"You're so lucky I like you," Holli muttered into her phone as she collected the pair of coffee cups from the barista with a smile. "I do not do coffee runs, you just happened to catch me in a coffee shop."
She chuckled at the reply from her colleague, turning to push her way out through the door and onto the streets of Horizon City. And straight into the chest of a complete stranger.
"Oh my god! Oh! Gods, I'm sorry - god, that's hot!" Dropping the cups, she danced back, grabbing the front of her dress to pull the wet fabric away from her skin.
The stranger - who had admittedly not been watching where he was going because he'd had his face buried in his cell phone - jerked his head up as he was jostled, almost dropping his phone. His brows knitted momentarily, as if he was about to chew out whoever had run into him and almost caused him to smash his phone on the sidewalk, but his expression changed at the sight of a pretty blond looking understandably upset.
"I'm so sorry," he murmured, realizing he was not without fault. He reached into a pocket of his impeccably-tailored suit jacket for a handkerchief to help wipe up the coffee, but had no idea where to begin. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, I'm just burning up because you're hot." The words slipped out before she could stop them, but she at least caught her own tongue saying it. "The coffee's hot, not you. Not that you're not hot - wow. Today is not my day already." She laughed at herself, glancing down at the large dark stain on her dress. "I can hear the jokes already."
He smirked in amusement as he handed her the handkerchief, though it probably wasn't going to help much. "You should probably rinse that out. Coffee stains," he said, as if he knew from experience. Thankfully, none of the coffee had spilled onto his crisp white shirt. No tie, unless it was absolutely necessary. "Why don't you go try to rinse out your blouse and I'll buy you a fresh cup of coffee," he suggested amicably. It was the least he could do; after all, he'd been just as much at fault.
"I've got a spare shirt at work," she managed to stutter, rolling her eyes at herself. "I'm so sorry. I didn't stain your suit, did I?"
"No, I'm ok," he assured her, not even bothering to check his shirt. "Let me make it up to you somehow. I know ... How about dinner?" he asked, offering a cheeky grin.
Holli blinked, surprised but not offended by the fast mover in front of her. "Wow, I should throw coffee at men more often," she commented, her lips parting in a broad grin. "Sure, dinner works. Got a name or a number, mystery man?"
"To be fair, you mostly threw it at yourself," he pointed out, looking amused. "Derek," he said, offering his name. Or at least, his first name. So far, she hadn't recognized him, but that only added to her allure. Either she had no idea who he was, or she just hadn't recognized him yet. He hoped it was the former. "Where should we meet?"
"Do you know Cafe Vert?" she asked, tilting her head curiously. That would at least tell her if he was from around here. He did look vaguely familiar, but then, she had a bad habit of just staring at good looking men while her thoughts were elsewhere.
"I know it," he confirmed. "Miss ...?" he asked, arching a brow in curiosity as he had given her his name, but she had yet to return the favor.
"How about you just call me Holli?" she suggested, since he had only given her his first name. "Eight o'clock suit you? Earlier is a bit touch and go for me - I'm not always sure when my work day finishes."
"Eight o'clock suits me just fine," he said. If it didn't, he'd make it work. She was way too cute to let this opportunity pass him by. Lucky for him he'd bumped into her - literally.
"I'll see you there, then," she said, offering him a sweet smile. Glancing down at her watch, she rolled her eyes, laughing. "Just enough time to grab more coffee. Have a nice day, Tall, Dark, and Handsome."
She pulled open the coffee shop door, and he must have overheard the explosion of laughter from behind the counter, followed by her rueful, "Don't ask."
"See you later, beautiful," he replied, blue eyes sparkling in amusement as she stepped back into the shop. He'd hesitated a moment, debating following her inside. He had offered to buy her a fresh cup of coffee, but the promise of dinner was so much better.
Being late to work was definitely worth it today for Holli. Thankfully, she got on pretty well with her boss, who spent the first half of the morning teasing her about her "meet-cute" with a guy while getting him his coffee. But she didn't mind. She had a hot date, and how often could she say that?
As for him, he was rarely, if ever, late for work. He'd always been a bit of an over-achiever and a perfectionist, and if he was ever late for work, his co-workers would probably never let him live it down. But today, he didn't much care. He had just met the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen - with or without glasses - but he had to get through the next eight to ten hours before he could see her again.
It wasn't until lunch that Holli suddenly remembered why her mystery date looked so familiar. Holy crap ... that was Derek Reese. Investigative reporter and news show eye candy, and she had totally failed to identify him while dancing around covered in coffee. There was no way she was telling her colleague about that now.
It was clear enough to Derek's co-workers that his mind was not on his job today. He flubbed his lines on the noon news, and he couldn't manage to concentrate on the story he was investigating, but whether it was his impending date or something else that was distracting him was hard to say.
The only problem was that they hadn't exchanged numbers, so when something came up, Holli found herself in a pickle. She spent a good ten minutes swearing about it to herself, but there really was nothing for it. She only had a small window in which to do this particular thing, and unfortunately, that window was opening tonight. She did remember to call the cafe, though, in the hope that Derek wouldn't be so offended by her being late that he left and she never saw him again.
To be fair, she'd see him on the Channel 4 news from time to time, but that wasn't the same thing as seeing him in person. As for Derek, he had some things he had to take care of after work, as well, but somehow, he managed to be the first to arrive at the cafe. He was still wearing the same suit he'd been in when she'd bumped into him earlier in the day, but he'd didn't look the worse for wear. He asked for a table for two in the back and ordered a drink while he awaited her arrival. The cafe staff passed along word that his date was going to be a little late, and so he took out his phone to pass the time while he sipped at his drink.