By: Penelope Ward

“Define respect.”

“Doing it quietly.”

“Sorry. I don’t fuck quietly.”

As much as I hated that answer, I somehow felt that those words would be repeating in my head later tonight.

“Forget it. Clearly, you don’t know the meaning of respect.”

“Respect you? Why…because you’re not getting laid? Why don’t you hook up with some salty dude down at the dock? Maybe then you won’t care so much about other people’s business.”

“Salty dude?”

“Yeah. You know, the guys that live on the boats…the ones who sell you that nasty fish you were eating last night.”

I just shook my head and rolled my eyes, refusing to dignify that comment with a response.

He surprised me when he suddenly lifted the carafe. “Want some coffee?”

“Now you’re being nice?”

“No, I just figured you’re sticking around for some reason. It must be the coffee.”

“This is my kitchen.”

He winked. “Our kitchen.” Grabbing two mugs from the cabinet, he asked, “How do you take yours?”

“Cream and sugar.”

“I’ll take care of it while you go put on a bra.”

I looked down at my boobs which were hanging freely beneath my white t-shirt. Not expecting to run into him this early, I hadn’t thought to put one on. Too embarrassed to acknowledge the fact that he’d noticed, I went back to my room and got dressed.

When I returned, he was back at the window, drinking his coffee.

“Is this better?” I asked, referring to my dress.

He turned around and gave me a once over. “Define better. If better means I can’t see your tits anymore…yes, it’s better. If better, means you look better, that’s debatable.”

“What’s wrong with this?”

“It looks like you sewed it yourself.”

“Actually, it’s from one of the shops on the island. It is handmade.”

“Out of a potato sack?”

“I don’t think so.”


He snickered. “Your coffee’s on the counter, Raggedy Ann.”

My inclination was to try to come up with a comeback, but then I realized that was probably what he wanted. I needed to kill him with kindness instead of showing my anger.

“Thank you. That was nice of you to make it for me.”


I took a sip and immediately spit it out. “What did you put in this? It’s so strong!”

Instead of answering me, he just started to crack up. His laughter resonated through the kitchen, and as much as I hated that it was at my expense, it was the first time he’d laughed. It took me back in time for a moment and served as the only real reminder that the smoking hot asshole in front of me used to be my best friend.

“You don’t like it?”

“It’s a bit strong. What is it?”

“It’s coffee fusion, actually.”

“What does that even mean?”

Justin sauntered over to the cabinet and took out a can and a package. “It’s my own recipe. Cuban coffee mixed with this one.” He pointed to the black packaging that had a white skull and crossbones on it.

“What the hell is that?”

“It’s coffee. I order it online. Nothing else is caffeinated enough for me.”

“That’s why you wanted to serve it to me, wasn’t it? You knew I’d hate this…concoction.”

Instead of answering, he simply let out that raspy laugh of his again, except this time, he was laughing way harder than before.

Jade entered the kitchen, wearing a long black t-shirt that must have been the one he wasn’t wearing. “What’s so funny?”

Justin’s mischievous eyes peeked from behind his mug. He snickered. “We were just having coffee.”

Jade shook her head. “You didn’t drink his mud, did you? I don’t know how he likes that stuff.”

I reminded myself of my plan to kill him with kindness. Taking another sip of the coffee, I nodded. “Actually, at first taste, it was pretty strong, but I actually think I really like it.”

It was disgusting.

“You’d better be careful. That shit is potent. Justin is immune to it, but the one and only time I drank it, it kept me up for like four days.”

Justin chuckled. “Apparently, we kept Amelia up last night.”

Jade turned to me. “Oh, shit. I’m sorry.”

Shrugging, I said, “It’s no big deal. I got used to it after a while.”

“Was that when you decided you wished you could join in?” he cracked.

Fuck him.

I was not going to respond to that.

The more I looked over at his smug expression, the more determined I became to finish the entire damn mug of coffee to spite him. “I’m really surprised at how much I’m actually liking this,” I lied.

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