Allison’s diner was always a welcome spot for the weary traveler serving great food around the clock, but what mostly brought the truckers and especially Bobby was Allison herself. She was sassy. She was sexy. She was sweet. She was to die for. And he was irrevocably in love with her. Too bad she had no clue about this.
Bobby had it bad for Allison yet she was oblivious to it. But how? One of her disarming smiles was enough to knock him off his stool. He sat at his regular place at the counter gazing at her as usual when the door jangled announcing a new customer. He turned in time to see a nice looking couple. They headed for a booth directly behind him.
“I’ll be right back, Bobby,” she told him as she took two menus and went to them. “Good morning, folks,” she said brightly.
The couple exchanged looks then smiled. “Morning?” the man asked.
Allison shrugged. “It’s passed midnight,” she said.
“Is it?” the young woman said looking dazed.
“Lost track of time, haven’t we? You do that to me,” the man said gazing into his girlfriend-wife-lover’s soft brown eyes.
“Danny, you really ought to stop doing that. You make me melt,” she replied dreamily. He kissed her softly.
Allison melted too watching such intensity, such devotion. After a few minutes it became apparent they had forgotten she was still there waiting for their order. She delicately cleared her throat. They drew apart slowly and glanced up at her with bedazzled expressions.
“Sorry, I’ll have coffee and… spearmint tea, Rebecca?” Danny asked the woman beside him. She smiled and nodded.
“Coming right up,” Allison said. Within minutes she was back and they were once again kissing between sweet murmuring. An ache started in her chest. She ignored it and placed the two cups in front of them without disturbing them. She had the sneaking suspicion their drinks were to remain untouched and allowed to grow cold.
She returned behind the counter and fiddled needlessly, straightening napkin dispensers which required no attention, lining up ketchup bottles, salt and pepper shakers and ash trays and cleaning already spotless surfaces. She tried not to look over Bobby’s broad shoulders to watch the couple behind him, but they had an unnatural draw for her.
“Allison? Did you hear me?” Bobby asked.
“Huh? I’m sorry. What is it?” she asked, hurriedly snapping out of her reverie.
“The group back there just came in,” he told her pointing at the corner booth. The once empty booth now contained a rowdy bunch of college kids and they seemed intent on making themselves noticed by being as obnoxious as possible. How had she missed them?
“I’ll be right back,” she told him again, casually touching his hand. She paused for a mere nanosecond feeling tingles run up her arm. She looked into his brown eyes. She never noticed they were tinged with green and gold flecks. She never noticed the way they crinkled at the corners when he smiled. She never noticed how nice that smile was.
“Get a room!” shouted one of the kids. Allison jumped. They were snorting with alcohol-induced laughter and pointing to the love birds who immediately modified their behavior.
“Blasted college kids. You’d think they’d find something better to do than drink themselves silly,” she grumbled as she removed her hand from Bobby’s. What was wrong with her? Why was she staring at two kids kissing? They were just like any other couple. But even as she told herself this, she knew it wasn’t true.
She sighed with a longing all her own when she saw the way Danny kissed Rebecca. Allison hadn’t been kissed like that since...who was she kidding? She had never been kissed like that and she’d been around the block a time or seven.
She marched over to the back booth. She quickly told them to behave or they’d get ousted on their rumps. She had the reputation for being tough so they toned it down. She got their huge orders for everything from bacon cheeseburgers and the pancake breakfast deluxe to mounds of fried chicken and mashed potatoes.
“Where do you guys put it all?” she asked shaking her head in amazement. She gave the order to the cook and sighed as she got their drinks together.
“You must be tired, Allison. Want me help with something?” Bobby asked hopefully.
“Gosh, you’re sweet, Bobby. But no, I’m not tired. More like… weary I guess,” she answered, feeling suddenly dejected. Her eyes moved of their own accord back to the booth behind Bobby and saw Danny caressing Rebecca’s cheek as if she were a fragile, antique porcelain doll.
Her heart jumped into her throat and started dancing the conga. “So in love,” she mumbled, not realizing she spoke aloud.
“I’m sorry, what?” Bobby asked.
“What?” she replied. He smiled. It really was a very nice smile. He then stood up, took the tray out of her hands and went to the back booth. He handed out the drinks and returned before she came out of her trance. “Bobby, you didn’t have to do that.” she said breathlessly.
“No big deal. I used to be a busboy back during school,” he said.
Just as she was about to thank him a faint ding sounded. “Oh, my cinnamon rolls! Want one, Bobby?”
“Love one. They’re my favorite. Everything you make is my favorite,” he said sheepishly.
A funny flutter erupted in her chest. She tore her gaze from him and went into the kitchen. She remembered being in love once. It kind of felt like that. Strange, she thought she had given up on such foolishness. Tom had made sure of that. It took seeing two crazy, star-struck, lovesick kids to make her remember, make her believe again.
Allison smiled as she took a heavily laden tray to the college kids.
“Awesome!” one kid said grabbing fries off his friend’s plate.
“Dude, get your own!” he retorted punching him in the arm.
“Boys, be nice.” Allison said, to her dismay sounding just like her mother.
“Thanks. Miss Allison. You’re the best,” a third boy said apologetically. He appeared to be the designated driver. Thank God they had one. He was alert, sober and trying in vain to keep his friends in order.
“GET A ROOM!” the drunkest and loudest of the bunch shouted before dissolving into giggles. Allison smacked the top of his head. It only made him laugh more. She rolled her eyes and shook her head in exasperation.
“I’m sorry about those kids back there,” Allison said to the happy-in-love couple. “Would you like some cinnamon rolls fresh out of the oven or some pie? We have cherry, Boston Cream, pumpkin...”
“Strawberry-rhubarb?” Danny asked hopefully.
“Sorry, that’s for springtime. Come back then and I’m sure to have it,” she said brightly.
“Then we’ll take two cinnamon rolls,” Danny said.
“They’re great,” Bobby interjected. “Allison makes them herself. She’s the best baker around. Puts that silly dough boy to shame,” he said winking at them. Rebecca giggled.
“Thank you, Bobby,” Allison said beaming at him. Her blood seemed to be rushing around her veins at top speed. She felt flushed and warm under his penetrating gaze. What was up with her? She whisked off, returned quickly and placed one in front of Bobby with a special smile. A funny look came into his face then he smiled, too. How had she missed that smile all these years?
She went to the couple and placed the cinnamon rolls in front of them. Before she could stop herself she asked, “How long have you been married? My guess is three weeks and you’re still on honeymoon.”
They exchanged dreamy smiles. “Actually, we only just got engaged. We just have no ring to show for it,” Danny said as he rubbed Rebecca’s fingers as if eager to get one on there.
“The ring is merely a symbol in the grand scheme of things,” Allison said philosophically. “It’s love that matters and you’ve got that in abundance. Lucky you,” she added wistfully. She smiled and returned behind the counter.
“Something funny? ” Bobby said.
“No, it’s just good to know love still exists. Just because it didn’t work out between me and Tom doesn’t mean there is no more love out there,” she said.
His heart skipped a beat “I never doubted love was still out there. It just seems to hide from us occasionally,” he replied. She spotted Danny motioning for the bill and she blinked stupidly.
“Did you not like the rolls?” she asked anxiously.
“On the contrary, they are every bit as good as the gentleman told us. Would you mind wrapping them up for us? We have somewhere very important to go,” Danny said barely containing his excitement.
“Sure, I’ll be but a minute,” Allison rushed off. She wondered if they were going to start their honeymoon early or perhaps elope. She giggled and went into the kitchen. She dropped their two virtually untouched rolls into a bag and then decided to give them four more. Whether they were going to elope or start their honeymoon they would need fortification.
Allison returned just as Danny helped Rebecca up from the booth. “Here you go,” she said handing them the bag. “If I never see you again I wish you a wonderful life.”
“Thank you,” Danny said warmly. He suddenly hugged her and bid her farewell. She watched them leave with a quivering lip and watery eyes.
“Friends of yours, Allison?” Bobby asked curiously.
“No, Bobby, just a…a brief encounter to restore my faith in love.”
When she turned to him he knew this was his chance.
“Would you ...like to join them...in love?” he said awkwardly. “We could ...” He never got to finish. She grabbed his shirt and kissed him. He wrapped his arms possessively around her, and pulled her to him.
Shouts of, “Get a room!” and laughter ricocheted off the walls, but they ignored it. Several minutes later they emerged breathless and dazed.
“Allison, you’re a dream come true,” Bobby whispered.
“We said get a room!”
“Shut up and you’ll get free pie,” she shouted back. “I believe I just found love again.”