Now most branches have a well-known coffee chain outlet inside, they have a mixture of book lovers, coffee lovers and coffee-drinking book lovers. Or is it book-loving coffee drinkers. But still, I make sure I arrive well before I’m due to start signing, I wander around to get the layout, then I treat myself to the biggest latte which I take to my signing table.
He was serving coffee at the first place I went to. I was a bit nervous to be honest, so I forgot my joke about why’s a barrister serving coffee, but he was really friendly. When I had a lull in visitors, I went back for a second cup and I ended up telling him about my book. Then a few minutes before I was due to finish, he appeared with yet more coffee, for the trip home he said, asked me to sign a copy ‘For Daniel’ and wished me well with sales. I thought I’d scored a fan and beyond telling a few friends eager to know how it went being a famous author, I gave him no more thought.
I did another signing at a branch not far away a week later and there was Daniel again, in his serving apron. He remembered me but not my order he said, apologizing he saw so many customers each day and explaining he sometimes covered in other shops. “I’ll remember next time,” he said and we both laughed. The signing went well, busier this time, so I didn't have time for a second drink. Like before, he arrived with one as a present and I was so grateful I didn’t really think it might be weird. It was only when he asked for another signed book that I was surprised.
From then on Daniel was in every shop I signed at, bar one. He always wore his coffee uniform but I never saw him in the coffee outlets again. I started taking a drink with me so I wouldn’t risk running into him but he always stood a distance away, watching. Sometimes he disappeared, which worried me because he always turned up, carrying a drink he’d bought for me. When I was chatting to customers, he always found a way to slip the drink onto my table. And I always saw him buying a copy of my book.
My publisher said there isn't much we can do because he never threatened me or did anything at all really, so he had every right to visit any bookshop he wanted. Besides they said, sales were much better when an author visited in person and I should enjoy the royalties. I sometimes wonder where he was that other time.