Chapter 8

Written by: Hemali Ajmera

We reach the café across the road. While Lucinda sits down at an empty table, I go straight to the counter to order my coffee. I am still an old fashioned guy - not yet taken in by the gender equality jargon. I like to open doors for women, pull back their chairs and pay for their meals. But I am so angry right now, I refuse to buy coffee for Lucinda. 

The lad at the counter says he is going to brew a fresh batch so I pay for one coffee and choose a corner table on the other side of the room. I am amused to see Lucinda’s exasperated expression.   

Just an hour ago my life was kinda sorted, minus my crippled Viper. I had hoped to get fully reimbursed, plus a profuse apology from the offender. But dimwit Donna and foxy Lucinda turned everything upside down. Restorative justice, my foot!!

Oh no! Lucinda is getting up from her seat and coming towards me. She asks if she can share the table. I don’t respond. 

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I bungled up once again! After all these years providence had given me a chance, albeit a blighted one, to connect with Barry. But what did I do? Play the victim card once again, just like I had many years ago. Pretending to be Maddy, I had indulged in a juvenile game with Barry. I played hard to get, refusing his overtures to make a serious commitment. And then when he dumped Maddy (actually me) out of frustration, I cried foul. I switched over to the role of a protective older twin whose younger sibling was jilted by an inconsiderate, demanding boyfriend. I guilt-tripped him into believing that it was his betrayal that had hurled Maddy towards drugs. In reality it was Maddy’s love for adventure and experimentation that led her to druggie hell and back to rehab. Much later I really felt the pain of losing someone special. 

                                                                       ***********            

The counter guy signals that coffee is ready. 

Before I can react, Lucinda gets up and walks to the counter. She whispers something to the counter guy and with a toothy grin he hands her a tray with two white mugs of steaming coffee. 

She hands me a mug. I take it and mumble thanks. She smiles and for the first time I look deeply into her eyes. Her resemblance to Maddy is uncanny – the same bright eyes, radiant smile and quivering rosy lips that I had passionately kissed at the Drive-In.

I avert my gaze and take a sip of my coffee.  For a few years I drank it black because Maddy liked it black. But my natural preference was always sweet and black. I reach for the sugar. 

“I am the sweetness in your coffee,” Lucinda whispers placing her hand on mine.  

That word! How does she know the secret endearment that Maddy and I shared? 

My heart skips a beat as I recognise a familiar twinkle in Lucinda’s eyes.

Comments

Romancing with a touch is such a provocative game to play. What is real and what is a game here is great.
You did a remarkable job of clearing up how she was going to reveal that she was Maddy while keeping Lucinda in the story in a realistic way. That was no easy thing to pull off yet it didn't feel contrived or pushed in any way. Congratulations Hemali.