Lost in the busyness of last week was my return to the cafe a week ago.
Amanda dropped me off on her way to work. This was my day downtown, getting out of the house, feeling productive even with my broken wrist. That is the plan these weeks. But last Tuesday I knew I was there because I needed to be at the cafe with Casey there, not for his sake, but to confront my own squirrelly something inside.
Ramona recognized me from the Thursday before and took my cappuccino-and-scone order. I could see Casey back in the kitchen working.
I started writing. I use a headset with a dictation program, so I’d chosen a side booth that allowed me to face the wall as I was speaking, which cut off some of the room noise and kept my dictation private. It’s clunky and way imperfect, but it’s all I have for now.
A half hour later the breakfast crowd began to clear out. Soon Casey broke free of the kitchen and came out to see me. He stood by my booth. I invited him to sit if he had a moment. He was eager to do so.
Just seeing him again, I was nervous, though I steadied myself with a sip of coffee.
“It was nice to see you last week,” he said.
“You saw a lot of me.”
“True, I did.” Casey smiled.
I blushed. “I hope I didn’t offend you.”
“Beautiful woman like you? No, ma’am. Fair to say, I enjoyed the view.”
“Well,” I said. Then nothing more at first, as I wasn’t sure if I should thank him for the compliment or be embarrassed by it. “Thank you.”
“Why did you do that?” he asked.
“Amanda wanted to show me to you.”
“And you do what she tells you?”
“I thought you were, you know… lovers.”
I took a moment. Words and terms went flying through my head. Of course, It looks from the outside as if Amanda and I are lovers, but I am reluctant to call us that. We are together, sure. Friends, more than friends, intimate and sexual, yes. But more. She is my mistress. Yet to say to Casey that Amanda is my mistress would carry a whole different meaning. Then too, being lovers and obeying what she tells me to do are not, in my world, exclusive. But they are probably in his. How to explain any of this? I finally fell back on a common trope:
“Yes, Casey, in a way, we are. But it’s complicated.”
He nodded with a smile, as if he understood, but there’s no way he could. “You make a good couple.”
Again, I didn’t know how to respond. And I didn’t have to. “You need more coffee,” he said, jumping up to get the carafe.
He quickly returned and poured me a new cup. I said, “I just hope it’s OK for me to be here. That I’m not a problem. Now, that is. After Saturday.” As I said it, I realized I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to accomplish or set right.
“Miss Shae,” Casey said, “you are always welcome here. As is your lady.”
And that was it.
I realized later I was trying to control his perception of me. I wanted him to see me as something other than a scandalous girl who sits in the corner booth, a topless disgrace on a Saturday morning. I knew I wasn’t much concerned about him knowing me as Amanda’s slave. That was OK. It was my exposure, and how I wanted him to perceive me otherwise.
But why did it matter to me so? Why him?