Chapter 8: Coffee Break

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Romance  |  House: Booksie Classic

Reads: 27


Sunlight forces my eyes open, and for a second, I again don't know where I am. Then I grab my phone in a panic.

It's nine o'clock. I overslept, big time. 

I should already be at the newspaper. I wanted to be there when the editor Jason Grimley arrived. Before he got busy and had an excuse not to see me.

I grab a towel from one bin and my toiletries from another, then race to the shower.

Ten minutes later, I throw on my clothes and hurriedly brush my teeth, then pull my wet hair into a ponytail, skipping the makeup. At least I am clean.

I stuff my laptop and phone into my backpack, along with the books I'll need for my first day of classes, and run down the stairs.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee wafts into my nostrils as I reach the living room, and I remember the bananas and protein bars I brought with me from the ranch. 

I'm starving and sleep-deprived and already late; a five-minute delay for breakfast probably won't make much difference.

So I veer into the kitchen and almost collide with Blue, who is leaning against the counter with his legs crossed, wearing only a pair of plaid boxers and sipping a cup of coffee.

"Whoa," he exclaims, lifting his mug out of the way just in time, "slow down there."

He smells citrusy again and kind of soapy. His dark hair's wet. And there's that stomach, that chest, those arms.

I can feel myself blushing for what must be the hundredth time since I met this guy.

"Oh, sorry." I step back and hear a yelp. Max is looking up at me, wagging his tail. "Yikes, sorry, Max. I didn't mean to step on you, buddy."

I lean down to pet the dog's head, then glance at Blue, wondering how bad my bare, tired face looks to him.

Keegan Crenshaw. Seriously. Just stop it.

Of all the things I should be worried about, I can't believe I'm wasting time on what Blue thinks of me without makeup. But even a full-name self-lecture probably won't stop me from doing it.

And it won't stop my eyes from lingering on Blue's tanned, muscular legs. He sure looks good wearing only a pair of boxers. He probably looks even better wearing nothing at all.

Irritated by my wayward thoughts, I start opening the dilapidated cabinets, searching for another coffee mug but finding nothing except a mishmash collection of plastic beer cups, Chinese food soup containers, and, weirdly, a set of Hello Kitty plates.

"Sorry," Blue says, "we don't have much in the way of real dishes. And what we do have is usually dirty. Thanks to Hunter."

He opens a corner cabinet and pulls out a package of Styrofoam cups. I resist the urge to point out how environmentally unfriendly those are as he pours coffee from a drip coffeemaker on the counter into one for me.

"I pretty much have the only actual mug in the house." 

Blue lifts his cup up for a second to show me. It's oversized, white, with the words UNITED STATES ARMY in gold and an American flag next to some kind of seal. There's a chip on the top of the handle.

"And I guard it with my life," he adds, "but I might consider loaning it to you, when I'm not using it, of course."

"That's okay. I can get one for myself." I let my backpack slide off my shoulder to the linoleum floor and wrap my hands around the Styrofoam, sipping with my eyes closed, feeling the steam from the coffee against my lips.

When I open my eyes, Blue's staring at me. "So how'd you sleep your first night?"

"Fine" is on the tip of my tongue. But I decide for some reason to be honest with him.

"Not too good," I admit. "In fact, I had a really rough night." I take another sip. "Bad dreams. And now I'm running late."

Setting my cup on the counter, I open the cabinet where I stashed my small supply of food and pull out a protein bar, tearing into it. Then I quickly shove in a banana, avoiding Blue's eyes. 

I probably look super attractive, chewing like a cow.

"I know all about bad dreams." Blue's voice is a husky whisper.

There's this expectant silence between us for a few moments. It feels like he's going to share something pretty heavy with me. Maybe he is going to tell me how he got those scars.

But even though the reporter in me wants to hear his story, the rest of me suddenly doesn't. Not right now.

I'm on overload with my new housemate. Physically and emotionally. Just being around him turns me upside down.

I can't process anymore from Blue right now.

And I'm late.

I take another quick sip of my coffee and look around for the trash. "I really have to go," I say, hoping Blue takes the hint.

He points at a tall, overflowing can on the other side of the fridge. I push my cup into the middle of the pile, then watch it slide off on to the floor.

"Don't worry about it," Blue says. "I'll be doing some more cleaning today." He sighs. "Didn't manage to do much yesterday. Kendra and Hunter damn well better help me. We've got a lot to do to get ready for this weekend."

I'm bending down to pick up my backpack when he says that, and my stomach lurches. I straighten up slowly. "There's another party this weekend?" I can hear the dread in my voice.

"Yes, ma'am. We always throw a helluva Labor Day weekend party. I did warn you."

I'm pissed all over again by my hasty decision to move in. 

"Cheer up, Keegan," Blue chuckles, obviously noticing my sour expression. "It'll be a lot of fun. Tons of interesting people will be here." 

Then he raises his cup, as his face lights up.  "Hey, you could even cover it for the paper. That's something people around here would actually want to read about."

I can't help rolling my eyes at the suggestion. Even if I get a reporter job, there's no way in hell I'd offer to cover some dumb college party.

"And you'll get to hear me play a mean bass," Blue adds with that tantalizing smile of his. "Maybe I'll even sing that song for you at the party."

He's smiling so warmly now that it's melting my insides.

My God, get control of yourself. 

"We'll see," I manage to reply. "I've really got to go. 'Bye, Blue. Um, thanks for the coffee."

"Hey, no problem. And good luck at the paper."

I smile once more at him and rush out the door.


Submitted: December 30, 2020

© Copyright 2021 Emily Blaze. All rights reserved.


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