ACTUALLY YOU

Stillness

Melissa

”You are spacing out again. What is wrong with you? ” Jessicas annoyed voice snapped me out of my daze.

”Sorry, what did you say? ” I looked at her, confused.

Lately, I found a new hobby, which is spacing out. No matter how much I tried to focus, my mind would always wander back to one particular person. It has been two days since I ran into Max, and not once had he left my thoughts.

Whenever I think of him, my heart accelerates and my face hot. I would find myself smiling like someone who has gone mad.

Maybe, it was his good looks? The looks it was, especially the eyes.

Or maybe, he was my crush. My thoughts again wandered back to two days ago, in the town square.

¨Melissa, My name is Melissa.¨ I answered with a smile of my own.

¨Melissa.¨ He said, testing the name on his tongue, and I liked the sound of it.

Extending a hand to me, he said with a Cheshire grin, igniting my heart.

¨Well, Melissa, nice to meet you.¨ I accepted the handshake.

¨Nice to meet you too, Max.¨ His hands were huge, engulfing the tiny ones that I only notice now.

I have shaken many hands, but this one felt different. The warmth, the roughness, and the strength felt just right. For once in my life, I felt secure.

Our little chatter came to an end when he received a call. I smiled again, unknowingly remembering his last words.

”I have to leave, unfortunately. Need to sort some things. ” He said in a regrettable tone. ”Want a ride? ” He asked, looking at me. I was surprised by his offer but waved my hands at him.

”Thanks for the offer, but I am waiting for Bibi. ” I politely declined to which he raised a brow, probably wondering who Bibi was.

”And anyway, why should I accept a strangers offer? You might be from the mafia for all I know. ” I quirked my eyebrow, crossing my arms across my chest, earning yet another melodic laughter from him.

”A handsome Mafia boss. ” he winked with a smirk.

”Cocky much, ” I commented with a light chuckle.

”Self-love, its called. ” he corrected, making me scoff.

”Well, it was nice meeting you, Melissa. ” As I watched him walk away, I could not help but sigh, wondering if we were ever going to cross paths again.

Before he could walk further, Max stopped and turned to me. His hands were tucked in his pocket, looking like a bad boy ready to hit on a good girl, with his hair being ruffled by the wind.

”You said the first meeting is considered an accident, the second meeting a coincidence? ” It was more of a statement than a question, and I could not help but wonder why he suddenly asked that question.

”Yeah… ” I answered hesitantly, not knowing what he was driving at.

”Then what about a third meeting? Fate? ” He asked, and my heart picking a beat.

”Yeah, I guess so. ” That is how he left. Leaving me behind, with my heart thumping, butterflies in my stomach, and my face flushed.

Since then, I have had this feeling the rush of excitement in my blood. I have been in a whirlwind that I would get dizzy. The way he looked at me seemed to burn through my skin.

His eyes held mischief and charm, and I had this gut feeling telling me that it wasn going to be the last time meeting him.

”You are doing it again. ” the sound of Jessica huffing snapped me again from my daydream, only to see her glaring at me.

I smiled meekly, giving her my best puppy eyes. Jessica was of the same height as me, with a voluptuous body for a twenty years lady, light skin, and short hair dyed the same colour as mine.

One look and one will notice that her body and skin colour were not natural. Her natural skin was dark, that was until she hit puberty.

”Can you please fill in for me for a sec? I will be right back. ” She said, holding her silver tray at me.

”Only a sec? Yeah, I believe you. ” I sarcastically said, rolling my eyes and leaning against the counter.

”Oh, come on, Mel. I promise that I will take less time this time. ” She begged, pouting her dark lips.

One of the side effects of the medicine she took was that it did not cover the whole body.

Like her armpits, knees, lips, and knuckles still had traces of her natural skin.

”No can do, Jessica. This is the fifth time you are requesting the same favour. You are getting used to this, and it has to stop. ” I vehemently refused.

I knew that a few seconds of hers was going to turn to minutes and hours even.

”I promise that this will be the last one. I know I asked you a couple of times, but please, I beg you. You are on your timely break while I am not. Steven is waiting for me at the back, and I need to see him. ” She paused before continuing,

”You of all people should know my circumstances. This is the only way for us to meet, and you know it. ”

I had to curse internally for always making an exception for her whenever she mentioned Steven.

I think she also knew my soft spot was the relationship between her and Steven. Steven is Jessicas boyfriend. The one that her parents do not approve of one little bit.

I like Steve because he always brings out the best in Jessica. He is kind, funny, and upright.

”Please, don use Steven to get what you want. ”

”Never, I am just telling the truth. Please, Mell, pretty please. ” She pleaded, lips pouted and eye blinking like a child.

”No! ” I decided to stand my ground.

”Please. ”

”No! ”

”Pretty please. ”

”Candy? ”

”No! ”

”Wine ”

”No! ”

”Hot dog? ”

”No. ”

”Chocolate? ”

”Yes, ” I said, without thinking, instantly regretting it.

”You… ” I gritted my teeth, sending her a glare, to which she only laughed in victory.

”No, Melisa, no going back on your word, here. ” she waved her finger in my face, stuffing the tray in my hands.

”Hey! ” I shouted, but she was already running away, disappearing at the back.

Taking in a deep sigh, I looked around the café I was working at part-time.

It was located at the middle of the townlet, a marquee overlooking the stone lions. Around the edges were food vendors, giving the middle off-market atmosphere. Inside, it was open-air, a sort of covered patio with tables a respectful distance apart.

”Hey, Mel. ” I turned around when I heard my name being called, only to find it was the chef, Carl.

”Yes, carl? ”

”We have a customer at table 19. ” Thats all I needed to hear before tying my gold-ish apron, picking up the notebook and pen, and heading towards table 19.

It was June, and the weather was cold, which was understandable for someone to come to a coffee shop at noon. Especially the customer on table 19, as he was dressed heavily. All in black.

Black sweater, black Marvin, and gloves. I wondered if he was wearing a mask or something. I chuckled at my ridiculous thought as I stopped just in front of him.

My eyes strained on the notebook on my hand, ready to scribble down his order.

”Welcome to Winters coffee shop. Can I get your order, sir? ”

”Yes, Double shot of espresso, please. ” The customer replied, and I scribbled it down.

”Right away, sir, ” I smiled and turned to leave but froze in my spot.

That voice…There is no way for the customer to sound the same as…Taking two steps back, I whirled around only to face the shock of my life.

”Hello, beautiful. ” came his low deep baritone voice, a smirk that brought out a sense of mischief, of innocent fun on his lips.

I swear, I would have thought I was hallucinating, but there was no way. He was real.

”Haze? ” I asked, still in a state of stupefaction.

”Haze? ” He questioned, narrowing his eyes at me.

”I mean, Max, hi Max. ” I corrected myself quickly, realizing that I slipped on giving out his nickname.

”Ouch, I am hurt that you did not remember my name at first. ” He said, faking pain, with his hand on his chest.

I was confused at first but realized that he was talking about me calling him Haze. Did he think that I had forgotten his name?

Boy, you are always in my thoughts.

”You did not call me by name. ” I pointed out, trying to prove my point.

¨I called you beautiful.¨ He countered back, and I had to agree that he was good with his remarks.

¨Men call girls sweet names when they forget their names.¨ And I was as good.

¨Wrong, I find you beautiful, just like your lovely name, Melissa.¨ I gave a light laugh, knowing that he got me this time.

¨Double shot of espresso, then.¨ Feeling bashful and nervous, I tried to compose myself by returning to my professionalism.

¨Why? running away already?¨

¨Only doing what brought me here. Which is work, and you should also do what got you here, drinking your coffee.¨ I said, trying to look as unaffected by his word as I could. The last thing I wanted was for him to think I am an easy-going type of girl.

¨Make it hot then.¨ Max spoke, leaning back to his seat, his fingers tapping the table rhythmically. Rolling my eyes, I said.

¨It has to be,¨ pointing outside, I added, ¨It is cold.¨

¨You are hot.¨ he mumbled but did not hear clearly.

¨What?¨

¨I said, you are right. It is cold. That is why I need my order hot.¨ The way he was saying hot made it sound like he meant something different.

I could have sworn that I heard him say, I am hot.

Probably overthinking.

Shaking my head to get rid of the absurd thoughts, I gave him a tight smile.

¨Right away, sir.¨, and walked away, not after turning around to see him checking me out.

¨Just the same as the other men.¨ I mumbled, approaching the counter.

A few minutes later, I was back with his order. Placing it carefully on the table in front of him, I stood upright with a smile.

¨Anything else, sir?¨ As much as I wanted to address him with his name, or the nickname I got for him, I could not do it for obvious reasons.

As much as I felt an attraction towards him, it did not mean that I would bend my rules for him. He got the looks of a prince charming, but I could sense the playboy in him.

¨Can I get your company?¨ I should have expected that.

¨I am sure my company is not on the menu.¨ I answered, faking a frown to which he chuckled lowly.

¨Can there be no exception?¨

¨I am afraid not,¨

One, being my working hours and him being the customer, and two, afraid that I might get carried away and think we could be friends when it was written clearly on his face that he was looking more than that.

¨Then am I allowed getting your number? After all, it is our third meeting. And if I remember correctly, you said the third meeting to be considered…?¨

On hearing his words, my mind drifted two days before at the city square.

¨No, no number in the second meeting or no, I can hit on you?¨ He had asked.

”Then what about a third meeting? Fate? ”

¨Yeah, I guess so. ” I had replied.

¨Fate.¨ His voice broke my train of thought.

¨I never said it was fate.¨ I stated as he quirked an eyebrow questioningly. ¨They were not words spoken from my mouth.¨ I added.

¨We tend to not say what we want, Melissa,¨ came his astute words.

¨Like right now, what do you want to say, beautiful?¨ His words were alluring, coaxing me with his charm so I would fall into his trap, but I was not like the other.

I was eighteen years old, with a mind of a businesswoman.

Working with Mrs Harita did help a lot in handling such artifice words.

¨I..I… want,¨ I faked a stammer, wanting him to think that I did not notice the trap.

¨ I would like to say that your coffee is getting cold, and you should probably drink it.¨ Max looked shocked for a moment, totally not expecting the turn of events, and I could not help but applaud myself internally.

¨Smart,¨ He grinned before adding, ¨I am getting your number, though?¨

¨Of course, I do not go back on my words.¨ I replied, and instantly, he removed his expensive phone from his pocket, swept it to unlock it, and then handed it over to me.

I was about to take it when I retracted my hands deep in thought, making him confused.

¨You said a while ago that you do not go back on your promise, no?¨ He questioned, looking at me curiously.

¨I did, and I am not going back on my word. I remembered saying you would get my number in our third meeting but not from me. Personally.¨ I explained, fighting the urge to smile, seeing his shocked expression.

It was priceless.

He was wrong to think that he was the only one who could play with words.

¨What? I do not understand what you are trying to say.¨

¨I think there is nothing difficult to understand about what I just said. Do you want my number? Okay, but not from me.¨

¨How am I even going to do that?¨ Folding my arms across the chest, I took a deep breath and said calmly.

¨I guess we only need to see if you are man enough to get it. Enjoy your mean, Max.¨ With that, I trod back to the counter, this time not sparing him a glance but with a wide smile on my face, feeling giddy and all.

Damn, what kind of game was I playing?________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Just to let you know, a particular country in Africa experiences Cold season in the month of June.

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Adlynefaith.

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