“Hey, Will. The regular?”
Will runs a hand through his windswept curls and pads his way further into the quaint café. Behind him, the bell above the door settles back into silence. One glance around confirms that the place is nearly empty. But in all the past years he’s spent settling into Maine’s southwestern coast, Wally’s has never been full to bursting. Which, Will always thought, was a surprise, because his consistent “regular”—dark roast with two sugars and light on milk—is probably the best damn coffee he’s had in years. Much better than the cheap watery shit they kept stocked in the FBI kitchen.
His boots clunk heavy on the hardwood, dry so far for the morning. He leans forward onto his elbows, bracing on the front counter and turning his head to look out the far window. Almanac had forecasted heavy rain, and though the clouds have darkened the sky, they seem to be holding fast for now. Will wonders if this dull dryness will last until he can finish his errands and get back home.
Molly, the round-faced blonde who inherited the café and had renamed it after her son, breaks her familiar customer from his reverie. She slides Will a lidded cardboard cup of hot coffee, made exactly how he likes it.
“You look especially like shit today,” she muses in that naturally lilting voice of hers. Usually it cheers him up, but Molly dejectedly watches the words slick like water right off Will’s navy and silver windbreaker.
“Yeah?” he answers belatedly, turning his head back toward her and scooping up the cup for a sip. It slightly scalds the inside of his mouth, but there’s no sign of his pain save for the brief flicker of his eyelashes. “I feel especially like shit today.”
But Will remains as elusive as ever, like he has a reputation to keep as being the town recluse around here. Instead of talking about himself, he redirects. “How’s Wally?”
“Oh, he’s all right.” Molly preens, mindful of Will’s need for distance, and always proud to talk about her handsome little boy. She smiles, blush high on her full cheeks, and busies herself with wiping down the countertop. “He made honors this term for science. Got a little certificate and bragging rights for the next few months. I don’t know where he got the brains, but it isn’t from old ma and pa.”
“At least in part from ma, sure,” Will counters smoothly, even if he looks disgruntled as ever. His eyes follow the movement of that cloth on countertop, licking the stray taste of coffee from his lips.
She laughs, light and airy. Again, for the umpteenth time since they’d met, Molly begins to wonder where the line of genuinely oblivious kindness can cross to sincere flirtation with Will Graham. It’s been a long time since she’d been single, and even longer since she’d last had sex. Will’s a handsome man, if not a little rough and rugged around the edges. And he’s kind to her pack of dogs and her son Wally in turn. But he’s never made that first move, and so neither has she.
When Will turns his attention from her and looks out the window again to catch a glimpse of a man passing by outside, Molly allows the sigh to escape from her chest. Maybe he’s gay.
“Who’s that?” Will asks suddenly.
The words the most perked Will’s been all morning. He gestures with a nod of his chin toward the window. His gaze is fixated on someone who sticks out in the crowd, an unfamiliar man in a small town very familiar. There’s distance between them, but Will can see the sharpness of that man’s eyes, face, and the erect posture of confidence. The front glass is small, and the glance is brief; the stranger is out of view before a few seconds have passed. He looks back at Molly.
“New guy,” Molly answers, shoulders bouncing with a shrug. Part of her doesn’t want to tell Will anything, not out of spite, but out of some unfounded jealously that the new mystery man might be more interesting to Will than she is. It takes her only a second to check herself and swallow down the uncharacteristically potent upset. A smile is back on her face in no time at all, but Will knows better. He can feel better.
“Mmhhm. Gossip on the vine says he’s a hotshot city doctor.”
Will’s brows are raised, peering at her over another sip of his coffee. “And he’s moving in here?”
What Will says in that intonation could be considered an insult to the more conservative denizens of the tiny Cape Elizabeth, including Molly. But she knows better, and she only snorts in agreement. “That’s what I was thinking. He came in for coffee last week. Looks a lil’ brooding, though. Maybe something life-changing happened to him, like in the movies.”
A little something life-changing happened to me, like in the movies, Will thinks.
“Maybe.” He shrugs this time, dismissively. He’s not particularly interested in what the new guy’s up to. Then again, he’s not particularly interested in working on his to-do list today, either. But he might as well stop lingering and get to it.
“You busy tonight?” he asks.
The question is sudden, and it visibly catches Molly off-guard. Especially when Will doesn’t quite meet her gaze while asking. Not that that’s unusual. “Tonight? Uhm…”
“Storm’s supposed to roll in. If it doesn’t fog, it’s a great view from out where I am,” Will says, lips pursing in thought. “Better than that movie you told me about, I bet. What was it, again?”
“The Wave. Classic beauty of nature.” Molly, rolling with it, feels distinctly more playful than before. She feels refreshed, and hopeful. She’s smiling. Maybe it’s a date in the old lighthouse. “I don’t know. The bar’s been set pretty high.”
“Stay stuck with that bar, then, and you’ll only be missing out on the best view this town can offer.” It’s a light tease as Will finally peels himself up from leaning onto the counter. Seems like the coffee is starting to kick in and clear his head.
“I guess there’s no real harm in looking.”
“No harm at all.” Will plucks a few singles from his wallet and places them upon the counter. “And no pressure, I promise.”
Molly bites into her lower lip, expression coy. Will, too, has gone such a long time without the intimacy of another person that he’s beginning to long for it. Particularly when she’s batting doe eyes at him like that.
Will’s tucking his wallet back into his jeans and zipping up his jacket halfway. “Six-ish? A little earlier if you want to see the sunset.”
“I’ll be there.” Molly smiles gently, and Will smiles back. For a moment, he’s struck by the simplicity of the whole thing. The sheer normalcy. It feels good.
“I’ll see you, then.” Will gathers up his coffee cup and gestures as he makes to leave. He looks over his shoulder and back to Molly, oblivious to the chime of the café bell around his words. “Tell Wally I said congrats, and that his mom should reward him with endless ice cream.”
“Pfftt. As if.” Molly laughs, raising a hand. She watches as Will gently collides shoulders with an entering patron.
Will, content and only temporarily annoyed that the brush causes a slosh of coffee onto his flannel shirt, mutters a low cuss and promptly exits to his truck. He doesn’t look back. But the new hotshot-doctor-mystery-man now inside Wally’s Café turns his head and watches Will’s retreat. Watches curiously until he’s walked out of view.
“I’m feelin’ Randy.”
Will huffs a soft noise and latches his mouth onto Molly’s neck again. He sucks gently, words light. “Me too.”
Molly laughs outright, tilting her head back and spilling soft blond hair all down her bare back. She rocks into Will’s lap, encouraging where his large palms have begun to slip under her, teasing the stray stickiness from their previous round of lovemaking.
“Randy’s my new dog.”
“Oh, hell.” Will joins her with a short laugh, drawing back to kiss her lips and look in her eyes. He pauses in his movements, only holding her there in his arms. “Another stray?”
“I couldn’t say no to Wally. That dog is ugly with a capital ‘U’, but he’s got a heart of gold. Waits up for me every night.”
“He’s waiting up now?” Will groans softly, body pliant and warm, feeling oddly secure in his nakedness.
“…Yeah, he is. It’s late already.”
The nightstand’s digital clock reads just short of midnight.
Will lets her up, and they both dress in a silence which holds an awkward air of uncertainty. Though the rain passed after a few hours, the fog remains thicker than Will had ever seen it. He’d suggest another climb to the top of the lighthouse tower for one last attempted look, but he’s not sure either of them are up for the twelve-story climb after how passionately, desperately, they’d just fucked. Exhaustion is trickling in, along with a sense of regret that Molly didn’t get to see the bluffs. Maybe that means he’ll have to invite her again.
At the little front door, Will bids Molly goodbye with a wave and a smile, decidedly disjoint compared to what they’ve been doing all night. She doesn’t mind it a bit. But Will, he feels guilty.
The first two calls had gone to voicemail while Will showered. Will’s cell phone, on silent, had buzzed and buzzed, left ignored on the foot of his bed and half-hidden among rumpled sheets which smell of heady sex. On the third call, phone screen annoyingly crisp in the dim room, Will patters over on moist bare feet to look.
Molly. Maybe she’s calling to say she’s made it home.
He picks up and answers, opposite hand using his bath towel to wipe water from his neck where it’s pooled from his soaked hair.
“Will—!” Molly’s voice comes through with a keening cry, the panic obvious despite how the phone crackles loudly.
Will’s expression falls, ears ringing as he listens intently. His own heart rate spikes right away, and his body turns still as a statue. The breath in his throat catches on a swallow. Something’s very wrong.
“Molly? What’s going on?”
“He’s gone, Will. Oh god, he’s gone—” Whatever Molly says after that is incoherent. Will can’t make it out with all the static and the loud crying.
“Who’s gone? Talk to me. Listen—talk to me.”
“He took Wally!”