Starbucks on South Westnedge Avenue in Portage, Michigan, was our meeting spot that February day. Everywhere, the wintry weather had kept things captive under its grip, unrelentingly dumping totes of snow each day. A day in double digits was often discussed like a scandal and the sun was merely a candle drifting over a wet blanket of clouds.
A place with warmth and filled with some humanity was something I was looking forward to that afternoon. I found such an environment in Starbucks, where I ordered a blonde caramel macchiato and sat at a table in the corner drinking from a grande cup enjoying the steam coming out the top.
He walked in the door and spent a long minute wiping his shoes on the door rag. I eyed him with disgust thinking about the cold air he had just allowed to whiff into the coffeehouse. Something about his demeanor piqued my curiosity though.
My gaze once again wandered around the place. I wondered what he thought of me when he first noticed I was the only one in the coffee shop.
The baristas were mostly busy serving customers in the drive-through section, and when one turned to serve him, I couldn’t resist but listen to his deep voice as he placed his order.
“Latte macchiato … with skim milk. No water. Grande, please,” he had said.
He obviously had a very specific taste for his coffee, I observed.
“Anything else?” the barista had asked him.
“Your name please.”
“Ah! Marcus. M-A-R-C-U-S,” I overheard him spell it.
“Thank you. Your total is $4.45. You can swipe your card whenever you are ready.”
He sat a few rows from me. I could see his impatient gestures directed my way and when I ignored, he came over and sat across the table from me.
For someone like me who loves my privacy and personal space, violating its sanctity is a breach of decorum. Even to this day, I never tolerate such people who hit on me and show no respect. I should lecture him on social ethics, I thought.
“Can I join you?” he had asked yet he was already seated on my table.
Startled, I hesitated for a moment.
He’s cocky, I remember thinking, giving him an inquisitive look.
I began preparing my exit strategy. Should I tell him ’I’m sorry I have to go. See you around’ and just get out of there? I wondered.
“Sure,” I responded, placing my phone inside my purse and pulling my coffee closer to myself.
I don’t even know this dude, and he thinks we should be friends, I thought.
Is he from New York or something? I wondered.
“How are you ma’am?” he asked.
“I’m fine.” I attempted to make my voice express my displeasure at his brazen intrusion of my space.
“What are you having?” he asked, giving me a curious glance.
“Ah! Caramel Macchiato.”
“Oh, nice. The best antidote for this cold,” he replied, scraping his throat.
“Yep. It’s more of a Friday ritual for me.”
“I see. Hey, I’m Marcus. Nice meeting you,” he said.
“You come here that often?”
“I try.” My mind bubbled with other questions.
“Do you live around?” he asked.
I came here to have coffee and not to engage idle people in meaningless talk, I thought.
“Yeah. Not too far from here. On Sprinkle Road. And you?” I replied.
“I’m on Sprinkle Road too. In Kalamazoo. What a coincidence!” His smile felt really fake.
That doesn’t mean we should be friends, I thought to myself.
And don’t ask me silly questions, my mind screamed.
“Where do you work?” He asked as he took out his hoodie and placed it on the table, revealing his neat haircut.
“In downtown at Pfeizer. I like it there,” I said.
“That’s nice. There’s no Starbucks in downtown?” he asked.
I studied the expression on his face for a second and then sighed inaudibly while he stood up to grab his coffee from the counter.
When he returned, the stubs on his mustache and the movement of his Adam’s apple as he swallowed his coffee melted my heart.
“I was asking you if there was any Starbucks in downtown,” he said.
What the hell is he thinking? I wondered.
“I believe there’s one on Rose Street. But I wanted to grab some groceries from Meijer around the corner,” I replied.
My curiosity piqued. Who even is this guy?
I had to investigate. “What do you do? I hope you don’t mind me asking.”
“I teach at Milwood Middle School. I have been doing this for slightly over seven years now,” he said.
“Oh, you love kids?”
He shrugged and then said, “I love teaching kids. They teach me a lot too.”
I didn’t have anything against it but it felt amazing to know he had the patience for children. It softened my perception of him a bit.
In college, I had loved working with children. I had even volunteered to teach in summer camps. All the children were very fond of me.
After college, I had even contemplated adopting a child from an orphanage somewhere in Africa. But I knew I’d probably have to adjust my lifestyle if I had children. I wasn’t ready yet.
My mind raced with thoughts I couldn’t bear to ask him that soon. Curiosity seemed to be fueling our conversation effortlessly. I felt comfortable keeping it that way.
We talked and laughed until closing time. All around us, the baristas began cleaning tables, taking the trash away, and shutting off the lights. We stood up, took our coffee cups with us, and walked out into the crisp brittle air.
Alone is a dimly lit parking lot, he leaned over and whispered, “Let’s go to my car. I’ll warm it up and we can finish this conversation with a warm hug. What do you say?”
I nodded and followed him.
He opened the door to his lifted pickup truck, placed our coffee cups inside, started the engine and then went around and opened the passenger door for me.
Please don’t hurt me, my mind screamed.
Then he cupped his hands around my bottom and lifted me up. I jumped and straddle him, wrapping both arms around his shoulder, feeling the prickling sensation of his beards against my cheeks.
I remember not wanting to let that moment go. I don’t know why I did it but for some reason I allowed him to place me on the passenger seat of his truck.
Before he closed the door, he kissed my hands so slowly the coldness of his lips made me want to warm them up with mine.
He jumped into the driver’s seat, placed his hands over the air ducts, and said, “This truck warms up really quick.”
Feeling scared and trapped now, I managed to keep my cool.
“Mine too,” I replied.
“Is that your car over there? The white Honda Civic?” he asked.
My face lit up with a smile. “Yes. It’s not white. It’s silver.”
“Sorry … looks white to me from here,” he said.
“I have had it for five years. It’s time for another,” I said.
“Honda was my first car out of school. I liked it.”
I bit my lips as he reached to grab my hands. Our fingers interlocked over the console between the seats.
The security lights from the coffeehouse weakly illuminated inside the car. It was more than I could ask for. I remember feeling weakened by his touch and I immediately hated where we were. I should have known this would have happened.
I grabbed his neck and pulled him in. Our lips touched and the sensation began bustling like bubbles from a carbonated drink.
We kissed passionately, tongue and lips, for a long minute. The ecstasy was real. There was no reversing or halting whatever ideas it had elicited in me.
We chatted and laughed more. We kissed every so often, between laughter.
The truck was warm enough such that when his lips toured my neck and shoulders, I allowed him to go lower between the valleys of my breasts, thrusting my body against his.
He unclipped my lacy white bralette and then heard his loud sigh at the discovery of my hard nipples.
With a gentle clumsiness, he sucked each breast with his wet warm tongue, and then squeezed and caressed gently one at a time with his hands.
And when he couldn’t find a rhythm, he sucked on one and squeezed the other.
He worked his kisses down my neck and chest. I moaned at each sensation, sucking at his ears and cheeks, leaving red lipstick marks everywhere.
I unbuckled his belt and reached his hardened member. I held it with both hands, feeling both its heat and moistened tip. I took it out, stroked it like a pro and lathered it with my saliva. Lots of saliva.
He unzipped my pants, pulled it down to thigh level, gripped my bottom, and began rubbing it with the same rhythm as my tongue’s movement over the tip of his member.
I began to kiss the length of the shaft as his fingers caressed the hair below my belly. He reached another finger lower and touched my clitoris, making me realize what a mess I was. I knew we’ve gone too far.
“I’m driving us to my place. We will leave your car here,” he said.
It had been the best thing I ever heard that day. I wanted to be close to real humanity, and he had just offered that. I respected him for that.