Savannah curled her fingers around the paper cup of coffee, warming her hands. She glanced at the entrance to the coffee shop. The dark winter sky pressed down on the windows from the outside. She leaned back in her seat, sweat beading at her hairline. Despite how cold her hands were, the rest of her was warm. She fanned herself with one hand and took a deep breath in through her nose.
She needed to relax. There was no reason that she couldn’t get the job that she was about to interview for.
Shaking her long hair over her shoulders, she took a sip of her coffee. She wished that she had thought to bring her sketchbook inside. Her foot tapped the floor, leg shaking as she glanced at the time on her phone.
The door to the coffee shop swung open, a gust of icy air swirling in. A guy about her age stumbled in, hugging a little girl to his chest. He shivered and stepped up to the counter.
Savannah straightened in her seat. She had no idea what the guy she had spoken on the phone to looked like in person, but she was willing to bet that was him. The barista asked for his order. Savannah couldn’t hear what he asked for over the sound of another barista grinding beans—not that it mattered. She didn’t know anything about the guy she had talked to.
She watched as he paid and moved down to the other end of the counter. He wore a ragged hoodie, his hair spiked and messy. He turned toward the rest of the coffee shop, eyes scanning the tables. A crease lined the skin between his eyebrows. No recognition lit up his face. He was definitely looking for someone, she decided.
His brown eyes met hers. Her heartbeat sped up. Warmth tingled through her hands. She started to smile at him, then he turned away.
The barista slid a coffee and chocolate milk to him across the counter. He hesitated, shifting the toddler to his hip.
Savannah stood from her table. Her heart slammed in her chest. She strode toward him, holding her chin high, hoping that he wasn’t the wrong person. As he struggled to grab both drinks and hold the little girl, she reached the counter. “Here,” she said. Smiling, she grabbed the drinks from him.
He turned his head to look at her, surprise registering on his face. His eyes lit up. A smile started to spread across his lips as he took in her face. Then his eyes moved down to her arms. He frowned, his eyes widening.
She forced herself to keep smiling. She knew exactly what he was looking at. Though she was surprised that someone her age was judging her for her tattoos, she was used to people staring at her. Before he could say anything, she turned and strode back toward her table.
She needed to play nice. What he thought about her tattoos didn’t matter. All that mattered was whether she landed the job. Every night got colder and colder, and she doubted she could keep sleeping in her car.
Plunking the drinks down on the table, she resumed her seat and crossed her legs. Ignoring the guy, she smiled and waved at the little girl, who couldn’t be any older than two or three. “Hi, pretty girl,” she cooed.
The baby waved back, twisting in her father’s arms. Her cheeks were rosy.
“Is it cold outside?” Savannah asked her.
The little girl shook her head. Her father—his name was Max, Savannah remembered—sat down. He still stared at her sleeve of skull tattoos.
Savannah struggled not to roll her eyes. “So,” she said brightly, trying to distract him. “She’s two?” Her lips curled into a smile.
Max looked down at his daughter quickly. “What?”
Trying not to laugh, Savannah kept what she hoped was a professional expression on her face. “How old is she?”
He opened his daughter’s bottle of chocolate milk, handing it back to her. “Oh. Almost three.”
Savannah perked up. “Perfect,” she said. She was more than qualified. “I used to watch a two-year-old little girl.”
Max nodded again and again, almost to himself. His eyelids drooped slightly. His lips twitched. She could almost see the thoughts tumbling through his head. “Have you ever lived with the families of the kids you watched?” he asked, his voice a little more confident.
She had him. She knew it. “I spent a summer in Florida with the last family I worked for.” She grabbed her cup of coffee and took a sip. Setting it down, she wrapped her fingers around it again, shivering as another customer entered the coffee shop. Max’s eyes dropped to her tattoos. She gritted her teeth.
“What happened with the last family?” He took a sip of his own coffee. “Why did you stop watching their kids?”
She fought the urge to squirm in her seat. Waving a hand, she remained still. “They started school.” He gazed at her, his eyes slightly out of focus. Amusement danced on her lips. She wondered when the last time was that he had slept. Lifting her eyebrows at him, she waited for him to come back to the conversation. Seconds dripped by. He seemed lost in thought, eyes roving from her tattoos to her face. She decided to change the subject. “Is your daughter still in diapers, or is she potty trained?”
He seemed not to hear her. She shifted in her seat, wondering if she was completely wasting her time. She kept a smile plastered on her face. When several more moments passed, she cleared her throat.
“What?” he asked, jumping.
Uncrossing her legs, she planted both feet on the floor. “I asked if she’s potty trained.” She leaned on the table, propping her elbows on the plastic top. “I’ve done it before, but it’s always easier if they already are.”
“No,” Max said. “She isn’t.”
She wondered if she should ask for more money. “Okay,” she said. “No biggie.” She looked at the little girl and smiled. The toddler grinned back, a hand stretching out for the cookie in the middle of the table. Savannah smirked. The kid certainly knew how to turn on the charm. She unwrapped the paper from it and handed it to her. The second that the little girl closed her fingers around it, she broke it into two halves and immediately handed one to Savannah.
Her breath caught in her throat. Warmth swirled in her cheeks. Beaming at the little girl, she gently pushed it away. “Oh, thank you,” she said. “That’s yours, though. You eat it.”
With a giggle, the little girl took a big bite.
Pressing her lips together, Savannah watched as the toddler enjoyed the cookie. If Max didn’t hire her, she would be surprised. She wasn’t superstitious, but she did believe that everything happened for a reason. The little girl was supposed to be in her life—maybe Max, too.
Her heart skipped a beat. The thought was ridiculous. She barely knew him. Besides, for all she knew, he was attached to someone. With his sweet, almost babyish face and big brown eyes, he couldn’t possibly be single. Plus, with a kid as cute as his daughter, picking up women wouldn’t be hard.
Savannah blushed as it occurred to her that this could all be a ploy for a date. She would just have to find out. Clasping her hands in front of her, she turned her attention back to Max, and got back to business.
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