I could feel Tyler watching me as I fiddled with the condiments on the table, taking the time to rearrange them by size, then by type. That job done, I folded my hands together in my lap and looked at the decor on the wall beside me, a poster advertising some new brand of alcohol. It would be okay I told myself, he could eat, I’d drink my coffee, we didn’t have to talk.

“So are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?” Tyler’s voice was soft and close, his breath feathering over my ear.

I was too polite not to look at him but I didn’t expect to find him close enough to kiss, so close I couldn’t think. “The what?” I asked dumbly.

“The emails,” he said, his eyebrows lifting a little and I winced. The very thing I’d wanted to talk about but now the moment was here, what would I say. “I’m really sorry Lily, I was out of line.”

I shook my head but he kept talking. “I mean, I’m not even sure if you read them, did you?”

“Of course I did,” I answered when he looked at me expectantly and then I realised; he hadn’t read the one I’d sent him. So many thoughts raced through my mind then, among them the fact that he had stopped for me without knowing I had responded favourably to his emails. This man, who had garnered more than one admiring glance as we’d walked inside, who the waitress had flirted with outrageously, he had stopped for me. He hadn’t given up on me. I wanted to know why, what did he see in me that made him keep trying.

I shoved Lillian with all her insecurities and doubts back into the box where she’d mostly been for the last few months and I became Lily again. A lot scared, a little brave, born again to try. I took a deep breath and gathered my courage close then placed my hand on Tyler’s where it rested on the table. Immediately, he turned his hand to hold mine, his thumb stroking in a slow motion. My breath caught, my heart raced, my body yearned and I loved every second of it. This was being alive, not just living.

“I replied to your email earlier today,” I said with a teasing smile.

“You did?” He smiled back and I nodded. “Well, I’m going to take it as a good sign that you’re sitting here with me.”

“You probably should do that,” I said and wondered who this woman was, trying to flirt.

“So are you going to tell me what you said or do I have to wait?”

“Hmmm.” I bit my lower lip as I pretended to think about it and I think I heard him groan. “Patience is a virtue you know,” I said finally.

“I always thought patience was overrated,” Tyler grumbled but his eyes were smiling so I guessed I was doing okay.

“Coffee and pancakes.” With that less than friendly announcement two cups were placed before us and a towering stack of pancakes appeared before Tyler. “Anything else?”

I looked past Tyler at the waitress who had been so friendly towards Tyler earlier to find her glaring at me. Lillian would have pulled away from Tyler and dropped her eyes in embarrassment. Lily smiled and said, “No, we’re good thanks.”

With a huff the waitress walked away and I looked at Tyler’s ‘dinner’. “Pancakes?” I said with a little laugh.

He grinned at me and let go of my hand to spread a napkin on his lap and pick up a fork. “What can I say, I love them.” He shrugged then reached by my for the syrup and poured on a liberal amount.

I breathed him in, woodsy and musky, a man who’d done a hard day’s work, only a faint hint of aftershave remained. I noticed the length of his eyelashes, the stubble on his jaw, the curve of his earlobe. Then I realised I was staring so I moved my attention to my coffee, taking a sip then found myself watching him eat. His lips parting for each forkful, the tip of his tongue flicking out to catch a drop of syrup. I found it unbelievably sexy the way his throat moved as he swallowed.

“Did you want some?”

Did I? What a question! I licked my lips in anticipation of tasting his skin, my thighs clenching together beneath the table.

“These are really good, but I’ll share with you if you like,” his teasing voice broke the spell I’d been under and I looked up at to find him grinning at me.

“Ah no, that’s okay,” I answered belatedly and took another sip of coffee.

Tyler used the side of his fork to cut off a bite sized piece then swirled it through the pool of syrup on the plate. I watched as he lifted the fork, anticipating him taking the bite but he lifted it towards me instead.

“Come on Lily,” he said, his voice husky, his eyes intent on mine. “Have a taste, I know you want to.”

I lowered my coffee cup and he brushed the pancake against my lip, leaving a smear of syrup.

“I really shouldn’t,” I said but couldn’t resist licking the syrup from my lip.

“Open for me Lily,” Tyler urged and I did. I took the bite and licked the syrup from my mouth as he swore beneath his breath.

I knew exactly how he was feeling. Why eating from his fork was ‘so fucking hot’ I wasn’t sure, but it was and my breath shuddered out on a sigh.

“More?” He asked softly but I shook my head.

“I have to go to work soon,” I reminded us both and he took a deep breath then moved away from me. When we’d gotten so close I couldn’t say but I immediately missed the warmth of his hard thigh pressing against mine.

Neither of us spoke as he finished eating and we both drank our coffees. Then he was putting money on the table and sliding out of the booth, holding out his hand to help me. He kept my hand in his as we walked out to his truck, he opened the door and fastened my seatbelt, all in silence. The drive to the store where I worked only took a few minutes and he parked at the edge of the carpark, away from the building.

Unlike the trip from the bus stop to the diner, this silence wasn’t tense and strained. It wasn’t a comfortable silence, too much expectation hung in the air between us. As he rounded the front of the truck to open the door for me I waited, wondering if he would kiss me. Or maybe I’d kiss him?