Home > Sweet (7th and Main #4 )

Sweet (7th and Main #4 )
Author: Elizabeth Hunter

 


Chapter 1

 

 

Daisy saw him through the dusty window of Metlin Books as soon as she turned the corner. She froze for a second, trying to figure out what Spider Villalobos was doing there; then she remembered that the tattoo artist was an old friend of Betsy Elliot, the owner of Metlin Books.

Shit! This was not part of her plan. This was one hundred percent not at all in the plan.

Daisy was usually the one who dropped off the café’s rent check at the bookstore, but Spider had never been behind the counter before. It was usually just Betsy or sometimes her granddaughter Emmie, a chatty fourteen-year-old with a quietly wicked sense of humor.

Spider was… Spider. Medium height and build with a closely cropped head of nearly black hair, dark eyes, and a jaw as sharp as a knife. He had high, arched cheekbones, and black-and-grey tattoos spread from his neck, disappeared into his shirt, and reappeared down both arms to the wrist. He even had tattoos on the back of his hands and a few on his knuckles.

Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.

This could not be happening. Daisy looked okay that afternoon, but she hadn’t planned on seeing Spider. She was wearing the jeans she’d worn for gardening the weekend before and a T-shirt she’d planned on changing when she got to the café.

She was not supposed to be seeing Spider.

The only direct interaction Daisy had with Spider was when he stopped by her family’s bakery, Café Maya, to grab his regular coffee—black, three sugars—before he headed over to Misspent Youth, the tattoo shop across from the bookshop.

Those short interactions had a set order. He offered her a muttered “What’s up?” She smiled and poured his coffee into a mug he brought from home that was meticulously washed. He paid in cash. She said, “Thanks for coming to Café Maya; have a good morning.”

And that was that.

She had to go into the bookshop. Lingering outside the plate glass windows wasn’t an option. Turning around wasn’t either; she was pretty sure he’d already seen her.

Daisy pushed open the door to the bookshop, the jingle of the bell over the door barely audible over her pounding heart. Spider glanced up, then looked intently at something on the counter. Then he looked up again as she approached the counter and didn’t take his eyes off her for a second.

He lifted his chin in a small nod. “What’s up?”

Daisy swallowed hard. “Uh…” Oh my God, she was an idiot. Who started talking to someone as hot as Spider with an uh? “I just… I have the rent check for Betsy.” She pulled the envelope from her back pocket. “For the café. It’s the first.”

“Okay.” He stared at her but didn’t elaborate.

Daisy frowned a little. “Is she here?”

“Appointment.”

Apparently her object of fascination for eight months only spoke in single words.

“Okay…” Daisy wasn’t sure what to say. Would Betsy want her to leave the check with Spider? She obviously trusted him to watch the shop, so dropping off a check—

“Spider!” There was a thundering set of footsteps from the hallway to the left of the counter, and a young teenager with reddish-brown hair poked her head in the doorway. “Oh hey, Daisy. Are you looking for a book? I can help you find one.”

It was Emmie, Betsy’s granddaughter. Daisy immediately smiled; Emmie was five years younger than her, but she always made Daisy laugh.

“Hey, Em. I wish I was here to get a new read, but I’m just dropping off the rent check for your grandma.”

“Oh.” Emmie stalked forward with her hand out. “I can take it. I know where she puts them in her office.”

“Cool.” Daisy glanced at Spider for a second before she handed over the envelope. “Thanks.”

“No problem.” Emmie grabbed the check and walked behind the counter, leaning into Spider a little bit. She smiled a little. “What were you and Spider talking about?”

Daisy blinked. “I… We weren’t actually—”

“Mimi, mind your business,” Spider said quietly. “Homework, remember?”

So he didn’t only speak in single words. That was a relief.

“Ugh.” Emmie rolled her eyes to the heavens. “It’s a report on the Roman Empire; like… the most boring thing ever.”

“Latin is a kick-ass language, and the Romans did shit in Europe that’s still relevant today.” He nudged her with his elbow. “Study.”

Daisy watched the short interplay between the two—so similar to her conversations with her little brother Kiko—and realized that Spider treated Emmie like a little sister. He had a nickname for her and reminded her about her homework.

Which was completely unfair because it only made him hotter.

“Okay.” Daisy backed toward the door. “I’m going to just head back to the café.” She offered a small wave. “See you.”

“Thanks.” He glanced at Emmie. “For the rent. I’ll tell Betsy you dropped it off.”

It was the longest thing he’d said to her since she’d first noticed him eight months before. “Thanks for coming to Café— Uh, I mean…” Oh God, kill me now.

The corner of Spider’s mouth turned up; he knew he made her nervous.

“Anyway, thanks!” Her voice squeaked. “For telling Betsy.” She waved again. “Bye, Emmie. Bye…” Had they been introduced? He’d never told her his name; she’d just asked around. “Have a good morning.” It was afternoon. “Good afternoon. Have a good…” She spun around and headed for escape. “Bye.”

Emmie yelled behind her. “Come back when you want a book!”

Daisy felt his eyes on her back as she walked to the door—her face had to be on literal fire—but as soon as she pushed the handle and the fresh air hit her face, she realized she’d exited in the wrong place. She’d come in through the door on 7th Avenue, but the café was on Main Street and that’s the direction she was supposed to go because she needed to head to work.

There is no going back.

Forget turning around—she was just going to walk all the way around the block the other way because there was no way on God’s green earth she was going to walk past Metlin Books on the corner again.

Nope.

In fact, eight months of careful planning, preparation, and outfits that showed exactly the right amount of cleavage had just flown out the door. She was probably going to need to move. Maybe her parents had the right idea after all. Going to a university six hours away from home was an excellent idea, and it would save her from ever seeing Spider again.

Ever.

Again.

 

 

Daisy pushed open the garden gate at her parent’s house on Church Street and was immediately assaulted by the cacophony of cousins.

“Daisy!”

“Hey, Didi.”

“Rudy, pass the friggin’ baaaaall. Come ooooon.”

One of her youngest cousins scampered up to poke at the distinctive pink box she was carrying. “You brought pie!”

Daisy looked down at Amelia and cocked her hip, balancing the pie while she took off her sunglasses. “Want to guess what kind?”

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