Even though I barely made a sound as I padded through his condo, he lifts his head as I approach. His smile is warm, which is reassuring. He could have greeted me with awkward tenseness over the fact we’re forced to do the morning-after routine.
“Coffee?” he asks.
“Sure,” I reply, scanning his kitchen. “I’ll be glad to—”
Benjamin pushes up from the table, then points to the other chair. “Sit. I’ll make it for you.”
I take a seat as Benjamin moves over to a fancy-looking machine that appears to make coffee, espressos, and lattes.
“What’s your poison in the morning?”
It’s funny how I’ve submitted fully, given him my body, and entrusted him not to hurt me, but he has no clue what type of coffee I drink.
“Just a regular with a little bit of cream,” I say.
He glances over his shoulder to give me a sheepish grin. “Sorry… No cream. Is black okay?”
“Of course,” I reply, although I grimace on the inside. I hate black coffee, but I need caffeine.
Benjamin works the machine, which freshly grinds the beans, then brews a frothy cup. He returns, lowers into his own chair, then sets the cup on the table and nudges it toward me. “I’ll pick up some cream for you at the grocery store today.”
I hate that my heart flutters over such a simple offer. Again, it doesn’t jive with the nature of the relationship we have set for ourselves. I want to hate myself for being charmed, but I also can’t be overly surprised. Even though I’m okay with our emotionless, sex only relationship, I have to acknowledge how much I like this man and how I would potentially be open to more if he wanted it.
Picking up the cup, I blow on it slightly before taking a sip. It’s surprisingly good, and I have to assume it’s because he has a fancy coffee maker and expensive beans. Setting the cup back down on the table, I find him watching me.
I offer an apologetic smile. “I’m sorry I overstayed my welcome last night. You should have woken me up and pushed me out the door.”
The expression on Benjamin’s face doesn’t give away anything, but I’m surprised when he says, “You didn’t overstay your welcome. In fact, I’m glad you did. That way, I didn’t worry about you driving all the way back to Henderson at night.”
I don’t even know what to say to that. Again, he seems to be pushing at the edges of the boundaries we had set.
“Breakfast?” he asks. “I can whip us up some eggs.”
It would be entirely appropriate for me to raise an eyebrow and ask, “Who are you and what have you done with Benjamin?”
Because it appears somebody new has inhabited his body this morning.
Instead, I shake my head with true regret. “I can’t. I have to get going to meet my parents for church.”
I am aware from our conversation at his house that Benjamin doesn’t have much respect for the divine. Still, his tone is neutral when he asks, “Do you go every week?”
“I try to.”
“Can I ask why?” He seems genuinely curious, but he can’t hide the slight bit of derisiveness in his tone.
I pick my words carefully, keeping them truthful but light. “Lots of reasons. It reaffirms my faith, and it gives me comfort. I love the tradition and ceremony of the Catholic Church. I go with my family so we can spend time together and bond.”
He stares, clearly considering my words.
And I can’t help myself. “Have you ever been a churchgoer?”
It’s the first question I have asked about his past that might cause some friction in our conversation. I have no clue why I’d decided to go there, but maybe it’s because Benjamin has been pushing the boundaries we’d previously set. Perhaps I feel entitled.
To my surprise, he answers without any hesitation. “Growing up, I was. I would periodically go with April after we got married. But there always seemed to be too much to do on Sundays, particularly after we had Cassidy, that we sort of fell off. It was just never really important to me.”
I’m absolutely stunned he offered the information up, even more so he would mention his late wife and daughter. If he were any other man, I’d engage in a friendly debate with him. Push him on his beliefs. But I remember all too clearly his disdain for God because Benjamin felt God was wrong to let that accident happen. While I would love to have enough of a bond with Benjamin to gently pursue this, it absolutely spells disaster. And I am not ready for him to cut me off again.
So I take a larger sip of coffee, set my cup back down, and then stand. “I really do need to get going. By the time I drive back to Henderson and get ready, I’ll have to run out the door to make church.”