Today’s date excerpt is from my novel We Three. The novel is about married swingers Eric and Elena, and Jess, the woman they bring into their playroom. The relationship is strictly sex, until they all realize they like spending time together that doesn’t involve sex. So, Elena takes Jess on a coffee date. I like this scene for what it reveals about Elena’s personal history and just how deeply she’s falling in love with Jess.
Elena drove them to a coffee bar. Stepping out of the car, Jess looked up at the wrought iron grillwork on some stately bank building. She almost questioned the location, seeing a bank ATM and a lobby entrance first. But then her sweep of the property found an A-frame signboard on the sidewalk. Coffees Lindas was located around the north side of the building.
“I thought you might like to see where I first worked,” Elena said.
Jess recalled that Elena said she’d started in Miami as a waitress. Jess was surprised. She’d thought they were just going to a Starbucks. Even a DD would’ve been a treat, since she had learned long ago to drink the swill served in pop-shop gas stations. The brunette took her hand and led the way along the sidewalk next to fencing that enclosed open-air patio seating. Everything felt definitely like a high-class date.
There was even a maître d’ standing at a wooden service podium. “Two for coffee,” Elena said.
“Yes, ma’am. The coffee bar is in the back,” he said, leaving them to make their own way.
Elena explained as she led Jess through the restaurant to a smaller second space. “The restaurant opens with brunch service at 10:00 a.m. every day. Until then, the coffee bar is accessible through the patio entrance,” As she entered through the archway, she added, “There were many mornings it was just me, the grinder, and a foggy predawn filled with a trickle of bleary-eyed customers.”
They passed between small clusters of leather and cloth armchairs and tables. Some were high-back, some had footstools, and others looked like antiques. It was eclectic, like a bunch of tiny living room sets had been taken from a Rooms To Go. Jess spotted the patio entrance, the morning light through it catching her eye, before she saw the coffee bar to the right of it.
A woman with long dark hair and a streak of red it in that matched her lipstick was making change for a customer in a business suit. They chatted and smiled, and the customer finally stepped away with his coffee. Elena stepped forward. “What do you like?” Elena asked Jess. “They have beans from everywhere.”
“I have no idea,” Jess said. “Coffee’s coffee. I know there’s Columbian.”
“There’s Columbian, yes, but also Peruvian, Brazilian, Costa Rican. That’s just South and Central America. There are dozens of varieties from Africa, the Mediterranean, Asia, Europe.”
“What do you like?” Jess asked, deciding that was probably the safest response. She felt suddenly out of her depth.
“This morning I’m feeling Sumatran,” Elena said, turning back to the counter. “It’s full-bodied, but smooth.”
“Okay,” Jess said.
“Two Sumatrans, please, Ruth,” Elena said. Jess noticed the woman wasn’t wearing a tag, a definite sign of Elena’s familiarity with the establishment and staff.
“Is Nami here?” Elena asked while Ruth was grinding and setting up the brew in a press.
Ruth’s reply was quick. “Not this morning, maybe afternoon. Her arthritis was acting up.”
“Is that happening more often lately?” Elena asked. “I haven’t been by in a while.”
“Yeah,” Ruth replied. All the while she was continuing to efficiently prepare their cups. “She won’t admit it, but she’s definitely having more bad days than good.”
As Jess took her coffee from Elena and followed Elena out to the patio, she asked, “Is Nami the owner?”
“Yep, she’s Nigerian, brought over by her parents when she was four. Ruth was her son’s wife.”
“Gopal died in Iraq a few years ago.”
“Ruth’s a widow?” The woman had seemed as young as Jess.
“Yes. She and Kai live with Nami.”
“Kai?” Jess was beginning to get overwhelmed by all the new names.
“Kai is Ruth and Gopal’s son, Nami’s grandson. He’d be almost… seven now.” Jess shook her head and sighed. “What?” Elena asked.
“You’ve got so much history here. I’ve lived in a lot of places, but I can count on one hand the number of people I got to know, or who really got to know me.” Jess hesitated, sipping at her coffee after speaking. “I didn’t get to know most people beyond their name.”
If you enjoyed the excerpt, leave me a comment below. If it intrigued you to learn more about Elena or Jess and their relationship, pick up a copy of We Three from any of the sources listed at the Supposed Crimes website.