“I don’t mean to interrupt.” Jina raised her head to the voice. She searched her mind for the name of the tall blond man.
“Chris, right?” The man dressed in a white shirt and black waist apron had the same huge smile he used while greeting her and her date earlier tonight.
“It’s probably not good to say things about your date just in case you two actually hit it off, but I think you should know that he has been here three times already this week with three different girls. And...” Chris furrowed his eyebrows before continuing. “Well, no other girl has wanted a second date with him. Be prepared.” These words swirled around in Jina’s head once her date came back from a phone call he took outside.
“Sorry for the wait.” He scooted forward in his chair. Jina returned a pleasant smile, looking down into her lap for help from her “List of Topics” that she made handy for each blind date that she went on.
"So Jason, what was the phone call about?” She asked her date. Jason shrugged nonchalantly.
“My ex is going into labor. My friend is with her currently and he’s going to call me once she’s close so I can head over. I am actually thankful that he’s going to be the step-father. I can’t trust any other man.” Jason flattened his napkin in his lap. “You want to come with me to see the birth of my son?” Jina bit her lip and rejected the best way she could.
Jina used two days to ghost Jason, counting the experience as part of her bad luck streak. Right now as she was walking down the street, the skies continued to play with her as it began to shower rain down on the citizens. She looked up and quickly covered her head with her arms.
“Really?!” She questioned whoever was in charge of the weather. With a few steps, Jina rushed to the closest store awning that she could find. Soon, more people bunched together to hide from the sudden thunderstorm. Jina shuffled away from the others but since she had bad luck, someone stumbled into her. “Woah.” She mumbled, looking at the person beside her.
“Oh, hey! Nice to see you again!” The man exclaimed. Jina’s eyes lit up.
“You’re the waiter from the restaurant, right?” Chris nodded and the two exchanged a small chuckle.
“Fate has brought us together again.” Chris looked towards the sky. “I do kinda wish that fate brought me good weather as well.”
“I know!” The two stood in awkward silence as the people around them spoke.
“So did it work out with the dude?” Chris asked suddenly. Jina perked up to meet the taller man’s eyes.
“Not exactly...” She trailed her reply to which Chris answered with,
“I hope it wasn’t my fault.” Jina shook her head.
“You really saved me back there. Thank you for interrupting.” She widened her eyes after speaking. “Watch out!” Chris turned on cue as the strong winds from the storm blew an old sign off the side of a shop. It flew with the winds down the street and immediately, Chris wrapped his arms protectively around Jina. The sign crashed to the floor and broke into pieces. People screamed and stepped away from the danger. Chris loosened his hug around Jina, surprised by his own reflexes.
“Are you okay?” His voice was the softest that Jina had ever heard. She nodded slowly as she checked herself. Once she made sure she was fine, she examined Chris.
“Your hand!” Chris turned his arm. It had been cut by a shard of the broken sign and was bleeding with a gash. “We have to take you to the Urgent Care Center.” Looking through her small purse, she pulled out all the tissues she carried and gently covered his wound.
Chris watched the nurse bandage his hand in a thick bundle. Each time she tightened the wrap around, he winced but quickly regained his smile.
“Thank you so much. It’s beautiful.” He admired the work.
“Make sure you don’t touch water with that hand.” The nurse pulled the curtain open. “Do you have any questions?” Chris shook his head and the nurse flipped the pages of his files, writing a few things. “Alright, but don’t hesitate to come in if you have any concerns or sudden changes. You can go ahead and schedule your next check-up” Once he stepped out into the hallway, he looked around for a familiar face. He didn’t expect anyone to really be there but it was good to imagine something surprising.
“Chris!” He whipped his head towards the female voice. Jina jogged over. “How is everything? What did the nurse say?” Stunned by her presence, Chris didn’t answer her question.
“You didn’t have to wait for me.” That must have come out wrong since Chris saw a slight change of expression in Jina. “I didn’t mean it badly!” He rushed out, waving his hands too fast. “Ow.” He winced. Jina gently lowered his hands.
“Don’t worry, I don’t have anything planned. I thought you would be happier to see someone waiting for you. I wanted to thank you, again. If it wasn’t for you, I would be the one injured now.” Jina tilt her head. “Unless you don’t want to see me...”
“Absolutely not!” Jina froze once Chris shouted the words. “Wait, what I mean is,” He inhaled. “Absolutely not, I do want to see you...here.” She was amused by his reactions. “So what are you going to do now?”
“It is lunch time. Do you wanna get something to eat?” Chris might have agreed too fast, causing Jina to laugh. “Okay!”
“You know where we should go?” She shook her head. “Brick Breaks.” Jina raised an eyebrow.
“Isn’t that where you work?” She asked.
“Yes, but we can get free food with the points I’ve saved up on my employee’s card.” Chris stepped towards the check-in counter. “Just let me schedule my next appointment and then we can head over.”
Summer turned to a chilly end-of-autumn. The chance encounter four months ago led the two to be the closest of friends but it was starting to seem like they could be so much more. The only barrier that kept them back were their doubts that the other was ready to take it a step further. So for every instance where they felt feelings for the other, Jina and Chris brushed it off their shoulders. Yet after each hang-out, the fuel for their crushes increased, making it harder to douse each time.
For tonight’s chilly weather, Jina stood outside of a café bundled up. She held two warm cups in her hands as she waited for his arrival.
“Here!” Chris called steps away. Jina scrunched up her nose as he stepped closer.
“Are we competing with how many times we can be late?” Chris laughed at her sarcasm, holding his stomach.
“I was held up at work. Please forgive me.” He tried his best to wiggle his fingers in the cold. “I’m like frozen. I didn’t even bother to put my gloves on cause I wanted to get to you first. You have to give me bonus points.”
“I guess...” Jina trailed off. He held his hand out and Jina naturally handed him his cup of hot chocolate. “Are you ready for the movie?” Chris sipped his drink, trying to warm up. He nodded after, licking his lips.
“Yeah, just let me warm up for a second.” He exhaled; a trail of his breath escaped his lips into the cold. The two turned from each other to watch the busy street in front of them in silence. “You’ve been holding the cups for a while right?”
“Yep.” Jina replied.
“So your hands are quiet warm right?”
“Hot actually.” Jina had a hint of laughter in her words. Chris nodded, reaching down to hold her empty hand. She turned to look at him, trying to register what just happened. Chris turned to avoid her eyes, humming softly. With a fuller smile, Jina pulled away to adjust the hold, interlocking their fingers. “Is your hand warming up now?” Shifting his feet, Chris tightened his hand around Jina’s and cleared his throat.
“Yep.” Their eyes met and each person had a soft blush on their cheeks. They “clinked” their hot chocolates together and sipped. “Sorry, I’m going to have to interrupt this moment, but I think we should cross the street now.”
“I think so too.” Jina agreed. With their hands held tightly together, the two walked in unison towards their future destination.