The soft, warm summer breeze caressed her hair as she walked towards the ice-cream parlour. It was around three p.m. and the city was quiet. The only sound one could hear on the street was of Macaria humming a song she had just made up. It was a beautiful melody but of course, she would forget it later. Just like she forgot all the others. She entered the ice-cream parlour and then walked towards the long queue. It seemed like the parlour was the liveliest place in the city today. There were people chattering, laughing and most importantly, eating their favourite dessert. It was her favourite too. She scanned the menu and tried to decide what to order. Though, instead of a flavour name, her eyes met up with another’s. It was a man or a boy? He was definitely her age. His eyes were light brown, so faded that she could see herself in them but not enough for them to be of any other colour. They were still deep though and his unkempt raven hair, which looked like it, was styled to perfection, at the same time. Macaria noticed how his lips twitched and then formed a smile. She also observed that the smile made him look strikingly handsome. She smiled back. He stood right in front of her and then who knows if it was the dull atmosphere outside that made her try to make it a bit brighter or the optimistic ambience in the parlour that she looked straight at him and used the only not-so-cheesy pick-up line she knew,
“Hi! I’m writing a phone book, can I have your number and your name?” Fucking hell! What did she just do?
He smirked at her and replied, “Only if you will tell me yours.”
Tiern was amused. No other girl ever approached him in a public place or let’s just say ‘a family-friendly’ place.
Macaria paused for a while; her mind ran in all different directions. They could become good friends. For all she knew, this could be the last time she would see him.
Then, she beamed at him.
“My name’s Eviette.” Macaria lied.
“That’s a beautiful name. My name’s Rance.” Tiern lied.
There was a shared understanding between them. None of them pressed on the names. Tiern opened his mouth to speak but was cut off by the man behind the counter. His tag read Brian.
“What flavor would you like?”
“Vanilla in a cone. Thank you.”
Macaria looked at him with a face that said that his selection was absurd to her.
“Interesting choice.” she said.
He chuckled and asked, “Why?”
“It’s just so plain. There are so many different flavors out there.” She answered.
“I never actually tried anything other than vanilla. I had strawberry once but that’s it.” Tiern said and stepped aside.
“What flavor would you like?” Brian asked.
“I would like rose today.”
“Good choice.” Brian said. Macaria looked at Tiern with a smug face. Tiern smiled. She started walking towards him and then suddenly, the floor was slippery, her body lost its balance and THUMP! She fell on Tiern and a human-ice-cream sandwich happened.
Both of their cones dropped in between their chests and it was a complete rose and vanilla mess. Macaria was mortified, she was never this clumsy!
“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck! I…I am so sorry!” she fumbled and cursed while getting up. Tiern got up too and Brian, gave the two some tissues.
The once loud parlor was now quiet and all eyes were on them. Macaria wanted to hide in a corner and never face anyone again. Tiern wouldn’t have that!
There was a snicker first, then giggles and then finally, loud and clear laughter. His laugh was melody to Macaria’s ears and soon she joined in too. Some of the other people tittered or looked at them with amusement but most of them went back to whatever they were doing.
“Did I break something?” Macaria asked.
“Break something? What do you mean?”
“I mean, are all of your bones intact?” she clarified.
“Of course! You aren’t heavy.” He exclaimed surprised.
“Eviette, you can lie on top of me whenever you want.” Tiern paused “Oh! And save the fucks for then.” He winked.
Macaria tried hard to stop herself from smiling or blushing. This guy was dirty!
“I like the invitation. I will see if I can accept it or not, Rance.” She spoke and winked back. God knows how she summoned up the courage to say or do that!
Trying to hide her disbelief, Macaria turned around and sauntered back to the queue. Tiern just stared at her- she was beautiful!
They both had a mixture of pink and white ice cream on their t-shirts and their necks. Yet, she went back to the line. This girl sure did love her ice cream! But the point was that somehow the ice cream looked even more delicious on her rather than on the cone. He needed to stop thinking vile things about a stranger. He was definitely being rude.
“Rance!” She called. Her voice made him feel tingles all over his body.
He was already looking at her. She probably realized that too because a blush creeped on to her cheeks from her neck and turned her skin color into a beautiful mixture of red and pink.
“I will buy you an ice cream.” She declared regaining composure.
Tiern’s eyebrows shot up. “Very well. Which one?”
“The one you were having before?”
“Yup. It’s delicious and-”
“It’s a gift from you for me.” He said cutting her off.
“You could put it that way.”
The two of them ordered their dessert and walked out of the shop. There was a bench right outside and the pair took a seat.
“How is it?” Macaria asked.
“Delicious.” He didn’t if he was talking about Macaria or the ice cream. Either way, she was pleased.
She smiled, satisfied with herself.
“You are still a tomato.” Tiern remarked. Why couldn’t he keep his mouth shut!
“Huh?” Macaria knew exactly what he meant and she couldn’t do anything to stop it.
“You blush like a tomato.” The blush deepened. This was embarrassing.
“Well, my comment isn’t helping. Is it? Eviette, let’s have tomato ice cream next!”
“That’s not a flavor.” Macaria finally spoke in a deadpan voice.
“You know a lot about ice cream?”
“Even a 5 year old would know that Rance. I guess you just have a really bad choice when it comes to food. Why the fuck would you add tomatoes to an ice cream?”
“Tomato is technically a fruit.”
“Why don’t you show me some better flavors then?”
“You know what? Maybe I will.”
Before Tiern could reply, a loud shriek echoed on the streets and suddenly he was engulfed into a hug. It was a woman. A stunning woman, Macaria noticed.
“Give us a second.” Tiern told Macaria and took the intruder away from the bench. Macaria sat on the bench and waited. She tried not to stare or even glimpse at Rance and the woman’s direction. Though, she couldn’t contain herself. The woman seemed really happy to meet him and well he…he was smiling too. There was no physical contact, so they obviously weren’t dating and he wasn’t a cheating asshole. But would just flirting or having an ice cream with another woman be considered cheating? The woman looked like she really liked him. After what felt like an eternity, they came back.
“I am sorry, I had to take Clea away like that.” Tiern apologized.
“Nah! It’s okay.” He obviously had no obligation towards her. They were practically strangers. Right?
“Hi! Myself Eviette.” Macaria introduced herself to the woman, going ahead with the fake name.
“Hey Eviette! Myself Clea. It is so nice to meet you! I will have to leave now. I am really sorry. I hope we will meet again in the future. Maybe you could bring her? See you.” She said without any pauses, nudged at Tiern and waved goodbye.
“See ya.” Macaria and Tiern waved back.
Macaria gobbled the last bite of her ice cream and looked at Tiern’s hand. He still had a lot remaining.
“I am just really slow at this.” He shrugged and sat on the other side of the bench.
“Was she your friend? She liked you.” Macaria asked, pretending to be uninterested.
“An ex turned friend. She is engaged now.” Tiern spoke in a non-chalant tone as well.
“Aah! Poor you! You must have so many ex-girlfriends. G…girls must flock around you.” She whispered the last part to herself.
“Not really! She is the only ex I have.” He chuckled and laughed when Macaria’s eyes flew wide open.
“That is unexpected. Why?”
“Why? Never really liked someone that much.”
“You didn’t give it a try?”
“I tried with Clea. Unfortunately, I couldn’t love her the way she loved me. So, we broke up. Never really understood love and look! After our break-up, she is engaged and happy now.”
“Never understood love? I see.”
“What about you?” he asked, his eyes stared at her with interest. He didn’t know why he was so curious about Eviette or why he wanted to listen to her voice, over and over.
Noticing the stare yet again, Macaria looked away.
“I…I have always met assholes and I have never been a perfect girlfriend myself. Also, all of my relationships were mostly l…long-distance. I believe in love and I think I understand it. I have always w…wondered what it feels to like to have someone close to you-” She paused for a while. “I mean, physically. And not the sex but the cuddles, kisses and hugs. I just want to experience something like that.”
“You stutter when you are sad. Don’t you?”
She looked at him with disbelief. “How did you know?”
“Cause you never stuttered earlier when we talked about ice cream. I kinda realized. I am smart.”
“I guess.” She smiled.
“Eviette, why were all your relationships long distance?” Tiern asked.
“It’s just been that way. Luck? I am leaving this city in three weeks as well and all my friendships here would be long-distance too. All my friends left for uni anyways. I mean it’s not a big deal. Three weeks of alone time!” Macaria chuckled and Tiern’s eyes lit up like he just had the most wonderful idea ever.
“Where are you going in three weeks?”
“To university, Germany. Why?”
“Oh! I am leaving in three weeks too… for California. College as well.”
“That’s nice, Rance. I wish you luck.”
“I have an idea.” He looked excited.
“How many ice cream flavors do you know?”
“What? I don’t know? Many?”
“Number! Eviette.” He said shaking his head at her.
“I never counted.”
“Fine! Is it more than twenty-one?”
“You guess a lot. This is important.”
“More than twenty-one? Yeah.” She was definitely intrigued.
“Okay then, Eviette! I have a deal for you.”
“A deal?” She giggled. “That’s funny.” She said.
Tiern mocked hurt. “Listen, at least.”
“Okay! Go ahead.”
“Be my girlfriend for twenty-one days. No sex and I will let you cuddle, hug and kiss. But, every day, we will meet and you will take me to eat a different ice cream flavor. It will be on me.”
“I don’t know. This is bizarre.” What did she have to lose?
“Common, I am good looking and intelligent and of course, a gentleman.”
She laughed. “A gentleman wouldn’t say that.”
Tiern got up and sat closer to her and then started sliding towards her. Near her. Nearer. Until there was just a thin sheet of air separating them. Then he leaned in and whispered, “Give it a try.”
Macaria lost all cool for a second and suddenly all that she could hear was her own heartbeat. They were like loud-ass drums right outside her ears and she couldn’t think straight.
The wind was warm yet she was shivering right now because his breaths were leaving tingles on her skin, wherever they touched. He was still right there, looking straight through her. Why was she the only one fazed?
“Yes?” He asked, still sitting right next to her.
“Yes.” She said and got up. He was sitting too close. He laughed.
“Give me your phone.” Tiern said. Macaria handed it over. Tiern dialed some numbers, called his own mobile phone and smiled.
“Here! Now that we are dating, we should have each other’s phone number and weren’t you going to write a phonebook anyways?”
Macaria was still in shock. What did she agree to?
“What? No! I mean, yea. I will have to go now. My dad is leaving for a work trip today. I have to see him off.”
“Sure! I will see you tomorrow! Meet me here at four?”
“Four sounds good.” Macaria replied and finally processed everything that was happening.
“We are having ice cream tomorrow, don’t forget! The flavor would be your choice.” He said.
“Yes! Twenty-one flavors. Twenty-one days. Definitely.” Why not?
“I will have to go now. I will see you tomorrow!” She said and turned to leave.
“Good bye, Eviette.” Tiern said.
She paused. “Rance!” She called.
“So… we are dating now? You’re my boyfriend?”
“I mean you agreed to it.”
“I did. Did I tell you this? You are cute.” She said, kissed him on the cheek and then quickly walked away.
He watched her as she strolled away. On one hand, it felt like he was just greeted with thunder and on the other, it was as if someone just poured a bucket full of roses and warm milk on him. He liked her.
Macaria reached home and hugged her father good-bye. He never stayed at home anyways. And in three weeks, this would no longer be her home. Later, she opened her phone to check for any messages from her friends. It was on every social media website. Everyone was talking about some man who was caught for training and hiring young assassins and he was residing in the city Macaria lived in. Marc Dwindler. She read it aloud. It didn’t matter. She told her best friends about Tiern and messaged him a goodnight. He replied back ‘Goodnight princess’, almost instantly.
She slept with a smile on her face.