This is a Love Note.

Food Court

An overworked saleswoman falls for the hunky paramedic who comes to her rescue at the mall.

Tropes – Strangers to Lovers

There was a bright light flashing near her eyes. She tried to blink it away but two fingers were holding her left eye open. 

“Miss, can you hear me?” Came a deep voice from up above, over the light flashing in her eye. 

She tried to speak but only a mangled groan came out. She could feel cold tile flooring under her back. The last thing she remembered was going to the restroom to pee. 

“Miss, you passed out in the ladies’ room. Can you tell me your name?”

“Oh God,” she croaked. Passing out on the toilet, who does that? Who is she? Elvis? “Did I pull up my jeans?”

She tried to sit up but the voice—attached to the restraining fingers, attached to a strong arm—held her down. “You’re not wearing jeans, Miss. You’re wearing a skirt. Nothing’s exposed. Just give yourself a minute to recover. Can you tell me your name?”

Without the light shining in her eyes, she could see the voice belonged to a young man in the blue EMT uniform of the Tri-County area. His square jaw and high forehead made him look stern and severe. The look was tempered, though, by his kind eyes. They were a warm, comforting hot chocolate with extra marshmallows. 

She cleared her throat and turned her blush to the popcorn ceiling. “Marina Merryweather, but everyone calls me Marnie.” The only people who called her Marina were her parents and her boss. The boss who was probably wondering what was taking her so long to grab their lunch. They were super duper understaffed today. Hopefully he wasn’t being swamped while she was gone.

Marnie tried to get up again. The EMT didn’t stop her. This time, he put a hand on her back and helped her stand. “I have to go back to work,” she said, pulling away to adjust her skirt.

He hovered at her side. “Your color’s coming back but you should take it easy for the next 30 minutes or so. Have a Gatorade and a bite to eat before going back to work, okay?”

She caught a look at herself in the mirror. She did look a bit pale. The dark circles under her eyes brought out a haunting blue in her irises, and her curly auburn hair was a mess. “I guess it wouldn’t hurt to have a snack. Gary can hold his own a bit longer.”

At the restroom entrance, she walked by an Out of Order sign and a disgruntled janitor. A bunch of people whispered and stared as she made her way to the Sbarro’s stall. She turned to Mr. EMT. “What are they looking at?”

“Someone ran from the women’s bathroom into the food court shouting for help. Got everyone pretty riled up. I was already here on my lunch break so I was the obvious choice.” He indicated to his uniform with a shrug.

“Oh no, I’m so sorry!” She hid her face behind her hands, wishing she could crawl into a hole and bury herself. “I skipped breakfast and things have been a little crazy today, but I promise this isn’t normal for me. Thank you so much for helping me out.” 

They made it to Sbarro’s. There were already two people—doing their best not to stare—waiting to order. Mr. EMT joined her on line. “Don’t worry about it. You can pay me back with lunch. You can tell me more about this Gary who’s waiting for you.” His lips curled up and she noted the look of interest in his eyes for the first time since she got off the dirty floor.

Marnie blushed a violent shade of pink. “Well, first of all, he’s my boss, and he’s a sweetheart but he has no idea what he’s doing. I’ll be surprised if the store is still standing when I get back.”

Mr. EMT, who she later found out is named Amir, laughed. “Ah, so you’re the brains of the operation.”

She smirked. “Exactly.” 

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