In his three months as a barista, Chad had learned several things. He'd learned how to pull a perfect espresso, how to remember seven different orders at once (ten if none of the customers got too creative), and how to flirt with anyone over the course of a short transaction. The last one was the surprise; he'd had no idea that so many coffee-drinkers took flirting with their barista as a matter of course.
Like the girl at the counter right now. She ducked her head just a bit so she could shoot him heated glances through her eyelashes as she ordered her coffee. "Dark and sweet," like he hadn't already heard that five times this shift. He wondered what innuendoes the white guys got. Chad gave her a charming grin and promised to make it perfect, just for her.
Inside his head, he was rolling his eyes, but whatever. Keeping the eye rolling internal improved his tips dramatically.
He served three more people before his break. One man ("I've found my new favorite coffee spot," with a leer), one older woman ("Could you make that with … extra cream," while stroking her neck suggestively), and one teenager wearing an iPod who barely managed to speak, much less flirt. Chad sighed as he ducked into the back for his break.
"Do you ever feel like a coffee whore?" he asked Simone, who was stocking the pastries.
She laughed. "You're only a whore if you put out," she said. "Right now you're a coffee cock tease." She turned away with a tray of muffins while he was still blinking at having heard the word 'cock' pass a coworker's lips while on the clock.
Sometimes he felt like the entire city was out to prove that he was a sheltered, small town boy. It especially sucked since he didn't even come from a small town.
He spent his break trying and failing to find the section in his Econ notes that he was supposed to be studying for tomorrow's test. He didn't get anything accomplished, but he felt virtuous for having tried. He tied his apron back on an d took his place at the counter, pretending not to notice the way Simone gave a little shimmy of her hips and wink of her eye when she caught sight of him.
Chad settled into a pattern - taking orders, making coffee, handing back change. He flirted when flirted with, laughed when joked at, and smiled, smiled, smiled. His shift was almost over when a slender guy in a tilted straw fedora stepped up to the counter.
"Which would you recommend with a café Americano? A blueberry scone or a banana muffin?" he asked. He wasn't even looking at Chad, too caught up in ogling the baked goods.
"Neither," Chad said decisively. "The scones are best with tea, and the banana muffins with mocha." Chad had opinions about food, so sue him. "I vote for the carrot cake."
The guy looked up from the display case with an amused grin. "You've given this thought, haven't you?"
Chad shrugged. "I have an excuse," he said defensively. "I work around this food all the time."
"I bow to your professional opinion. Can I have an Americano and a piece of carrot cake?" He had a dorky smile that showed off very white teeth. Chad couldn't help returning it.
"I suppose," he said with mock reluctance. "Since you're generously taking my suggestion, and all."
"My name is Ryan," the guy said.
Chad raised an eyebrow. "That's nice."
"No." Ryan rolled his eyes. "For the order. The name is Ryan."
"I don't remember asking," Chad told him. "I can probably keep your order straight in this mad rush." He waved a hand to take in the nearly empty coffee shop. It was long after the morning rush, but not yet into the afternoon pick-me-ups.
Ryan blushed, and Chad fought down a truly stupid giggle that was fighting its way up from his stomach. It was the first time since he'd started working here that he'd been grateful for the enforced flirting lessons.
He took Ryan's money and fetched his cake and coffee. Before filling the cup, he picked it up and wrote across the side of it with a Sharpie. "See," Ryan said. "I knew you'd want to know my name."
Chad smirked at him and handed over his order. He watched for the moment when Ryan realized it wasn't his name that was written on the cup. (Not Ryan's phone number, either, but that made sense. Chad didn't have that. Yet.)
"Have a good day," Chad said.
"I will," Ryan told him. There was no innuendo in his smile, just happy awareness.
Chad smiled for the rest of his shift, and not Simone's teasing or the threat of Econ could stop him. The message from Ryan on his phone when he got off work just made his smile stretch wider.
He was starting to like New York, after all.