Have I already said that those boys can cook? Love, love, love.
At our table, a pair sat down. They talked in English with very heavy German accents. The chattered away with each other in German and then they would remark to us in English. I ate in silence and only nodded my head politely, wolfing down the stew. I was absolutely famished. I hadn’t eaten in two days.
“This is our last night in Amsterdam,” the woman said. “We’ve been here the whole week.”
“And is it cold here,” the man said. “A damp cold. Not nice.”
Sven nodded. I did too.
“The sun was shining in the morning when we ate our breakfast. But the fog came back,” she said.
“Germans like to talk about the weather,” Sven said.
I finished eating and got up and went to the WC to wash my hands and face. I felt such a warm content and thought about going back to sleep for a few hours. I was just drying off my hands when the German woman came into the tiny room, with one toilet stall and a tiny basin stuffed into about two square meters of space. We stood shoulder to shoulder in front of the little basin and spoke to each other in the mirror.
“Are you just visiting? Or do you live here? You’re American, aren’t you?”
“I’m just visiting for a few days,” I said. “I’d like to see more of Europe.”
My answer baffled even my muddled head. See more of Europe? Any ambition I felt had dissipated in smoke. I was truthfully planning to stay on here until Liam or his brothers physically threw me out.
“Well, if you’re looking for someplace to stay in Germany, here’s my number. We live in Nuremberg. Beautiful old town.”
I looked at the slip of paper. She had scribbled Gabi and a telephone number in red ink. I stuffed the paper in my pocket. These invitations never amounted to anything, empty holiday encounters. She washed her hands, checked her look in the mirror and reached across me for the towel. Her arm brushed against my arm and my breast that hung free underneath Liam’s t-shirt. My nipple stood up and a chill went up my spine.
We stopped and looked at each other in the mirror. My hair was clean but hung limp on my shoulders. Dark rings circled my eyes like I spent all my time in the dark. Gabi, on the other hand, seemed fresh and healthy. She wore her hair short, very artificially red. Black rimmed glasses shielded her face from the world.
She looked up into my face then reached behind my back and locked the door. She took her glasses off and set them on the basin. I saw her eyes were a brilliant blue. Her hand was cold against my cheek and she pushed a strand of hair out of my eyes much like a mother would to a tired child.
“Is everything ok with you?” she said.
I felt a dam of tears behind my eyes. I nodded that, yes, I was fine. I think I even mouthed the words. I was fine. Everything was ok. She smiled, put her hand behind my head and pulled me in for a kiss. A long, soft, emotional kiss like I had never had from a man. An understanding, a real confession of passion, a sensual and considerate exchange.
“Do you need to talk?” she said.
I shook my head no, reached up and stroked her hand that still cupped my one ear.
“You can come with the two of us tonight, if you would like.”
I looked down at my feet.
“Would you like to meet for breakfast tomorrow? We aren’t leaving until later in the afternoon.”
I nodded yes.
“I better get back. Otherwise I’ll get a spanking if he finds out I’ve cornered you in the WC.”
She unlocked the door, pulled it open and went back into the guest room. Her husband’s voice rose as she turned the corner and entered the room. I used this escape and took the back steps two at a time up to Liam’s room. The room was dark and cold. Either the twins hadn’t turned the heating on or it was broken. I switched on the computer and logged into my e-mail.
The fat black letters announced an unread e-mail from Randy, subject none. I clicked on it and prepared myself for an angry attack. No greeting, no signature. Only these words:
We’re in Amsterdam. There is no such coffee shop called Fortuna. Where the fuck are you?