I stared at the taunting package of the Colombian coffee, sitting in the very front of his open cabinet, repulsed.
“I don’t like coffee.”
He turned the switch on the stove to click the fire on a medium high and placed the tea kettle on top of the black burner grate. I studied the back of his slightly crinkled, white t-shirt, tracing the etched muscles on his back with my eyes, and letting them wander all the way down to his black basketball shorts and, lower, to his protruding ankle bones. He spun around to look at me, our eyes immediately locking into place. I unknowingly held my breath and waited for his response to my sudden statement.
“I know you don’t like coffee.”
He smirked when he saw the questions and the confusion sailing into my dark brown eyes like a shipwrecked boat, his deep dimples digging perfectly into their places on the sides of his cheeks, accentuating his already handsome face. Striding across the marble floors of the kitchen, past the glass table that I was sitting at, he opened the sliding door of the kitchen closet and pulled out a box of earl grey tea, waving it in my face with a lofty smile.
I rolled my eyes at his adorable arrogance for the umpteenth time, hailing him and giving him more than enough credit for his consistently acute attention span to the things that I like and favorite. Just as I was about to switch my gaze from him to the whistling teapot, he said,
“But, this isn’t how I know that you don’t like coffee.”
Curious, I cocked my head and proceeded to ask him,
There was a mischievous smile that brightened in his eyes, as he walked towards the stove and shut it off. Pulling out a jar of organic honey, a large metal spoon, a packet of sugar, and a mug that had the classic, black and white picture of Bruce Springsteen and Clarence Clemons on it, he began making my tea.
After he tasted it to make sure that it was to my liking, he tapped the spoon on the lip of the mug to get off any excess water and threw it into the kitchen sink, walking slowly towards me with the mug.
Placing it down on the table with a white coaster underneath it, he motioned with his large hands and eagerly encouraged me to try it, taking a seat next to me, expecting and wanting a barrage of compliments.
“Take a sip.”
I wrapped my cold hands around the ceramic mug, letting the warmth seep through to my skin, and, just before I took a cautious sip, I blew on the surface of the simmering tea and said,
“You didn’t answer my question.”
The strong scent of the bergamot orange and the sweetness of the honey filled my senses with a satisfying, tingling feeling; the hotness of it reaching and hugging every crevice of my body. I held the mug to my mouth, breathing in the lovely and comforting aroma of the tea. I smiled at him and said,
“Eh. It’s alright.”
A look of amusement and achievement washed over his face.
“That’s how I know that you never liked coffee.”
Waiting for him to continue because I didn’t understand him (or maybe I did and I simply wanted him to voice out the reasons as to how he figured it out), I boldly took a large gulp of the bitingly hot tea.
“Finally — you expressed your disliking towards coffee. Goodness, it took you long enough.”
I raised an eyebrow at him and he took in a deep breath as he began saying,
“You don’t grip the cup the same way as you are doing now, as opposed to if it was filled with coffee. You act like it’s some vile, potent, and foreign — thing. You look so uncomfortable holding coffee, but with tea, you cradle the cup as if it were your loving baby.”
He studied my anticipating eyes as he continued with a light laugh,
“You never drink it unless I offer you some. And even with that, I always chuckle to myself at how incredibly cute you look — because — you look so forced to drink it, as if you don’t have a choice, but you have such an obvious desire to try to like it.”
I felt a flutter in my stomach and the heat boiling my heart — it wasn’t the warmth of the tea.
“You take the tiniest sips ever — sometimes I wonder if you even drink the coffee. You never order coffee anywhere, unless I ask you if you want coffee, too. And whenever you order, you get the same thing that I do, but you never finish yours. You don’t even drink half of a small coffee. And whenever you beat me to the cash register, so I can’t ask you if you want coffee too, you always get a small hot chocolate at Dunkin’ Donuts or a medium caramel apple spice at Starbucks.”
I chewed on the bottom of my smiling lips, wondering how in the world I had this disgustingly amazing man, the love of my life, all to myself, and why I expected a simple answer and how could I ever possibly underestimate him.
“You always know how you want your tea or what kind you want, with this crazy kind of excitement written on all over your face, but you stop and look like a deer in headlights when I, or if other people, ask you how you want your coffee or what kind.”
I put down my mug on the table and started giggling as he pulled on the legs of my chair, dragging me closer to him. He reached down to take both of my legs and placed them on top of his lap, holding and squeezing my right hand with his left.
“And I know, for sure, that you don’t like coffee because you never drink coffee when you write, you always drink tea.”
My lips were slightly parted from the shock at his attention to so many details that I wasn’t even remotely aware of. He glanced down from our smoldering gaze to my lips, tracing his thumb on the bottom of my lip and resting it on my chin. He unexpectedly kissed me with a tenderness that easily exceeded the tenderness of a field of flower petals, giving me double the pleasant shock.
“Shall I go on?”