Twenty-five minutes after rushing out of the office to catch a bus, it finally turned up with its metaphorical tail between its legs and she got on, flashing her bus pass at the driver. To add insult to injury there were no seats downstairs, meaning a journey of steamed-up windows and uneasy wobbling was about to happen. Normally this would sour her mood, but not tonight. She was on her way to meet her boyfriend. It didn’t matter that they lived together – she loved just being out and about with him, even if it wasn’t doing anything particularly special. It was simply nice to be.
I’m on the bus now
The traffic is pretty bad near the park
Gino D’Acampo is in Waterstones
That’s pretty cool
He’s very handsome
Not far away now
Okay. I’ll be in Fiction
Fifteen minutes later, she was walking towards Waterstones, briefly noticing her breath was starting to show in the frigid air and adjusted her hood to fit more snugly against her neck. Town was busy tonight. That, combined with the huge lights hanging there, waiting to be lit, heralded the coming of Christmas. Two crossings later and she was walking into the bookshop, taking a moment to appreciate the smell of fresh air and books mingling together. Towards the back of the bookstore, she spotted the handsome Gino standing with a fan and posing for a picture. His smile was warm and genuine and he was every bit as charming as he seemed on television. But his bright light dimmed somewhat when she saw the other man approaching from the fiction section.
He linked arms with her and they walked out to the high street and down towards the shops. The original plan was to go to Starbucks for a hot chocolate, but Patisserie Valerie looked more inviting (and was closer) and they crossed their fingers that it wasn’t closed. As they neared, they could see other patrons sitting in the window, enjoying cake and hot drinks themselves, making it look even more inviting. She felt a rush of warm air as she walked through the doorway, and smelled the familiar smell from two years before.
In 2014 she was miserable. She hated her job, she hated the cold house and had ended a three-year relationship she had finally figured out was doing more harm than good towards the end. And she had met him. Their first date was one she’d remember forever and she planned on never having another first date again because of it. It started with a journey to the beautiful city of Cambridge, a place she’d not visited before but longed to see. Other than a wander around the city to see the sites, the main reason for visiting was to go to the Patisserie Valerie for a coffee and a ham and cheese croissant. The coffee was rich and smooth and the croissant was sweet and savory at the same time. That first date would pave the way for many more.
They sat down in a different Valerie, two years later, and ordered one black forest hot chocolate and a normal hot chocolate, both with cream. As they arrived, they spooned mouthfuls of cream into their mouths and mixed it with the sweet liquid, and she gazed at him over the rising steam. Soon enough they’d be on their way home to put their feet up with a good cup of tea.
She loved him dearly and it was simply nice to be.