“Hey, Vi! I have those books you wanted,” Sierra Jensen says as she walks toward the counter. Sierra is the town librarian, and even though I’m older than her, we have a good friendship with a lot in common - such as our love of books.
“Thank you. I didn’t think I would be able to make it over there today, so I really appreciate you bringing them,” I tell her.
She sets the books down with a smirk at the cover of one of the books I requested. “Look, don’t judge me. You know romance books are my guilty pleasure.”
Sierra laughs. “Oh, I know. That’s actually one of my favorite books.”
We laugh conspiratorially. “So what do I get for bringing you books? A piece of cake, a shake, what are you offering?”
“Whatever you want,” I tell her. That’s one thing I’ve always loved about Sierra. She’s always been confident with her curvy body. Well, I can’t say always. She says that in high school she wasn’t. But who’s confident in high school except for the popular crowd, which the way she tells it, she wasn’t.
She’s staring at the cakes on the counter. “Cinnamon Blaze apple cake. You know I can’t pass it up. And a coffee.”
I grab her a slice and a cup of coffee and set it down in front of her. “So how are things at the library?”
“Quiet,” she deadpans and then starts heartily laughing at her own joke. Her smile, just as her laugh, is contagious, and we’re both giggling to the point I don’t hear the bell go off over the door.
“Hey, Violet.” A man interrupts us, and I sober up quickly.
Sierra’s head turns so fast, I’m almost afraid she’s going to hurt herself. There’s no doubt she recognizes that voice. “Evan McCarthy,” she breathes out low.
When he turns to look at her, she sucks in a breath like she doesn’t realize she said his name out loud.
He shakes his head, his eyes scrunched up. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?” he asks.
Even from here, I can see Sierra’s heart plummet in her chest. She’s no doubt devastated. The man she has pretty much been in love with almost half her life doesn’t even have a clue who she is. “No.” She shakes her head side to side. “Look, I have to get back to work, Violet. I’ll see you soon, okay?”
She leaves her cake and her coffee on the counter and almost runs from the place before I can even pack it up and send it with her.
Evan looks from Sierra running out the door and back at me. “What did I do?” He looks worried, and I start to feel bad. I never should have done this. It definitely didn’t go how I pictured it in my head.
“You didn’t do anything,” I tell him. “So a new security system. Can you help me out?”
He holds his hands up. “Wait. Who was that? She looks familiar, but I swear I can’t place her.”
I take a deep breath, already trying to figure out how I’m going to make this up to my friend. “That’s Sierra Jensen. She went to...”
He interrupts me. “High school with me. That’s Sierra? The skinny girl with glasses and braces and her face always in a book?”
I wince at his description. He’s definitely not holding back. “Yeah, that’s the one. My friend that’s smart and beautiful,” I add.
As if just realizing what he said and how it sounded, he starts to backtrack. “I didn’t mean...”
I wave him off. “I know you didn’t. It was a long time ago.”
“She was always nice to me. Helped me in English. I wouldn’t have passed Mrs. Rigsby’s class without her.”
“That’s Sierra for you. She’ll help anyone. So can you look around and give me a quote on what I need?”
He looks lost in thought, and his eyes keep going to the door, but he nods at me. “Yeah, give me a few minutes. I’ll take a look around and get out of your hair.”
“No rush. It’s a while before we get busy.”
He walks away, and my spirits sink further. I pack up the cake in a to-go box, knowing that I’m going to have to apologize to Sierra as soon as I can get away. The hurt I saw on her face about killed me.
Evan walks around the restaurant and into the back. I work until he comes back out. “I’ll put together a quote later today and drop it off to you.”
“Sounds good.” I smile at him, nodding my head.
“Hey, I never did thank you. While I was in the service, I received all the food and treats from the Whiskey Run Homecoming Committee. I know you had something to do with that, and I just want you to know I really appreciate it. It meant a lot to have a taste of home while I was gone.”