Well, she did not look at all like Sam expected. From Rulash’s description, he had been expecting an amazon: a woman fit to take him down in a single hit.
Willow leaned against the counter, a wisp of a woman with her arms full of bagged coffee grounds. “Thanks, Joe. I’ll take these in with me tomorrow morning.”
Now that Rulash had finally found her, the arrogant “fairy king” seemed at a loss for words. He walked up to the counter and hovered across from barista—not literally hover—while he stared at Willow.
“What can I get you, my man?” asked the barista.
“You can get the two of us coffees,” interrupted Sam, saving the moment with sequins and a smile. He leaned towards the barista and considered putting that on a business card. “There’s a great single origin you’ve got in the back, the Ugandan.”
The barista grinned back at Sam, pleased with the attention from the overdressed model-type. “You have great taste. I’ll be right back…” Saving done, Sam retreated to the milk and sugar table.
Waiting, Willow raised her eyebrows in an edgy, polite sort of way. Sam could see that she did not recognize Rulash. Rulash had claimed that he changed his appearance to win her over as a new person, which was crazy, but thus far Rulash’s craziness had been confined to his back office. Watching it happen in the wild, his fixation on some girl actually play out made Sam jittery.
He knocked over a sugar bowl, but no one really paid attention.
The noise seemed to snap Rulash out of his freeze. “Would you like a cup of coffee?”
Normal, thought Sam. Nice.
“Aren’t you with her?” Willow asked, uneasily.
Uh oh, thought Sam.
The barista returned with the coffee and began brewing it with a wink at Sam.
Sam winked back.
“Oh,” said Rulash with an eye roll, “he’s not a woman.”
“Are you a man?” Willow asked Rulash, surprised.
“Of course I’m a man! Although, in this crazy town, that’s not always clear. Anyway, clearly, we are suited for each other.”
“Rulash,” began Sam.
“Rulash,” Willow repeated, blanching.
“RELISH,” blurted out Rulash. “My nickname is Relish. Because I relish challenges and enjoyable things.”
“Listen,” Willow said, gravitating towards Rulash but with her eye on the door. “I don’t even know you, and—"
“My name is Joe,” said Rulash, glancing at the barista’s name-tag as he handed Sam his drink.
“Oh,” said Willow. She tried to maneuver around him. “That’s cool. Listen, I’m really busy tonight.”
“So, another time then?”
“I’m busy most nights.”
“Why?” asked Rulash. “You look tired. Are you all right?”
“Hey,” said the barista. “I’ve got your coffee…”
Rulash held his palm towards him. “Quiet.” He turned back to Willow, only to find her escaping out the front door. “What… just happened.”
Rulash was frozen again, staring at the empty doorway.
Sam sipped his coffee and sighed at the lipstick on his coffee cup. He looked up at the barista. “Are you high?”
“Maybe,” said the barista.