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Chapter 4 – The Beanery
Friday, February 14, 2020
He tasted of mint toothpaste as we slowly kissed in the kitchen. Evan had just got out of his bathroom and I was almost ready to head out to my classes when he swooped in and pulled me close.
Smiling up at him as we slowly disengaged, I said, “Happy Valentine’s Day, baby. Remember, I’ll give you your present before we go out tonight.”
“Ok, I’ll wait to give you my gift too. Happy Valentine’s Day, El,” his eyes were so happy it made me step on my tip toes to kiss him again, harder. After a minute I took a step back, I was starting to breath hard and feel a tingle in my belly and I couldn’t just drag him back to bed so I needed to stop.
He was staring at me with an intense hunger in his eyes that was making me mentally run through my morning schedule to see if I could maybe miss a couple of classes, but nope my Fridays were mostly core subject lectures and I couldn’t skip them.
Pushing him on his chest I sighed and bit my lip and coquettishly said, “Stop looking at me like that, I can’t skip this morning.” A good portion of my mind was hoping he’d simply pick me up and carry me off to ravish me despite my unconvincing protests, but he nodded and laughed in agreement. Poop.
I grabbed my bookbag and opened it up to put my laptop in, then placed it all on the kitchen counter close to the door to the apartment where we kept our keys and stuff. Evan grabbed his messenger bag and made sure he had his wallet and keys and so on, but then he glanced at his phone and looked around, clearly missing something.
“Hey El, have you seen my phone cable? I’m at 10% here,” he asked.
“First of all, how do you live like that, having your phone dead first thing in the morning? I don’t know where your cable is but my phone is fully charged if you want to take mine,” I replied. He was across the kitchen island from me, and I happened to glance at my open bookbag on the counter and saw a flash of shiny white paper amongst all the garbage I carried around with me. Ah hell, the coupons!
Evan was just starting to reach for my bag but I quickly walked back and took it. I thrust my hand in to make sure the coupon book was buried in with the textbooks, makeup accessories and random clothes I had in the bag and then quickly opened the side pocket and pulled out my phone cable and charger.
“Here you go,” I said as I handed it to him, smiling at my ability to keep the coupon book hidden until it was time. Evan took the cable and charger and stuck it in his bag, and after one last lingering goodbye kiss – a mere 1 or 2 minutes, quite brief – we left together to go learn shit.
Our apartment is on Thunderbird Blvd, in a good central spot on campus. Across the street is a small triangular park where the roads split and curve, and on the other side of that park is a large student housing complex. In that complex is the Beanery Coffee Shop, a 30 second walk from our front door and the chief supplier of caffeine and pastries for my brother and me.
It was after 2PM when I met up with Evan and a few mutual friends at the Beanery for a regular get together. I sat next to Evan and two of his friends, Faisal Amadi and Ryan Martin. We had just finished our hellos when Ridley Nelson showed up – she was a friend of a friend from another West Van high-school not far from mine also going to UBC now and we met up to chat now and then.
“So, Ella, how is engineering going?” Ridley asked. She was in the nursing program, but always wanted to know how everyone else was doing.
“So far so good,” I replied, “it’s hard but pretty much what I expected.” I was sitting at the corner of a large table in the coffee shop, next to Evan. He was turned to his other side, talking with Faisal and Ryan who were on the other end of the table. Ridley was across from me, with an empty seat beside her.
Ridley looked up and smiled as Shanti walked in behind me. “Darling!” Shanti said in a terrible fake English accent as she mimed kissing my cheek like a goof. I laughed and watched as she walked around the table to take the spot next to Ridley. As she sat down, Evan and his friends paused their conversation about something incredibly boring (video games I think) to nod at Shanti and say hi.
“Hi Evan,” she said with a broad smile. Evan smiled back and I smiled at Shanti as she glanced at me before she continued, “so what is everyone’s plans for Valentine’s? I assume you have something fun lined up Ridley?”
Ridley nodded, “Yeah Tanya and I are going to a comedy club tonight.” Ridley had been seeing the same girl she met in high school for years now, they were practically married. Ridley had once joked that the dating pool for a teenage lesbian in a suburban high school was not great, but she lucked out.
“And what about you guys?” Shanti posed the question to our side of the table but was looking entirely at Evan as she said it. I felt a flicker of irritation, but I pushed it yeşilköy escort down and smiled blandly.
Evan turned to face her to politely reply, “Not entirely sure. Ella and I wanted to go to that wine and painting thing tonight and Faisal was interested too,” a pause as Faisal sipped his coffee and nodded, “and maybe a few other people are going too. Should be fun.”
“Yes it does sound fun,” Shanti agreed, nodding a little too much.
“You’re more than welcome to come along too,” Faisal said, as Evan nodded.
As everyone was agreeing about how fun the event sounded and how welcome Shanti was I looked at Ridley and cocked my head. “Oh yeah! Ridley, I almost forgot I’ve been carrying this around for a week now.” I pulled my bookbag onto my lap and rummaged through it. After a moment I gave a triumphant “Aha!” and pulled out a rolled-up sweatshirt with a UBC logo emblazoned on it that I had bought back in September.
Taking the sweatshirt, Ridley held it to her and said, “Oh man this is perfect, are you sure I can’t pay you for this Ella?”
“No way, like I said it’s too long for me, so it was going to waste. I never wore it outside once, just take it.” I saw Evan giving me a puzzled look so I explained, “Ridley and I were walking through the store and she was going to buy one but I told her I had one that would fit her she could have.”
“Thanks again Ella, it’s hugely appreciated,” Ridley said enthusiastically.
“You’re very welcome, just glad it will get worn,” I tried to focus on Ridley and not Shanti as she basically eye fucked Evan across the table.
The conversation lasted another half an hour before the boys had to leave, Evan going with them to pick something up from Ryan’s dorm room. One of Ridley’s fellow nursing students walked by and took a vacated seat, so I said my good-byes, agreed to message Shanti when we would be going to the wine tasting, and left to return to the apartment.
I was back home in a few minutes, putting my bag on the kitchen counter. Evan would be home in not that long, and I debated whether to give him the coupon book when he got back or wait until the evening. I decided to play it by ear and opened the bag to grab it so I could make sure it hadn’t been folded or creased while it bounced around in my bag.
Looking through the main part of the bag, I didn’t see it. I did find a couple of blank coupons, but not the actual book. I opened the zippers for the side pockets, thinking I must have put it in one. Nope.
I looked around in the jumble of crap in my bag again. Nothing again. I pulled my laptop out, then pulled out every item in the bag one at a time. I found another loose coupon that didn’t make the final cut, but no book.
Now I was thinking furiously. I was very sure I never took it out, but just in case I looked in my bedroom, in my nightstand and in the drawers of the computer desk where I studied. Not in any of those places, and the more I thought of it the more certain I was that I had left it in my bag since I left Dad’s work for sure. In fact, I recalled catching a glimpse of it that morning when I got the cable for Evan which meant….
Oh shit. Which meant I had it when I left to go to my classes in the morning. But it’s gone now.
Ok, ok, think Ella. I wrote Evan’s name on it, that’s potentially embarrassing, but really what are the odds someone finds it? If I left it in a lecture theater or classroom, it’d get thrown out without a second glance. Maybe someone flips through it and chuckles at how kinky some of it is, but who cares it is Valentine’s Day.
‘But what if you dropped it at the Beanery?’ a traitorous voice in my head whispered. Ok, that’d be bad, almost every day Evan was in there getting his vanilla cappuccino, and that one barista who’s always there writes “Ev” on his order because he knows that’s what I call Evan. So he’d know it was for Evan, and sure maybe some of the other regulars. But would that be that bad?
Fuck it, I grabbed my purse and hurried out the door. Why bother worrying about it when I can just get back to the Beanery and maybe find it where I dropped it?
It was in the elevator my stomach fell and I suddenly felt real panic. If someone read it – and really a lot of people would, it’s pretty salacious – and they knew that “For: Ev!” meant for Evan, the tall cute guy with the brown hair, then that person might read through and see… ah fuck. FUCK!
I basically ran to the Beanery. Inside, the table we had been sitting at was filled with other customers I didn’t recognize. As I hurried up, one older student was sitting in the chair I had been using and as he looked at me I smiled apologetically, “Sorry, I was just here like 15 minutes ago and I may have dropped something…”
“Oh, sure,” he said as he pushed his chair back and stood up. Everyone else looked at me as I peeked on the floor under the table. Nothing. “Anyone find anything here? She might have dropped zeytinburnu escort a… what was it?” the man asked.
“It was just a small book of, uh, paper slips,” I said. Everyone shook their heads, and I could see no one had picked anything up. I thanked them for their time and walked back toward the entrance, looking in the waste bin by the door like a weirdo. Nothing there either. With a sinking feeling in my stomach I approached the counter. There were a few full-time workers there and the two at the counter had been there all day. I smiled again and fought down my embarrassment and said, “Hi, I was here not that long ago. Did anyone find a homemade booklet? Printed paper just like about this big,” I held out my hands.
“No one has turned anything in,” said the woman, turning to her coworker, who shook his head too. “You’re Ella right? Your brother is that Evan guy? If anyone finds anything, we’ll set it aside for you, don’t worry about it.”
Ah great so they know our names. Perfect. Very reassuring. “Yeah,” said the male barista, stroking his very well-groomed beard, “we all know you two for sure. If anyone finds anything, I’ll tell them to hold it for El and Ev, that’s what we write on your orders. You get the Chai Latte and your brother gets the… hang on… a van cap?” Ah fuck me.
“Thanks!” I said with a rictus grin fixed on my face. I turned and left the Beanery again. A few steps outside the door a flash of white caught my eye. My heart leaping into my throat, I quickly stepped over to see a white slip of shiny paper on the ground near the bike rack. As I bent to pick it up, I realized it was indeed a coupon. But just one, a blank extra that had been in my bag.
I had dropped it here. I must have. Ignoring the looks of the students walking by I searched up and down the sidewalk leading to the Beanery. I looked in the bushes, in the bike rack, in the flower bed beside the building, in the folding sign thing that sat on the sidewalk. I knew I walked to and from the Beanery down the same path, and I looked up and down it several times. I didn’t find anything else but a lot of litter.
Almost hyperventilating, I realized I needed to call Evan. I bit my lip, feeling like I might cry. How was I going to explain this? That I made him a naughty coupon book, and put his nickname on it? That I lost in in the one place on campus where half the people knew him by that name?
And, by far worse of all, that I put my own name in it too? Jesus Christ, if anyone saw “Ev” on the front and knew him it would be funny but not that embarrassing, he could just say it was a gift from a high school ex-girlfriend or something. But if that someone flipped through it and saw the naked girl doodle that I (what the fuck had I been thinking!) that I wrote “Slave El” underneath? Oh lord just fucking take me now I couldn’t bear to even imagine the consequences of someone spreading that around. What denial could we make?
Defeated, scared, and ashamed, I pulled out my phone to call Evan and tell him I may have ruined his life forever. As I lifted my phone it buzzed, then buzzed again. As I held the phone, I could see the message alerts pop up.
itsyagirlShanti!!: Hey Ella, just wanted to ask u something but didn’t get a chance to during coffee…
itsyagirlShanti!!: I just wanted to tell u I’m thinking of asking your brother out :-0 (:
itsyagirlShanti!!: Unless you think it’d be weird! But I really like Evan and I think it’d be cool
itsyagirlShanti!!: so… would you be upset if I asked him to go to a valentines day date with me tonight? I know you were going to that painting thing
itsyagirlShanti!!: but I got 2 tickets to the formal dinner and I know it’s short notice, but I’d love to take Evan… if that’s ok with you! Don’t wanna step on your toes, yer my girl 🙂
itsyagirlShanti!!: anyway… just hit me up soon plz so I can ask him. Oh, and does he ever say anything about me?? He won’t say no right if I ask him lool????
itsyagirlShanti!!: I’ll have him home by curfew. Probably. But def before dawn! 😉
itsyagirlShanti!!: just joking! He’s a hottie but I’ll respect his virtue! But msg me back asap plz! 😀
Still holding my phone, I started to laugh. It was either that or fucking cry.
Chapter 5 – Tell Me Exactly What Happened
Walking quickly south down Westbrook Mall I noticed a guy glance up at my face then quickly open his eyes wider as if in surprise for a split second before he resumed his bland expression. It was the second time it had happened in a block, the first was when a woman seemed to hustle a step to get out of my way and finally I realized I was stalking down the sidewalk with my hands clenched and, probably, a very unpleasant look on my face. I forced myself to relax my hands and take a deep breath. I had been scowling furiously and I knew being angry was not going to help with… whatever the hell was going on.
Ten minutes ago, anadolu yakası escort bayan I had been in Ryan’s dorm room looking at his new gaming PC. Then, I got a very alarming message from Ella saying “Houston, we may have a problem”, which was our admittedly lame alert that something bad had happened and our secret was out. I almost fainted right there looking at my phone, until I noticed the “may” in the text. I quickly left the dorm to call Ella directly and she told me, in hushed whisper, that she had made a coupon book for me (I assume erotic, although she was in public and didn’t say that) and had lost it, potentially at the Beanery. It had my name on the cover and hers inside and might blow our secret.
Now I was quickly walking back to the Beanery to meet up with Ella and find out exactly what the hell happened. I love my sister – I think that should be clear by now! – but sometimes she does things that completely baffled me. I’m sure I do things that annoy and surprise her too, we may be siblings but we’re not quite as alike as some people expect fraternal twins to be. Ella is a freaking genius, truly, especially at science and math. She was always a great student but she’s perhaps a bit more confident and brash than I am about things. She often tells me I’m too cautious and I worry too much about doing things perfectly, which is probably true, but to me Ella is just too willing to assume things work out in the end.
But now I was a block away from the Beanery and I realized I wasn’t angry at Ella. I was just scared. What would we do if our secret got out? What could we do? Would we be arrested? I had meant to look that up when we got back to school but I didn’t, I just hadn’t really wanted to know because I was 99% sure it was a jailable offense no matter what. Even if it didn’t result in us being arrested, at best, we’d have to change schools. I’d have to move away probably. And would Ella go with me? Could she?
I saw her standing in the courtyard of the housing complex near the entrance to the Beanery. She was clearly nervous, biting her thumbnail and looking up and down the pathway that led to the street thought the townhouses. Then she looked up and saw me approaching, and her look of guilt and fear and worry speared me.
We gave each other a brief hug, as always cognizant of how we acted in public, even now when there was no one within a dozen paces of us there could always be someone randomly looking out a window and we lived a half a block away. I tried to look as reassuring and calm as possible as I asked her, “Ok, tell me exactly what happened.”
Ella’s lip trembled but she paused, the worried crease of her brow smoothing as she visibly gathered herself. “I’m sorry Ev, I’m so sorry.” I opened my mouth impatiently, but she hurried on, “I just needed to say that first! I made a coupon book for you for yesterday. Same as the other one, but I put ‘Ev’ on the cover. I also put a doodle inside of me that said ‘El’. I had it this morning in my bag but when I got home after we had coffee it was gone. I came back here to look for it but it wasn’t at our table. No one there found it, and no one had given it to the workers. I did find a loose, blank coupon outside over there by the bike rack when I looked all up and down the pathways and sidewalks all the way back home. I also found a couple of extra blank coupons in my bag but none of those matter. It’s the entire book that has both our names in it and if someone who knows us found it they could put the pieces together.”
I nodded, thinking hard, “Well it’s not like a signed confession or anything. Even if one of our friends found it, we could always say we had no idea what it was, right? It might be hard to believe, but the truth wouldn’t be anyone’s first guess either I bet. This isn’t quite as bad as I had worried, honestly.”
Frowning, Ella said, “It’s not exactly good either! The coupons are all in my handwriting, and it has both of our names. I was just thinking that if someone who worked at the Beanery found it, they might not really guess the truth but I was looking for it and now they know that it was mine and I misplaced it. So if it’s found by one of them we probably can’t just pretend we didn’t know anything about it.”
“Damn. Ok, but we don’t know where it is and no one might find it, right?” At Ella’s ‘no shit’ nod I continued, “So the main thing is we can just keep looking ourselves. If we find it, great. If we don’t find it, maybe it’s just lost or destroyed. Until someone comes running up to us waving it around yelling for the police we just keep trying to find it.”
Ella nodded firmly. I could tell she was trying to look confident and resolved for my benefit, but then I was trying to appear cool-headed for hers. After a moment, Ella winced and said, “Uhm we should call mom.”
I frowned but agreed, “We did tell her we would if something like this happened. She’s going to lose her shit.”
“Can you call her?” Ella said softly, looking at her feet, “I’m sorry but I just can’t. She’s going to be so mad at me.”
“I really don’t want to either!” I protested, admittedly a bit childishly.
“You’re her favourite! And you didn’t fuck this up so badly, please do it for me Ev! She’ll have plenty of chances to lecture me but let me avoid this one, please!”
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