The next time she saw him it was an accident. She’d been shopping for art supplies at the local art store and before she knew what had happened she had quite literally bumped headfirst into this wall of a man, wearing quite the pleasant gray wool coat. It felt warm and scratchy against her face as she stumbled backwards, her black infinity scarf snagging on a wayward button, leaving her stuck to the stranger. “I’m sorry,” She muttered laughing awkwardly, she still hadn’t looked up to see his face.
“That’s okay…I’m happy I bumped into you like this.” That caught her attention. She glanced up quickly to see who it was and found herself gulping back an overly large knot in her throat.
“Call me Keiichiro please. Koyama-san sounds too formal.” He meant this in the friendliest manner possible, but Talia blushed nevertheless. Somehow over the duration of time she’d been living in Japan she’d lost the ability to casually refer to someone she didn’t know by their first name. It almost felt too personal…but then again she was probably all warped up in her head. “It’s been a while since I’ve had someone use my first name without a suffix. So you shop here too?”
“Just when I run out of supplies.” She grinned back up at him as she finally managed to wrench herself away from his jacket, his button safely at his side, her scarf safely at hers. “I’m all out of paints.” She pointed to her basket, stocked with an assortment of primary colors, white and black. Koyama grinned as he looked down at her basket with a barely shielded amused expression.
“So you’re a painter?”
“Only when I’m feeling emotionally tortured and writing isn’t working out.” She explained switching the basket from one hand to another in attempt to give her hands something else to do than wring themselves nervously together in front of this man. At his confused expression she tried to elaborate. Why would a painter write? Or a writer paint? “I’m a published author. Writing’s my real first love. Painting is an escape.”
“How sad.” He uttered a barely concealed smile playing on the corners of his lips.
The idea that he was mocking her made her a bit upset. How could he just stand there and look at her with all these subliminal cues nestled in his body language? “Why would it be sad?”
“Well...if you consider writing your first love, sorry if this sounds rude but then you’ve never really fallen in love, have you?” Keiichiro astutely noticed and Talia furrowed her eyebrows. Now that he put it that way, she understood exactly what he meant. And that was far too a personal observation to be discussing in the middle of the children’s art section with a man who was her boyfriend’s boss. “I mean if you’d really been head over heels for someone and blown away by the passion of a relationship you could never say writing was your first love because it wouldn’t be a pen or paper that came to your mind at the thought of the word ‘love’ but rather a face no?” As his eyes scanned her face for an expression he corrected himself quickly. He must have started to understand that his words were a little too much for her. Really she wasn’t supposed to be having these sorts of conversations with her boyfriend’s boss…or anyone really. Somehow right now she felt like a failure. She also felt considerably angry that he thought he could be so open with her. “I don’t mean to be irritating really what the hell do I know-“
“You’re not.” She bit out quickly trying to assure both him and herself that he wasn’t…but he was. How could he not be? The entire persona of this man was annoying. He was an annoyingly beautiful magnet that she found herself drawn to…and now he’d made an annoyingly obvious observation about her life that she didn’t want him to know. She didn’t even want herself to willingly acknowledge this.
Talia had always made Keiichiro out to be a bit of a villain in her mind, but then why did she so willingly speak casually with him? Why did she give him ammunition by which to sway her? Why did she let him speak to her this way? “You’re right.” She should leave. She should leave right now.
She must have looked crestfallen because Keiichiro looked alarmed as he saw her make a move to leave. “I’ll-“ She started again but before she had a chance to say much more he’d spoken again.
“Would you have coffee with me?” His words didn’t sound nervous as much as rushed, as if this opportunity was already running away from him and he had to do all he can to just keep it here a little longer. “I’d like to-“ He wasn’t sure how to complete the sentence, she saw his fingers twist as if they were looking for occupation. She looked at him peculiarly. What on earth was this guy doing? He held himself up with the posture and stature of a man of dignity but when it came to his mind he seemed particularly impish. “I’d like to talk to you after I cash these out.” He pointed to his basket, filled to the brim with scrapbooking materials. “Mother’s birthday gift.” He explained smiling.
It was the most honest thing any guy had ever said to her. So it felt wrong to dismiss it and she nodded.
What the hell was a coffee in the long run of things anyways?