She found me in a Starbucks pouring whiskey from two tiny minibar bottles into my cup of coffee. "Hey stranger," she smiled, "remember me?"
I looked up. "What the fuck?! Helena??"
"Wow, it's really been a while, huh?"
"Wait, what? How'd you even find me?"
"Paid a private investigator and she found you. Then I took a plane. And here I am. Auckland's real nice, John. I like it."
"B- but why?? We haven't talked like in... a billion years."
"Do I owe you money? 'Cause I'm broke." I took a sip from my whiskey and coffee. "Want some?"
Helena took the cup and drank from it.
She said, "Look, that couple's leaving. Let's get their table."
"I'm also leaving."
"You're not leaving, John. I got stuff to tell you. And you better be sitting down when you hear it."
"It's not. So don't call it that. But it is very important."
"Fine. But when my editor asks why I missed another deadline, I'm telling her: crazy chick from my past tracked me down to my local Starbucks and abducted me."
"Nobody will believe a story like that."
"And yet, here we are."
We sat down on opposing armchairs and between Helena and me was a small wooden table. There was a circular latte stain on the center of the table.
"Let me have another sip," she said, "I think I need it."
I gave Helena the coffee cup and watched her drink. "Jack Daniels?" she asked.
She gave me the cup back.
I drank the whiskey and coffee and waited for her to speak.
She was quiet, distracted by the people leaving and entering the store.
"You look great," I said.
"So how's your modeling career going?"
Helena smiled and shook her head. "I quit the modeling world a long time ago."
"I always did wonder why I never saw you in more magazines."
"Well, now you know. And how's your writing career going?"
"I suck less."
"Good." She took a deep breath. Then said, "Remember that time we dated?"
"We never dated. You were very specific telling me we were not dating."
"Only because you were broke, drunk, unreliable, and always changing towns. But I liked you."
"But not enough to date me."
"Nope. Not enough to date you. But..."
"Fuck! But what??"
"Enough to want to make a baby with you."
"What the fuck are you talking about, Helena? What baby?"
"Look, it's not complicated. I wanted a baby. I didn't want a husband. You were fun. I really liked your face. So I thought: I want John's face on my baby...I need to do this before he changes town."
"You have a baby with my face??"
"John, we have a teenage daughter with your face."
"Whoa! For real? 'Cause if it is, I am so turning it into a story." I finished the coffee and looked at my watch. "In fact, I'm going to do it right this minute."
"Please stay." Helena placed her phone on the small wooden table. "Look. This is her picture."
I picked up the phone and was speechless. At last, I told Helena, "She's beautiful."
"Yes, she is. And she wants to meet you."
I looked at her big brown eyes and asked her, "And what do you want?"
"That you meet her."
"Is that all?"
She remained quiet, looking at the people going in and out of the door.
She looked at me. "I bought your last book," she said.
"I appreciate it."
"You've really gotten better."
"Good to know."
"I suck less too, you know."
I smiled. "Auckland's real nice...This weekend I'll show you girls around."
Merci pour la lecture!