And here’s today’s daily practice. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, so when I was wracking my brain for a writing prompt I ended up staring into my coffee. So I went with coffee, and the smell of it, and what it might feel like to wake to the smell of it(something very, very rare for me!). Then I just followed that thread.
It was the smell that finally woke her. The siren’s call of bitter darkness, rich lustrous flavor, hint of vanilla, berry, whisky. She didn’t want to wake. Had ignored two alarms and the growing insistent prodding of her bladder.
But how was she smelling coffee? Her mind, clumsy and uncoordinated and a long way from any quick decision making, struggled with the puzzle. Maya let one eye ease open. There was a more important question. Who was making coffee?
With both eyes open Maya rolled onto her back and eyed the bars of shadows laying across her body, bright sunlit and blue shadow crossing the bed. It was late. Really late. Again her brain scrambled for clarity. What the hell did I do last night? Nothing, she was certain, and yet…the coffee. She remembered dinner at the taqueria and Cassie and Jane and the cute bartender and margaritas and dancing on the patio.
She prodded her temple, scrubbed her face, rolled her tongue through her mouth. No hangover, normal morning mouth…she turned her head towards her bedroom door, listening. Someone was humming. There was a clink of pottery, rattle of silverware.
“I came home alone,” she murmured and her tiny tabby cat poked her head up from the tangle of blankets beside her. “Didn’t I, Specks?” A pink tongue curled as Specks yawned, stretched then climbed over the blanket to butt her head under Maya’s chin. I did, Maya thought. She remembered coming in the door, filling the cat food dish, going through her nightly routine, tucking naked into bed well after midnight because she was too tired retrieving her favorite nightshirt from the dryer.
She reached for the nightstand and her phone. “Well shit,” she grumbled when it wasn’t there. It was with her keys. Another thing she’d been too tired to get when she realized it was still in the other room. More noise reached her, the steady, low rustle and hum of another body in her home, something that had yet to happen since buying her place. It was disconcerting and a part of her thought she should be more freaked, but Specks was calmly purring against her chest and she figured whoever it was wasn’t a stranger.
But who was it?
“Guess I need to go find out who’s here, little bit,” she murmured to the cat.
Maya yawned as she climbed out of bed, tugging the blankets tidy behind her by force of habit and pulling her robe around her. The clock in the bathroom said it was past nine and it was a relief to empty her bladder and brush away her stale breath.
The salty tang of bacon joined the smell of coffee as she walked down the hall. The glimpse of a jacket, backpack, and a very familiar pair of boots by her front door made her heartbeat jump. “Jax,” she breathed and hurried to the kitchen.
Jacqueline stood braced in front of her stove, apron wrapped around her, still humming softly as she moved slices of bacon around in the skillet. A pile of pancakes waited on a platter and a cup of coffee steamed in easy reach. A second cup waited on a tray on the counter with an empty plate, a bowl of fruit, a small cup of orange juice.
Maya’s cheeks ached with her smile and tears tugged at the corners of her eyes. “You could have woken me,” she said, her smile deepening as her friend jerked in surprise. Jax gave her a full double dimpled grin as she lifted the bacon out of the pan one slice at a time to the waiting platter.
“I could have,” she replied and Maya suppressed the shiver of pleasure at her lovely, rich contralto. “And I was going to. With breakfast in bed.”
“Jacqueline,” Maya savored the name and the slight tremor that ran up Jax’s back.
“Yes, Maya?” Jax was pulling the apron over her head and Maya enjoyed the shift and sway of her torso under her tee. Maya reminded herself the stove was hot, there was a pan of still sizzling bacon grease and forced herself to stillness, waiting for Jax to cross the kitchen.
“I thought you couldn’t get away until next week?” Jax finally moved across the kitchen and Maya couldn’t help the sigh that slipped out as the taller woman pulled her into a close, tight, long hug. Jax smelled like leather and coco butter and with the tickle of metal underneath and Maya couldn’t help scenting her way along Jax’s neck and nuzzling behind her ear.
Jax hummed and her grip shifted. “Goddamn I’ve missed you.” Maya’s heart stumbled as the slide of Jax’s lips along her jaw and a tiny, hungry sound emerged when she pulled back just shy of the kiss Maya wanted so desperately to taste. Jax was still so close, her eyes fixed on Maya’s and so dilated her irises were just a narrow ring of topaz.
“I made you breakfast,” Jax said. I want to be your breakfast, Maya thought, her body so very aware of all of Jax pressed to her. “Let’s have breakfast, ok?” Her voice crackled on the last word and Maya swallowed.
“Ok,” she answered and let Jax untangle them. “Then can we…” Suddenly she was shy and self-conscious and couldn’t find her way to the easy openness that had colored their phone calls over the last two months.
Jax’s expression loosened into a different kind of smile that sent Maya’s stomach into a lazy tumble. She cupped Maya’s jaw in her palm and her thumb skated over her lips. “Yes. Then we can.”