Lena had been a regular at the diner for almost a year now, every Saturday morning she'd come in, order a coffee and french toast, and then at the beginning read a book or more recently talk to the staff who made it a point to get to know the regulars.
Manny often had her coffee ready just as she was getting ready to sit down with the number of sugars she used even next to the mug, and Burgin always chatted with her when she walked in. But John, John was both a flirt and oddly hesitant to engage. It was almost as if he was scared she’d get annoyed at him. He'd sometimes try tricks on the griddle that could be seen beyond the counter Lena always sat at, and it always made Lena laugh when he didn't break the egg on the spatula like he tried to or simply failed to catch the spatula when he threw it up in a spin.
Truth be told he'd started flubbing the tricks at least once while she was there usually just to hear her laugh. He was completely gone on her, even going so far as to make sure the specials on Saturday were different types of french toast; stuffed french toast, french toast with different fruit toppings, cinnamon raisin french toast, all kinds and all just for her.
This Saturday was no different from the last few, John was busy trying to make Lena like him enough to be willing to go out with him.
"Mornin' Lena" John punctuated the greeting with a smile and a wave of his spatula, "you gonna go classic or fun today?"
"While you can't go wrong with a classic, what's the special today?"
"Pecan french toast with caramel and chocolate drizzle."
“I'll go for that today,” after she finished adding her sugars and took her sip of coffee she continued, “Why is it that every time I'm here the special is French toast, tell me that isn't the only thing you know how to cook, because if that's the case I've got to cultivate some backups for when place goes out of business."
Manny gave a snort at that before heading out to refill the coffee cups of other patrons.
"As if you don’t know my french toast is amazing. I can cook plenty, but you always get the french toast, and since you always come in Saturdays I thought you'd like some variety," he said with a shy smile aimed more at the griddle than her.
Lena took the moment to take a long sip of her coffee, a little surprised at how genuine he sounded in his answer. She finally figured out what she wanted to say, "so do you dedicate the daily specials to any of your other regulars or am I the exception?"
"It's only you who gets her own specials," John replied with a seriousness she'd never seen in the fun-loving cook before.
Manny of course took that moment to come back with an order for John to make and grabbed Lena's food that was just finished being plated. When he set it in front of her she saw that John had made a couple of small hearts out of the chocolate and caramel on the edges of the plate. It was such a simple little thing but it made her smile. It made her realize just how much John cared for her and she decided she’d make a move that day.
When she finished paying after her meal she wrote her number on the back of her receipt and asked Burgin to give it to John since you had to pay at the front of the diner and she couldn’t reach John from in front of the counter anyway.
She left with a wave to the boys and Burgin headed over towards the kitchen. "She left somethin' for ya," he called out holding the receipt up.
Manny jokingly made a grab for it but Burgin just sidestepped him with a laugh and handed the paper to John who looked like he was being given a check for a million bucks.
Manny rolled his eyes at John, "Yes you baffoon. For some reason, Lena deemed you worthy of her number. God only knows why," he joked.
John carefully tucked the number in his apron and went back to cooking with a smile that didn’t leave his face for the rest of the day.