I look up at the sign again and let resolve fill me. My supposed perfect match is waiting for me a few feet away. If it’s a failure, then no one will know, and if it’s a success I just might find everything I’ve been looking for, and also someone who might prevent me from dying a lonely, single, old man and being eaten by my grumpy dog, Charlie.
Filled with resolution, I nod and stride forward grimly. Maybe too grimly. I pause and adjust my face so it isn’t demonstrating resting bitch. Sorted.
I reach out and push open the door. I’m instantly socked with a wave of warm coffee and sugar scented air, and predictably, my glasses immediately steam over. I curse and remove them, polishing them and popping them back on my nose. The place comes into focus and I look around nervously. It’s fairly quiet for a weekday. Normally, coffee shops in York are filled to the rafters with tourists, but the rain and wind must have kept most people away. There’s an old couple sitting together but staring in any direction other than at each other, a young couple attempting to share one chair, and a man tapping away furiously on a laptop.
I stare hard at him, but he’s not wearing a red jumper, which is what my mystery man promised to be wearing. I straighten my own navy sweater and look around, my brow furrowing. Disappointment sears me. He hasn’t come. My racing thoughts come to a stop when I hear a throat clearing behind me. I turn slowly and see a small table and leather armchairs tucked away in a quiet corner. Sitting in one of the chairs is a man wearing a scarlet jumper, and… my thoughts come to a screeching halt. “You!”
Sage, my best friend in the entire world, gives a startled laugh. “Me. And you?” I laugh, and he shoves the spare chair forward with his foot. “What are you doing here?” he asks. “I thought you’d bunkered down to get through the revisions.”
I subside into the chair thankfully and take a grateful sip of his hot chocolate which he pushes over to me with the ease of practice. I curse as I notice pen ink all over my hands, before focusing on the question. “I have got a lot to do, but I had a message from that dating site I was telling you about.”
Something crosses his face, a flare of what looks like recognition, before a slow smile lifts his full lips. “So, you’re here for a date then? Don’t tell me. You’re wearing a navy sweater to identify yourself, and your profile name is Ink Sprinkler, which, by the way, either sounds like a porn name or like you’re incontinent.”
I pause, and then realization rushes through me. “Oh, my God. Are you Picture Man?”
He waves his arms about gracefully as if conducting a symphony. The sleeves of the sweater are rolled up, and the colours from the tattoos on his arms and hands shine in the warm light of the coffee shop. “I thought it was appropriate,” he smiles, and just for a second my gaze snags on those full lips and the twinkle in his warm, cognac eyes.
Then I snap back into reality with the ease of practice. “So, we’ve been matched by a supposedly zero percent failure matchmaking agency.” I snort. “We’re going to detract from their perfect score, that’s for fucking sure.”