flight. She was completely unaware of the effect she had on him, and Diane smiled at his attempt to keep it that way.