“The Arabs say: you may fairly judge a man by the reputation of his enemies.” There was the hint of a smile, just below the eyes that were playful, and below the spout of the teapot pouring my teacup with steaming hot liquid. “What do you suppose that says about the two of us?”
There was danger, I knew, in that smile. “We live short lives.” I offered tersely.
She turned her attentions upon her own cup, sitting opposite me, still looking like the cat that ate the canary. In truth the look worried me a little. “But interesting, I should hope?”
I watched her a time, studying her movements. I didn’t dare sip from that cup before her. “Always.” Whatever she was up to, she kept it all locked up behind that bemused smile of hers. I sat; gave her nothing.
“I’m glad. Our tea-side chats are one of my guilty pleasures.” She purred, lifting her steaming cup of tea to her lips and pausing. A brow arched amidst the gently wafting steam: daring me to sip first.
“I also enjoy our time together.” I couldn’t help allowing my eyes to drift, lazily from the finely suited figure standing vigil next to the only exit from the room and towards the bay windows peering out over the sea from atop high, rocky bluffs.
There was a pause. Was it hesitation? Or does she know something I don’t? I can never tell with her. She sips. There’s a flash of hair, tossed casually over her shoulder as she leans back feigning nonchalance in a manner that tells me she wants me to see her feigning nonchalance. “How long has it been now?”
‘Too long’ I want to say, but don’t. Instead I sip her tea. “Fifteen years, next year.” The tea is scorching hot and tastes like shit, but I drink anyhow. “The tea is excellent.”
She knows it tastes like ass, but she smiles sweetly back at me. “Thank you.” Lost in her thoughts her gaze, like mine, finds itself drifting out to sea; and then she sighs “Sometimes it’s hard to believe we’ve survived each other this long.”
It is a well-worn dance now between us but I could see now she was becoming impatient, and so was I; perhaps we’d both been overly hasty. But she’d called me now, and I made the decision then. “All good things must come to an end.” The die was cast.
Her eyes met mine. She moved first, but I was ready.
Our tea, abandoned to circumstance, tipped and trickled from the surface of the table to the polished hardwood floor.