"Do you have to bring your teddy bear along?"
I stared at Min's face before we both turned to look at Bob who was enjoying another cup of cream latte and a slice of New York Classic cheesecake a few tables away all by himself. It seemed that he didn't have any problem sitting all by himself. Well, with a cheesecake, who would even bother about being lonesome? He was pressing his thumb on the keypad of his mobile phone -- chances were that he was communicating with Tiara, judging from his excited facial reactions. Maybe both of them were back into speaking terms. Well good for them. But not good for me just yet. I turned back to Min and she did the same to me.
"Well," I said. "I have to bring him. I can't drive."
She just stared at me, waiting for further explanations. I stared back at her, deep into her shiny, hazel eyes. The lashes looked so finely arranged like the finest fur of hare. Her eyebrows were symmetrically charming; they stored an amount of affection to everyone who noticed. He round eyes showed so many deep secrets inside, as if it went so deep that all that fell into it would have never survived. Her skin was so fair; hardly any flaw could be located on that adorable skin. And her shiny cheery lips...
"You," she said. "Why can't you drive?"
"Oh," I replied, a bit embarrassed. I pushed the chair backward a bit and pulled out my knee so that she could see it. "I fell last night. See?"
She bent herself to the left a bit to take a closer look at my shin. Her face changed slightly. I guessed it was due to an instant concern.
"Oh my," she said before placing her hand on the bandage. "Does it hurt?"
"Ouch!" I pulled my leg from her hand immediately (it wasn't that painful anyway, but of course, for the dramatic effect of the entire conversation). Wait, why did I pull my leg again? It felt so good just now when her hand touched me, even from outside the layer of bandage.
"Sorry, Eddy," she said in her softest voice. Wow. She called me using a name nobody ever called me with before. "How did it happen?"
I leaned back on my chair and looked at her, smiling. If only you knew everything, Min, would you be in love with me for my whole life long?
"I just tripped over something." I smiled at her. "No worries, it will heal."
"Why did you come if you know you should be resting, romeo?"
Romeo. I like that.
"Because," I leaned forward and looked at Min right in the eyes, this time a little bit more serious. "Because someone wanted to set my jacket on fire."
Upon hearing that, she burst into a big laugh. Her eyes closed shut and she covered her mouth with her long, beautiful fingers; in between them her pearl white teeth showed off generously. Her hair moved as she laughed, and the sight was one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen in my entire life. It was this thing that cheered me the most - a sincere laugh from a woman as pretty as she was. But then again, every women looks pretty when they laugh.
"Oh my God," she said, still chuckling. "I'm sorry. Really. But you deserved it."
"I deserved it you say. How could you threat me like that? That's my favorite jacket you know."
"Because you didn't reply any of my SMS that's why."
Oh. That. Yes, I did not. But by pulling such trick just to freak me out was not funny at all, Min. But at least you met me in the end, just like you planned, no? Smart girl. Burn down my jacket, you said. You tricked me, and you tricked me good.
"You came home late last night," I said, trying to change the entire atmosphere of the whole conversation with a more serious sense of air.
"I did," she replied. "I was out doing something and my battery went flat."
I didn't reply her.
"Look," she took a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I know you waited. How do I make it up to you?"
I didn't reply her still. Just making a serious face, just making a serious face...
"I'm sorry, okay," her face got somewhat worried. "I'm sorry. I just wanted to meet you up."
I raised both my hands and made the 'obviously' gesture by tilting my head a bit.
"And here I am now, sitting right next in front of you."
And she smiled right away.
* * *
Min finished work late that day.
Well it wasn't a long wait after all. When Bob and I arrived previously, it was already late evening. There weren't many customers after all that day, so I managed to spend some time with her at the counter until about 8pm when she finished her duty. By that time, Bob had already finished three slices of cheesecake and two more grande cups of latte. The teddy bear was by then had achieved the size of a small moon. Worse, I had to pay for them all just so that he won't make any noise about the entire evening.
Min came up from the room next to the counter with a new pair of shirt and jeans. On top of that was my dark, corduroy jacket. Her hair was left untied and free. She smiled at me and placed her bag on the counter before she turned to her two colleagues, including the boy the other day, talking something and handing them a bunch of keys. When she's done, she took her tote bag and walked towards me who was then sitting on a sofa near the counter. She popped the collar of the jacket and flicked her head.
"Let's go, romeo."
I returned her smile with a smirk and walked with her toward the end of the premise. The smell of that citrus perfume struck my nose even worst then. Min was walking in front of me when she suddenly turned around. She signaled me using her lips, pointing at a place behind.
"You forgot your teddy bear."
I turned around to see Bob looking at us in a horrific way -- perhaps he was scared to be left behind. I gave him a hand sign to call him over and walk with us. It took him some time to stand up and collect his effects on the table.
"Don't ever leave your teddy bear, Eddy," Min spoke to me. That's the second time she called me that.
"Uh huh," I replied without even looking at her. "What do you do with a teddy bear then?"
"You bring him around, stick with him."
Stick with him? Yeah right. Try that with Bob. I rather choke myself to death than to spend a day with him.
"You'd certainly do that?" I asked her.
"I would definitely do."
"Really," I said, looking at her, testing her sincerity. "So who's your teddy bear then?"
Min didn't immediately reply. Instead she examined my face and gave me the look that was usually given by a homely cat, asking for a pat. Her round eyes glittered in the night; reflecting all the beautiful rays of light from around the twin towers. Her lips shone magnificently. She was so close to me that the warmth of her body was burning me down. I could feel her breath even, slowly brushing against my neck. Up to a point, she was only staring into my eyes, as if she was searching for something. She did that for sometime before she had the courage to let what she had in mind out.
Oh I'll be damned.
...To Be Continued