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Once upon a time, there was a man named Mr. Hottie.
And while I’ve often referred to The Man Who Had My Heart on the blog, I’ve rarely mentioned the one who was affectionately known as Mr. H. I first became aware of him in 2014 when I returned to my management position after taking medical leave for six weeks. As I was going through new contracts, I noticed that his account had not been charged one of the fees while I was away, so my first interaction with him was a phone call informing him that I would be charging the card on file for the remaining balance. I only remember him saying “ummm…okay…” and I went on about my day. I was very new at the job, and in retrospect, should have let that go, because it certainly wasn’t his fault. He was also in management, so I’m surprised he didn’t call me out on that, but he didn’t.
Since I hadn’t had any face to face interaction with him, I couldn’t really put a face with a name.
He came into the facility that I managed often and was dubbed Mr. Hottie. Everyone there had a nickname, and because I had not interacted with him personally, I didn’t pay much attention to anything other than the scan on my computer telling me that his access card for the door was working. Everybody called him Mr. Hottie; in fact, I’m not entirely sure any of us knew his real name for quite some time. He was tall, not dark, but strikingly handsome and had the most beautiful blue eyes that I’ve ever looked into. He was also moody at times, that one, and because I’m rather empathic, I’d merely acknowledge him and let him be when I noticed he wasn’t having a great day.
Like most of the members of the facility, we eventually became friends on Facebook. I knew what field he was in and asked for a referral to someone he knew.
To thank him for making the connection, I purchased a gift card for him. On the day I was going to give it to him, he walked in with a Starbucks cup, put it on my desk and said, “White chocolate mocha with double whip…Starbucks delivers” – to which I replied, “So does Hallmark!” as I handed him the card. It didn’t occur to me til a little bit later that he knew my favorite coffee, so on his way out, I asked him how – “I saw it on Facebook a couple months ago, and it’s my vice too.” And with that, my story with Mr. Hottie began.
As time went on, we became more friendly.
He’d stop at my desk sometimes and chit chat before he left and there was a nice but respectful energy between us. We laughed easily and often. We talked endlessly about our new iPhone upgrades, the newest flavor at Starbucks, a little town in North Carolina called Southport, his kids, our jobs, what I was going to be when I grew up—normal, everyday things. And he often showed up with white chocolate mochas. He went from being my ‘coffee fairy’ to my ‘coffee stud’ because he started having a bit of an issue with the ‘fairy’ part, which still makes me giggle. I remember him standing in front of me saying, “Look, do you see anything even remotely fairy about me?” —which led me to ask what he preferred. “Stud. Coffee Stud.” And from that day forward, he was.
On one particular day, it snowed, and I didn’t want to go to work.
I’m sure I even whined on Facebook about hating to drive in icy weather because that’s what I do when it snows. I whine! After conferring with my boss, we both agreed I should stay home (I loved snow days!). Mr. H. texted me later that morning saying “Oops! I felt sorry for you for having to drive in the snow. So I picked up a mocha, but you weren’t working when I went by. It’s the thought that counts.” Indeed, it was.
The Man Who Had My Heart was back in the picture after a 9-month hiatus, but we weren’t together.
One afternoon, I was sitting at my desk talking to one of the members of the facility I managed. My desk faced the door, so I could always see who was coming in and out. Mr. H. almost always sent me a text informing me he was on his way with coffee, so I didn’t expect him to just show up without letting me know. There I sat, talking away, and the next thing I knew, Mr. Hottie walked through the door unannounced, his Ray-Ban aviators propped on top of his head, dressed in his finest business meeting attire, with a Starbucks cup in hand.
I was mid-sentence in conversation with the woman at my desk, but when he walked in, I literally lost my words—like I just stopped talking.
The lady I was talking to noticed, because she turned around to see who I was looking at and after giving him the once-over herself, she walked away with a nervous giggle, fanned herself with the paper towel she had in her hand and muttered, “Ohhhh…” He sat down at my desk, winking at me, obviously proud of the surprise entrance he had just made. I didn’t say it out loud of course, but what was going through my head at that moment was “Oh, boy. I am in so much trouble right now…”
And I was.
He came by that day to tell me he was taking a social media break. He had terminated his membership a few months before but still showed up often with coffee to chat. Sometimes, I’d be standing in the office with my boss, my back to the door, and he’d say, “There’s your boy. And he’s got coffee!” — I looked forward to those times, but even then, I didn’t realize he was genuinely interested in me. And when he confirmed that, I was completely floored. “I’ve been bringing you coffee for a long time!” – “I know, but I just thought you were being nice!” – and he laughed at the absurdity of it, which made me laugh too.
A week before my divorce was to be final, my friend Erik committed suicide.
Erik lived four hours away from me, so I took my car to the mechanic to be serviced a few days before the funeral. I was still so stunned by what had happened that I could barely sit there without bawling. Mr. Hottie, in true form, came by unexpectedly and whisked me off for ‘a cuppa coffee’ so I didn’t have to sit in the lobby for two hours. We giggled the entire way to Starbucks and I needed that time with him more than I ever conveyed. That’s just the kind of man he was: the one who showed up for me when I least expected it.
The day before my court hearing also happened to be the day before Erik’s funeral.
And as you can imagine, I was beside myself. Mr. H. was a couple of hours away on a business trip but texted me from the restaurant he was in to check on me. He’d also had a little bit too much to drink, and before I knew it, sweet, emotional words were spilling out regarding how he felt about me: “I’ve always wondered what it would be like to kiss you. I cannot get you out of my head and I could never say these things to you without a little bit of liquid courage. So, there you have it.” – and with that, he said goodnight.
Goodnight?? Oh, absolutely not! Was he kidding?!
My friend Kena was at my condo that evening hanging out after we’d had dinner, and suddenly, I got up and slipped on my shoes that were next to the kitchen door leading out to the garage. “What are you doing?” she asked. With a shrug of my shoulders, I looked down at my phone. “I think I’m going to Oak Ridge to see Mr. Hottie because life is just too damn short to ever have to wonder about a kiss.” Listen, I was knee-deep in grief and had I not been, I probably wouldn’t have gone. I texted Mr. H. and told him I was coming, to which he suggested meeting halfway at Cracker Barrel so I didn’t have to drive so far. And we did. We talked for hours upon hours and kissed each other goodbye like two smitten, lovesick teenagers.
My car was almost on empty when I left, so I turned into the station beside the restaurant to get gas.
To my surprise, he pulled in too and got out of his car. I asked what he was doing, and he told me to get back into my vehicle because I was a single woman who didn’t need to be out in the middle of nowhere at that time of night pumping my own gas, taking the nozzle from me all in one swoop. As he did that, a man in his mid-60s who had most certainly seen better days and probably too much beer that night, staggered by us, staring. One piercing look from Mr. H. and he was in his red truck and gone. Mr. Hottie, ever so quick-witted, looked at me, threw his hands up in the air, and said, “See what I mean? You could’ve ended up in Bubba’s freezer if I hadn’t stopped!”
With a shake of my head, stifling laughter, and stealing one last kiss, I got back into my car and started the trip back to Johnson City.
By the time I got home, it was after 2 am and I had to be in court at 9 am. I didn’t sleep much at all, but then who would be surprised by that other than me? In the wee hours of the morning, I finally drifted off to a text from Mr. H. that said, “Do you have any idea how romantic that was? I can’t believe we were driving as fast as we could to each other just for a kiss.” – my reply to him before falling sleep with my phone still in my hand?
“Oh, but I can.”
…to be continued.
Tune in next week for part two of this three part series about my adventures with Mr. Hottie as well as the surprising, unexpected reaction of The Man Who Had My Heart…
Til next time, stay sassy!