Authors: T.B. Solangel
April Loves Black Coffee
April Loves Black Coffee
Copyright © 2014 by T.B. Solangel
All rights reserved.
Reformatted Edition April 2014
April Loves Black Coffee: First Impressions
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and/or used fictitiously. Any resemblances to real individuals, living or dead, events, or locales are entirely coincidental.
No part of this book is to be produced and distributed without the knowledge, written consent, and permission of T.B. Solangel.
The author published an earlier version of this story online with the title(s) “Conversations between Us” and “Conversations between a Gentleman and a Lady” under the pseudonym Solangel between the years of 2003 and 2007.
Cover Design by: Pa Chia Xiong
Book Design by:
For all the heart attacks you spoil me with.
A heartwarming thank you to my family for your continuous support of my storytelling endeavors. You are my bright, marvelous, and awe-inspiring guardian angels. The sacrifices, including your enduring perseverance of “making a way out of no way,” have made who I am today. I don’t know what I would do without your tact and endless love. My heart loves you so much!
To Q.V., your undivided affection gives me more heart attacks than I deserve. You are always by my side–my rock, my pillar–encouraging me to tackle my fears and chase after my dreams. You’ve brought so much joy, adventure, and love to my life. You mean more to me than you’ll ever know. I love you.
To Kelly H.L., thank you for being so supportive and enthusiastic about my first publishing endeavor. Through all the times that we’ve lost touch and reconnected–all the conversations, laughter, and contemplation–you remain a great and constant friend.
To Pachia Chia Xiong, you swooped in like an Angel and brought to life the emotions and tone of this story with your majestic designs. Thank you for such sincerity and heart for ALBC!
To Con.Template, how do I express my appreciation for your sweet sentiments and splendid advices? It is amazing to have a fellow Soomp! writer’s camaraderie and solace. Words will not do my gratitude justice, so I will simply resign with a thank you for all the meaningful messages and amazing counsel. You have been a great pillar of support and guidance.
To my Soomp! readers, I grew up with the simple dream of writing stories and sharing them with those who pursue the joy of reading. You have allowed me not only to achieve my dream, but also take it to greater heights. I could never publish this story without your enduring encouragements, strong and sustaining support, and moving motivations. To put into words and convey my gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation I would need a bigger heart to contain all the love I have for you all. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much!
And finally, a special thank you to my editors who have dedicated their time, energy, and effort. You are ALBC’s guardians!
ABOUT THE SERIES
April Loves Black Coffee: First Impressions is the first published novel of the original fiction posted online (between the years of 2003 to 2007) known as “Conversations between Us” and “Conversations between a Gentleman and a Lady.” Similar to its original roots, the story follows the narration of Maybelline Lee as she crosses into the treacherous and enthralling worlds of Yoon Jaewon and Choi Sangwoo.
This revised version of the original story reflects the dark undertones, and mature evolution, of not only the characters but the story itself. Dialogues, scenes, plot development, and characters have been rewritten and revamped. Elements of the original fiction have been warped to reflect a more contemporary tone befitting of the story’s evolution.
Some important changes to the published version include:
-Maybelline Lee is 21-years-old.
The character “Feet” is now “Spyder.”
Lina is not only May’s best friend, but also cousin.
The story is written in present tense as opposed to past tense in the online version.
The reasons for May’s involvement with Choi Sangwoo and Yoon Jaewon have been complicated for plot strengthening and background. However, the specifics and original details of their involvement remain unchanged.
The second book in this series is April Loves Black Coffee:
April Loves Black Coffee
Someone once told me:
First impressions are everything. Conversations are the rest.
“Where my heart still is, I admit I am not too sure.
When the sky starts to cry, I become reminiscent and lonely.
Although I would like to think I’ve moved on, I can’t help but think that
I shouldn’t have let go, I should’ve held on tight.
The beginning was so pure and untainted.
When a person is gone, should you miserably miss him or regrettably remember him?
If you miss him, do you look back at the old pictures and cry?
If you remember him, do you recall the tone of his voice–the rise and fall of his laughter?
Do you think back to the conversations between you and him?
Conversations between us?
I need another cup of coffee.
I need him.”
April Loves Black Coffee.
aybelline! Service for table twelve!”
I bite my bottom lip in an annoyed fashion when my birth name ricochets off the walls of the restaurant slash bar. Despite the fact that The Trax is trickling with up-tempo music and the cadence of loud chatter, a few customers turn their heads in the Son’s direction with natural curiosity. Surely, the waitress with the same name as the makeup brand, Maybelline, will be bounding towards the assistant manager’s command any moment now. Maybe she is wearing the everlasting lip color or expert eyeliner or both.
Instead, the brand’s real life counterpart continues to stand by the bar doing her best to wait out the attention.
“Why does he insist on calling me by my birth name?” I complain in vain under my breath. I lift up a hand to let Son know I hear him. I motion with exaggeration towards the bustling bar, making sure Son can see I am in the middle of an order. Simultaneously, my shoulders sag under an invisible bag of fatigue. I am on the fourth hour of my eight-hour shift. There is never down time or a dull moment at The Trax.
Well, whose idea was it to work here?
I keep my head low and look up through my dark eyelashes at the surrounding chaos. I am leaning against the right side of the full bar, blending in with the few customers who are only interested in drinking tonight. A cascade of neon yellow and orange colors, blending and melting from one person to the next, rotates around the venue.
I watch our resident bartender, Tailor Jung, finish the Strawberry Vodka Martini mix ordered by a regular female customer sitting at table nine. I can see she is waiting impatiently despite the fact that I have only been gone two minutes.
“He calls you by your first name because he has a superiority complex,” Tailor answers my question with a smirk on his lips. He places the finished Martini in front of me. The pink liquid spills over the top of the crystal glass; the bubbles are settling at the bottom of the drink in a delicious manner. Tailor’s dark eyes shine underneath the glaring purple and white lantern lights that stretch above the island of the bar. “And because you let him,” Tailor adds.
“I don’t let him.” I refute it quickly. “Son thinks he owns my name just because he hired me.” My little black waitressing order book, bound by its intrepid leather spine and cover, folds neatly into the short apron I am wearing. Now that my hands are free, I pick up the Martini in a steady manner.
“Dare you to correct him then.” Tailor throws me one of his signature tip-increase grins before he moves to the other end of the bar. Tailor only uses that specific smile on female customers to draw their attention in and boost his tip scale. Aside from being one of the best bartenders in town, Tailor is also incredibly talented at convincing people to spend more money than they initially plan to. This is what makes Tailor one of The Trax’s best assets. I, on the other hand, have a hard time recommending the most basic appetizers. Some people are simply more talented than others.
I concede to our usual bantering by default. It is a tough night at The Trax. I handle table nine’s Martini with great care as I veer away from the bar.
Wary of the four-inch heels strap to my feet, I begin my trek down the steps that the bar situates on. I see the brunette customer at table nine sucking in her breath, undoubtedly praying that I will not drop her drink.
It’s been a long day for me, so there is no guarantee girl.
My intuition is holding her breath.
It is Saturday night and The Trax is in full swing. Individuals and groups occupy every single table and booth, including bar stools. Most of the people are in the restaurant area, engaged in conversations that range from work to love to stress. In about another hour, the extravagant chandeliers that drape over the maroon ceiling are highlights of multicolored strobe lights and hues. The large restaurant area, complete with its booths and individual tables will be converted to a large dance floor. The plush curtains covering the center stage will be undone to reveal a DJ booth in front of a massive LED screen. In short, The Trax is a restaurant and bar during business hours. After hours, The Trax converts into an underground club with its skewed dance floor, dimmed neon lights, and loud thumping electric dance music.
“Here is your drink.” My voice is just below the shouting range when I finally reach table nine. To this very day, I still do not know her name, but everyone at The Trax refers to this regular customer as Number Nine because of her preference for this table. She never answers any personal questions about herself; the only time Number Nine speaks directly to a Trax employee is when she wants to order something. She is that type of customer and not that type of client. Even Tailor, with his wit and charm, has not been able to crack her. It is a running bet among our employees to know something else about Number Nine other than her preferred drink.
Number Nine is engaged in conversation with her friend when I set down her Martini. Her voice is low and rough. She is in crisis mode and her tone is anxious. “He is cheating on me. I just know it. I have to end it with him.”
I retract from the table slowly. It really isn’t any of my business to listen to her conversation, but I want to tell Number Nine her instincts are right; her boyfriend is cheating on her with a pretty blonde he brings in every Thursday afternoon. A momentary thought flashes in my mind to tell the poor girl that if she comes for Happy Hour Thursdays, she would undoubtedly run into her no-good boyfriend and his new Barbie doll.
I glance at Number Nine. She has her hands against her face now, shaking her head at her friend’s words of consolation. Oblivious to the fact that I am still standing next to her, Number Nine reaches for her drink and gulps it down like a goldfish.
It is not my usual nature to meddle in other people’s lives, but I am also not a sadist who enjoys knowing the bad news of another person’s demise. If there is one staple to be working at The Trax, it is the fortune of being able to peek into other people’s lives. Sometimes, it is hard to suppress my internal psychologist from stirring. It is both a blessing and a curse to have this obsessive-compulsive disorder to fine tune injustices that exist in the world.
Girl, you can do better.
My conscience has her red sunglasses on, desperate to give the anonymous tip.
“May, Son is giving you the stink eye. You better hurry to table twelve.” A
silky voice disrupts my bubble of thoughts. “By the way, one of them looks like a male supermodel,” she adds in a husky tone.
Joolie, the only other female waitress at The Trax, taps my right shoulder on her way to the bar. She is all tight, black ensemble and dark, smoky eyes. Joolie flashes a fervent look towards table twelve.
I follow Joolie’s gaze, but before it reaches table twelve Son distracts my line of vision. He is standing on the other side of the restaurant on his cell phone. Son has an anxious expression on his face from the result of a strained conversation. Undoubtedly, he is using his assistant manager powers to convince the person on the opposite line to give him what he wants. When we make eye contact, Son points to table twelve and mouths to me, “Get your butt over there. Now!”
I clear my throat and my five-year-old self yearns to stick her tongue at him. Son is overbearingly bossy and takes his job too seriously. It must be the result of his secret desire to rule the restaurant and bar world one day.
“Tell me how it goes!” Joolie orders before she rushes to the bar to fulfill an order.
I let out a low chuckle at Joolie’s comment. One can always count on Joolie to notice the good, the bad, and the ugly at The Trax.
I straighten up and walk over to table twelve. I reach into my apron and pull out my trusty order book along with a ballpoint pen. I flip the order book to a new page and approach the table.
“Good evening, gentlemen. My name is May. I will be your waitress tonight. Can I get you started with some drinks?” The smile feels foreign on my face, but I lock it into place. My voice is the required light and airy tone all waitresses are supposed to have.
My intuition sits up in her chair. Of all the times that Joolie’s failed to make an impression with her precursors, she certainly hit the head of the nail this time.
Five men are sitting around table twelve; one looking like the exact duplicate of the other as they stake their seats like chess pieces. The men pour over their respective menus as if ordering is a paramount decision. The men are in identical black suits complete with white dress shirts and black ties. They even have the same solemn facial expressions. They appear to form a small company party, although The Trax’s usual clientele do not include businessmen.
In fact, The Trax’s general demographic is mostly comprised of late adolescents and young adults in their early twenties and thirties with only one motivation in coming here–to have dinner with a date, to find a date, to talk about a date, and the list goes on. Yes, The Trax is that kind of establishment and not that kind of pleasant social environment for anything remotely professional. Everyone who walks into The Trax has their own agenda, and when everyone has just about the same agenda, it becomes quite predictable.
Tonight, however, the game changes.
The men sitting at table twelve do not fit the standard profile of a Trax client. They are not having simple weekend conversations either. In fact, the men are not only older in age but also demeanor and itinerary. It becomes palpable that there exists tension at the table, and it becomes apparent that one man is intimidating the other four.
This naturally draws my attention to him.
The stunning creature is already waiting for my attention.
“May, what type of red wine is served here?” He is sitting in the chair directly across from me. His voice is cool and controlled, especially when he addresses me directly. The colors of his eyes are spectacular–a
whirlpool of rich brown. I dub him Brown Eyes.
At the present moment, Brown Eyes is taking in the fact that I am wearing the standard black and white uniform all Trax employees are condemned to wear.
Is he checking me out?
Suddenly, I am conscious of the black makeup I have piled on to hide my true age and the loose ponytail my hair is in. I am a lifetime of insecurities at the very moment. With a small reflex, I reach for my right ear to touch the small earring. I only do this when I am nervous and he notices.
There is a flicker of light shooting across those brown eyes as they follow my movement. He waits for my answer.
“Uh . . . we have the . . . uh . . . standard red wines, sir.” I realize I am beginning to stumble over my sentence.
Have we met before?
A wave of familiarity washes over me and I endure the feelings of déjà vu and nostalgia.
Well, if I have met Brown Eyes before how can I forget him?
I try to catch the fleeting thoughts in my head.
Before he answers, I peek at Brown Eyes through my eyelashes and an electric jolt courses through my veins again. I catch my breath before it escapes my throat. He is young, approximately late twenties, but the thin beard on his face makes him appear older. A heavy set of eyelashes coat his large brown eyes; and his dark eyebrows are at an angle to complement his prominent looks. His lips are together in a hard, fine line. Unlike his counterparts who are wearing suits, Brown Eyes is wearing a simple white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His black slacks make a casual statement, but the shiny sequence of a necklace around his neck signals that there is something remarkable that separates him from the rest.
Brown Eyes is strikingly handsome and breathtakingly . . .
for the lack of a better term. He sticks out like a sore thumb among the company he is sitting with. In fact, Brown Eyes does not belong in The Trax with the rest of its population. He should be plastered on a movie poster somewhere exotic like Paris or Hollywood–not sitting here waiting for me to get over his intoxicating presence to recite The Trax’s wine menu.
“The standards?” His composure causes me to grapple with the fact that I am still lost in a trance. Brown Eyes wants me to elaborate, probably questioning my waitressing intelligence. I fall, hard and fast, back to reality. My intuition stands up, dusting her knees and elbows.
I blink deliberately and look down at my blank order book. I can feel the heat rise in my cheeks as I try to remember wine brands. I try to eliminate the robotic nuances as I begin to recite, “We have the Syrah which goes well with meat like beef and steak. The Malbec complements exotic dishes like Cajun or Indian. The Pinot Noir brings out the flavor in grilled salmon and chicken. And the Merlot is compatible with practically any entrée.”
“Which one is your favorite?” Brown Eyes surprises me with his question.
Whether he is simply making small talk or genuinely inquisitive, Brown Eyes strikes me as too worldly to care about what a simple waitress like me prefers.
No one, more specifically a customer, has ever asked me for my preference before. But then again, I have only worked here for six months. I keep my voice as steady as I can. “Um, I don’t drink wine.”
Oh May. Can you be professional and just suggest something? Like this amazingly striking man actually cares about your preferences.
I wish for the ground to swallow me up.