Cassidy noticed the man smiling at her from the other end of the bar. She knew what to expect by the twinkle in his eye as he walked towards her.
"Yes, that's me." Now to see if he was a fan, a fanatic or a reporter looking for a human interest piece.
"So, any big holiday plans?" Well that was at least a slightly clever lead line.
"Why, whatever do you mean?" Cassidy motioned toward Gary for another round.
"Sam Carlisle, The Gazette." Ah, well, reporter it was then.
"Cassidy Paisley, but you already knew that. Stalking or just lucky?" She gave him her patient smile.
"A little of both. A friend told me you like to come here after work to unwind. I tried contacting you through the restaurant but...." He trailed off. She knew exactly what had happened. This time of year her staff screened her calls quite thoroughly. Anyone wanting to talk about her unique reputation had their message put in a giant round file by the compost bin.
"And so you thought you'd just take it upon yourself to show up here?"
Gary came over with Cassidy's drink, "You okay?"
Cassidy gave Gary the real smile, "I'm fine, thanks. It's the time of year for it right? I'll let you know if I need any help though."
Gary gave Sam a cold look, "You do that." He put back on his bartender welcoming face and turned to the crowd doing shots at the end of the bar.
"Seems as though I'm not really popular tonight."
"You ambushed me in my favorite bar. What did you expect?"
"Okay, we've gotten off on the wrong foot. You know why I'm here. Like you said, it's that time of year. It would be a great story for me to get. And a good follow up for you. What do you say?"
Cassidy thought about it. He was going to write something anyway, they always did. What harm would giving a few fresh quotes really do? Maybe if she did speak to this guy the rest of them would see it wasn't really all that interesting after all and leave her alone.
"You know what? Fine. You've got 30 minutes and you're paying my tab. Make the most of it."
"Wow. Okay, I have to say I'm a little shocked. Everyone I've spoken with has said you don't give interviews. I wasn't really expecting you to agree."
Cassidy looked at her watch, "Twenty nine."
"So how long have you hated love?"
Cassidy laughed, "Well, I can see how this is going to go."
Five years ago Cassidy had given an interview for a food reporter on up and coming new restaurants. Cassidy's had been open for almost a year at the point and was getting quite the reputation around town. She was really proud of her place and thrilled to be featured in the piece. When the reporter had asked what special plans they had for Valentine's Day Cassidy had answered honestly, and that's when the trouble began.