I was in the kitchen, getting to work on some dough to make some loaves for lunch, when the back door flew open and in walked Mateo.
‘Ciao bella,’ he sang, his arms full of sheaf’s of corn. His face smiling as always, his hair now growing longer and wavier.
‘how ar ewe?’ he asked smiling proudly of himself for talking English. His eyes alive with a glint as he watched me run the cold water over my hands, rinsing off the flour.
I turned to face him and drying my hands on my piny, I smiled.
‘ ah Bella bel sorriso!’ he winked, joking. Waiting for me to tell him were to put the corns. I looked around the large kitchen, not really thinking of the corns but of him with those gorgeous eyes and skin so dark.
I settled on the kitchen sink, which I empties quickly putting the few pots that I had in there on the side, and running the cold tap.
How or why this man made me nervous, I could feel my face flush as I felt his eyes bore into the back of me. Watching my every move with baited breathe. When I turned around, I hung my head a little so my hair would just cover my face, and going to him and taking the corns from him.
My hands brushed his, as I didn’t know quite which way to move to take them from his arms, and he laughed as he caught my eye, holding my gaze.
We stood there for some seconds just looking at each other, until I laughed too. He held my arm, just catching a sheaf as it fell, as I made my way to the kitchen sink.
‘It funny, no?’ he asked me with a question, that I didn’t have any intention, or knew how to answer, as I placed the sheaf’s in the sink.
‘I have som think for ewe, Bella’ he said putting his hand in his trouser pocket and pulling out a small brown paper package.
Holding his hand out to me as he smiled and said.
‘Si, si, for ewe, bella’ nodding his head as I took the small package and opened the top, looking inside.
The aroma of the fresh coffee filtering through the air. Coffee was almost un heard of in these times in these parts. Something which Ifan had not really taken to, as it was as foreign as it looked. Preferring his welsh milky tea with sugar. I didn’t even think to ask where he got it from, not that he would understand me anyway.
‘Thank you’ I smiled, going immediately to put the kettle on over the stove, filling it with water. Not really knowing how to make it as I set about putting two cups on the side.
‘Un café, si’ He said. ’Tu piace, si?’ he asked adding,
‘ewe like?’ His accent so strong.
I shrugged my shoulders at him and pulled a face, which seemed to make him all the more determined to be friendly with me.
‘I don’t know how to make it though’ I said as his face questioned mine with no understanding. So I laughed, and spoke slowly, putting the package back in his hand and signalling to the cups.
‘You’ I said pointing at him,
‘ Make’ ’Si’ I smiled, hopping that he would understand what it was that I was trying to convey.
‘Ah, Si, Prego’ He did, as he laughed. He looked around the kitchen at various utensils hanging from the ceiling in the centre of the room and found a sieve. Taking it down and then rinsing the jug I had on the draining board under the cold water tap.
He sang, something that sounded so romantic and alluring as I stood in my kitchen watching him. He moved around me checking the water on the boil. Spooning out two spoons of the powdered coffee in to the sieve. Placing the sieve over the jug.
Words of love maybe, as I suddenly thought of what his life back home in Italy was really like. He caugh my eye and winked, making me blush even more. The more I saw of him, the more Mateo intrigued me.
He was dramatically in his actions, everything exaggerated as he moved, as if he was putting on a show for me, but then in a sense he was. And I was loving every moment of it.
Then he poured the boiled water from the cast iron kettle onto the sieve, slowly.
‘aspetto’ he said, pointing at his eyes with his free hand and then down as the dark brown liquid dripped through the coffee. The smell filling the room with a wonderfully rich aroma.
And then he went back to his singing his face alight.
He pulled out a kitchen chair and dusted away imaginary dust, holding his hand out for me to sit. And I did as I was told, as I didn’t need to be told twice by this kind, gentle handsome man. I watched him as he waited for the coffee to come through and then pour some in the cups.
He took the jug of milk from the table where I was making bread, thinking I am never going to have it ready for lunch, and how much Ifan would scold me for it. And he poured a dash in to the cups.
Adding a spoonful of sugar in each and handing me a cup.
I pointed at the chair for him to sit by me, which he understood with ease, sitting down and taking his cup. Taking a sip. And then nodding at me.
I took a tiny sip, as the strong smell hit my nostrils, burning, and awakening my senses at the same time. The hot thick liquid, sharp and not at all as bitter as it was before. But sweet and syrupy.
‘Hhmm’ I made all the right noises and expressions, to which he laughed at, putting his cup down on the table and taking my hand.
He bent his head down and kissed it ever so softly. His eyes looking into mine, his waves falling over his face.
‘Tu piace bello, Si? ’ he asked, never leaving my face. I watched his eyes look at my mouth as I smiled and replied ’Si, I like’.
My answer not really answering his question but another, as if asked.
‘Do I like him, Mateo?’ I was certainly feeling something that I hadn’t felt before.
And before I knew it, he lent forward and kissed me on the mouth. Taking me by surprise, as I opened my mouth to kiss him back. Holding on to the cup in my hands so tightly, which were now shaking.
Just then the dogs in the yard started to bark, and Ifan’s voice rang out at them telling them to be quiet.
‘Caid y ceg’ he instructed in welsh. The dogs instantly afraid of their keeper, quieting down.
Mateo scrabbled up and pushed his chair back under the table as I quickly jumped up and set to work on the sheaf’s in the stone sink as Ifan burst through the door.
Making us jump as my heart leapt to my chest, my hands still shaking from that kiss.
Never before had I been kissed in such away, one that I wanted it not to stop. Nothing like Ifan’s rough fumbling, poking and licking my face like a dog licks a child’s.
It had made me want to be a part of him, the desire that I had felt washing over me, quickly dispersed as Ifan’s harsh words were heard.
‘You’ he said, grabbing Mateo by the neck of his camp overalls, pulling him, and then pushing him through the open back door.
‘Go’ he shouted, his face angry. ‘There is work to be done’.
And then he glanced around the room, not noticing the two cups and the jug half full of coffee, as his eyes lay on me.
‘Iawn?’. ‘ok?’ he asked simply, looking at me, not asking but telling me as I couldn’t lift my eyes away from the contents of the sink, scared of what he may see in my face.
And with that he marched back out of the door and slammed it shut.
Shouting at the dogs once more, as I watched him from the window, walk through the yard and out of the gate. Making his way back to the field.
Wondering what had just happened, and for how much longer I could keep living with this dictator?