The CEO and the Girl From the Coffee Shop

By: Terry Towers

Chapter 1

"Damn, damn, damn," Beth muttered, leaning over the coffee shop front counter, pen in hand, attempting to find a way to make college possible. Sadly, the numbers didn't seem to want to co-operate. As it appeared, financially college just wasn't going to be happening for her this coming fall semester. There was no way around it; she was barely making enough to survive as it was. She was making so many sacrifices, too many as a matter of fact. Having to cut back on the hours she worked at the coffee shop in order to attend school, while paying the massive tuition wouldn't work. As it was the cost of living was a financial burden that was more than she could handle at the present time.

"Damn," she cursed again a little more loudly than she intended, as she rolled the offending list of expenses up in her fist, turned, and tossed the paper ball into the nearby garbage can. The paper ball hit the back of the can and fell in soundlessly.

"Impressive shot."

Beth sighed as she turned back towards the counter and gave Gabriel a faint smile. Any other day she would have loved seeing Gabriel - his visits were normally the highlight of her afternoon. However, today was different, not even the sight of her secret crush could brighten her day. Nope, not even the tall, lean, dark-haired hunk in the finely tailored suit with the piercing dark eyes, could take her mind off of her troubles.

"Afternoon Gabriel,” she said solemnly.

Leaning an elbow on the beige marble counter separating them he smiled at her. His sweet, seductive smile helped melt the icy mood she'd been in, up until that point - slightly. "So, come on, tell me what's bothering you? Where’s that beautiful smile you usually present me with?” He had a warm yet concerned look on his face.

“Oh I got it! Your boss is being a jerk?" he teased lightly.

A smile began to lift the corners of Beth's lips for the first time that day as she shook her head. "No."

He raised an inquisitive brow at her. "Oh I definitely got it now. Boyfriend troubles, right?"

Her smile widened. "Hardly." Grabbing a large paper cup from the dispenser she began to pour his coffee.

"The usual?" she asked, ignoring his question. She didn't want to be spilling her financial woes to customers - not even Gabriel. And as for her non-existent love life - she really didn't want to be spilling that to him.

Gabriel nodded. “Okay I’m done guessing,” he gave a little chuckle. “Then tell me? What's wrong?"

Beth secured the plastic lid onto the cup and sighed, sliding the cup across the counter to him. Crossing her arms over her chest, she leaned her hip against the counter and caught his gaze. "Do you really want to know or are you just being polite?"

Damn, he looks good today. The top button of his off-white shirt was undone. His black satin tie hung loosely around his neck. He looked as though he could have just walked off the pages of 'GQ magazine.' He was, without a doubt, one of the hottest men she'd ever met. His easygoing demeanour and sinfully sexy smile complimented his good looks perfectly. Does he even know how hot he is? She found herself wondering, Of course he does... How could he not?

Gabriel chuckled. "I really want to know. Wouldn't have asked if I didn't."

Beth huffed. "Well, the problem is that I just can't catch a break."

"Can't catch a break?" Grabbing a bill from his trousers pocket he passed it to her as he accepted the coffee. "Why do you say that?"

Accepting the payment she rang in his total and proceeded to give him his change. When she offered it to him, as usual, he waved it off so she dropped it into her tip jar. The tip equalled roughly three times the cost of the coffee; he was easily the best tipper to walk through the doors of the coffee shop.

"Well, I'm halfway through college and there is no way I'm going to afford to be able to go back next year. I can barely pay my bills even with all the overtime I put in this place. Like, take this week for instance. I have a choice... do I pay my electricity or my telephone bill?"

Gabriel nodded appearing grim, but amusement gleamed in his eyes as she continued on. All of a sudden the dam broke and the need to purge her grievances was too overwhelming so she continued her rant, the words falling from her lips like verbal diarrhoea that she was helpless to stop. "So that means I'm stuck here. At the shitty dead end job for another year. Hell, maybe even the rest of my life! I'm twenty-three years old and facing a lifetime of being the donut girl. It wouldn't even be so bad if I had a boyfriend, or hell, got laid once in a while. But no. None of that either. The only men I seem to attract are criminals, married men or unemployed losers." Beth huffed and shook her head in defeat. "Just can't catch a break..."

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