The first thing Cassie noticed about him was his smile.
She was, embarrassingly, in mid-chew when he arrived. His head popped up first through the open door before the rest of his body entered the room, a big smile plastered on his face making his eyes disappear with all the glee that it seemed to hold.
She swallowed, thankful that the food didn’t lodge in her throat as his eyes caught hers, and quickly looked away.
Of course, Cassie did not know him. But she was sure her new friends did.
“There’s our guy!”
The others were in chorus as they welcomed this new guy while Cassie and the others who did not know this Jon were quiet. Cassie watched the guy with mild curiosity as he said hi to everyone before getting a chair two seats away from her. She tried not to stare, but then he turned that smile on her again. Cassie blinked in surprise, but before she could react, Lorraine, the designated host, spoke.
“Newbies, that’s Jon,” Lorraine said, pointing to the new guy. “Jon, this is Maia and Cassie, and that’s Irwin on your other side.” Cassie watched him offer his hand to Irwin, then at Maia on the other side of the table then finally back at her.
“Hi, I’m Jon,” he reached out his hand to her. Cassie accepted, grateful to be doing something else other than trying but failing not to look at him to see if he was still wearing that smile.
“Cassie,” she said, shaking his hand briefly. She dared to look up at him, and as she expected, there was that smile again. Cassie managed a small smile back before letting go of his hand. She immediately picked up her glass of iced tea and look a long sip, looking at Lorraine who stood beside her, trying to file her thoughts in the right parts of her mind so she won’t be flustered.
“Have all of you guys eaten?” Jon asked, looking around the table, chuckling at his obvious question when he saw that everyone already had a plate in front of them. “Sorry, Captain Obvious!”
“Yes, but you go and get your food first, then we’ll start,” Lorraine said, waving her hand towards the door. Jon put his bag down and headed out almost like he owned the place, absolutely comfortable with the people that Cassie was only starting to get to know. She wondered how long they had all known each other if he could give them that kind of smile all the time.
He’s cute, the thought popped into her mind out of the blue. She shook her head, shaking the thought away before turning back to her food. The conversation picked up around her again as she silently scolded herself. She’s not here to look for cute guys; she’s here to make friends. How many times had she gotten into trouble picking out cute guys in a crowd before getting to know them first? This is certainly not the time to do that again.
Cassie looked up to take another drink and just as she did, Jon came back, carrying his plate. He saw her look up at him and his eyes disappeared as his lips curl into another smile. This smile was aimed just at her, and Cassie felt heat rise up her cheeks.
She looked back at her plate knowing that her face must be in flames…but not before she managed to smile back.