Curves and the Rancher
“ Take
this over to Luke, hon. ” Betty, the
gray haired and matronly waitress who ruled the diner, gestured to the plate sitting on the
counter. “ I ’ ve
got to take my pie out of the oven. ”
    “ Sure. ” Cassie smiled at her new boss and picked up the plate of eggs over
easy. She threaded her way to the man sitting alone in a leatherette
booth. On the overhead speakers, a country singer crooned softly
about love lost and found again. Pictures of mountainous landscapes
adorned the faded blue walls.
    She ’ d
only been working at the diner in Coldwater Springs for two days.
Never realizing before what a tough job waitressing was, she was
grateful Betty had taken her under her wing.In fact, she
thought hopefully, she might even be able to get her confidence back.
She ’ d already started to feel a
little more like her old self--
    “ Ohh! ” Cassie stumbled on the old vinyl flooring, the china plate flying
through the air and landing upside down on the customer ’ s
lap. Gripping the Formica table to steady herself, she stared in
shock at the bright yellow egg running down the customer ’ s
denim jeans.
    Her gaze slowly traveled
up from his lap to his face. His light brown hair barely brushed the
collar of his red checkered shirt. She bit her lip ashis
compelling, dark brown eyes met hers met hers for a split second
before he looked down at the gooey food on his crotch.At any
other time, she would probably have felt a little flutter at meeting
a man in his early thirties with such clean-cut good looks, but she
was too mortified to register much beyond the mess she ’ d
made.
    She shrank back, blinking
away the tears that threatened, her hair swinging around her face . “ I ’ m
so sorry. So sorry. ” Drawing
shallow breaths, she waited for his reaction.
    He grimaced. “ Can
you grab me some napkins? ” Looking
up at her, his expression gentled. “ It ’ ll
wash off . ”
    Cassie grabbed a handful
of napkins from the neighboring empty booth and handed them to him. “ I ’ m
so sorry, ” she repeated, unable to
take her eyes off the mess on the man ’ s
jeans.
    “ You
okay, Cassie? ” Betty appeared, her
concerned gaze switching between the two of them.
    “ I ’ m
sorry, Betty. ” She wished the floor
would open up and swallow her whole. She couldn ’ t
believe what a klutz she was. Maybe Phillip was right. Maybe she
was fat and hopeless.
    Betty put a comforting
hand on her shoulder. “ Go take your
break now, Cassie. I ’ ll clean this
up. ”
    “ But-- ”
    “ Go
on now. ” Betty patted her back. “ I
can handle things here. ”
    Her lip wobbled and then
she nodded, turning away and hurrying to the tiny employee ’ s
room at the rear of the diner. She heard Betty behind her.
    "Sorry about that,
Luke. Cassie hasn't been waitressing long."
    Before she slipped
inside, she turned to look back. Betty handed Luke more paper
napkins.
    She couldn ’ t
do anything right! Any minute now, Betty would tell her she was
fired.

    ###
    On Saturday, threedays after what Cassie privately referred to as the egg incident,
Luke came into the diner mid-morning. She blushed when she saw him
stride inside, and she hid behind a booth, hoping he wouldn ’ t
see her, and that he wouldn ’ t sit in
her section.
    To her surprise, she
hadn ’ t been fired on Wednesday.
Instead, Betty told her that kind of thing could happen to anyone and
had given her a slice of freshly baked cherry pie.
    Cassie ’ s
mouth watered as she remembered the taste of the pie and looked down
at herself ruefully. Her plump figure didn ’ t
need any more pie, no matter how delicious it tasted.
    “ Cassie. ” Betty appeared, expertly juggling three breakfast specials in her
hands. “ There ’ s
a cup of coffee for Luke on the counter. He ’ s
sitting in your section. ”
    Her heart sank. She
didn ’ t want to be responsible for
pouring hot coffee over the man. “ But-- ”
    “ You ’ ll
be fine, hon, ” Betty

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