Vivi heard the familiar clang of the bell as she opened the door to the cafe. Conversations and laughter buzzed about the Winden Woods Cafe, which served as a regular meeting post for locals. “Hey, strangers!” a familiar voice hollered from behind the counter.
“Hello, Annie,” Grandpa called as he and Vivi grabbed the only available stools at the counter. “I hope you saved us some of your pumpkin pancakes. I sure have a hankering for them.”
Annie laughed. “Oh, Thomas, I figured you would grace me with your presence, so I saved some batter for your orders. Two plates of pumpkin pancakes with bacon, coffee, extra butter, and extra syrup?”
Grandpa chuckled. “You know your patrons, Annie.”
“You mean, I know my favorite patrons.” Annie emphasized the word favorite.
Grandpa Thomas beamed. “Thank you, Annie.”
“Yes, thank you,” Vivi added.
“Just sit tight and I will be right back with coffee,” Annie instructed.
It didn’t take long for Annie to reappear with steaming cups of coffee and plates laden with sweet-smelling pancakes.
“How’s it going over here?” Annie asked when she returned to refill their cups.
“Everything is excellent as always,” Vivi praised.
“Thank you, darling.” Annie smiled. “I just hope you drank enough coffee to be energized for this afternoon’s meeting. Lordy, I just know Martha is going to have her undies in a twist over poor ole Jerry. You know how she feels about the annual festival. I swear it’s her reason for living.”
“I know. I will try to help you more with the drama,” Vivi offered. “In the meantime, I am still working on measuring all the actors for their costumes.”
“You have been a big help, Vivi. I am sure that we will get it figured out. I will see you two later.” Annie dashed off to check on other customers.
“Thank you again, Annie. No one makes a breakfast better than you,” Grandpa said. He was smiling from ear to ear.
“Grandpa, I am going to walk around town until my festival committee meeting starts in an hour. There is no point in going all the way home, just to come right back. Plus, I have some errands to run.”
“Are you sure you don’t want a ride home, so you can pick up your car, darling?”
“I will be fine,” Vivi promised. “Do you need anything while I’m in town?”
Grandpa Thomas retrieved the list from his jacket pocket. “Now that you mention it, I do have a few things that need to be picked up from the drugstore. You can tell the pharmacist to just put it on my tab. Thank you, lass.” Grandpa kissed her cheek and headed for the car.
By the time Vivi finished her errands, it was drizzling. She was loaded down with two large paper sacks from the drugstore. Vivi made a mad dash across the town square for the Winden Woods Cafe. She didn’t see the 1967 black Camaro barreling around the corner.
Suddenly, one of Vivi’s bags ripped open, sending her toiletries scattering across the street. The Camaro came to a screeching halt just as Vivi was desperately attempting to gather the contents of her bag.
A tall man jumped out from the driver’s side. “Hey, lady! Are you hoping to get yourself killed?” He stopped dead in his tracks when he saw Vivi on her hands and knees trying to retrieve her shampoo from the gutter.
“I’m sorry! I didn’t plan this misfortune!” Vivi shouted back to the stranger. She couldn’t finish her thought when she looked up at the man. He had the most handsome blue eyes that she had ever seen. She had a strange feeling that she knew him from somewhere, but where? The man knelt down to help her to collect her purchases. Once all the items were collected, the stranger pulled Vivi to her feet. She took note of his gentle touch. “Well, that was embarrassing and life-threatening. I didn’t see you coming,” she explained.
“No, I should be the person apologizing. I should not have been speeding through town,” he offered.
“I’m Vivienne Andrews, and you are?”
Noah was stunned to meet Vivienne Andrews in the middle of the street. He had been trying to muster up the courage to find her for almost three years. “It’s nice to meet you, Vivienne. I’m Noah Crawford.”
“Why were you in such a hurry, Noah?”
“I’m in town for a job interview,” he explained.
“Where are you interviewing? I don’t mean to be rude, but it’s a small town, so not many places to work. Perhaps I know the owner.”
Noah stuffed his hands in his pants pockets. This beautiful woman made him feel nervous. “I’m interviewing up at Cleary Orchard. I’m a carpenter by trade, but I know my way around an orchard.”
Vivi grinned. “What a coincidence. My family owns Cleary Orchard. I guess that I do know the owners. Nice folks, I think you’ll like them,” Vivi teased.
At first, Noah was speechless. He didn’t expect for Vivienne Andrews to be his potential employer. “Oh wow, now I am really sorry that I almost ran you over with my car. I hope you don’t hold this against me,” Noah exclaimed.
“I’ll try not to. However, you’re in luck. My grandpa will be interviewing you today. Sadly, I have another engagement.” It was fun to tease Noah.
“I hope we meet again, Vivienne Andrews.”
“I’m sorry, what?” Noah was confused by her remark.
“You can call me Vivi. That’s what all my friends call me,” Vivi explained.
“Well, Vivi, I hope to see you again soon.” Noah leaned down and kissed her hand. It was Vivi’s turn to be left speechless.
Vivi stood dumbfounded as Noah drove off in the direction of her home. If only she could skip the festival meeting so she could question Noah during the interview. She couldn’t shake the feeling that she knew Noah.