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Morning Coffee


God he was an asshole in the morning. Still in her towel, Gina stamped back to the bathroom. This was not what she’d imagined. Bruce hulked after her. Gina cranked the blow-dryer to High but couldn’t drown him out. Bruce’s baritone rattled the bottles on the glass shelf. “Is it mine?” Downstairs, old Mrs. Ramses banged her broom on the ceiling.

Gina yanked the cord and pushed past Bruce into their tiny excuse of a kitchen. She wanted to cry. She should have waited until dinner to tell him. Wine. Love. Rushing out to buy jewelry they couldn’t afford. But she’d been so excited by those two pink lines that she’d woken the beast. She’d shoved the pee-soaked stick in Bruce’s face.

Bruce leaned into the kitchen and slammed his hand on the counter, blocking the coffee maker with his oversized bicep. “Did it happen in London?”

“On the flight back. I banged the co-pilot in the cockpit.”

Bruce reached over Gina’s head for a mug. She arched away and almost fell in the sink.

“Did the pilot watch?”

“Upgraded me to first class.”

Gina pivoted to reach for her own mug, pushing her shoulder into Bruce’s sweaty armpit. That they were rubbing against each other, practically in one another’s arms, was a function their four-hundred-square-foot apartment. Gina hated Bruce right now. She hated his muscles. She hated his band. She hated how the lingering stench from his performance last night overpowered her artisanal coffee. It aroused her too and she hated that. “Then,” Gina continued, “I fucked my cabdriver.” Bruce splashed coffee into Gina’s mug before his, like that would absolve him. “In traffic.”

“Did you use protection?”

“Apparently not.” The coffee was good. First calming her, then zinging joy through her veins. Gina waited for Bruce to apologize. Wait. Wait. Fine. Gina pushed against his hulking frame. Bruce didn’t budge. “’Course, it might have been the airport bartender.” The caffeine sped her heart. Bruce’s collarbone lay so flat. Gina wanted to balance her mug on it, but she sipped patiently, a cool executive waiting for her Neanderthal to step aside.

“I’m just asking for a little honesty,” Bruce said.

“It was Mr. Ramses in his wheelchair. That’s what killed him.”

Clamping his mug in his teeth, Bruce lifted Gina, and sat her on the counter. He tilted his head back, drained the coffee down his throat then bowed like a circus seal to set the mug beside her. His ear grazed Gina’s thigh. She flinched. Her knee bumped the coffee maker. Bruce steadied the carafe and wiped the spill with the corner of the towel Gina was still wearing. “I’m just surprised,” he said. Gina held her breath. “I’ll be proud to raise Mr. Ramses’ child.”

Gina exhaled. Her elbow knocked the faucet; cold water sprayed them. The carafe crashed. Hot java spilled across the floor and leaked though the cracked linoleum. She should give it up anyway.

Downstairs, the broom banged banged banged.

First appeared in Mash Stories