He sips a comically small cup of espresso and puts his free hand on my knee. I don’t even flinch; this practiced stoicism I’ve spent so many nights perfecting. But of course, I don’t let him know that. Right now, I’m not so much a woman as I am a waiting explosion. But this isn’t our first time. I can’t claim I didn’t know better. I do.
How can I tell him his touch might be the trigger that sets this whole thing on fire?
He makes a joke that has my organs crawling up my throat, something that feels like a trip to the emergency room isn’t that far off. I hate how easily he lifts laughter from my windpipes. It’s like magician shit that I didn’t sign up for. I can hear Salt-N-Pepa in my ears, don’t know how you do the voodoo that you do.
My mouth curls up on the sides, but only just slightly. I make sure the beaming fool stays inside. I’ve got her hidden beneath cloaks of casual, of “this is every day occurrence.” I have figured out the right smile. Something that says I’m perfectly fine. Because I know, I cannot let him see how much he is breaking my heart with every stroke. His poor fingers don’t know better. He doesn’t even know better.
But I do.
I know I’m destroying myself. But he’s sitting there, drinking coffee and looking at me with those hazel eyes. I decide I’ll just fake it one more night. I’ll swallow back down the anxiety and act like this whole thing isn’t swallowing me right back. For now, I will be the “just for the time being” girl. For now, I will tell myself I’m not in love with his gravely voice. For now, I won’t admit how much I care.
At least, not really.
Not too loudly.