“Uhm, surprise?” Miho laughs awkwardly, cranes her neck to look into the same direction as I do, but I can’t deal with her now. All I can see is Sam, on the other side of the room. When our eyes lock I wave, shyly almost.
The advantage of sign language is that you can communicate across a distance, a crowded room for example.
“Hi.” That smile.
“This is the worst moment to have a stroke. Or hallucinations,” I admit and Sam laughs, a bit delayed.
“Easy there, I’m still a beginner. Would you like to actually talk now?”
It’s cute how stiff and stilted some of the gestures are, so textbook and not ingrained yet.
“Honestly, which one is it?” Still scanning the crowd Miho gets impatient.
“The blonde one,” I reply, nod to indicate Sam to come over. I have a moment to appreciate the outfit, dark grey dress pants, a matching vest over a light blue blouse.
“Sam’s a girl?!”
It takes too long to explain and I’m already halfway over to meet Sam in the middle of the room. Heeding Miho’s advice from earlier I don’t care about making a scene, let the people talk if they want. I grab Sam the moment I reach them, bury my face in the crook of their neck and inhale the soothing scent of soap and sandalwood, with a hint of vanilla.
“You – you are here. You are real.”
“I’m here. I’m here, love.”
If any of the other guests have never seen a girl bawling in the arms of her lover, they can do so now.
I stand no chance.
Tears and emotions spill before I can even blink, I ruin the nice blouse in under five seconds.
“So, are you happy to see me or-?”
Muffled by their collar I laugh, nod and hug them even tighter.
“Your friend Miho messaged me and threatened to make my life hell if I wouldn’t come and make you smile again. Well, looks like I’m in for some trouble because I can’t see you smiling yet.”
I look over at Miho who grins and gives me the thumbs up, snuggled against Jared’s side, his hand resting in the dip of her waist.
“So, could you smile now? Because I’m actually a bit scared of what your friend will do to me of you don’t.”
Of course I can. I’m bursting with happiness. I laugh, topped with a small snort that makes Sam laugh, too, and draws the attention of some people around us. It’s hard to act apologetic when I don’t even care, so I bury my face in Sam’s shoulder after grinning back at Miho.
“I’m so glad you are here. I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.” Their arms around me, the tickling of their soft hair, it’s enough to make most of my problems just melt away. Except for one.
“I’m so sorry for just running away.”
“Yeah, we still have to talk about that. But for now I’m just happy to be here, with you.”
I snuggle even closer, my hands carding through their hair. “You need a haircut. It’s almost covering your ears.”
Sam chuckles, deep, ending with a bubbly sound. “You are beautiful as always. I like your dress.”
Their jawline begs to get traced with my thumb so I do, allow the relief and euphoria to take over.
“I can’t believe you’re really here.”
“And I can’t believe you are making out here in public.” Maddie’s voice wavers, I blink and turn my head to see her standing next to us, hands on her hips, a sheepish looking Ben behind her.
“Excuse us, Miss, but we are having a private conversation here and it’s incredible rude of you to interrupt.” Sam isn’t even batting an eye and I have to say, it’s hot seeing them shutting Maddie down like that, still polite but not taking her shit. I burst into laughter again, just manage to squint and pointedly stare at Maddie.
“Hey, Mads, what’s that in your hair? Looks like – gel?”
Her hand flies up, finds nothing but her artfully styled locks. Even Ben’s cheeks flare up, probably for different reasons than the anger that colors Maddie’s face.
Reluctantly I let go of Sam, but my hand finds theirs, fingers entwined I smile at them and tug them over towards Miho.
“Who is that chick?” I hear Ben ask, grin and look back over my shoulder.
“That chick is my boyfriend, Bennie.” I give the word ‘boyfriend’ a mocking lilt, enjoy the confusion that crawls into his expression.
Sam gives me hand a squeeze, leans in close to whisper into my ear. “You sure you should just blurt it out like this?”
“I think I should have done that earlier, to be honest. I know that you are out to all your friends and family and I envy you for it. Besides, who cares? I’m going to leave here soon anyway.”
I bump into them lightly. “Don’t worry about it. People here might be old-fashioned and traditional, but they won’t burn me at a stake for dating you.”
“If you say so.”
Another advantage of a bigger city, people care less.
“Okay, I don’t know how well you know each other already, but I want to introduce you to Miho. Miho, this is Sam, my partner. Sam, this is Miho, my friend.” Partner. Friend. Those words leave a nice tingle in my stomach. I have friends here, and I have the one I love here. “Oh, and that’s Jared, Miho’s date.”
Jared frowns lightly. “I thought she was my date, but okay. Jared Sanders.”
He offers Sam his hand and Sam smiles, takes it and gives it a firm shake. “Sam Glausner. Nice to meet you.”
“I think you missed to tell me some very basic things about your Sam, but I’m going to ignore that for now,” Miho hisses and smiles at Sam. “Glad to see you could make it.”
“After your last voicemail I didn’t want to risk upsetting you.” Sam’s laughter lights up my world, I’m insanely happy, not only tipsy on alcohol but brimming with endorphins.
“You shouldn’t cross her, I saw what she can do with a BB gun,” Jared says with a straight face.
“In that case I’m even gladder that I made it in time.” Sam’s arm around me pulls me closer. No one could think we are only friends at this point but their androgynous appearance still leaves room for speculations. I get reminded of that when Jake comes over to our little group.
“Okay, what did you do to piss Madeleine off like that? I mean, besides the usual stuff that could be anything.” He nods towards Sam, takes in our close contact. “And who would you be?”
“Probably part of what pissed Maddie off,” I explain, my face already hurting from smiling so much. “Jacob, that is Sam. My Sam.”
“Oh. Yeah, nice to meet you, man. I mean, Jazz mentioned you but I have to admit, you are not exactly what I have expected.”
“Funny, I can’t say she ever talked about you.”
Jake’s eyes flit back to me and I simply shrug. “I might have talked about him, but not mentioned his name. Remember what I told you about the basketball jerk? That’s him.”
“Ah, okay. In that case, I’m not sure if it’s actually a pleasure to meet you.”
Even Miho and Jared have to chuckle at that burn, Jake just shakes his head.
“I deserve that, huh?”
“That and so much more,” I confirm.
“So here are the young people,” Elias cheerfully greets us, pats Jake’s shoulder. “Are you enjoying the party?”
“Yes, very much, sir,” Jared confirms.
“Jazz, dear, care to introduce me to your – cavalier?”
Sam straightens next to me, extends a hand. “I’m Sam Glausner, sir. I have a heard a lot about you and want to thank you for taking care of Jazz for so long.”
“It was my pleasure, she is an extraordinary young lady after all.”
Dammit, I’m blushing now.
“And it’s nice to see her with someone who makes her glow like that. I hope you appreciate her and treat her right.” Is it my imagination or does Elias glance at Jake more often now?
“I do my best, sir. She deserves it.”
“Okay, okay, we get it, I’m great. Can we stop this now?” Another round of laughter, this time at my expenses but I don’t really mind.
“So, uhm, how did you two meet?”
“Jazz had an internship in the marketing department I’m working at. She was so cheerful and dedicated, I was impressed from the first day.”
“So you are in marketing? Let me introduce you to a friend of mine, I’m sure you will have a lot to talk about. The owner of a big marketing company around here, in fact the biggest in our whole region. Jazz, can you spare your – uhm, date for a moment?”
It’s cute to see how Elias is trying to figure out what to call Sam. “Yes, of course. But bring Sam back to me later, will you?”
“Yes, yes, of course. Now, where did he go…?”
As soon as they are out of earshot my smile fades and I turn back to Jake.
“What was that earlier about Sam? What did you mean, Sam’s not what you have expected?” Leave it to Jake to upset me again.
“I thought you had a different type. Taller. More athletic.” He shrugs, looks at Miho and Jared who evade his gaze. Not having his back.
“More like your brother?” My eyes narrow at him and he chuckles, raises his hands in defeat.
“Yeah, sorry for jumping to conclusions.”
“Just for the record, almost everyone is taller than me and that’s enough for me. Besides, comparing Ben to Sam would be like – well, comparing boys and girls.”
“So Sam is-?”
“The person I love. It’s not the gender I fell for, but their personality. Although I have to admit, they are gorgeous. Have you seen that face? That smile? How could I not fall for that?” I pat his shoulder, like his father did before. “The world is huge, Jacob. There’s much more than just the old story of boy meets girl.”
“Like girl meets girl?”
“Like girl meets a person who genuinely cares for her and not causes her tons of distress only to excuse their behavior with ‘but I love you’ afterwards.”
“I like Sam,” Miho loudly announces. “She-”
“They,” I offer and Miho nods.
“They are funny, deliver great burns and came when Jazz needed them. I’m good with that.”
“Thank you.” I mean it, I’m grateful she’s okay with this revelation. Not everyone in my life was comfortable with me dating Sam in the past.
“So that’s it? You’d rather be with – with Sam?”
“Than with you? Yes, definitely. I told you before, I don’t hold any romantic feelings for you. But I do love Sam.”
Jake nods, slowly, his shoulders slump. Without another word he turns around and leaves us standing there.
“Shit, I need a drink.” Tension is crawling into my skull, my skin and bones feel too tight.
“Wow, I feel a bit bad for him,” Jared admits and orders some bourbon, passes me the glass with a sympathetic smile.
“So you know him well?” The first sip makes me wince, it’s raw and strong. The second is better already.
“Not too well, no. All I know is that he is great at his job, already helped a lot of people with their businesses. Very dedicated.”
“He’s still a jerk in private.” Miho takes the glass from me, downs it. Her face contorts briefly, she shudders and orders a water that she shares with me.
While I wait for Sam to come back I watch the people, some of them strangers, some of them I know just too well. Maddie and Ben are strange to look at, how she clings to him but keeps glaring when no one is watching. He mostly ignores her when he talks to others, absentmindedly pats her arm without looking at her.
With everything I have learned about them as individuals though I guess they deserve each other. Should I give him a hint? After all he is some kind of friend.
“Jazz? Do you want to stay longer?” Sam’s voice and their hand on my arm bring me back. Should Ben deal with his choice on his own, it’s not my place to warn him. Hopefully Jake will do that, at least before the wedding.
“No, I’m good to go. Just let me say goodbye to Elias and we can sneak out.” This is the person that deserves my worries and attention, no one else. Well, and Miho.
“I have a hotel room not too far from here. Do you need to fetch anything on the way there?”
“Not if they have spare toothbrushes. I think I don’t need pajamas, do I?”
The sharp intake of breath, the slight dilation of their pupils sends anticipation rushing through me.
“But we still need to talk,” they remind me, clear their throat. I lean in, close enough to feel their warmth.
“We will. Afterwards.”
I wake up the next morning, late but in the arms of the one I love. Could a day start better?
“Morning, love.” Sam’s voice, thick with sleep, their fingertips run lazily up and down my arm.
“Morning, babe.” I close my eyes, banish every other thought from my mind. Just focus on Sam.
Last night we talked for hours, I cried and apologized a lot, they kissed and comforted me. There was some yelling, some cursing, even laughter. Some muttered threats against Ben and Jake when I told Sam about the last few days. More when I talked about Dad and the mess with Mom.
It will take some more time to rebuild the trust I destroyed by running away, but me and Sam are on a good track now. Honesty leaves us a bit tender which gives me the chance to kiss the bruises better, so I guess that works in my favor.
“So, what’s the plan for today?” Their lips leave a trail from my shoulder to the back of my neck, they nuzzle against me in the most adorable way possible. I’m melting, drowning in the softness of their touch, soaking it all up to enshrine this memory in my very soul forever. Like this. I want us to be like this forever. Naked, bare in the literal meaning, no barriers between us, connected in body and soul.
“Depends. How many days have you off?”
They sigh, warm breath against my skin. “Today and tomorrow.”
“So staying in bed isn’t really an option. What a pity.” I turn to face them, brush some hair from their pretty face. The imprint of the pillow, the sunlight in their eyes – I want to capture it all.
“Breakfast? The hotel offers a buffet until 10.”
It’s a tempting suggestion, but not good enough to make me leave the bed just now.
“I know a place where we can get breakfast all day long.” I roll them on their back, halfway crawl on top of them, just lay there with my head on their chest, listening to their heartbeat. Soft fingertips draw random patterns into my skin and I retaliate by dropping a kiss here and there. Playful, easy, so unlike my last few days.
“I know what you are doing.” Sam’s voice rumbles in their chest, tickles in my ears.
“Don’t think you can put off that talk with your parents by being all cute and adorable.”
“I can’t hear you,” I grumble, my nose follows their neck up to their ear to coo: “Sign it to me.”
They groan, roll us around so they are on top.
“Why is it so hot when you say that?”
We get lost in kisses and touches, only manage to get out of bed when it’s almost noon.
I send my mother a message, get dressed while Sam’s in the shower – although the temptation to join them is delaying my progress – and call Miho to ask about my stuff at her place. Since I still got a key we agree that Sam and I just grab my bags and I bring the key to the café afterwards.
Also the perfect place to meet my parents, Mom replies before Sam can even dry their hair. My good mood dims, with every step closer to the café my stomach sinks further. With my bags in Sam’s car it’s mostly my hunger by now that draws me down the familiar street.
“Morning,” I greet Miho who looks up and waves.
“It’s past noon, but sure, whatever floats your boat. The customer is always right and stuff. Hi, Sam.”
“Hi. Do you still serve breakfast?”
“Someone had a long night, huh?” She waggles her eyebrows and I’m appalled by her lack of decency. Not really.
“I would ask the same thing but since today is a work day and I at least suspect Jared to take that seriously I assume you got up at the normal time.”
Her obscene gesture makes me laugh, I order coffee and waffles.
“You got a nice little shop here.” Sam looks around, takes in the furniture and decoration.
“Thanks. I like it very much.” The huge coffee monster splutters, fills the room with delicious aroma. After the little sleep and the alcohol last night caffeine is what I lack now, the moment Miho sets down my cup on the counter I snatch it and sit down.
“Hahhh… how I missed you, babe.”
“You never say that to me.” Miho fakes a pout, catches Sam raising an eyebrow.
“Well, she does say it to me.” Their tone leaves no doubt that this is the most important thing and I almost snort into my coffee.
“Fiiiiiine,” Miho relents, fills another cup and turns around to make the waffles.
We chat a bit, the café is mostly empty except for a few people coming in to get something to go. Jared saunters in for his lunch break, a quick kiss for Miho, maybe some inappropriate comments from my side. If it wasn’t for the confrontation I still have to master we would have a great time.
When Mom’s car pulls in outside my hands tremble so hard that I have to set my cup down.
“Okay, showtime.” I slip from the seat, straighten and square my shoulders.
“It’s okay, love, I’m here in case you need me. Just try to stay calm, listen without feeling offending right from the start. You can do it.” How could I ever think I could live without Sam? Their support is really helping me right now, I nod and go outside to greet her.
“Hi, Mom. Thanks for bringing the sewing machine.”
“Of course. I didn’t plan to keep it.” She opens the trunk, tugs at the heavy box but I stop her.
“No, I can do it.”
“Mom, it’s no big deal. Let me get it please, I was the one to forget it at your place after all.”
I maneuver it out of the trunk, heave it over to the café entrance.
“Are you coming in?” I can’t see Dad anywhere which can mean both a good or a bad thing.
“Do you actually want me to come in?” Mom fumbles with her car keys, looking lost. I’m too soft to ignore her wounded expression, the way her curves downwards, her shoulders slump.
“That’s why I asked you to come here after all. Come on, Miho’s making some great coffee and you and I need to talk. On neutral grounds.”
The little bell rings as I enter but I shoot Miho, Sam and Jared a glare when they fall silent.
“Wait, let me help you with that.” Jared comes and takes the machine out of my hands, I smile at him.
“Thanks, that’s kinda heavy.”
“You’re welcome.” He smiles back until Mom clears her throat behind me.
“Mr. Sanders, what a surprise to see you here.”
“Mrs. Mann. Well, I find myself here often lately. The coffee is great and so is the company.”
Figures they know each other. Jared is probably at Elias’ house every now and then.
“How about I get you some of that great coffee and you choose a table for us?” I urge Mom to take a seat, grab the coffee Miho has already prepared.
Sam nods at me, they can probably tell that I’m close to having a nervous breakdown but I flash them a smile.
Mom has chosen a table in the far back and I manage to arrive there without spilling anything.
“How’s your wrist?” The bandage has vanished but that doesn’t mean she’s all better. Mom just doesn’t like to stay still, to sit around without doing anything.
“Better. The doctor says I should go easy on it for a few more days. Mr. Rosenfeldt has hired someone to take care of the house for this week, next week I will go back to work.”
“That’s good. You better make sure it’s all healed before you dive back into work.” I’m stirring my coffee for a whole minute already although it’s black.
“He also brought me your pay for the last week. I got it here.” She reaches for her purse, grabs an envelope and holds it out to me.
“No, it’s okay. You said you need the bonus.” She always does. So do I, but there’s no need pointing that out now.
“It’s your money, I can’t-”
“Mom. It’s okay. Keep it.” If Dad stays true to his old ways he will end up taking it, but I’m too tired to argue.
“Okay.” She puts it back, not without glancing at me for confirmation again.
I sip my coffee, she sips hers.
“How’s Dad?” Might as well just get right to the point.
“Probably, but also a very ugly fight we had first. Thanks for that.” She rubs her temple with her fingertips, exhales loudly. “Ah, sorry. It’s not your fault, I know. It’s just-” She sighs again, doesn’t even look at me.
“Mom, he left us years ago already. Everything in the last 10, 12 years was only him stringing you along. Does this now really come so unexpected for you?” Hurting her further is the last thing on my list, but she needs to hear the truth and ideally also accept it.
“It’s just – I never thought he would start a new life, with a new family, and leave me behind completely.”
Mom is one of the strongest persons I know, she has always smiled and worked her butt of without complaining. But now she’s just another heartbroken woman, with red rimmed eyes and tired lines all over her face.
“He didn’t only leave you behind, you know? It wasn’t exactly pleasant for me to learn that he plans on ‘doing things right this time’. As if that new baby deserves something that I did not.”
Instead he took my money, lied to me, lied to Mom. No gift for him for Father’s Day this year.
“I guess that also hurts, but it’s not the same. I still love him. Once you find someone you love you will-”
“No! God dammit, mother! Stop this stupid shit! It’s not love, it’s some strange obsession you have with him! How can you love him after all he did to you? To us?” My cup clutters on it’s saucer when I slam my hand on the table. “Just for the record, I know what love feels like. I know it can be exhilarating and crushing at the same time. I know how empty you can feel when you think you lost it! I know all that because I actually found someone to love already, someone who loves me back. But we would never pull this shit with each other and if we did I guess we would be better off apart.”
My eyes flit over to the counter, all three of them sitting there stare back at me. Mom follows my line of sight, brows furrowed.
“Yeah, I’m in love with someone special and I didn’t tell you because I was afraid to end up like you. Completely hung up on one person, to the point that nobody else matters to you anymore. That is what you taught me about love, Mom, that I have to endure anything to deserve it. But that’s not true. I deserve love to my own terms. I deserve to be loved for who I am, not for what I can offer to someone else.” My heart is racing, my throat is tight. “I guess I’m lucky, because I found someone who also accepts my flaws and my stubbornness, who doesn’t treat me like some ATM but cares for me. And I almost gave up on that because I figured it’s safer to keep my distance instead of becoming vulnerable!”
“Is that – you’re in love with him? How did you even meet? I mean, you can only know him for what? A week? And you’re talking about love? Oh, Jazzy-bee, you might have the wrong idea…”
When did I become the one to feel sorry for?
“No, I think you might be the one with the wrong idea.”
“Listen, muffin cheeks, I know Mr. Sanders, he’s really nice and reputable, but whatever you have, it can’t possibly be love.”
I blink, take a deep breath. I can hear some commotion from the counter, turn around to see Miho red in the face, shaking her hands.
“I’m sure Mr. Sanders is nice and I agree with you, Mom, what I feel for him is definitely not love. Because he’s not the one I’m talking about.” Miho’s display of a desperate attempt not to laugh is distracting, but I want to make things clear here.
“Oh, I thought… because you keep looking over at him.” Mom’s gaze flits from Jared to me and back again.
I wave towards Sam, motion them to come over.
“No, Mom. Let me introduce you to Sam. We are dating for almost a year already.” I get up to stand next to them, take their hand and look back at Mom. “Sam, this is my mother.”
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Mrs. Mann. Although I had hoped for better circumstances.” Sam offers Mom their hand but she simply stares at them. At us.
“Oh.” Her shoulders slump even more, it’s as if I’m watching a computer reboot. She straightens up again, smiles weakly.
“I can’t say this isn’t a surprise, but… it’s also nice to meet you. Sam, was it?”
We both sit down, hands still clasped.
“Yes, Ma’am. Sam Glausner.”
“We met when I had this internship and afterwards we kept in touch and – well, I guess we are moving in together soon.” I’m aware of both of their stares. No turning back now.
“That is – that is nice, honey. I’m happy for you.”
There is still a lot we have to talk about, but for now this is a huge step for me. And for Sam. After some superficial chatting Sam excuses themself and joins Miho and Jared again, gives me and Mom some privacy.
“I know it’s not polite to ask, but what is Sam?” she whispers as soon as they are out of earshot.
“Manager of a marketing department.” I suppress my grin, this is not what she wants to know.
“No, I mean-”
“Mom, Sam is Sam. The one person I can imagine a future with. They are most comfortable when you refer to them with they and them pronouns, but you don’t have to worry about me getting accidentally pregnant if that’s what you want to know.”
She looks at me intently, her smile fades.
“When did you get all grown up? You were my little girl just yesterday and now…” She shakes her head, shakes off the somber mood. “Are you happy?”
“I am. Very much.” I smile back at Sam who waves at me once. “I only wish you could be happy, too. But as long as you are hung up on Dad…”
“I asked him. About that other woman. About your money.” She cups her mug with both hands, stares into the remains of the coffee as if it can offer her answers to all her questions.
“He didn’t even deny anything. He came here, told me all those pretty little lies and when I called him out on that he didn’t even flinch. Just said it was only a matter of time before you tattled on him.”
“I’m sorry, Mom. I’m sorry for not telling you sooner, I’m sorry for telling you at all. I don’t know what to say, I can’t make it better with just words.” It’s a messy situation and I hate Dad for forcing me into it.
“It’s okay, it’s not your fault. I’m still disappointed at you for striking this deal with him, though. I’m an adult, I can make my own decisions and just because you are entitled to your opinion doesn’t mean you can interfere like this.”
I flinch, guilty as charged.
“That said I know you only tried to look out for me.” Her hand finds mine, she gives it a light squeeze. “Okay, this was a heavy conversation for such a lovely day. How long are you staying in town?”
“We are leaving tomorrow morning.” It’s a long drive back, at least I don’t have to take the bus this time.
“How about you and Sam come and have dinner with me tonight? I would like to get to know – them better.”
“That sounds great. Thanks, Mom.” We hug and she waves at the others on her way out.
“Are you okay, love?” Sam’s at my side before I even reach the counter.
“Yeah, I guess I am.” Tired, yes, exhausted, definitely. But nothing a hug and another coffee can’t fix. And cake. Definitely cake.
Halfway through a slice of chocolate-y heaven Jared has to go leave for work again, he and Miho get all lovey-dovey and I remind them of workplace hygiene, just in case.
Since we don’t really have anywhere else to go and I’m still a bit hungover and clingy Sam and I get comfortable at a small table, determined to try every single cake Miho offers today.
“Later today I will need some cheese. Or maybe meat. Something savory.”
Sam laughs and I still accept the fork full of cake from them.
“We can get anything you want, love. Pizza, pasta, half of a pig – no problem.”
“Hey, you better remember the fantastic person helping you reconcile. Maybe they want some food, too.” Miho is just polishing some glasses, the afternoon rush should start any minute now.
“Sure. We can call Jared and just ask him, I guess.”
She pokes out her tongue at me, I simply return the gesture.
The bell chimes and my heart stops when I see who just arrives. Jake.
“Hey, Fujiwara. Can I get a Kenian roast to go?” He leans on the counter, dressed in slacks and a casual shirt. Also looking a bit hungover.
“Wow, looks like you partied hard yesterday.” Miho grins and I swear she’s making more noise than necessary to brew a cup of coffee.
He waves her off, turns around and spots us. “Well, you know what they say: There’s no party like a stuck up dinner party.”
With his coffee he comes over to us, his hand hovers over the backrest of a chair.
“Take a seat.” Sam, polite as always.
“Don’t mind if I do.” Jake plops down on the chair, throws me a glance.
“I hope Elias wasn’t upset about us leaving early.” I try to steer the conversation to a safe topic, last thing I said to Jake last night was a thinly veiled jab about how he has to sit through the dinner without a partner now. I blame the alcohol and a bit my mean streak after everything he did to me. It was petty and probably he didn’t even care, but at that time it gave me a rush of satisfaction. The only satisfaction that ever stemmed from Jake.
“No, I told Sam was tired from the drive and that you had to catch up, so he was fine with it. But some other people asked about you. Looks like you made quite the impression.”
Me? Or rather my PDA with Sam in the middle of the entrance hall?
“She is something special, isn’t she? She always manages to impress people.” Sam’s praise and their gentle touch on my hand skyrockets my heartbeat.
“Yeah, she is – something else.”
I wait for the inevitable quip, the joke on my expanses, but it doesn’t come.
He clears his throat, takes a sip of his coffee.
“So, you guys are going back today?”
“Tomorrow. We are having dinner later with Mom.” The lull in the conversation is awkward, I’m not the only one thinking so.
“Okay, in that case, have a safe trip back tomorrow. I’m heading home now, too. Gotta go back to work and all that.” He taps on the table with his fingers twice, gets up.
“And Sam,” he begins before he leaves, eyes trained on my partner.
“You better take good care of her.”
“Don’t worry, I will.” Sam’s arm around my shoulder anchors me to the here and now, otherwise I could swear I’m having a very strange hallucination.
“You better take care of yourself,” I shoot back. “And of your brother. I’m not going to come to his wedding because I expect of you to prevent that disaster somehow.”
“Don’t worry, I will,” he echoes Sam’s words, grins widely. “I already have a plan.” A last nod and he walks out of the door, leaves me with mixed feelings that instantly evaporate when Sam bumps their shoulder against mine.
“Yeah, I’m great.”
Soon we will have to leave for dinner, but for now I rest my head on their shoulder, watch Miho clean and take orders, serve customers.
Here, in this coffee scented sanctuary, we just waste some more time. Together.