Ann was the third child. Her father died when she was three. Her brothers called it lucky that she couldn’t remember him, so when she moved out, she rented a third-floor flat. When she bought shoes, she’d buy two pairs and throw away one of the left ones; she’d carry the extra right in her backpack, along with three copies of one book and three notebooks.
At Cafe Allegra, she’d have three drinks while scribbling down haiku and triolets. Whenever a couple came in, she’d think how lovely it would be to date them. Ann would have liked to marry and have a child, but she couldn’t stand the thought of being two before becoming three.
One day, while Ann was reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, a man she had seen in the cafe a few times before came in with a labrador puppy. He bought two drinks and sat down across from her.
—Here. It’s a triple latte. I hope you don’t think it’s creepy that I’ve been watching you. I’m Joe.
No, she didn’t think it was creepy, and his dog was adorable. They made a date for Saturday.
—Bring your dog.
—Of course. By the way, I love David Mitchell. Do you think I could borrow your book when you’re done?
She pulled a copy out of her bag and offered it to him.
—You sure that’s OK?
—It is now.