A coffee and a cigarette

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Hope

Sat in bed I found myself standing in front of the computer and refreshing the Facebook page over and over again waiting for a friendship request to magically appear. Two days went by and nothing so I tried to figure out the million reasons why Lucas still hadn’t given any signs of life. I was feeling frustrated when I heard my bedroom door opening. Katherine came in as if she owned the place and threw herself on top of the bed next to me “Still no friend request?” She asked. I kept myself quiet because I knew what she was thinking and to be fair it was my fault because couldn’t keep my mouth shut about Lucas ever since I met him.

“Blah, Blah, Blah… No, I don’t believe in love, that’s not for me, blah, blah, blah…” She said mockingly as if she was decided to do my head in. I attempted to ignore her on the long minutes she kept on talking about how my disbelief in love was a lie and that I was interested in Lucas and so on. I found myself so tired of listening to her that I finally cut her monologue short “Kat, this is not love related, I just…” I stopped for a moment trying to choose the right words, especially because all it took was a single wrong term and she would assume to be right “I just want to get to know him better. He helped me when I was breaking down. I felt comfort and care and he made me laugh! And you know how long it’s been since I’ve actually properly laughed. So I think it’s only normal that I want to be his friend!” Katherine took the computer from my hands, placed her head on my legs, stared at me and caressed my face “Babe, last time I checked usually that’s how love begins” I moved her hand aside feeling slightly annoyed. Why the hell did I opened my big mouth and told her about Lucas? I already knew what to expect! When I was going to reply she got up with a jump dragging my duvet with her onto the floor “Do you know what we are going to do?” I recognized that look. It was the I’ve-got-something-up-my-sleeve look. I’m sure I’m not going to like whatever it is that she has planned “Forget him and lets have a girls night!” I shook my head “I don’t feel like it” She grabbed my arm and tried to pull me out of the bed “C’mon babe! I’m talking about shots, hot guys, meeting new people… C’mon lets have fun!” Kat made a short break “And who knows? You might meet someone” I shook my arm trying to release myself from her grip, rolled my eyes at what she said and replied sarcastically “Of course, because you always meet decent guys in night clubs” Kat sat by my side and let go of my arm “You know that you use sarcasm way too much right? But it doesn’t change the truth, because you barely drink, you don’t go out at night and it’s been two years since you had some action down there. I’m afraid I’ll blink and find that you’ve become a nun!” I breathed deeply and closed my eyes considering whether to go or not but knowing that it was a lost cause because she wouldn’t take a “no” for an answer. I turned questioningly to her “Remind me again… Why am I your friend?”

Katherine laid belly down on the bed, framed her face with her hands and made the cutest expression she could “Because I’m awesome and you love me!” I rolled my eyes and smiled. What she said was true; I did love her and her quirky personality. She was this breath of fresh hair that brought back some of the youth I never truly had. She was fun and had what I considered the good kind of crazy; got to admit Kat was a bit too flashy but she was this lively fountain of vibrant, bubbly good energy. I needed that kind of vitality in my life that was often too focused on the bills that had to be paid, on work and day-to-day problems.

But I believe that her biggest virtue was unknown to most people despite her very active social life. Not many saw her for what she truly was; blinded by the mask of the fun and joyful person she kept on wearing every single day.

Although my best friend was just twenty-one, she was a girl that already had lived far too much and that made her particularly empathetic and attentive to those who surrounded her, making her not only an excellent listener but also a great secret keeper and most definitely a true friend.

She stared at me hopefully "So, are we going?" I breathed deeply while nodding positively "Yes Kat, we're going..." She started jumping happily around the bedroom "You are incredible at leading me astray you know that?" She smiled "I know, that's why you love me" I gave her a light tap on her head as I laughed "I hate you".

Kat opened my bedroom closet and started to check my clothes while she kept on pronouncing "no... no..." in search of what in her perspective would be the perfect outfit for a night out. However I was sure that when she presented me her "faultless" option my response would be "There's no way in hell I'm going out dressed like that".

She took a step back staring at all my clothes, her hands resting on her waist and breathing heavily "I hate your wardrobe babe, it seems like you only have formal attire! It would work if you were some kind of sexy librarian, which you are not. Oh, and if you wore glasses, which you don't... but..." Oh God, I had totally forgotten about that little personality trait of hers, her excessive honesty that could punch you straight in the guts when you least expected it.

Before I could retort she got out of my bedroom heading straight to hers. When she came back she had a black lacey dress with her, she threw the tiny piece of clothing at me at the same time she ordered me to try it on. I held it in my hands certain that she called that a dress but to me it was nothing more than a very very short shirt.

Nonetheless I still wore it and weirdly enough I actually liked to see it on my body. The neckline area landed perfectly on my chest, showing a bit but not too much. The lace sleeves created a gorgeous effect against my skin and most of all, it wasn't as short as I expected it to be. I saw Katherine running in my direction with a pair of black high heels. I coughed trying to find my way out of wearing them "I'm not going to be able to walk with that!" She smiled "Yes, you can" I pushed the shoes away from me while retorting "No, I can't. And if I can't walk I can't dance." She breathed deeply as she shook her head "At least you like to see yourself with the dress, I'll take that as a victory against the nun."

I felt like hitting her because of the tone she used when she called me nun, still I bit my tongue and waited to see which shoes she would try to get me to wear next. The next ones were also black but the heels were thicker and slightly shorter. I put them on and stared at myself in the mirror, Kat behind me was looking proud of her achievement "Now we just need to take care of that hair, put some color on that face and you will be perfect" I shoot her a glare that screamed that I would kill her if it weren't a felony. Which she ignored because she went to grab a brush, the hair straightener and the make up box.

She sat in the bed and made a sign for me to sit in front of her. I stayed there for an hour listening to her complaining about how difficult I was about looking fashionable. On the other hand, although I didn't verbalized it, I kept complaining internally about how annoying she could be.

When Katherine finally finished her "artwork" she directed me to the mirror. My long black hair was wrapped in a thick braid that went from the middle of my head and landed on top of my left breast. Two locks of hair framed my face, my red tinted lips were not overbearing against my white fair skin and my black eyes looked deep and bigger than before. Honestly I didn't recognized myself. The person in the mirror was more beautiful than I ever hoped to be, she had a doll face and a perfect body. Kat moved away from me with pride written all over her face as she observed me from every angle truly enjoying my reaction. The reaction of someone who doesn't believe her own eyes.

"It's not so bad to put yourself in my hands is it?" I couldn't reply to her, I was still staring at the girl in the mirror, unable to believe that was me and I was beautiful. Kat spoke again, this time she was serious, almost as if she wanted me to remember her words forever "You never had good self-esteem, so I want you to know that I did this because I want you to see yourself with my eyes. You are beautiful Hannah, you always were; but you need to love other people less and yourself more" I hugged her feeling a tear threatening to fall in the corner of my eye "Occasionally you say something so right..." However the moment I let these words roll out of my mouth she went back to her old self, making jokes about everything and anything.

Night came and we walked around the several pubs of the city, on the first one I still managed to drink a coffee but on the next ones she kept appearing with jars of sangria, beer and colorful shots. I was already thinking that she wanted me to go into a coma when the two ladies that owned the pub placed four shots in front of us "Well," said one of them "here's a couple more shots on the house" They drank with us and walked away laughing because of our faces when the rough, deeply alcoholic liquid touched our lips. It was like trying to drink fire and I felt my mouth and esophagus in flames.

When we finally left that pub sobriety was starting to slip away, I found myself surprised. Maybe because my inhibitions and fears were fading, I was walking straighter, more sure of myself in each step. I liked it. I liked that version of me.

We entered the club and Katherine went straight to the bar to order something. It was amazing how much she could drink. I pulled a cigarette and I leaned on the wall smoking while I waited for her.

The dance floor was filled with people moving their bodies to the rhythm of the music. Some couples danced, entranced in each others arms, others kissed, glued together to the point that it seemed that what they were doing was something else other than dancing, a mix of teasing and harassment in each move. I found myself smiling when I noticed a guy particularly "excited" when the girl he was with rubbed her bottom against his lower body. The poor thing was really struggling to stay in control.

While I observed my surroundings a guy approached me trying and failing to seem attractive and bonny "Are you by yourself?" He asked smiling and once again trying and failing to be seductive. I stared at him. Two days beard, beer belly and he reeked of sweat. I threw the end of my fag to the floor feeling annoyed. However I smiled sweetly at him "Do you have a fag? This was my last one" That man, not much older than me searched his pockets and pulled a pack, giving me a cigarette and rushing to light it up "You only light it up for whores" I heard Katherine say coldly as she approached us and took the lighter from his hand "are you calling my friend a whore?"

His face seemed to break "I'm sorry that wasn't my intention!" I gave him the lighter back "I know" and walked away with Kat as I saw him go back reluctantly to his group of friends who welcomed him with mockery laughter.

I headed for the dance floor trying my best to keep up with my best friend that raised her arms in the air, dancing to the beat that made the ceiling and walls vibrate. As we swirled around the place I took a glance at the people around us. Most men looked at the girls dancing as if they were choosing which was the easiest prey to hunt and I felt a bitter smile creeping onto my face. What world we live in...

Katherine got close to me and screamed at my ear "Today you're having sex." It wasn't a question, it was a statement. "No, I'm not!" I replied angrily. She stretched her arm in the direction of the people around us "If you don't, at least kiss someone and see how it feels. After that, I'll accept your decision whatever it may be. Do we have a deal?"

I took a deep breath "Just one kiss? Nothing more?" She nodded "All I'm saying is for you to kiss someone and see how you feel about it. If you don't feel confortable while doing it, I'll accept and you can stay the way you want for how long you want it and I wont bother you with the fact that you are a nun anymore. Otherwise, you admit I was right this entire time" I sighted "Just a kiss" I raised my finger and pointed it at her "no more than that!"

I turned and pointed in the direction of a guy near the bar "What do you think of that one?" She shook her head "Not unless you want to find food from 24 hours ago stuck in his teeth" I tried to hide my disgust face and failed miserably "I'm not even going to say anything. How about that one?" I made a sign with my head in the direction of a dark haired man. Kat shook her head again "Kissed that guy before, not something you would like to try" I raised my brow at her "not unless you enjoy the feeling of being licked by bulldog, but that's up to you."

I stared at her not knowing if I wanted to understand what the hell she was talking about. I looked around again "That one?" I pointed at another, she breathed deeply "That one swallows your head and eats you alive, if you enjoy erotic asphyxiation go ahead..." "What?" Kat shook her shoulders "Yah, a kiss from that guy is not just on the lips, he literally eats half you face, lips, nose, everything and then he like, glues his mouth on you so you can't run away and you can't breath either..." I stopped her from talking "Ok, that's enough!" I held my hands in the air begging her to stop "I think I already heard too much and I don't think I'll ever forget the terrible visual you just gave me".

I chose another guy and looked at her waiting on which flaw she would mention this time "Invasive tongue and terrible breath" I stared at her in disbelief "How many guys have you kissed?" Katherine shrugged before responding with ease "From here? A few..."

I had no idea what to reply after she said what she said, so I just kept my mouth shut. I had this massive protective instinct with her and now, for the first time I was truly understanding why people said what they said about her on the streets. Kat suddenly turned me in the direction of a guy in the corner "I can assure you I never kissed that one and by the way he is looking at you is because he finds you interesting. And he's kinda cute..." I stared at her "Kat, he looks like a boy!" She rolled her eyes "It's a kiss so what's the big deal?"

She pushed me in his direction before going back to dancing like nothing was going on. I leaned on the wall next to him and lit another cigarette. The boy fixed is gaze on the floor, trying to avoid giving meaning to the expression "to eat with the eyes". His face was deep red as he tried to stop himself from looking at my cleavage. Finally he turned to me with a panicky expression "Are you really going to stand there?" I felt thrown off "Is there a problem if I stay?" He placed his hand in his chest "There is! I mean, no, but..."

The poor guy was so shaken up by my presence that I couldn't help but smile, this was the first time I saw anybody react like that to me. It was so sweet how shy he was, however I didn't want to make him uncomfortable so I gave him a knowing look and walked away. On the other hand I had a bet with Kat and nobody as shy as him would be able to kiss someone just because he fancied her, if anything it would make it worse. I walked away and leaned against the opposite wall. I watched him breath a couple of times as if to try to steady himself before running towards the toilets. On the dance floor a guy danced with Kat and was saying something on her ear that made her laugh. I was appreciating the fact that she seemed to be having fun when another man approached me with a smile has idiotic as the first guy that talked to me in the club "You know that the guy you just dumped is knocking his head against the bathroom door..." I stared at him "And?" He kept on talking with a smirk on his face, almost as if he was happy and gloating about the boy being that way on the toilets "You did well, he wasn't man enough for you. You need a real man!"

That sentence, the way that he talked about the boy annoyed me to no end. He was so sweet, Why would someone act like that towards someone they don't know? Who was that guy to assume whatever he assumed? A real man? Seriously? Probably that boy was more of a man than that "real man" claimed himself to be!

Got to be honest I have no idea why I did what I did next. I have no idea why I acted the way I acted or what made me do it, but I found myself running my hand trough his chest while I looked teasingly at him "Are you a real man?" He got his mouth close to my ear "I'll make you see stars baby"

A dark smile reached my lips as I felt my eyes burning with a homicidal gaze "No, you won't. You are not half the man that he is".

Luckily or not I saw the boy coming out of the toilets, I rushed in his direction and next thing I knew my lips were on his. He stood still for a few seconds without reaction until he finally kissed me back. When I broke the kiss I held his hand "Want to get out of here?" He waved is head positively because he seemed far too stumped to talk. I pulled him in Kat's direction to ask her if she minded me leaving early, which earned me a know-it-all look and wink. After she assured me that there was no problem we went to pay. On our way out I fixed my gaze on the "real man". He looked angry, his face and neck were red and for the first time I felt good about pissing someone off.

We walked for a long time without talking. The small streets were silent and still, not a sound was heard. I was alone with a guy I never met and that I had kissed just a couple of minutes ago. What the hell was I thinking? Suddenly I noticed how red his forehead was, I moved my hand and reached for it "Does it hurt?" He released an awkward laugh and touched his forehead "This? No, it's nothing..." I stared at him "Anything else that might hurt?" He made a shy smile and gazed at the floor "My dignity perhaps..." We stayed in silence for a bit longer until he spoke again "Why did you..." I cut his sentence short "Why did I kissed you? To save your dignity...".

The hopeful expression he was wearing drained from his face and gave place to a sad one "So you didn't kiss me because you found me interesting..." Oh crap, I hated having to hurt him, but I didn't want to lie either "No, I'm sorry, I kissed you because this guy was humiliating and making fun of you and I just couldn't let it happen" I stopped for a second before continuing "I found your reaction to me to be super sweet. You are such a shy person that I felt that you were one of the few true people in that place." I shrugged "I guess I liked it, so I just couldn't let anyone mock you"

He opened himself in a big bright smile "You are one of those people that just can't help acting when they see any form of injustice in the world, aren't you? So unusual for someone so beautiful to have a heart..."

I blushed at his last sentence. In the mean time he stretched his hand in my direction "Nice to meet you, I'm Ray" I shook is hand as I pronounced my name. He held it and gave it a little peck, almost like a gentleman from the sixties.

Ray walked me home and I found it pleasing to watch him become gradually more comfortable in my presence. At my door he didn't try to give me another kiss, instead he gave me another light peck in my hand and invited me to go to a place called La Grange Cafe and that was almost like his second home.

The moment I went inside my flat I noticed Kat still hadn't arrived, so I sat on my bed and opened my laptop. Maybe Lucas sent a friend request during those couple of hours. I opened the facebook page, had a couple notifications but no friend request. Feeling disappointed I closed the laptop and took the heels off.

When I laid in bed sleep didn't came, instead my thoughts wandered trough the events of the day and how that one kiss felt like cheating although I had been single for two years and Lucas.

I came to the realization that Lucas was probably one of those people that plays one major role in the play that's life without ever participating in it again. Those small words and actions that cause the butterfly effect in order to move the story forward but nothing more than that. If that was the case, it would probably be better to just remember him without hoping for a friendship to be born.

He played his role"I said to myself before drifting into sleep...

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