The Quiet Pleasures of Tessa Malone

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As she did each day, Miss Tessa Malone awoke in her bed with a smile on her face; not a broad exaggeration of the mouth, but rather a natural shape of contentment eased upon her plush lips. From the moment she roused from her slumber in the morning, to the last second before her eyelids closed for the night, the smile rarely waned. It welcomed whatever the day delivered, be it bright sun or the gloom of clouds, all the same.

Seated at the edge of her bed, she savored a long stretch with fingertips reaching towards the ceiling fan, toes curling against the floor, and a delicate purr tickling up her throat. She bathed her nude body in a haze of warm, white light, stimulating invigorating tingles all along her skin. It was a pleasurable moment among plenty of pleasurable moments throughout her extended, leisurely mornings at home.

The tick of the clock on her bed table was not a countdown towards a more pedantic and stressful day, but a gentle reminder that time was her own plaything. She was spoiled that way, she knew.

Sometimes it was okay to accept that. Sometimes you indulge in it.

She made her way to the bathroom where a twenty minute soak in a tub of essential oils and warm water awaited her. The soft drips and gurgling ripples of water echoed along the pristine tiles, lulling her into deeper solitude. After donning glasses, stepping into slippers and swaddling herself in a silky robe, her time in the bath was followed by sipping tea and nibbling buttery toast with mango jam in the kitchen. Then she padded over to her living room where she curled up on a velvet chaise.

She plucked the first book from the top of a stack resting upon a side table. It was a tawdry romance paperback, low in literature calories but infused with enough juicy scandal to really sink her teeth and lustful imagination into. As she hummed a soft sigh–the only sound she made throughout her mornings–she settled into her chaise and immersed herself in the pages.

Later, by mid-morning, she left her apartment and stepped out of her building. The hustle and bustle of the busy city had died down at that point, with most of the population settled into the routine pace for the day. As Tessa walked along the sidewalks, it was the steady, mellow concert of urban life which filled her aural senses rather than the eclectic clamour of people getting to where they needed to be from a few hours earlier.

Like the perpetual smile adorning her face, the world seemed to smile back at her; not literally and not everyone, of course. Most people she passed were too self-absorbed in the minutiae of their lives to reveal anything more than the expression of a plank of wood. Many of the people that did take that second to look up and toward her, however, couldn’t seem to help reflect her smile; or acknowledge it with a modest spark of life in their expression.

Perhaps they were intrigued by her throwback appearance: a simple, ruby red dress cinched tight at the waist with a hem hanging just above her knees, black stockings wrapping her lithe legs, and low heels. Bold crimson was painted upon her lips, the highlight of otherwise carefully and moderately applied make up. Along with the wavy, chin-length bob of her shiny, auburn hair and her dark-rimmed glasses, it was as if she were a cut out doll from a 60’s society magazine.

Maybe they were curious about that wistfully pleased demeanour of hers, that look of utter contentment in her person, striking their imaginations as they interpreted the meaning behind it. Did she receive news of an inheritance? Maybe the sex was night was particularly satisfying? Was she on her way to some illicit tryst?

Sometimes the looks of bristling arousal she earned from select men were enough to make her blush ever so slightly. She always kept her comments to herself though, responding only with a polite glance or subtle blink.

Yet, Tessa was not a woman of immaculate virtue by any means. She enjoyed sex, the act, the thought; with familiar men or with strangers; being seduced or being the initiator. Her confidence in that aspect of her being was not an insignificant ingredient behind that contented smile. She simply never allowed herself to flaunt it, preferring the mask of beguiling reticence.

Along the way to work, she stopped at a corner sandwich shop. The frontage and interior were humble in design, but it was quaint. More importantly, the baguettes the shop served were fresh and tasty.

Tessa always enjoyed watching the stocky man behind the counter with her keen hazel eyes. As he sliced the baguettes, layered the toppings, swashed on the spreads and plated and garnished the minor jambon and brie opus with an aplomb and zeal not usually granted for a lowly sandwich, she was reminded of a maestro at a symphony. He was so easily absorbed in his moment that he imbued artistic flare in the mundane act.

Today, he seemed suddenly more aware of Tessa’s watchful presence. As he served her the plate, he grinned and shrugged self-consciously as if he had Travesti been caught singing in the bathtub.

Still early for the lunch crowds, she ate alone, the sole customer in the shop. Savoring the sandwich with dainty bites, she continued to read her book from earlier in the morning. The plot tailed into a steamy scene set in a secluded cottage in the woods and detailed the results of a duchess’ incessant taunts and overtures as her long feminine nails scraped down the sweaty back of a young stable hand. Unconsciously, Tessa shifted in her seat, thighs drawing together ever so slightly, a finger on her free hand caressing her left earlobe. Her smile broke momentarily for a necessary moistening of her lips.

She put down the book, placing it firmly on the small tabletop, and gave her head a little shake. She gazed momentarily at the floor before her with a bemused grin on her lips, then resumed eating. When she finished, she walked over to the counter to pay.

The man waved and smirked. “On the house,” he said.

Without pause, Tessa politely placed her payment and tip on the counter. She smiled, tilting her chin low, then turned and walked away. Through the eyes at the back of her head, she could see the man watching her, grinning and scratching his chin, lost in his thoughts about the beguiling woman who had just left his shop.

As she continued along her way, a greyness began to settle upon the city as thick clouds rolled through the sky above. Tessa’s steps quickened, chased by the evidence of a summer shower brewing. As she arrived at her place of work, the first flecks of rain speckled the pavement.

Tessa closed the door behind her and paused at the entryway of the coffee shop to take a deep breath then sighed contentedly. The Library Cafe was like a second home to her. Everything delighted her senses: the smell of brewed coffee, the soothing sounds of old time jazz melodies enhanced by all the natural wood decor and detailing, and the sight of rows upon rows of books lining almost every wall from floor to ceiling. It just seemed right to be there, a place of solitude and patience.

She made her way toward the backroom to put away her purse. As she passed the counter, she greeted the owner of the cafe, Mr. Danzig. The elderly man with the shock-white hair, weathered, olive skin, and a round, jolly belly, put down his newspaper and replied with a cordial, “Hello, Miss Malone.”

“How are you today, Mr. Danzig?” Tessa answered as she returned to the counter, tying a black apron around her pretty, red dress.

“Oh, fine. Typical morning,” Mr. Danzig said, speaking softly as if he were just rousing from bed — not unusual considering he was at the cafe before dawn. He had always been soft-spoken though. A spark like a struck flint lit up in his eye whenever he saw Tessa, proof of a youthful spirit and warm memories rekindled by an alluring woman.

The two of them exchanged few words more as he prepared to leave, their switch-over of shifts as routine as a soft shoe dance. As he headed to the door, Tessa said, “Mr. Danzig…” She held out an umbrella.

He paused to look at her, then outside to the steady rainfall, then back towards her. He smiled sheepishly and took the umbrella. “It’ll probably be a quiet afternoon for you,” he said, turning at the door to look back at her and winking, “Just the way you like it, heh?”

Tessa tilted her head aside. Indeed, she relished the peaceful days. “You know me well.”

“If only I were to know you better,” he said beneath a labored sigh — probably a little more loudly than he intended — as he left.

Alone, Tessa took the time to soak in her surroundings again as she wiped the counter with a cloth. It was not more than a year ago when she had entered the cafe — then known simply as Main Street Coffee — and picked up the “Help Wanted” sign from the window.

She had walked up to the portly man serving coffee and uttered exactly eight words: “My name is Tessa. I’m interested in… helping.”

Mr.Danzig, gawking from behind his counter, hired her without another utterance.

Tessa immediately cast her influence. The store was part of a red brick building built in the 1920’s with dark hardwood floors, exposed pipe, and tall wooden wall shelves that reached up to the soaring eleven-foot ceiling. It was her idea to remove all of the disconnected baubles and dusty plants that covered the shelves. After shining up the rich wood with a bit of polish, she filled every inch with books. It started with her own collection from home, tawdry romances included. Donations from customers quickly followed.

Then one day, a couple of people from the library a few blocks away came by with a van load of discarded material.

“We miss you at the branch,” said one man, a tinge of disappointment in his voice.

Tessa touched his hand as a gesture of gratitude for his sentiments. His unrequited longing became even more bare-faced.

They received so many books that they filled even the uppermost Ankara Travesti shelves. Eventually, Tessa found and had installed one of those old-fashioned iron, sliding ladders to reach the books up top.

After exchanging the generic, dated furniture for mix-and-match tiffany lamps, wooden chairs, marble-topped tables, and a velvet chaise lounger, the cafe had been transformed into a cozy, intimate library.

There was something alluring about it. It beckoned people to come in and escape their concerns, soothe their nerves with brewed coffee, and indulge themselves in a good read.”Main Street Coffee” as a name just didn’t quite capture the essence of the space anymore, and it took very little on the part of Tessa to convince Mr.Danzig to change the name to The Library Cafe.

The business grew shortly after. While the clientele didn’t exactly triple or even double, there were noticeably more people coming in, and those that did were the type who were willing to pay a premium for their coffee and the ambiance. No matter how full the place became, the setting and placid demeanours of both Tessa and Mr. Danzig seemed to naturally evoke a tranquil reserve amongst the customers; the sound of conversations rarely rose above intimate chatter.

There were often pockets of time when Tessa found herself alone in the peaceful sanctum. During those moments, she would often sally back and forth along the wall of books. She’d skim her fingers along the spines, unconsciously humming a meandering tune as she surrendered to her dreamy musings, recalling the countless immersive embedded in the pages of the books she touched.

Still, she often counted among her favourite times when it was simply her and one lone customer sitting in the cafe, enjoying a book and a cup of java. With an easy silence between them–aside from the soft intonations of classic or jazz music — she could focus her thoughts and appreciate the presence of the person more so than when the cafe was busy.

Casting them a contemplative gaze, she would imagine the stories behind the person. Often she would weave intricate plots of deviance and gossip that would tease a tiny curl at the edge of her lips, her imagination flaring. Honestly, the stories her mind conjured were most likely more spicy than the actual lives the people led.

Yet, whenever a person glanced up and noticed Tessa watching them with an obviously bemused thought wending its way behind those beguiling eyes, there was never any consternation in their expression in return. Some –often men, sometimes women– were quite responsive acknowledging her with their own indulgent gazes, their minds spinning provocative tales of their own.

The Library Cafe was a place for indulging wandering imaginations and secret fantasies, it seemed.

After she put away her cloth and washed her hands, she prepared herself a coffee and then sat on a stool to resume reading her book. The scene had shifted to the boudoir, as the duchess pulled away the suspenders of the bare chested stable hand. Tessa tickled her ear lobe once more. With one leg crossed over the other, her heel bouncing subtly, offering her inner thighs a pleasurable rub.

Just then, she heard the chime of the small bell hanging on the doorway. She looked toward the entrance. Immediately her heart softened.

A young man fumbled with his umbrella before dropping it into the holder by the door. He shook his hands at his sides, then froze, suddenly aware of the droplets of rain water he had scattered all over the hardwood floor. Looking up hesitantly toward Tessa, he said, “I’m… sorry.”

Tessa smiled and shook her head, lips tight, eyes fixed upon him.

Every movement he made as he approached was laced with a self-conscious hesitancy. He looked towards her often, but never really made eye contact. He paused at a chair, thinking for a moment before putting down his leather messenger satchel. “Is this… uh, okay? I mean, it’s a kind of wet,” he said apologetically.

“Of course,” Tessa replied, a bemusement in her voice.

“Thanks,” he said, revealing a disarmingly sweet, sheepish grin. He continued towards the counter and apologized again as he stopped to wipe the lenses of his glasses with his wet fingers.

Tessa offered him a napkin.

The young man paused then chuckled, “Right. Thanks.”

She picked up a mug. Pausing, she arched her fine brow as she eyed him from aside. “The usual?” she asked.

“Ah, yeah,” he said.

She filled the cup with the dark roast then picked up the carafe of cream.

“I can do that,” he offered.

Again she gave her chin a little shake as she filled the cup. “It’s my pleasure,” she said, as she poured. “Is this enough?”

He shrugged. “You know me well.”

Tessa tilted her head, a trace of distant deja vu lingering in her mind.

The young man instantly blushed and adjusted his glasses on his face. “Then again, you seem to know me better than I know myself.I never know the right amount of cream İstanbul Travesti to put in.”

She nodded then placed the mug on the counter and turned the handle towards him. With a thoughtful gaze, she watched him take that first, satisfying sip.

He was a handsome young man, college freshman or sophomore, maybe ten years her junior. Pointed chin; high, pink cheeks; blue eyes darkened behind the rims of his glasses; and wavy black hair slicked by the rain. He came across as a lanky Clark Kent type. Yet, his suave physical appearance was tempered by a genuine naivete which captivated Tessa. He embodied ‘boyish charm’.

He swallowed and looked down at the coffee curiously.

“I snuck in a drop of honey,” Tessa said, crossing her arms and leaning forward on the counter. “You look like you could enjoy a bit of sweetness.”

“It’s good,” he chuckled and grinned broadly as if he no idea how good a simple drink could make him feel. He seemed to be easing into the moment. “Really nice, especially on a day like this.”

Tessa listened to the chatter of the rain outside as she continued to contemplate the young man.

“Oh, right,” he exclaimed. Having misread her patient gaze, he reached for his wallet.

“Later,” she said, with a nod and a shrug. “You may want… something else?”

He paused and blinked. “Uh… true,” he said, off-kilter once again. He pointed to his bag back beside the chair. “I’ll just go… have a seat for a bit, I mean. Read… something.”

Tessa’s eyes narrowed as she watched him meander away, glancing back towards her twice as he did. There was something about him today she couldn’t quite finger. He had always been an earnest and shy fellow since he began frequenting the cafe a few weeks ago.

The very first time he came in, he seemed almost lost, as if he had passed through the door by accident. Tessa had noted a swell of sadness shrouding him. She guessed he may have been spurned by a girl; the heavy heart on his sleeve indicated something more than just pedantic troubles.

Maybe it was the inviting comfort of the cafe, or perhaps her presence, but by the time he left after that first visit he had seemed to be a little less burdened. And each time he returned, that heavy heart lightened a touch more. Still, he retained that charmingly shy demeanour each time he came in, possibly wary of being bitten again. He would often stay for long hours barely turning the pages of some random book he had pulled from the shelf, stealing glances towards her.

Tessa never made him feel that his reluctant attentions were unwanted or unappreciated. Privately, she indulged in them, though she hadn’t thought of acting upon them — not immediately. A quiet patience had always been her way, her desires satiated and stoked by the naughty stories her mind concocted.

Yet today, there was something in those handsome blue eyes of his. As he sat there with his book and his coffee, his earnest glimpses gave way to extended, lingering gazes towards her. Even as she caught him staring, he seemed less inclined to look away so quickly. She could swear that there was a subtle tinge of conviction in his eyes as if he were brewing some of his own wanton notions.

Tessa tilted her head down and smiled to herself. Maybe she was reading too much into this. Maybe after so many visits and a growing attraction to the young man, she finally she decided to read more into his glances, emboldening her own imagination and appealing to her salacious urges.

As the minutes passed, Tessa realized her breaths had deepened. She patted her face and neck, noting a flush of warmth pulsing through. Perhaps it was the warmth of the lamps illuminating the dim cafe, casting teasing shadows all around them, but she was fully aware of her arousal. More to the point, she was embracing it, allowing herself to be swept up in some heady elixir she didn’t have the nerve to deny.

Her quiet patience may have been at an end.

Outside, sheets of rain fell heavily upon the abandoned streets of the city. There would be no other customers for the time being.

Tessa untied her apron, folded it and put it aside. Then she made her way around the counter. As she walked towards the front of the cafe, her heels clicked deliberately and softly on the hardwood floor. The young man froze with his nose tilted staunchly toward the pages as she passed where he was seated, but she could feel his eyes shifting to the side, following her.

Without a word or pause, Tessa turned the sign on the door: “Will be back in fifteen minutes”. She grinned and thought, “Give or take thirty minutes or so.”

She could sense his riveted attention burning upon her back as she pulled down the blinds. It was so dark outside, it barely made a difference in the dim cafe, but an enthralling air of seduction seemed to fill the space.

As she strolled back, she stopped to gather a few books lying on a table. Casually, she took hold of the sliding ladder and pulled it over to the shelf in front of the man.

His muted attention was still wholly focused on her when she turned to face him. He wasn’t even trying to hide it anymore, his mouth partially slack as he looked up at her. Tessa smiled and nodded her chin aside. “A little help?” she asked.

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