Hands On Experience

a.n. hello all. this is going to be just a short little story, only three or four chapters; something sweet and light and fluffy to try and take my mind off the stress that is exams. I've got a rough plot-line set out, so updating times just depends on how much studying I need to do, but I'll try and keep it sort of regular. hope you all enjoy - and remember to let me know what you think, please. thanks for reading.


Chapter One:
Hold the sugar please, you're sweet enough for the both of us.

(roll film)

Date #103.

Jonathon White. An accountant from New South Whales. Moved to Melbourne with a previous girlfriend. Apparently is still here for said previous girlfriend. Another failure.

--

"Pippa!" I looked up from the heavy folder sitting on my lap to see my room-mate Annie standing before me expectantly. "I didn't hear you come in! Gee, you're back early; it's only 10:30. I suppose you do have work in the morning, huh? Anyway, how'd it go?" She was wearing pyjamas with pictures of multi-coloured turtles all over them, and her wild mane of dark frizz was spilling out from the elastic band she'd vainly tried to contain it in and curling around her ears. I could see a bit of lettuce stuck in between her front teeth as she smiled at me innocently. At that moment in time, I loved her more than any man on earth.

My lip wobbled, and as much as I tried to contain myself I couldn't help but wail, "Horribly!" I could feel the tears starting to burn at the backs of my eyes and throat. "He spent the whole night comparing me to his ex. Apparently she has this same top too -" I gestured at the dark blue singlet I was wearing "-but her boobs looked better in it than mine do."

The tears started spilling down my cheeks at that point, and I didn't protest when Annie lifted the folder off my lap, sat down beside me and started rubbing her hand in circles over my back. "It's okay sweetie," she cooed softly. "You'll find someone soon – you've just got to keep looking. He's out there, somewhere."

"No, he's not," I sobbed. "I'm cursed Annie. I'm never going to find a decent man."

There was a moment of silence as she contemplated her reply. And then she said, very, very softly, "Pippa, why don't you stop looking for Mr. Right for a little while, and just enjoy being single?"

Looking back, I realise what an accomplishment it was for her to come up with a different reassurance every time I came home from another failed date, and that I shouldn't have really been shocked when she pretty much told me to give up. I mean, she did support me through the first 102 horrible men. But still, the thought of just enjoying being single nearly sent me into a panic attack.

"Enjoy being single?" I asked her in a tone that suggested she'd just asked me to give up chocolate for a month. "I'm not like you Annie, I'm not a free spirit. I need someone, you know that."

"No, you don't Pippa. You don't need a guy to take care of you, or tell you how pretty you look, or any of those other cheesy things that you think you need." Annie sighed and stood up. "There's no real Edward Cullen out there, you know."

"I know," I sighed. "And I don't expect -"

"Yes, you do hun," Annie cut me off. "You expect the perfect man, and that folder of yours is proof."

Both of us looked at the pale pink binder sitting on the coffee table, a glaringly obvious sign of my anti-feminism. For months I'd been recording every date I went on in it, taking down details of which men to avoid and why. It's a system I started after I was set up on a blind date by my mother with a man ten years older than me who couldn't speak without spitting all over everything in a two meter radius. You'd think that most people would want to forget these horrible encounters, but I found it a useful way to stockpile all the things that are wrong with the male gender, and all the things that had stopped me from finding a boyfriend.

"Besides," Annie called as she wandered back into the kitchen. "If all the men in the world are as horrible as them, why do you even want a boyfriend in the first place?"

(intermission)

The rich aroma of coffee and cocoa greeted me as I pushed open the door to Choccie and Coffee, the shop at which I work three to four days a week. It's been opened for a few years now, and it's garnered a loyal following of regular costumers from all walks of life, some of who waved hello to me as I arrived for my usual shift.

"Pippa, you're late," my manager Jon called as I made my way over to the counter, gently pushing through the crowd of people.

"I know, I'm sorry, my alarm didn't go off again -"

"I'm going to buy you a whole new alarm clock, I swear it'd just be easier," Jon grumbled as he finished making a cappuccino and handed it to Mr. Stephens, a nice elderly man who comes in every Tuesday and Thursday with his wife.

"Go ahead," I replied. I grabbed my dark green apron with 'I never met a chocolate I didn't like' written across the front off the hook in the staff area and replaced it with my handbag. I managed to tie the strings behind my back and then make my way out to the counter to start taking orders.

"We're busy today, so you take orders and hand out cakes, let me handle the drinks," Jon informed me as I took my place behind the register.

"Alright." I had no problem with that system, as it highly reduced the risk of me burning myself – though I was almost certain that I'd find some other way to injure myself.

Sure enough, two hours later I was cursing under my breath at the evil steel napkin dispenser that I was attempting to refill during one of the rare lapses in customers. I'd somehow managed to cut my finger open on one of the corners and was now bleeding all over the new packet of napkins I'd placed on the counter.

"Stupid friggin' sharp corners," I muttered, bringing my right pointer finger up to my mouth and sucking on it.

"Uh.. are you okay?" The question, which barely disguised a laugh, made me look up – and straight into the ocean blue eyes of Mr McBloodyGorgeous. He had sandy blonde hair, which fell over his forehead in messy strands and almost curled along his collar, but not quite. His nose was a little crooked, and he had two big dimples either side of his pink lips. I swooned.

"I-uh-uhm," I babbled, still holding my finger to my lips. It seemed that I'd lost more blood than I'd originally thought, as suddenly I felt extremely light headed and giddy.

He smiled at me. His smile was a bit lopsided, but his teeth were so white they could have been on a toothpaste ad. "That looks like a nasty cut. You can go wash it and put a band-aid on if you like; I can wait to order."

I could feel a red heat beginning to burn up my neck and spread across my cheeks. "Uh… sure. Thanks," I managed to blurt out, hurriedly turning around and dashing into the backroom, hopefully before he noticed my embarrassment.

Once I got into the staff area, I thoroughly washed the surprisingly deep cut, sprayed it with some disinfectant from the first aid kit, and put a band-aid across it. Then I put another band-aid over the top of that one, in case it started to fall off. And then I splashed some cold water on my cheeks to try and cool myself down, before patting it dry with a clean tea-towel, which I then put on the washing pile. Once all that was done, I lingered about the doorway for a few seconds, trying to decide whether I wanted Mr McBloodyGorgeous to still be waiting or to have left already.

Eventually I heard Jon calling my name, and was forced to walk back out to the counter – where a fairly long line of customers now waited. "Pippa." The tips of Jon's ears were starting to get a pink tinge to them, which I knew meant I was in trouble. "Why are all these fine people standing here waiting for their orders to be taken?"

"Uh- I… cut my finger," I mumbled.

"You what?" Jon asked, raising one of his eyebrows so that it sat annoyingly higher than the other.

"She cut her finger open." Both Jon and I turned to look at Mr McBloodyGorgeous, and then at the bloodied pile of napkins sitting on the counter that he was pointing to. I watched in amazement as he went on to defend me, shrugging his broad shoulders and looking Jon right in the eye. "To be honest I'm quite glad she went and cleaned it up. It looked like a pretty bad cut, what I saw of it, and I don't know about you, but blood isn't really a flavouring I'd like with my coffee."

"No," Jon said, shaking his head and giving me a warning glance. "No, of course not." He smiled at us before stalking off to the back room, presumably to replenish our dwindling supply of truffles.

I gingerly picked up the napkins and tossed them in the bin beside my feet. "Thank you," I said quietly to my new friend, smiling appreciatively.

He smiled back, and it took all my strength not to ask him right then and there to make beautiful children with me. "You're welcome..." his eyes wandered to my chest, and my heart fluttered. "Pippa." Damn. He was only looking at my name badge. "I like your name -"

"Ahem," the middle-aged women who was next in line coughed, rather tactlessly.

"Oh… uh, what would you like?" I asked Mr McBloodyGorgeous, my fingers poised over the register to take his order.

"Just a large cappuccino, please," he said. I tapped the order into the register, entering it as though he was due for a free coffee on his non-exsistant loyalty card. "How much do I owe you?" He asked me, pulling his wallet out of his back pocket.

"You don't owe me anything," I replied. "I mean, you can have it for free."

"Oh, okay." At first he looked a bit puzzled, but then he broke out into a grin. "Thanks Pippa."

I felt my lips spread into a warm smile as he held my gaze. "You're welcome…"

"Rhys." He said. "My name's Rhys."

Our fingers touched when I handed him the cappuccino, and my eyes followed him as he walked out the door.

(applause)


a.n. well, I hope you enjoyed. please let me know what you think - we all know how good reviews are. thanks for reading, you awesome people you.