THE ROMANCE REVIEWS Mega Anniversary and Valentine’s Party



With that hopeful plan in mind, I put on shorts and running shoes and jogged along the beach on my way to Peet’s. A typical August morning for Alameda, fog hugged the coast, occasional breaks in the clouds allowing a bit of sun to shine through, sixty-four degrees. The refreshing wind along the shoreline cooled me as my feet pounded the sand. Turning up Park Street, I slowed to a quick walk until I reached the coffee shop.
The baristas were busy this morning, the waiting line extending all the way to the front door. I took the opportunity to buy a copy of the town newspaper, the Alameda Times Star, reading while my place in line slowly inched toward the front counter. Latte in hand, I noticed a young woman and her toddler getting ready to leave, giving me the rare chance to sit at one of the window seats where I could watch people walking along the busy street.
While sipping my coffee, a gentleman dressed in an impeccable dark grey suit, red tie and baby-blue shirt approached my table.
“This is the only unoccupied chair. Do you mind?”
I looked over at the empty seat and nodded. “Go ahead,” I mumbled then continued reading. I turned the page and noticed his hand reach across the small round table, handing me my keys.
“Oh, my God! I must have dropped them. Thank—” I looked up at his face. “Edward? Edward Barnes?” My eyes widened. “Is that really you?”
He pulled out the chair and sat down, his blue eyes snagging me with an intense stare. “Brandy Donovan?”
“Brandy Chambers now. I don’t think I’ve seen you since high school graduation.”
“I left for NYU two days later and—”

“Law school, right?”
“You remembered.” He smiled, revealing beautiful straight teeth. “Then I came back here and I’ve been practicing law ever since.”
“What type of law?”

“Criminal. What about you, Mrs. Chambers?” he teased.

“Well, I married Weston after I graduated from Cal. He works as a structural engineer on the San Francisco Bay Bridge project.”

“And you? A mom? Two point five kids?”

I looked down into my paper coffee cup, fiddled with the top. “No, no kids yet.” Feeling too raw to discuss it now, I changed the subject. “Do you work here in Alameda?”
“Yeah, I do.” He glanced down at his wrist watch. “I’d love to continue our discussion but I’ve got a meeting in ten minutes. How about lunch soon? Remember how I was planning on becoming a chef some day?”
I laughed, recalling his regaling me with the list of applications he’d received for culinary institutes all over the world. “I remember all right. And you were always demanding I taste your latest creation, asking if I thought it needed more spice or a little less olive oil.”
He stood, pushing the chair back toward the table. “I’ll have to cook for you one of these days. Sometimes I think I’m a better chef than I am a lawyer.”
“Well, most of the time you were a fantastic chef.”
He grinned mischievously. “And you were always a bad liar. Some of the dishes I served you should never have made it onto the plate.”
I laughed again. He’d always been nice looking but now he was older, he’d matured, no longer a gangly teenager. He’d filled out but was still slender with long legs and he appeared to be at least six foot five inches tall. He turned to leave.
“Wait!” Grabbing the corner of his sleeve, I smiled up at him. “It was nice seeing you again, Edward.”
He looked right through me with that blue-eyed stare. “It certainly was, Brandy. You take care now.” He tipped his head once in acknowledgement then wended his way through the crowd toward the door.
“Edward Barnes,” I whispered to myself. “I’ll be darned.”

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