Chapter Three:
I've been thinking about you a latte.

(roll film)

"Annie!" I called as I threw open the door to our apartment. "Annie, I'm in love!"

My beautiful room-mate stared at me, not looking impressed in the least. She was wearing the daggiest pair of track pants on earth, that are covered in chocolate stains and have barely any elastic left in the waist band, and her hair was just frizzing all over the place. "Oh yes, and what's his name this time?" She rolled her eyes and took a huge bite out of the apple she held in her left hand.

"Ann-niee," I whined, "It's Rhys. You know, Rhys? Mr McBloodyGorgeous, man of my dreams, my future husband? Rhys?"

"Oh my God, coffee shop knight in shining armour? Did you see him again?" She asked, her bored expression suddenly changing to one of interest.

I sighed and fluttered my eyelids as I wandered into the lounge room. "He came to see me," I collapsed backwards over the arm of the couch dramatically. "Just to see me…"

My mobile phone ringing interrupted me just as I was about to launch into a detailed explanation of our afternoon encounter. I lifted it from my pocket and frowned at the words 'Mum Calling' in the middle of the illuminated screen. I was forced to give Annie an 'I'll tell you everything later' look and answer the call, because I knew if I didn't mum would just ring again. She's a relentless woman.

"Hello Mum," I said brightly, trying not to laugh at Annie as she wiggled her bum out of the room.

"Hello Pippa." I could tell from her tone that mother dearest had something planned for me. "You're not busy tonight are you, darling? No, of course you're not. I've got a man for you, very nice, twenty-seven, a realtor. You'll like him. You're meeting him at the Bar and Bistro at 7-"

I finally cut in, at the first chance I got. "Wait, mum, what are you talking about? I can't go on a date tonight -"

"What on earth are you talking about darling?" Mum's tone was incredulous. "Of course you're going on the date tonight. You must go, or Stephen will tell Shirley's son – they work together, you see – and then I'll just be a complete laughing stock…"

"Fine, mum. Fine," I snapped. I reminded myself horribly of a snotty teenager, but that's what my mother brings out in me. "We wouldn't want you to be a 'total laughing stock', now would we?"

"Complete laughing stock, love. So, he'll be waiting at 7. I expect to hear all about it tomorrow -"

"He'll be waiting where, mum?" I asked.

"At the Bar and Bistro, hun, you really must learn to listen," Mum replied scornfully.

I sat upright suddenly and my eyes widened. "The Melbourne Bar and Bistro?" The Melbourne Bar and Bistro? As in, Rhys's Melbourne Bar and Bistro? Oh God…

"Yes," Mum sighed. "You're very flighty tonight, Pippa."

I didn't know how to reply. I was too busy thinking about what I'd wear, and what I'd say to Rhys if he was working… "I'm just… a bit…"

"Well, snap out of dear. You can't be this inattentive on your date."

"Okay, mum. Thanks. I'll talk to you tomorrow…" I mumbled. "Love you." I hung up the phone and ran my hand through my hair. I had to get ready, fast. "Annie!" I called, standing up. "We have an emergency!"

(intermission)

My heart was pounding in my chest as I stood out the front of The Melbourne Bar and Bistro, dressed in an outfit of Annie's choice – black jeans, to slim the legs, a dark green, figure hugging singlet to match my eyes and emphasize the boobs, and black ankle boots that apparently say 'I'm a relaxed person but I'm not afraid to tie you up and lick whipped cream off your stomach in the bedroom'. I still haven't decided whether or not that's a good thing.

I glanced at the giggling, glittery women and casual but smartly dressed men around me, all talking loudly and smiling happily. I took one deep breath and went up the steps to the front door, which I pushed open. My eyes went straight to the bar, scanning it for any sign of Rhys. Unfortunately, my view was blocked by a rather obnoxiously styled head and a cheesy grin.

"Pippa?" A deep voice questioned.

I pulled my head back, overwhelmed by the smell of peppermint, and looked at the man standing before me. "Hello?"

"It's Stephen, I, um, I'm meant to meet you.. Uh, your mother -"

I sighed and brushed my fringe back out of my eyes. "Let's not talk about my mother, shall we?"

Stephen smiled awkwardly and finally stepped out of my view of the bar. I resumed my scanning, but Rhys was nowhere to be seen. My spirits dampened immediately. "So, uh, shall we go sit down?" Stephen offered out his hand, and I took it. A rather large mistake – he was so sweaty it was a miracle that a puddle hadn't formed on the spot of floor on which he stood.

We were led to a table along the right wall of the bistro and I was extremely thankful to be able to free my damp hand from Stephen's sweaty grasp. I subtly wiped it on my napkin as I sat down, and tried not to laugh at the goofy expression on Stephen's face as he stared at me; I'm sure that he considered himself utterly charming.

I suffered through an agonizing entrée, listening to Stephen talk all about his work as a realtor, and how he lives in a mansion down by the coast, and how he owns two BMWs, one of which he only drives on weekends. My eyeballs were just about to drop out of my head and into my chicken and sweet corn soup when I finally saw him. Rhys.

He was standing at the bar almost directly behind Stephen, dressed in black jeans and a white shirt, and his hair was falling over his forehead and brushing his right eyelid. I watched, mesmerized, as he laughed with a coworker and filled a pot of beer, his smile sending butterflies ricocheting around the walls of my stomach.

"Uh, are you okay, Pippa?" my ever attentive date asked.

I pulled my gaze off my true love, who was now handing a bright pink Vodka Cruiser over to a girl literally covered in sequins. "I'm fine," I smiled meekly and took a sip of my drink, trying not to act like a complete bitch.

"How's your soap?" he asked.

I blinked at him, amazed at his complete lack of people skills. "Uh. My soup is great, thank you."

I could barely manage to keep my eyes off of Rhys as he continued to serve at the bar. Halfway through yet another thrilling one-sided conversation about the stock market, I became fed up. "Excuse me," I said coldly as I stood up, "I have to go to the lady's room."

I didn't give Stephen a chance to reply before walking off towards the bar, which just so happens to be on the complete opposite side of the restaurant to the toilets.

I casually joined the line of people waiting for drinks and tried hard to look composed and attractive while I waited for Rhys. Finally, I got to the bar – just as Rhys started serving a blonde who barely looked old enough to be allowed out past ten on a Saturday night, let alone order alcohol from a bar.

Another barman walked up to me, smiling brightly. "What can I get for you?" He asked.

I wasn't quite sure how to reply, so I just fluttered my eyelashes a bit and smiled at him sweetly. "Oh, I was actually just…" I glanced over at Rhys and was dismayed to see the blonde giggling inanely and him laughing along. I sighed, "I was actually wondering if I could speak to Rhys, but he's busy, so I'll -"

Before I could finish my sentence the bartender had already yelled out, "Hey, Rhys, got another pretty girl here for ya!" He winked at me as I blushed a deep crimson colour.

Rhys looked over, and smiled as soon as he saw me. He waved, and I had no choice but to stand and wait for him to finish serving the blonde and come and talk to me. "Hey Pippa, how are you?" Rhys asked when the blonde finally stopped flirting with him and he was able to come and put me out of my lonely, embarrassing misery.

"Uh, I'm okay," I said, trying not to stare at any one of his handsome features for an uncomfortable amount of time. "How are you?"

"I'm great, now that I'm talking to you." He grinned, and I swooned.

I swear I literally turned into a babbling, lustful mess at those words. "Oh, I… you… I… hehehe…" I couldn't even form a sentence, so I just snapped my mouth shut and tried to smile at him prettily.

I mustn't have looked too bad, because Rhys kept smiling at me and asked, "So, who are you here with?"

I turned my head and looked across the room to where Stephen sat, eating his steak and chattering away into his very expensive iPhone, no doubt complaining about me to his mother. "One of my mother's ideas of a good blind date," I told him. "I really don't know where she goes to find all of these horrible men for me." Both Rhys and I watched Stephen as he got particularly enthralled in his conversation and spat bits of steak across the table. "And this one's especially horrible."

Rhys laughed and I found myself laughing with him, for the first time all night. "Hey, I get off in 15," he hinted, smiling cheekily, "why don't you go and tell your 'date' that it's been a dreadful evening and you're ditching him to go out with a much more attractive, funny and nice guy?"

I couldn't believe my luck. "Oh yeah, and where is this perfect guy?" I pretended to scan the bar.

Rhys coughed and puffed out his chest. I giggled, and he gently pushed my upper arm, prompting me away. "Go on, tell him you're leaving."

"Alright, I'll go and tell him now," I promised, stepping away from the bar.

When I got back to the table that Stephen sat at, he gave me such a dirty look I'm surprised that I didn't burst into flames right then and there. "You're not a very good date, you know," he stated. I was so shocked by his outright rudeness that I didn't even interrupt him as he continued complaining. "You're one of the most boring conversationalists I've ever met, and your table manners are atrocious."

True, I had just deserted him to go and flirt with another guy, but at least I hadn't given him a verbal dressing down in a crowded restaurant. And the blatant hypocrisy of his insults was the thing that made me angriest.

"Well, that's the most hypocritical thing that I've ever heard," I said calmly, trying to remain dignified. "And if that's the way you feel, then you can use some of that money you've been bragging about all night to pay the bill, and just to let you know, you're going home alone tonight, while I'm going with a man who not only has more to talk about than himself, but who can also hold my hand without drenching me in sweat."

With that, I stalked off back to the bar with my head held high, silently rejoicing at Stephen's shocked expression. Rhys met me at the bar and we both laughed at Stephen as he paid and exited in a big huff.

(applause)


a.n. Hey, it's been quite a while. I'm so sorry that it's taken me forever to update. There's no excuse, really. But it's here now, and I hope that you read it and enjoy it and let me know what you think. I'm developing a bit of a crush on Rhys as I write this actually.. mm, good thing he's kinda modelled off my boyfriend then, ey?