Somebody knocked on the kitchen door, long after Dana’s Coffee had closed.
James smiled. He knew the original owner had come back to Fox’s Landing.
“Good to see you,” he told Dana as she let herself in.
“It still feels strange to knock,” she said.
“I told you,” said James. “You don’t have to. It’s still your place.”
“Only fifty percent,” she corrected. “How’re things?”
“Oh, I’m sure you know. Your grandfather won’t stop calling me ‘New Guy’, and Bill pretends that he doesn’t know my name yet.”
“Bill might not,” said Dana. “After all—Bill.”
“How’s school?” James asked.
“First semester’s done. I haven’t worked that hard since, well, here,” she said. “Speaking of work, how about you make me a coffee so I can see if you’re keeping up to my standards?”
“Coming up,” said James, as he reached for the proper jar of beans. He proceeded to complete the task while Dana moved into the dining room and sat down.
“And here you go,” he said a short time later, delivering the fresh cup to her table.
Dana made a show of tasting it before delivering her verdict. “You get a pass, but Miss Harris would tell you it’s too strong.”
“You’d be surprised how far I’ve come with Miss Harris,” James defended himself.
“Would I?” said Dana with a raised eyebrow.
“Sure. Now she only sends back two or three cups a day.”
Dana laughed. “Good job.”
She took another sip, holding the mug with both hands. “How do you like Landing?” she asked.
“It’s—,” James paused, searching for the right answer. “Not what I expected.”
“Better, or worse?”
“I don’t know,” said James. “Different.”
“Wait until summer,” Dana advised. “Summer, you’ll love.”
They both sat in silence for a short while.
She finished her coffee and gathered her things. “I should be getting home. Long day today.”
“Don’t worry,” she told him. “I’ll be back in the morning.”
“I’ll see you then,” said James. “Goodnight, Dana.”
“’Night,” she told him as she slipped out the back door.