Reggie could tell his sister was scheming again.
In fact, that was just Evelyn Jane’s natural personality. It was entirely obvious to him she was scheming because she had pulled her hair into pigtails and was wearing a rather low neckline that their father would have made some not-so-subtle coughs of disapproval at if he had seen her leave the house like that.
She had driven them to Mocha Chip Coffee Shop, a popular coffee chain throughout the region. It was not the usual place they went for their afternoon caffeine buzz.
“I take it we’re here for more than just coffee,” Reggie deducted in a dry tone.
“Shaun Piper frequents this place,” Evelyn Jane explained in a fierce whisper. To anyone, her response wouldn’t have made much sense but it was all Reggie needed to hear to understand his sister’s intentions. He made a disgusted face and looked away.
His heart made a little flip flop.
Perched on a cushy chair, next to a stack of books, sat Alanna Thackery. He hadn’t seen Alanna all summer despite them living in the same quiet island town of Isla Del Kashmire. Alanna was one of the most intelligent people he had ever had the pleasure of meeting and found out this fact as her chemistry partner their freshman year of high school.
Abandoning his sister to her scheming, he smiled and made his way down to Alanna to greet her.
“Hey Alanna,” Reggie approached, causing her head to jerk up from her book and look at him, as if she had been lost in an entirely different world.
Evelyn Jane watched the front door carefully until an older gentleman entered. He wore a slick, purple shirt, with matching glasses. He looked quite grumpy and she decided she would wait until he got his coffee to speak to him.
Shaun Piper was the standing maestro of the Scandalica Symphony. Extremely talented and substantially wealthy, he was a former professional piano musician and violin player and he was more than an idol to her. She grew up playing violin, attended the symphony programs, and had seen his work conducting. She had even played some of his original works. He also happened to be a judge for the Battle of the Bands. Evelyn Jane took out her lip gloss and applied it generously.
Seeing it was her former chemistry partner, Alanna smiled warmly, set her book on top of the pile next to her, and stood up to return the greeting, “Hello Reggie, it’s nice to see you!”
He couldn’t help but to match her smile and think the same.
“I don’t think I have ever seen you here before,” she indicated around the sunken room of the cafe, full of bookshelves for patrons' leisurely reading.
He shrugged, “My sister dragged me over. I think she has this half-baked idea to butter up one of the judges for Battle of the Bands who frequently comes here.”
He ended his words with a small laugh as if it were a ridiculous notion but no laughter reached Alanna’s eyes. She looked concerned.
He quickly changed subjects, “So do you come here often?”
He nearly choked on his words right after they left his mouth, realizing he sounded like any common moron trying to hit on a girl with lame pick up lines. It wasn’t his intention to hit on her at all. He didn't even think he knew how to do it.
“Maestro Piper, what a pleasure it is to see you here,” Evelyn’s voice cut smoothly, impatiently over the din. He had put in his order and the Barista was working on it. The elder man took pause before turning to face her, giving her a long look up and down with intrigued consideration.
“You have me at a disadvantage young lady,” he said with an arched brow.
“I'm Evie-” she said and smiled brilliantly.
“Sir? Your coffee…” the Barista made to interrupt but the maestro was too distracted by the young woman to notice.
Alanna’s smile returned and she leaned against the unoccupied chess table of the cafe den, running her hands along the carved wooden border. Reggie would have loved to play chess with her but was busy trying not to let the red into his cheeks.
“Often enough,” she answered while, it seemed, was too polite to laugh outright in Reggie’s face for his caddish words. Some kind of relief prickled through him when he detected a bit of flirtation in her tone.
“I’m a big fan of your work, especially the violin concertos you wrote. They are absolutely exhilarating to play,” Evelyn Jane's smile continued to illuminate her face, masking the usual calculated stares she had fixed into her eyes. One smile was all it took to convince unsuspecting victims that she was as innocent as an angel. The Maestro looked sincerely flattered but that was because Evelyn Jane, for once, was sincere in her words of flattery.
The hope that Alanna Thackery was actually flirting with him caused the color to ebb in Reggie's face and he took a more assured stance. He was Reginald Orbinson, son of the mayor, why was he so intimidated at the thought of asking her
out? He liked her, and she liked him well enough. He crossed his arms and cocked his head, “Say, do you want to get dinner tomorrow night?”
Alanna stood a bit straighter, nearly gaping at him before a regretful expression crossed her face, “Sorry Reggie, I…can’t. I’m involved in an activity and my group is meeting tomorrow night to…go over things.”
He had never heard her speak in such a choppy and vague manner. It sounded like an excuse to not go out with him for dinner. But he didn’t want to press her; he could take a hint. He lost some of his confidence, visibly deflated.
Alanna’s eyes darted to something behind him and she gave him a small apologetic smile, “I have to go. It was good to see you, Reggie.”
Suddenly, he felt hands on his shoulders and heard his sister’s sing-song voice behind him, “Shaun Piper wants to hear me play violin!”
He couldn’t care less what Evelyn Jane had done to win over Shaun Piper's favor at that moment; all he could feel was a bitter disappointment as he watched Alanna walk away.