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Coffee with Demons
“This is coffee. You drink it.”
Rosemary nudged the steaming cup of caffeine across the café table. The young boy stared down at the cup, still uncertain despite her instructions.
“Here, watch,” she picked up the cup and brought the brim to her lip. Her nose wrinkled momentarily before she took a gallant sip. “Mmm, delicious.”
She offered the coffee again, fighting down a gag of her own. She was actually a tea drinker herself- the only coffee she could stomach was the kind that her father had raised her on. In fact, she couldn’t even recall what type- latte, mocha whatever, she’d ordered for the boy.
All she knew was that he needed it.
He wrapped his small hands around the cup and his ears perked up. “It’s warm.”
Rosemary muffled her surprise. Those were the first words she’d heard him speak since she’d found him in the alley across her street. When he’d said, “They’re coming.” His voice was small like him and had an exotic wholesomeness to it that seemed particularly out of place coming from a pre-pubescent boy.
She was already wondering what she’d gotten herself into. Somehow, a simple trip to the market had led to her stumbling upon this boy, cowering behind a dumpster, streaked in mud and what looked like blood. He was obviously cold and exhausted, maybe even wounded. Rosemary’s conscious wouldn’t have allowed her to leave him lying there.
But, watching him sniffing at a cup of coffee, as if he’d never seen such a simple, everyday thing, Rosemary felt a cold shiver of fear. Fear for the boy and of what he’d been running from, and fear of the unknown.
She’d never had to deal with a demon boy before.
At first, Rosemary hadn’t realized the boy was a demon. His ears had been plastered to his head and his tail hidden. But now, his black, tufted ears, that looked as soft and downy as a cat’s, were standing up, swiveling to pick up each sound, and his matching, furred tail flicked underneath the table. Rosemary couldn’t stop staring at them. She’d accepted that demons now mingled with humans and society, but she’d never had much contact with them until now.
Besides, the ones she knew were demons hid their… inhuman aspects, while this boy was either too young or too naïve to do the same.
“You should drink it before it gets cold,” Rosemary urged.
The boy picked up the cup, and then took a tentative sip. Rosemary had the pleasure of watching as his ears pricked forward and his molten gold eyes widened to the size of saucers.
“It’s good!” he cried and before she could say another word, he tilted back the cup and chugged down its contents.
Rosemary started, the warning dying on her lips. No one in their right mind drank hot coffee that fast.
But, when the boy set down the now empty cup, he bore a whipped cream mustache and a satisfied expression on his face.
“S-sure thing,” Rosemary blinked at him, flabbergasted. Who was this kid? First, he’s never seen coffee before, and then he’s completely unaffected by the almost scalding temperature of the drink.
Yet, his eyes were filled with so much wonder by this mysterious “cah-fee” as he called it, Rosemary couldn’t stop a small grin from spreading on her face.
As he downed another cup of it- she would probably regret obliging him later- she popped a question.
He’d stopped shivering and glancing behind him fearfully, so now was as good a time as any.
“What’s your name?”
The boy lowered his gaze, and then glanced at her shyly.
“Shan-ri? Well, Shan-ri, I’m Rosemary. It’s nice to meet you,” she made a hopefully reassuring smile and held out her hand.
The boy, Shan-ri, handed her the coffee cup. Rosemary took it after a stunned pause and just couldn’t help it- she laughed.
It was all so unexpected, yet so ordinary. Having coffee with a demon… now that would be a memory she would never forget.