'Excuse me.' A low, musical voice interrupted his musings.
The man looked up from the book he was reading; a carefully neutral expression on his open, homely features. The figure before him was little more than a silhouette, rimmed by the early morning sunshine streaming through the picture window behind her. He squinted up at her, narrowing his eyes, and raising a free hand to block the light.
'I'm sorry to interrupt you, but are you..,' The voice hesitated. 'I'm sorry; that's a stupid question. Of course you are. May I have a moment of your time, please?'
'Well,' he smiled thinly, 'I'm certainly me. At least, the last time I looked, I was. What can I do for you?'
The woman hesitated; suddenly unsure. She glanced around, the coffee bar, as if wondering whether to just turn around and leave. The man sighed softly, and rose.
'I'm sorry.' His smile this time was relaxed and sincere; his usually easy-going manner more in evidence. 'It's still early, and I haven't reached my usual caffeine intake levels yet. Please; have a seat. May I buy you a coffee?' He smiled again, and held out a hand, indicating the leather armchair opposite his.
Another moment's hesitation, then the woman smiled. 'Thank you.' She eased gracefully into the offered chair, and the man took his own seat again. 'But please, allow me to buy the coffee. It's the least I can do.'
He nodded. 'Done. I never could refuse a lady bribing me with coffee.'
He caught the attention of a nearby waitress, and placed their order; strong black coffee for him, and green tea for her. Then, marking his place in his book, he settled back in his chair.
'So,' he fixed his attention upon the woman. 'What can I do for you?'
'It's as if he already knows.' The woman gazed across the low table between them, looking into a pair of the darkest, deepest eyes she had ever seen.
The man, so familiar to her for so long, and yet a complete stranger, studied her patiently, as she attempted to gather her flustered thoughts together. He was younger than he seemed, at first glance, his dark, neatly trimmed hair, threaded with a complex pattern of white strands lending to the illusion of age. He was taller than average, with a slight build. Not thin exactly, she thought; wiry suited him better. All in all, somebody you would pass in the street without a second glance. Until he looked at you, and you caught his eye. Then, she thought, you would stop, and your heart miss a beat or two.
The gaze directed at her seemed able to see directly into her mind, to see what she was thinking, almost before she knew herself. His eyes seemed to pull you in - to take you on a voyage within their depths. A woman could easily lose herself inside those eyes. She couldn't help wondering if there was a women in his life; there had to be. She was surprised as a flash of jealousy flared, and quashed it quickly, lest he see it.
She realized that her thoughts were rambling, and called them to order. 'I..,' She thought for a moment, and began again. 'It's hard to know where to begin.' She admitted helplessly.
'Take your time.' The man advised. He grinned, transforming his somewhat plain face into that of a mischievous adolescent. 'My appointment isn't for a couple of hours, so time's not an issue for me, at the moment.'
Despite herself, the woman laughed, a self-conscious giggle. Their drinks arrived, and she raised her cup, inhaling the gentle vapors that drifted up from the hot liquid.