Iced Black Coffee

*I imagined this being told from a male’s perspective, but you can imagine it however you want*

It was Wednesday, October 31, 2013, when I saw her. She was beyond beautiful, angelic in every sense of the word. When she walked in, it’s like everyone couldn’t help but turn her way, and I was the poor soul who had to walk behind her. She had beautiful skin that resembled the richest, smoothest milk chocolate bar out there; that’s the best way I can describe it. Her hair was long and voluminous and curly and the most gorgeous hair I’ve ever seen a woman have. I hope that makes sense; you would think I was good at describing people, being a writer and all.

It was Halloween, and for the first time since moving to a too tiny to function town, I finally left my apartment; I’m so happy I did. A couple of weeks ago, I moved to a small town in Colorado because of a job relocation. After writing a couple of awarding-winning novels, I got some intense writer’s block. Four years later, I was still struggling with starting a new novel, so I moved in hopes of gaining inspiration. However, with all the weird stares I was getting, I wasn’t sure if a tiny town was the right choice for escape. Everywhere I went, the stares continued, so I stopped going places and stayed in my apartment while I sulked. After getting a “pep talk” from my younger brother, which mainly consisted of him telling me how amazing his life was as a married man living in a mansion, I decided to leave the apartment; it was the perfect way to get that idiot to shut up.

When I think about it, if it wasn’t for my annoying little brother, I wouldn’t be standing behind this beautiful woman. Fate made this happen; it was my first time in the coffee shop, and I just so happened to run into a woman who, I knew for sure, was my soulmate. It wasn’t a coincidence; it was fate.

I stood behind the beautiful woman as we waited to order our coffee. Not to sound like one of the many creeps in the world, I got a whiff of her hair, and it smelled tropical. It smelled like one of those candles at Bath & Body Works that you can’t stop smelling because it’s pretty much addicting. Yeah, that’s what her hair smelled like.

“Hi, welcome to Dougie’s Creams. What can I get for you today? We’re having a special on our spooky strawberry chocolate frappe,” the barista said to the 8th Wonder standing in front of me. Did I really walk into a coffee shop called “Dougie’s Creams?” I thought to myself.

Before the girl whose name I still didn’t know could answer, another employee in the coffee shop yelled, “You know what she wants Mary! Already working on it!” So she’s well known around here? Must be a native. Perfect.

The wonderful woman in front of me melodically giggled before stepping to the side to let me order. I didn’t know I was staring until the barista behind the cash register, Mary I think her name was, cleared her throat to get my attention. I didn’t know what to order, so I just told her to give me whatever her favorite drink was. When I turned to look at where the beauty was standing, she was gone, and I was left holding a drink with more caramel than coffee and thinking about the girl with the addicting tropical hair.

∞∞∞

A few days later, I went back to Dougie’s Creams. Before my mind became preoccupied with thoughts of my mysterious beauty, I took time to take in every detail of the coffee shop. It had a very calming and welcoming atmosphere; each wall had a different wallpaper pattern and a beautiful assortment of abstract art. The workers wore very casual clothing, which somehow managed to ease the already tranquil atmosphere. The furniture and its arrangement were super eclectic; there was only one kind of every table, chair, and couch. When I went on Halloween, I found the perfect spot for me to work on my novel. It was in the back of the restaurant, too close to the restrooms to be comfortable. When I sat in the seat, I realized what a great view it provided of the coffee shop. I could see everything that happened inside Dougie’s and could see everything that happened outside of Dougie’s since I was facing the only large window. A lot of people avoided that seat because of its proximity to the restrooms, but once you get over the occasional smell of people pooping their intestines, you realize what a hidden gem it is.

Anyway, as I was saying, I returned to the coffee shop a few days later. Not knowing what to order, I let the barista pick what I would drink again. Mary was in the back making the drinks, so I knew I was in for a different treat. After a couple of hours of brainstorming and finally creating some sort of concept for my next novel, I heard the gentle ring of the entrance door’s bell and looked up to see my mystery beauty walking in; well, I saw the back of her.

“Hey Dani,” she said to the barista as she approached the front counter. She leaned into the barista with the most comfortable stance I’d ever seen. Nonchalance and genuine confidence eased from her.

“Hey, girl. It’s starting to snow outside. Do you still want your usual?” Dani asked with some cheer in her voice. The only thing that sucked about this hidden gem of a seat was I couldn’t see the faces of people when they walked to the front counter. I could only hear voices.

“Of course. When will I ever not order iced black coffee?” mystery beauty said in a duh tone.

“Alright, well, your total is 2.57, but I know you already knew that.”

∞∞∞

I kept going to Dougie’s every day after that. My main purpose for constantly going was it helped my writer’s block, but a part of me also looked forward to anytime I saw my mystery beauty. Not to sound like a creep, but I kind of figured out her routine. She comes in every day between 9 am and 10 am when either Dani or Mary are working; mystery beauty knows them very well, but for the sake of doing her job right, Mary still asks mystery beauty what she wants when Dani simply tells her the total. Her usual order is iced black coffee, and when she wants to shake things up a bit, she’ll order a decaf iced black coffee.

One time, she went on a morning date with some guy. For some reason, part of me felt a little hurt, almost betrayed. They sat across from me in the coffee shop so I couldn’t hear their conversation that well. However, I only heard her laugh once, which was more of a chuckle than a genuine laugh, and if a girl only laughs once when you’re on a date, you’re not doing it right. I bet I could have her laughing her head off was my thoughtThey were only in the coffee shop for forty-five minutes.

As they were walking by the window to Dougie’s, an angry little woman stopped them. Every part of her exposed skin was fiery red. I wasn’t sure what exactly was going down; from the woman yelling and pointing to the rings on her marriage finger to the male idiot looking embarrassed and begging, I could assume that piece of crap got caught trying to cheat on his wife. The little woman directed her attention to mystery beauty after letting it rip on the idiot, and I wanted to be out there to defend mystery beauty. The little woman only got one sentence out before mystery beauty said something that made the idiot and his wife go completely pale in shock. Mystery beauty walked away before they could respond, and after regaining a sense of reality, the little woman continued yelling at the idiot as they walked in the opposite direction.

∞∞∞

An entire month had gone by before I decided to talk to mystery beauty. I think fate was on my side again.

On this particular morning, I was running late to the coffee shop and ended up behind mystery beauty in line again. It was like deja vu, except she had a little girl with her this time. The back of the little girl looked to be a mini version of mystery beauty. She had the same milk chocolate Hershey’s bar skin and the same voluminous hair, except it was pulled back in a ponytail.

When they got to the counter to order, Dani was already in the back working on mystery beauty’s usual. As Mary tried ringing up mystery beauty’s order, the little girl kept pulling mystery beauty’s hand and begging for one of the shop’s cake pops, which are really good by the way. Mystery beauty kept telling the little girl no, and after several tries, the little girl started crying. Surprisingly, it wasn’t loud crying or any kind of tantrum; there were just little sniffles as tears streamed down her face and eventually landed in a little puddle on the floor.

Mystery beauty and the little girl walked away when her drink was ready. As per my usual routine, I let Mary pick my drink and charge me for it. Sometimes I got really amazing drinks, and sometimes my drinks tasted like they were leftovers from the trash; it depended on Mary’s mood. On this particular day, I also ordered three of the cake pops the little girl was pleading for.

After getting my order, I made my way to my usual seat by the restroom. When I turned the small corner that separated my work table from the cash register, I stopped when I saw mystery beauty and the little girl sitting at my usual table. I would have been mad if I weren’t completely entranced by the beauty of mystery beauty. It was my first time seeing her face, and I immediately knew I was a goner. She had the most captivating hazel eyes I had ever seen a human have, and her lips naturally puckered whenever she wasn’t speaking. I could tell her eyebrows were in their natural, beautifully unkept state; there wasn’t a trace of makeup on her face, yet she was glowing. She smiled at something the little girl said, and it took my breath away. Her too-high-to-be-real cheekbones brightened her face even more, and the faintest dimple appeared. This is what I had been missing since that fateful Halloween night.

I don’t know how long I stood staring before my feet started moving again; thank the good Lord above I didn’t get caught staring because that would’ve been awkward. I stood by the side of the table and cleared my throat. “Excuse me,” I said, not sure how to go about this. Mystery beauty looked up, and I almost passed out. “You’re in my seat.” Way to sound like a jerk, I thought to myself.

Mystery beauty only smiled. “I know. I see you every time I come in here.” That wasn’t what I expected to hear; I was fully prepared to have a small argument. “I saw you weren’t here when I walked in today and took advantage of the opportunity to sit here.”

“Well, do you mind if I pull up a chair and join you? I have cake pops.” I directed my attention to the mini-mystery beauty, who had dark brown eyes, unlike mystery beauty. Her head was rapidly bobbing up and down as her eyes looked between me and the bag; I was worried her head would fall off if I didn’t hand over the bag soon.

“So what’s your name?” mystery beauty asked when I sat down in the chair I took from another table.

“Rod, short for Rodger, but I prefer Rod. What about you?” I silently prayed I sounded calm because my heart felt like it was about to beat out of my chest.

“Laney, short for Delaney, but I prefer Laney. This little cutie is Lynde, my daughter,” Laney said as she looked at the little girl swallow the second cake pop. I intended on each of us having one, but I just let Lynde do her own thing.

“Does Lynde’s dad mind if I sit with both of you?” This was my subtle way of asking if Laney was married.

“I don’t really know who he is, so I’m sure he doesn’t mind.” I raised my eyebrow in question, so Laney explained further. “I was inseminated, and before you ask why like most people do, I didn’t want to wait on eventually meeting a man to have a kid. I wanted one, and now I have my little Lynde.”

“I wasn’t going to ask why you were inseminated.” That was the truth. I respect any woman’s decision when it comes to her body, whether it be abortion or insemination or getting her uterus removed.

Laney grew quiet as she looked anywhere but at me. The rumble of Lynde’s stomach brought Laney’s attention back to the table. “You okay baby?” Laney asked with motherly concern. She’s gorgeous.

“Yeah, I’m just full.” We all got quiet again.

After a few minutes of watching Lynde’s try to entertain herself, Laney was the one to speak. “So what do you do to be sitting in a coffee shop every day? Surely you have a job. Are you a private investigator?”

“No, unfortunately. I’m an author.” Laney nodded in understanding. “What about you? You must have a job to afford all the coffee you drink.”

“I work part-time as a tutor for some of the wealthier families in the area.”

“What do you do the other part of the time?”

“Sketch. I try to do things that give me flexible hours. Lynde is only in kindergarten, and I don’t feel comfortable with her riding the bus yet. I try to be there five minutes before school lets out to pick her up.”

“What kind of sketches do you do?” I asked, genuinely interested. Laney’s face lit up as she delved into a story about how she got started sketching. Conversation flowed from there; before we knew it, the coffee shop owner was kicking us out so he could close up shop.

That fateful day in the coffee shop was the start of an amazing forever.

∞∞∞

It’s been five years, ten months, and twelve days since my beautiful wife and I met at Dougie’s Creams. Laney and I got married three years ago. Fortunately, Laney’s family warmly accepted me. Very few people are fond of interracial relationships, but seeing that Laney’s dad is German and Laney’s mom is African American, they immediately accepted our relationship. My family, on the other hand, didn’t fully accept Laney until the day of our wedding when they realized there was no going back. The love between Laney and I is an infinite love, and my mom said she finally realized that when she saw me crying with joy as I watched Laney and Lynde walk down the aisle.

Now Laney is nine months pregnant. The doctor said she could give birth any minute now. We’ve been blessed with twins, a boy and a girl, and the names we decided on are

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