Unexpected Romance

I’m deep in the edits of my book Thief of my Love right now, and am thinking about romance a lot. About how it often pops up in unexpected ways and unexpected places.

My hero and heroine, Daniel and Justine, literally collide into each other in an unexpected location, and their worlds are never the same. Sometimes romance happens that way, and sometimes it’s a long, slow burn – the classic friends-into-lovers trope (think When Harry Met Sally, in my opinion one of the best examples of the genre).

Sometimes it happens on a regular old Monday morning, when you least expect it.

I’ve been sick all week (I know, not a promising start to a romantic story, but bear with me). I’d caught the latest day care crud, as I am wont to do, and by Sunday had completely lost my voice. Honestly, I could make a sad croaking noise but that was about it. By Monday I could sort of speak again, but figured it was better to keep my germs to myself and avoid the office.

This means I got to participate in school (aka daycare) drop off for the bambino, and somehow in the frenzy of getting him out the door I didn’t find time for coffee. A grave mistake. By the time bambino had been deposited, I was desperate.

“I need coffee,” I muttered to the Italian once he climbed back in the car (I stayed in the parking lot rather than contaminate children).

“I know, baby! I have a plan for that.”

Despite the lack of caffeine and my sore throat, I was intrigued. A plan? Further prodding revealed I was in for a surprise.

[The Italian dearly loves surprises. He has a tough row to hoe in my family, which is fond of spilling the beans. If you tell my parents you’re planning to see a movie they’ve recently seen (my parents see all the movies), my mother will cheerfully and unashamedly relay the entire plot to you, including any and all twists and surprise endings. The Italian has learned to clap his hands over his ears and sing LA LA LA loudly at the first mention of, “Oh we saw that movie!” from either of them.]

We wound up in the parking lot of a warehouse-type building on the other side of the railroad tracks, tucked away behind a neighborhood of historic houses. It was a local coffee roaster, and I’d completely forgotten they had a café in their facility. We’d never been, and the location is a bit out of the way so not something we pass in our daily travels about town.

One of the things we love about our particular college town here in the Deep South are places like this, nifty gems of shops, restaurants and bars that rival those in any Brooklyn neighborhood. The little café in front of the roasting area was funky, hip and sleek, playing great music. We ordered our pour-overs from the friendly tattooed barista and sat by the window, watching the arms at the railroad crossing raise and lower though, oddly enough, no trains ever passed.

Suddenly, out of nowhere on a sick-day Monday morning, we were on a date.

It was totally unexpected, but I could feel it, and the Italian felt it too. We were alone, in a neat new location, taking deep appreciative whiffs of each other’s coffee (the Italian, inexplicably, does not drink caffeine. I’m not sure how he functions). We leaned into each other and played footsie under the table. We bent our heads together over his iphone and browsed for coffee tables on West Elm’s website. We smiled over our cups and hummed to the music.

These things seem mundane, but as many of you know, when you’re juggling two full time careers, side careers, hobbies, a house with a yard that turns into a jungle at the first drop of rain, and oh yeah, raising a small adorable human, time alone with your honey is precious. And time alone, out of the house, exploring somewhere cool and funky and new to you? Unheard of.

Maybe it was because we were playing hooky for a short time from work that needed to be done, laundry that needed to be folded, and a lawn that needed mowing. Maybe it was because we were by ourselves on a weekday morning. Maybe it was because we were in a neat café that reminded us of the days when we were, actually, dating.

Maybe it was because I’m married to an incredibly thoughtful, good-looking guy who saw an opportunity to cheer up his sick wife and ran with it.

It was a combination of all of those things, and it was downright magical. We finished our coffee and reluctantly headed back over the railroad tracks towards home. Even though we spent the rest of the day catching up on work, folding the laundry and mowing the lawn, I had a smile on my face through it all.

Here’s hoping you find some unexpected romance in your week, friends. And I hope to have further updates on my book for you soon!

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