Chapter 9: Coffee guy
I felt like such an idiot.
Why had I reacted like that the night before?
I was such a loser.
I was lying on my bed, looking at my wrist that should have been scarred beyond recognition but instead seemed more flawless than any other part of my skin. I was a little irritated, mad even, that Alexander would stoop so low as to distract me and ask for my name.
And of course, being the loser that I was I’d told him.
I groaned as I rolled over, why had I done that? I should just have kept my mouth shut. I picked up the phone on my bedside table and phoned room service. I ordered a strong coffee and the man told me that it would be there in ten minutes. I placed the phone back on its stand.
It had been hard to figure out how to work the phone but Nadine had been very helpful about it and showed me until I could do it myself.
I really was an idiot! Why had he wanted to know my full name anyway? What was it to him? He could just have called me Ash. Damn it all! I should have told him that Ash was my full name…
I stared up at the ceiling while I waited for my coffee to arrive and pondering over my predicament. Was Alexander going to blackmail me with my name or something?
I sat up when someone knocked on the door and I flew out of bed. Coffee here I come! I needed some strong caffeine to wake me up tonight. I pulled the door open and instead of finding my coffee I found Nadine. My smiled fell a bit but I didn’t think she even noticed. “Hey.”
“Hello!” She said unusually chirpy, “You’re not working tonight, are you?” She asked with a small frown when she saw my bedraggled state. My hair was probably a nest on my head and I was still wearing my pyjamas so I must have looked pretty horrific…
“Nope.” I said with as much enthusiasm as I could muster. “I’m free tonight and honestly, right now I’m planning on sleeping.”
“No!” Rose suddenly exclaimed from behind Nadine and I saw her for the first time.
“Oh,” I said lazily, “Hey Rose.”
Rose looked at me intently, “Don’t ‘hey Rose’ me! Tonight we are having a sleepover or well… staying-awake-over in my room.”
I looked from Rose to Nadine and back to Rose slowly, “You’re being serious?” I finally asked when her words registered in my brain.
“Yes!” Nadine said excitedly, “I’ve been dying to hang out with you guys again and I couldn’t since you were both working.”
“So get dressed, Ash, and come to my room where we can talk the night away!” Rose said with just as much enthusiasm.
I sighed heavily, I wasn’t really in the mood for people but they were telling me to go pretty nicely so… “Fine.” I said.
Rose clapped her hands happily and Nadine beamed at me, “Great! See you in an hour!”
They both turned and skipped away from me simultaneously, it was creepy to say the least. I sighed again and started closing the door when a voice stopped me, “Wait!”
I paused and looked down the hall towards the person who’d called out for someone to wait. “Hmmm?” I asked as I looked up and didn’t recognise the man running towards me with a trolley.
“Wait!” He called again as he sped down the hall and I curiously stepped outside to see what the commotion was about.
When his eyes met mine he smiled and I realised he wasn’t as old as he’d looked from afar. He was just a few years older than me as a matter of fact. My eyes widened when he didn’t slow down and I flattened myself against the wall to avoid getting run over. He zoomed past me and shouted, “Sorry!”
I rolled my eyes when he came to a stop outside Maddie’s room and she was in the process of staring at her watch, irritated with waiting. “You’re two minutes and thirty seven seconds late!” She screamed at the poor guy.
“Sorry.” He apologised, not really sounding sorry at all and I grinned like some idiot, “Here’s your latte with cream, no sugar.” He said as he held out the cup towards her.
Maddie snatched it out of his hands with a scowl, “You should be glad I’m generous enough not to report you to my master! He will have your head for upsetting me!”
I snorted, I couldn’t see Zaiden caring less about Maddie’s coffee arriving two minutes and thirty seconds late. He certainly wasn’t going to kill someone over it.
My snort must have been louder than I’d first thought because Maddie’s head snapped in my direction, “I’m sure he won’t mind getting rid of you either, Ash!” she told me threateningly.
I smiled at her sweetly, “I’m sure he won’t, Crazy.”
She fumed at me for a moment before she marched back into her room and shut the door with a loud bang.
The poor guy was still standing there looking stunned when he turned to look at me. He slowly pushed the trolley towards me, “211, you ordered a strong coffee, right?” He asked unsurely.
I nodded, “Yeah.” He handed it to me, “Thanks.” I said as I took a sip. It was nice and warm and sweet. “Yummy. This is really good.”
The guy frowned at me suspiciously, “Aren’t you going to yell at me for being late?”
I laughed, “What? No, of course not! I didn’t even notice.” I told him and he slowly smiled, “You’ll have to forgive my… co-worker over there. She’s working tonight so I assume that’s why she was being so rude.”
He scoffed, “Nope, she was like that yesterday and the day before as well. I think she’s just naturally like that.”
I grinned at him, “That could easily be the case as well.”
I drowned in his brown eyes for a moment before his voice pulled me back up to the surface, “So you’re a wanderer of the night, hu?”
I sighed, “Unfortunately, yes. I would give anything for a good night’s rest.”
“Don’t I know it.” He said with a wink, “I’ve never seen you here before. Are you new?”
“You just picked me up in New York.”
“Wow!” He exclaimed with wide eyes, “You really are new here! When was that anyway… like five days ago?”
I frowned deeply. Had it really been only five days since I’d boarded the ship? It felt like I’d been on it for weeks! “I suppose so, yeah, only four days though.”
“It’s pretty boring here so that’s why it feels like you’ve been here much longer than you already have.” Coffee guy said.
“Speaking from experience?” I asked him.
He merely shrugged, “There isn’t much excitement here, every day is exactly the same: boring. It feels like I’ve been on this ship for years but it’s only been about eight months.”
I grinned, “So you’re pretty new too, hu?” I asked him a bit more flirtatiously than I’d intended but it didn’t look like it bothered him.
He laughed, “Yeah.” He looked me right in the eyes and my heart raced in my chest, “I’m Rustin by the way.”
He held out his hand to me and I shook it, “Nice to meet you coffee guy, I’m Ash.” His touch was warm and my hand tingled when I let go of his hand.
“Coffee guy?” He asked amusedly.
I nodded, “I’m not good with names but I will definitely remember that you brought me this delicious coffee.” I pointed to the cup in my hands.
He puffed out his chest proudly, “I am pretty good at making coffee… so I will allow you to call me coffee guy.”
“Good to know.” I said with a grin, “I have to do something about myself so… I’ll see you around?” I asked him unsurely.
“Sure,” he said, his smile fading a little, “I’ll see you around, Ash.” He turned and pushed his trolley away, “Bye.” He said with a small wave.
“Bye, coffee guy.” I called after him. He only looked over his shoulder and grinned at me like I’d made his day.
Rustin, I thought while closing my bedroom door, his name was Rustin.
We didn’t do much throughout the night, it was kind of boring and admittedly I would rather have been sleeping.
When morning finally came we ate and went right to bed while poor Nadine had to go to work. I truly pitied her.
Lunch was spaghetti with mince and Rose and I decided to spend the afternoon beside the pool till she had to go to work.
I was absolutely terrified of taking the elevator but there was no other way to the deck. I was just going to have to face my fear and take the stupid elevator.
I clutched my straw hat tightly in my hands as I stepped into the elevator and Rose pressed the button to take us up.
My eyes were glued to the panel that showed the floors we were passing and I counted them and multiplied them with all my concentration.
Yes, I was trying what Alexander had suggested, so sue me.
Surprisingly when the doors slid open again I was completely calm. I stepped outside and took a deep breath. I held out my hand in front of me and looked at it, I wasn’t even shaking. I grinned, I totally just took the elevator without freaking out!
I did a little happy dance while Rose stared at me like I was crazy, “What’s wrong with you?”
I immediately stopped dancing and put my arms back at my sides, “Nothing. Let’s go.”
We walked slowly while making unimportant chit chat. I stopped dead, it was Alexander’s trick that had helped me overcome my fear. Alexander’s trick not my own.
I cursed under my breath. That stupid vampire was just too cleaver for his own good.
Rose sighed, “What’s wrong now? You’re zoning out again.”
“Oh, nothing.” I said innocently, “I was just talking to myself and I didn’t like the conversation going on in my head.”
Rose frowned and we started walking again, “You are so strange.”
I smiled proudly and held my head high, “Why thank you.”
Rose suddenly gasped at something and came to an abrupt stop. She stared longingly at something with a dreamy smile and I turned to look at what she was looking at.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the three shirtless guys in the pool. The one was a bit white and the other one very tan but the last one had the perfect colour skin. They were doing laps in the swimming pool.
We both just stood there staring while they swam the length of the pool and back again.
I let out a steady breath and nudged Rose in the ribs, “What’s wrong with us? We shouldn’t stare, it’s rude.” She looked at me like I was crazy and I leaned closer to her and whispered in her ear, “Come on, it’ll be easier to stare while we’re sitting and pretending to read.”
Rose grinned at me, “You’re right, it is rude to stare from so far away.” Without another word we sat down on the deck chairs next to the pool and pulled out our books. I put my straw hat on my head and admired them from underneath it bashfully. Every now and then I peeked over the top of my book at the guys still doing their laps and Rose watched them over her sunglasses.
Ten minutes later they were still going strong and I was way over the point of being impressed when the most tanned one stopped. The other two stopped soon after and they all high-fived, “Great job guys. Tomorrow we add two more laps.” He said and my ears nearly burned at how deep his voice was.
The whitest one hit the tanned one on the back, “What’s wrong, Troy? You look a little tired.” He grinned evilly.
Troy glared at the white one, “Like you’re one to talk, Kevin. You look like you’re about to pass out.”
The other guy sighed at the two of them, “You two sound like an old married couple, quit it will you?”
My eyes nearly bulged out of my scull when I recognised the voice.
It was coffee guy!
I quickly averted my gaze and hid behind my book, for the first time actually reading. I didn’t want him to see me.
Rose turned her head towards me and whispered, “I’ve got dibs on the tanned one.”
I rolled my eyes before I continued to read. I pretended like I didn’t see them hoist themselves out of the pool on the deep side and that I didn’t nearly drool at their bodies.
In the city no one really went anywhere or did anything so the guys didn’t really have any muscle to marvel at but these guys… holy sweet potatoes! They had the bodies of swimmers that definitely practiced every day. The water on their skin made them even more attractive and I peeled my eyes away from them and exchanged a glance with Rose.
It was when they were done drying themselves that they seemed to notice us for the first time, “Hey, look over there.” Kevin said rather loudly and pointed towards us.
He was being so obvious but it was so adorable and I hid behind my book again. I had read the same sentence about sixteen times before a shadow fell over the page and I looked up to see the trio standing in front of us. I was so close to their shirtless-ness I said the first thing that popped into my head, “You’re blocking my sun.” I mentally face-palmed myself the moment the words were out of my mouth. Could I really not have said something a bit more flirty that that? I sounded dull and irritated.
Kevin smiled and took a step backward to return my sun to me, “Sorry, pretty girl.”
I didn’t know what to say to that so I merely averted my eyes to look at Rustin. His eyes lit up in recognition, “Hey Ash.” He said.
“Hey coffee guy.” I said calmly with a smile.
His friends look at him in disbelief and Troy said, “Well since you already know her, aren’t you going to introduce us?”
“Oh,” Rustin said with a look of realisation on his face. He pointed at me, “This is Ash.”
“Hello,” I greeted them and pointed to Rose, “Her name is Rose.”
Their eyes went from me to Rose and she blushed deeply, “Hello.”
“I’m Kevin!” the white one said enthusiastically and thumbed himself in the chest.
“I’m Troy.” The tanned one said more calmly, “Nice to meet the two of you.” His eyes lingered on Rose a little longer and she smiled back at him.
“So you swim, do you coffee guy?” I asked Rustin.
He opened his mouth to answer but Kevin enthusiastically slung an arm around his shoulders and cut him off before he could speak, “Oh yes, Rusty is probably the second best swimmer out of the lot of us.” He puffed out his chest, “Me being the best of course.”
Rustin elbowed him hard in the stomach and Kevin wheezed and let go of him, “In your dreams buddy, you know I’m the best.”
“Of course, all mighty, Rusty.” Kevin said sounding breathless and doing a little bow.
Rose and I laughed at his antics, “I thought your name is Rustin.” I told coffee guy.
“It is.” He said, “But everyone calls me Rusty.”
“Nice.” I commented.
“So what is a wanderer of the night doing outside in the sunlight?” Rustin asked me conversantly as he sat down next to me. Seeing that it was time to sit down Troy and Kevin both bolted for the seat next to Rose but Troy got there first and he grinned at Kevin in a triumphal manner. Poor Kevin sat down next to Troy looking completely left out while Troy and Rose engaged in conversation.
“I don’t sleep through the whole day you know.” I told him, “Too much sleep makes you tired and I still love the sunlight every now and then.”
“Oh, of course.” He said, “I kind of forgot you still have your own life away from your master, most night wanderers never leave their suites.”
“Well,” I said hesitantly, “I wouldn’t exactly call it much of a life, it’s boring on this ship.”
Rustin grinned, “And that is the exact reason why we make use of this fine pool over here. It’s fun and it’s some exercise.”
“You are all very good.” I said appraisingly, “I’m sure I won’t even be able to do a single lap.”
“You could always join us in the pool every once in a while.” Rustin suggested nonchalantly but his eyes were watching my reaction carefully, analysing me.
I smiled at him without a pause, “Sure, that sounds fun.”
Our conversation was interrupted when Kevin let out an exaggerated groan, “Don’t you girls have another friend? I need someone too!”
We all laughed at him, “Sure we do.” I said and thought of him and Nadine together. I just couldn’t see the two of them getting along at all, “Though I don’t think she’ll like you at all…”
Kevin’s face fell, “That was mean.” He muttered to himself.
“Shoot!” Rose suddenly said and she flew out of her chair, “I’ll never be ready in time!” She grabbed her stuff and pulled me up, “Come on, Ash! You have to help me get ready! Bye you all!”
I allowed her to drag me after he,r “Bye guys! It was good to meet you all!”
“Bye Ash!” Coffee guy shouted after me and I smiled like an idiot.
“Bye!” The other two shouted at us simultaneously and they attacked each other by the necks when they looked at one another.
I rolled my eyes. Boys will be boys.
Rose nervously tapped her foot in the elevator but I was too distracted by counting to even let it bother me. We dashed down the halls to Rose’s room and she yanked open the door.
“You decide on something for me to wear while I shower, ok?” she half screamed at me as she entered the bathroom and closed the door halfway. “Something girly, alright Ash?”
“Yeah, yeah.” I told her and rolled my eyes.
I heard the shower turn on and I searched through the clothes that she’d gotten. It was completely different from my own and I easily found a dress that dipped dangerously low at the front. I grinned evilly at the bright pink dress. If she wanted girly, she was going to get girly.
The shower turned off and I handed her the dress through the half open door.
We spoke as she put the dress on, “So, why didn’t you tell me you met an incredibly cute guy?”
I shrugged, “Honestly I didn’t think I’d ever see him again.”
“And you have a nickname for him!” She gushed, “That’s so adorable! Why coffee guy though?”
“He brought me coffee yesterday.” I sighed, “It was the best coffee I’d ever had.” I thought back gleefully.
Rose stepped out of the bathroom and I nearly lost my eyes for the umpteenth time that day, “Whoa.” I said, “You can really pull off that dress. You look stunning.”
She smiled, “You think so?” I nodded, “Thanks. Anyway you were talking about the best coffee?”
“I don’t know.” I said as I followed her to her dresser and combed out her hair, “It was sweet and warm.”
“Sounds like you’re describing something else.” She said with a wicked grin.
I hit her over the head with her brush “Oh, shut up and let me do your hair Mrs Troy.”
Rose turned bright red at that, “Don’t say that!”
“You didn’t deny it.” I sang at her and she looked away from me but still didn’t deny it. I started humming the wedding march as best I could and I hoped she recognised it.
She must have because she elbowed me in the stomach, “Oh, shut up and do my hair Mrs Rusty.”
I did her hair but I didn’t deny what she’d said.
Yes, I could definitely see myself falling for coffee guy.