“Hey, wait!” K bounded down the steps and into the plaza that was, aside from L, empty. “Don’t go.”
Upon seeing her L, hunkered down in the morning air, stopped in his tracks and peered over one shoulder. The long breath he let out condensed, rose up, and dispersed.
“You could have waited.” K huffed loudly as she bent double. “I’m not that late.”
L made a full turn toward K and pulled himself up straight. “I wasn’t expecting you for another fifteen minutes.”
“Oh,” she frowned. “Then…”
“Thought I’d get us coffee.” He turned back around, hands in pockets and resumed his traipse across the plaza.
K ran to catch up, readjusting her raincoat. “Well, glad I didn’t miss you.”
“You look nice and warm.”
“I suppose.” He shrugged, making a vague head motion to the scarf, hat and heavy parka he wore.
They passed the fountain at the plaza’s centre, which still trickled water from the mouth of a cherub statue. A coat of ice formed around the outer stone rim, jostled by the bubbling pool.
“Sure got cold fast, huh?” K said.
“It certainly did.”
“How have you been?”
“Did you get my email?”
“Of course,” L said. “It was an interesting idea.” He stopped at the coffee shop and opened the heavy door. The bell tinkled and the hot, earthy aroma of fresh coffee wafted out to meet them. K looked up at him with her wide, pleading eyes.
“We should get inside, it’s cold out.” He ushered her in.
“Should I go ahead with it?” She said, her words coming out muffled as she pressed her face against the counter glass and squinted at the pastries.
L held up two fingers and the barista started up the machine.
K leaned in past him. “Make mine with soy please.” She jabbed a finger into L’s side. “So?”
“It’s your thesis.”
Her eyes widened.
He exhaled with another shrug. “I think it has merit.”
She didn’t reply, rather smiled and nodded to herself.
“So I should go ahead with it.”
He remained silent as they waited for their coffees. He lifted the lid and emptied three sachets of sugar into the cup.
“You should avoid having so much sugar,” she said, watching him.
“Don’t worry about me,” L said. He made a movement towards the door, all the while rummaging in a coat pocket.
“Where are you going?”
He held up a pack of cigarettes, a lighter crooked in his thumb.
“But it’s cold out.”
His shoulders dropped.
L approached K, removed his scarf and gently looped it around her head.
“There,” he said.
He stepped outside. The bell gave a short tinkle. A slip of cold air ran across the floor and up K’s spine. She shivered.