When she walked into the apartment and met the acrid smell of smoke that lingered with a toxic gentleness in the air, she knew exactly where she would find him. A despondent sigh escaped her lips as she deftly slipped her shoes off and bolted the door behind her.
The cold hardwood floor felt foreign against the soft pads of her feet as she slipped through the living room and past the kitchen to meet the closed door of his bedroom. The familiarity of her surroundings had turned hazy as the smoke grew heavier and invaded her senses.
A tender knock and a soft murmur of his name garnered no response but she knew that he was in there. She tried again and this time she spoke a little louder before turning the door
“I’m coming in.” The door creaked open slowly and she was greeted by an empty room.
Unperturbed, her feet welcomed the softness of carpet as they carried her to the sole source of light. Her shoulder met the doorframe as she leaned against the peeling paint and crossed her arms over her chest.“So you’ve reclaimed your thinking space.”
At first he appeared startled that he was not alone anymore, his eyes reflecting a moment of hesitation before he turned to face her blankly. “I guess you could call it my office.”
She watched him tap the cigarette that dangled from his thin fingertips on the edge of the bathtub that he was seated in— fully clothed and dry, he looked more like he was posing for some vintage vogue photo shoot.
“I thought you quit smoking.”
“I did.” He indicated at the pile of ashes next to him. “But it feels more appropriate to be seated in here with one of these. It was this or coffee and I’m not too fond of the latter.”
“I see… so what brings you here today?” She inched closer and gingerly took the cigarette from him and raised it to her lips to take in one long breath of the poison before stubbing it out on the tub. “Do you have space for another?”
He mused at the intoxicating effect the smoke created around her sharp features before pulling his legs towards him, patting the space next to him. “Maybe just enough for you. Here, take my hand.”
Her fingertips met his before he tightened his grip and interlaced their hands. Guiding her, she stepped delicately over the edge of the tub and manoeuvred her way in the limited space before settling down next to him.
“This is romantic. I kind of wish I had chosen the coffee now.” He played with their hands that were still connected before absentmindedly reaching around to pull her head against his shoulder.
The two sighed in sync, letting their bodies relax against the roughness of the tub. It was peculiar feeling of comfort, she thought to herself, and she began to understand why she had
found him in here whenever something was bothering him.
“Are we going to be okay?” She asked demurely, losing the usual intensity in her voice.
Instead of responding with words, he craned his neck to look down at her. She nervously met his gaze as he lovingly studied the attractive sweep of her nose that extended from her opaque dark brown eyes.
Her heart trembled as he wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her in. With a reassuring ease, he leaned in and placed his kiss on the corner of her naturally upturned lips.
“I think we’ll be fine.”