“You’re going to let that filthy fuck make your latte?”
“Hindley!” Catherine giggled. She prayed that the chatter of the cafe and the hiss of the steam machines had obscured his voice as much as his dark glasses obscured his bloodshot, hungover eyes. “You are wretched.”
“What can I get you?” The barista asked. His dark hair hid half his face. His shirt sleeves were rolled up to his elbows and revealed the tattooed flesh of his forearms. Catherine stared at them in awe.
“I am going to have a double espresso. And maybe some dry toast. Oh, no skip the toast. Just the coffee. And my sister will have a - well, what will you have Catherine?”
“Hmm? Oh I’ll have a mocha latte. Thank you,” she said.
“What name should I put it under?”
“I’m going to go take a shit,” Hindley said. “Put it under your name. And you can pay this time too. I’ll make it up next time.”
“Yeah, right,” Catherine said as Hindley walked off in the direction of the loo. “You can put it under Catherine.”
The young man nodded and she stepped aside to wait as he made the coffees. As she was waiting her phone chirped and she pulled it out to check her messages.
“Cathy,” the barista called.
“Do you mean me?”
“Yes, I mean you,” he said in a severe tone.
“My name is Catherine.”
“Well you look like a Cathy to me. And just so you know, my hands are clean. I’m a painter. This is paint on my hands. It just doesn’t wash off.”
“You mustn’t mind my brother,” Catherine snorted. “He’s a complete ass. He was up drinking with his frat boys all night and truth be told he’s probably still a bit drunk. I wasn’t worried about your hands in the slightest.”
“I’m Heath,” he said and extended his hand. She took it and they shook hands warmly. His hazel eyes were almost too pretty for the rest of his face. He didn’t smile, but she did.
“It’s nice to meet you, Heath,” she said.
<3 <3 <3
She went back two days later to get coffee there again and he wasn’t there. She found her heart dropped and she didn’t know why. So she went out for cocktails with her girls and forgot about it until the next day. She went back. And she went back again. She kept going back until he was working and she stepped up to the bar and ordered a mocha latte.
“For Cathy, yeah?” He asked with a smirk.
“If you say so,” she grinned.
<3 <3 <3
“So what kind of art do you do anyway?” She asked him. She’d figured out his schedule. She’d gone at a time when it wasn’t busy and she could linger at the bar and chat.
“Know much about art do you?”
“Hardly anything at all,” she said. “But I like pretty pictures of like skies and clouds and horses and stuff.”
It was the first time she ever saw him laugh. A rare sight. “Oh. Well. I’m thinking my work will probably not strike such a chord with you then. My stuff is a bit more abstract and moody. Are you familiar with Basquiat?”
“Maybe? Not really.”
“You’re probably the sort who grew up with all sorts of expensive stuff around the house that doesn’t really mean shit. Reproductions of Monet or Degas little ballerinas? I bet your parents filled your mind with all the fluffy unicorn rainbow crap that goes for art in the mainstream markets.”
“Actually,” Catherine said in a frigid voice. “My mother died when I was quite young and my father knew nothing of art, nor could he afford much of it at all.”
“Well, then I should squire you to an art museum and teach you a thing or two.” He swept his black bangs off his forehead and his voice warmed.
“Oh, you should, should you?” She couldn’t stay mad.
“Yeah, you need a proper art history lesson.”
“Okay,” she shrugged. And with that they scheduled their first date.
<3 <3 <3
“Are you going through your blue period,” she asked him.
“What do you mean?”
“Your fingers are all blue and you have blue paint under your nails, so I just figured you were doing that art thing where you go through a blue phase or whatever.”
“Well, look who’s been reading,” he said. He put his blue hands around her neck and pulled her into him. For a moment she looked frightened and then she looked thrilled. He kissed her hard and pushed her back onto the bed. Her head bounced once on the pillow as she made contact with the mattress, but it was all soft. In an instant he was on top of her, surrounding her, breathing her breath and devouring her flesh. She clung to him.
“It’s my first time,” she whispered.
“I don’t believe you,” he growled. He shoved her sundress up and tore her panties off and told himself her moans and sighs meant she was willing. She held him and shook, but she kissed him back. When he touched her with his hand she was plenty wet, but when he started to push his cock into her he felt for certain the resistance of her flesh, the taut memory of youth that gave him pause.
“Don’t stop now,” she gasped. She grabbed his ass and shoved him into her, into a space so hot and tight it nearly squeezed his orgasm right out of him in that very moment. But he floated there inside her and held her face in his hands.
“Oh, Cathy,” he whispered. “Oh, fuck, you feel so good.” He sucked her mouth, kissing her with a sloppy intensity only known to the ecstatic.
“Ouch,” she cried as he began to move. She focused on a tattoo of a bird on the inside of his arm. She thought she saw it flutter.
“Do you want me to stop?”
“No. No.” She whimpered against his shoulder. “Take me. Please. Make me yours.”
“You are mine, Cathy. You are, oh fuck, oh!” He pulled out fast and came on her hip in a gesture she was not expecting at all. “Oh my god, I’m sorry.” He wiped at her skin with the sheet.”
“Just kiss me then,” she said, and he did.
<3 <3 <3
She walked through the shops looking for just the right thing. There was a poster, but that seemed a stupid thing. There was a stuffed bunny but it would have confused him. Candles? Why were men so difficult to shop for?
He wanted to marry her. He told her. He took her to look at rings and bought her one. It had been almost a year they had been dating. So, finding an appropriate birthday gift for Ed was of the essence.
She rounded a corner and almost slammed into him.
“If you say so.”
“What are you doing?”
“Where the fuck have you been, Heath?”
“Away. School. And stuff. How are you? You look good.”
“Fuck you, Heath.”
“I heard you were engaged, or like as good as engaged. So is there a ring or what?”
She raised her left hand and showed him the diamond.
“Very pretty,” he sniped. “Like clouds and horses and sunset skies.”
“Fuck you,” she said again but he had her hand still and was pulling her closer to him. “I loved you. I thought of you every day and you fucking left me like I was nothing.”
“Yeah, that’s not exactly what happened.”
“How could you?”
“How could I what?”
“How could you stop loving me?” Tears rolled down her face. He had her backed into a corner of the shop.
“I never stopped for a second, Cathy,” he grumbled. “Take this fucking thing off.” He pulled on the ring which at first didn’t want to come over her knuckle, but he did not relent and she did not pull her hand away. Once it was over her knuckle it slid off easily. For a moment he held it up in the fluorescent light of the shop. He scowled at it and then grinned at her. Then he threw it up in the air. “Let’s go get a coffee,” he said.
She gasped. Somewhere in the store the ring came falling down with the smallest jingle. She almost didn’t hear it.
And then she laughed.
He led her by the hand out of the shop.