keys on the birds eye maple cafe table beside a coffee cup

Eric watches Elsie sitting in the window of the coffee shop, sipping her cappuccino. The sun angling through the plate glass lights her auburn mane afire like an erotic halo. He sighs heavily as he emerges from the bathroom, walking over to slip into the seat across from her.

This was ‘their place’. The only place outside bed they ever frequented together with any regularity.

God, she is so gorgeous.

Alabaster skin, sea green eyes. He smiles at her until he remembers, and then he looks away. He tells himself to stop it. Be a grown up here.

She smiles and says, “Hey, Eric.” Like nothing’s changed. He looks at the table. She’s gotten him his usual dark roast with a sprinkle of chocolate, biscotti arranged on the side dish.

He can’t stop the sigh. “Missed you at Callaghan’s Friday.” He looks at the coffee as he picks it up. Not looking at her. Blows on it, sips, sets it down. Stirs.

She looks at him closely. His skin looks gray this morning. Particularly in this glorious sunlight. Amazing sun for October. She can smell the alcohol wafting off him. Watching him not looking at her, she takes in the uncharacteristic stubble, the red rimmed eyes looking here, there, not knowing where to rest.

He licks his lips. Such lovely lips he has too, she thinks. Eric is possibly one of the best lovers she’s ever had. “I got held up.” she says, watching him, seeing his jaw clench. Not a good sign.

He’s still not meeting her eye.

Eric is looking at her reflection. Stirring his coffee, looking out the window.

Anything but to look in those eyes. She’s so achingly beautiful. Maybe it was just a bad dream.


That’s all she’s going to say. Maybe it was all in his imagination. Yeah right. He’s got a great imagination but he’s not a masochist. Wake up and smell the coffee.

She’s acting like it’s an everyday thing.

He stops, freezes, as an awesome and monstrous thought enters his mind. Eric’s fingers go slack as the thought sucks all the air out of his heart. He lets go the spoon, it clatters to the tabletop, flinging a few drops of coffee on his shirt. Like he cares.


Maybe it is an everyday thing.

She’s bent over the table, digging for something in her bag. The waves of glorious hair fan out around that perfect neck. She purses those lips as she finds what she’s looking for. Withdrawing her hand, clasping it tightly she reaches across the table then opens it. An offering of his keys cupped in the palm of her hand. He just stares at them with dead eyes.

“You forgot these the other day,” she says.

As though nothing has happened. Her voice sounds exactly the same. As if everything is the same.

But it isn’t.

Yesterday he loved her and thought she loved him.

Today he knows better.

He raises his eyes and meets hers. She drops the keys on the table, and withdraws her hand.

She knows. He knows. And she’s still the most beautiful girl he’s ever seen. She’s probably the most beautiful girl he will ever see. And she’s got such a brilliant mind. God she is smart. He thinks that was maybe more important than anything.


She looks at him and sees him seeing her. Really seeing her for the first time, not the pedestal woman he had made of her, but the real woman.

She can see the lust in his eyes, mingling with the hurt and pain. The disgust. But the lust is still there.

And it’s making her feel … she feels so … it’s an arousal so strong she can’t believe it. She bites her lip as the flush spreads across her face. She wants to knock all the bloody coffee stuff off the table and fuck him silly right here on this table in the window in front of god and everybody. She’s never wanted anything this badly in her life.

He picks up his keys and hooks them over his little finger, just like always, then he pulls out his wallet and throws some bills on the table. He walks out.

Elsie grabs her bag and follows him out into the sun.

“Eric,” she calls. “Wait.” He stops. Frozen. Still tense.

She runs after him, comes around in front of him. Standing inches away. She stares in his eyes a moment, then reaches up and pulls his face to hers. And the kiss is the most amazing thing she’s ever felt, the most sexually charged kiss she’s ever had, she can’t breathe, she needs him— needs him— right now. She doesn’t want it to end.

But he wrenches free and walks away.

“It didn’t mean anything.” she calls after him. She can’t believe it as she watches him walking away.

From her.


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