Part 1: click here
Part 2: click here
Part 3: click here

 A quick word with his friends across the counter and some teasing remarks from them and he was back by her side. "Shall we?" he said, swaying his hand towards the door in one fluid motion. His casual demeanor surprised her. She probably wasn't used to hanging around men like him, he figured. As he held the door open for her, she got up smoothly and walked out, her firm posture affirming her confidence and style, and they walked out of the store to a few muffled hoots and comments from his friends behind the counter.
"This one's gonna be interesting for sure." he thought, walking into the coffee shop across the road. She had already walked ahead to the counter and asked for her drink. As he proceeded to do the same, Westlife's "Uptown Girl" started playing on the jukebox and he quietly smiled to himself at the irony of the situation. To his surprise, he saw her do the same and couldn't help but wink at her. She just smiled slyly at him and took her seat by a chessboard.
On the white side.
"She likes to be in control..." he noted.
Intrigued, he waited for her to make the first move.
"So, what's your name?" he asked. Standard pick-up line on a regular day, but this time, he really wanted to know.
"Why don't we keep it a secret for now?" she said, not looking up.
He remained silent as he watched her make the first move. Time usually slows down when you're playing something like a game of chess where each move has to be thought of slowly and carefully. And it did for the first couple of minutes. His careless attitude, the casual charm that had floored many a girl right from high-school faltered in front of this self-confident, haughty yet chic woman who had not only captured his attention but practically made him ask her out. Not the way things usually went in his life, and that had caught him by surprise. His conversation initially was that of a high-school boy on a first-time date, not knowing what to say.
"What's your name?",
"Where are you from?",
"So, what do you like?"...
He even thought of starting with a "Sup?" and held himself back in the nick of time.
But as all conversation happen, things started getting a bit smoother as he realized from her tiny smiles and raised eyebrows from time to time that she had been playing him all along, avoiding personal talk and making things difficult for him. Also, that he'd been losing miserably at the game that had been unfolding before his eyes. Time to buck up! he thought and started concentrating on the game, but soon he found that she was truly too good for him. Back and forth, back and forth they rallied their players, dancing to the tunes of their whims, battling invisible battles as he parried her moves with his, their each step revealing just a little bit about each other's thoughts. And beyond the chessboard, their conversation flowed with a rhythm that was just as surprising. He found that her personality was a lot like his own, but beyond that, she was an enigma. So secretive, a closed book to some extent. She revealed nothing about herself, wanting to talk about him instead, yet he sensed no bad intent in that. He himself had lost count of how many women he had tried the John Doe on so that they wouldn't be able to call him back the night after. But she didn't quite seem that type. Here was a woman who was so intriguing, in looks and in personality, and yet so secretive that he knew practically nothing about her. Maybe that's what attracted him to her even more. He didn't know, and that bothered him more than the prospect of winning or losing the game.

"And that's check, and mate." she said, leaning back and taking the final sip of her decaf latte, now lukewarm from the long game.

For part 1, click here.

There was nothing he didn't know how to handle. Street smart, reckless and suave, things came easily to him. With a natural charm and rugged looks, life was easy. He cared less about where life took him and liked to go with the flow. That morning, like any other, he hopped into his Mustang and revved up the engine. Nothing soothed him more and nothing pumped more adrenaline into his blood than the sound of her engine. He headed towards the Macy's outlet where he worked to start his morning shift. Money wasn't a concern for him. As long as it paid rent and got him a square meal, he was fine. That morning, though, he was late. So he pressed on the gas and let the Mustang dominate the road as she often did.

He sped through the signals, not missing a beat as each turned red just as he crossed them. He drove by this road enough each day to know how long each signal held. A few blocks away from the store, he pulled over at a signal. A chic Datsun caught his eye. Looking left, he saw a gorgeous woman behind the wheel, hair tied back and held together with a scarf, sunglasses donned over her eyes and a strand of stray hair wafting back and forth in the light wind blowing through her hair. Intrigued, he waited for her to move first as the signal turned green. The woman seemed to enjoy the casual ride, yet seemed lost in thought. She accelerated gracefully and raced past him in one smooth motion. He trailed his eyes after her and raced to catch up. She was going his way anyway after all. Two blocks down, she turned right and into the parking lot of the very store he worked at.

He couldn't believe it!

Pulling up next to her car and peeking into the Datsun, he knew there was something about her. Something air of detatched solitude that made her all the more attractive. He knew she was probably way beyond his league, yet he did not care. He never did anyway. Changing into his work clothes, he rushed into the store to find her browsing through a few clothes at the far end. This was the first time he got a good glimpse of her. With the sunglasses off, he saw that she had hazel brown almond eyes, almost oriental, wavy shoulder length hair tied back with a white silk scarf with maroon checks. She wore denim trousers and a stunning red top with a navy blue shrug. She was looking out the window, lost in thought and in the music plugged into her ears from her ipod, a red bag clutched in her slender hands and lips pursed in a lost look of concentration.

"Ah, what the heck!" he thought and handing over his shift to a colleague, took off his work apron, smoothed out his hair, straightened his clothes and with a confident stride, approached her.

"Hi." he held out his hand, and waited.

And waited.

She looked up at him with a gaze that was a mix of indifference and interest. An irony to say the least.

Then she finally let her lips part into a slight smile.

"Hi."; and held out her hand.