Bubble Tea Love
Bubble tea. I seriously love bubble tea. I have an addiction to bubble tea. My addiction has gotten so bad, that I can't survive a week without it. I start drooling whenever my mind comes across bubble tea. The sweet flavours and the chewy tapioca pearls… God, I'm dying from withdrawal here. That is why every Friday after classes, I end up at the bubble tea store next to campus, contemplating what flavour to get.
There are so many wonderful flavours to try and I'm a pretty indecisive person... so usually it takes around ten minutes before I can place my order. Yep. The girl behind the counter who is there to take my order looks at me like she's about to off herself because I'm taking too long to pick out my drink.
I can't help it. I'm in a dilemma. Do I go for the tasty Caramel Macchiato or the yummy Honeydew Milk? Which one was it going to be?! Eenie, meenie..
"Oh my God." The girl sighed exasperatedly. "Are you seriously going to take another five minutes before you pick something?"
I grinned sheepishly at her. We have become quite acquainted over the last couple of months. I know I annoy her, she knows I annoy her, we tolerate each other… but I guess today was the last straw.
"You take over." The girl called out to the person who just entered the store. "I can't deal with this chick anymore, she's driving me insane."
"Aww, but I thought we were becoming friends?" I pouted at her, just to get on her nerves.
"Please. As if." She turned around and disappeared through the back door.
"Well… that was pleasant." I drawled before turning my attention back to the menu. I still wasn't any closer to picking my flavour of the week. My finger ended up on the Honeydew Milk and I turned to the person who had just taken the girl's place.
He pulled an apron over his head and was tying it as his eyes fell on me. I couldn't quite decipher the colour of his eyes – they were dark. I wasn't sure if they were just a deep brown colour or just entirely black. I had never seen such entrancing eyes before.
I cleared my throat and offered him a small smile, "I'll have the Honeydew Milk please."
He rolled up his sleeves and nodded, several tendrils of his sandy brown hair falling into his eyes. "Medium or Large?"
"Medium." I answered as I clasped my hands behind my back.
As he got to work preparing the drink I watched him closely. It was always so fascinating watching the employees work at making the drink. The process seemed complicated. Finally the last step was through, the plastic sealed the top of the cup and he handed it to me with a large straw as I paid for my drink. "Thanks." I murmured as I held the cool drink in my hands and hurried out of the store. As soon as I stepped out I let out a breath I didn't even know I was holding. Was that exchange just as awkward for him as it was for me? Why did the other girl have to ditch me? She was nice. I pouted as I poked the straw through the top. The first sip was like heaven. The rich flavour enveloped me and a smile automatically appeared on my face. Who gave a damn about the fact that that moment was so awkward? All that mattered was the drink in my hand and that the weekend had started.
As the class ended I stuffed my books and pencils in my bag and hurried out of the building. It was weekend again! My heart hammered as I neared the beverage store. He gave me a nod of recognition as I entered. As usual I walked up to the counter and skimmed the menu. What for drink should I get today?
My senses prickled and I looked up. The guy was staring at me. It was rather unnerving. I gulped and tore my eyes away from him.
He was tall and today his hair was styled just as usual. His locks were tousled lightly as if he had run his hand through it a couple of times. Suddenly I wondered whether his hair was as soft to the touch as it looked. That thought shocked me. I jolted upright and quickly just ordered the first thing that came into my mind, "May I have one Yoghurt Strawberry please?" My voice came out as a squeak and I wanted to bury myself beneath the depths of earth. Why was I so jumpy today?
The next couple of Fridays that followed were just as awkward as the other one. Maybe even more awkward. Was that even possible? I reached a point where I just picked the first thing that came to mind to get my fix as quickly as possible and to remove myself from the premises in less than five minutes.
It kind of sucked. I revelled in the moments where I could leisurely pick out what I wanted. Now, though, being so close to that guy in the shop was unnerving. He wasn't rude, if anything, he was overly polite. Distant. Not very customer friendly, I guess. And his eyes, his gaze was always so intense, I had a hard time keeping my nerve.
This Friday the weather was quite accommodating. The sun was shining lazily upon the school grounds and a soft breeze accompanied the warmth. Spring was a beautiful season and I couldn't help the smile on my face as I entered the store. There were a few customers standing in line and my smile slipped away slightly as my eyes landed on him. According to the nametag on his apron that I read a couple of weeks ago, his name was Nate. It suited him.
Wow. What the hell was that? I cleared my thoughts and skimmed the menu with my eyes. Because there actually were customers before me it was the first time in a while when I could go through the list in my own time. I had missed this. It was comforting and soothing and made the drink all the better. Suddenly my ringtone blasted through the store. It was a song by my favourite boy group. My cheeks flushed as I fumbled to answer the call. "Victoria." I automatically said into the microphone.
"Hey cousin, are we still up for tomorrow?" A young voice spoke through the speaker.
"Elise, hi." I grinned, my embarrassment forgotten. "Yeah, I can't wait for you to get here. What time will you be arriving?"
"Around ten in the morning." She answered, "Mom and Dad decided it would be best to leave early so we could beat the traffic."
"Cool." I grinned. I could not wait for my cousin to get here so we could hang out together. "Well, tell aunt and uncle I said hi. See you soon."
After we said our goodbyes, I hung up and looked around me. Unfortunately, all the customers had left the store and I was the only one standing… and I still hadn't picked anything that I wanted. Darn, his gaze really was unnerving. I cleared my throat and managed a small smile, "Sorry I'm taking so long. I can't really decide what to get. Do you have a recommendation?" I asked as I pushed the hair out of my face.
Nate shrugged, his expression still serious. "I wouldn't know."
I blinked at him, not fully comprehending.
"I've never tried drinking this stuff before." He elaborated. "Doesn't look very appealing."
Suddenly all my apprehensions flew out of the window and I felt suspiciously like myself again. "Are you kidding me?" I asked incredulously as I stared at his face. "You've been working here for over a month and you haven't even tried the product that you're selling?" He didn't even deserve to work here in this heaven if you asked me. He should be worshipping this product, not scoff at it!
"The drink is full of processed sugar and other instant shit." He replied, giving me a bored look. "Excuse me if I don't want to poison myself."
"Oh." I answered as I took another good look at him. Clear complexion, looks quite healthy. "So you're one of those health conscious people? No fast food, no processed sugar, no salt type of guy? Vegetarian?"
He let out a sigh, "I didn't say that. I pig out like any other guy my age. It's just that I draw the line at girly drinks with balls in them."
I gasped. "Girly drinks with balls in them?" How dare he insult my holy grail drink! "First of all, everyone should be able to enjoy bubble tea, no matter what gender or age. Secondly, do you even know what these drinks mean to me? After a shitty week, this drink lifts me up again. It is the only highlight of the week for me. It's my savior. My friend."
He looked at me as if I were crazy. "This drink is the only highlight of your week? I'm sorry, but your life seems very sad."
I nodded in agreement, "That's right. My life is sad. I work my butt of trying to keep up in school and that's all I ever do. So I allow myself this treat at the end of the week. It makes me happy." It makes me feel all fuzzy inside.
"The fruity drink makes you happy." He deadpanned.
I rolled my eyes at his comment, "So I suppose you're also someone who has never even tried a strawberry milkshake 'cause it's pink?"
"Strawberry milkshakes are the bomb. Leave them out of the discussion."
"Aha!" I pointed a finger at him. "So your weakness is a strawberry milkshake, huh. Interesting."
His eyes narrowed, "And why is that interesting?"
I sighed exasperatedly, "Come on. You have to admit that a milkshake bears some similarities to a bubble tea. There are a million flavours out there, of course there would be a milkshake bubble tea variant. There just has to be."
"Your point being?" Nate said, raising one of his eyebrows.
"That the two drinks do not differ that much. They're practically family in my opinion. Why not give its cousin a try?" I coaxed.
"That sounded really weird."
"I know. But I still mean it. You should try it."
"Over my dead body. I'm not going to betray the milkshake by cheating on it with its cousin."
"Come on, like she'll ever know. It'll just be one sip. A taste. A try."
"It would still be the highest form of treason."
Suddenly, I couldn't hold it back anymore. The ridiculousness of the situation had settled in and the laughter bubbled out of me. I wasn't the only one laughing, Nate had joined me and I pleasantly found his laughter endearing. After a couple of minutes of grabbing my stomach in pain from all that laughing, I finally wiped the tears away from the corners of my eyes and grinned up at him, "I can't believe we were talking that way about a couple of drinks." There must be a screw loose somewhere in my head. "Anyways, this has been quite fun, but I have to leave."
"I agree. I had fun talking to you, Victoria. I didn't expect that. Thanks."
I blinked at the sound of my name coming out of his voice. Aside from the fact that I thoroughly enjoyed hearing him say it, I was still flabbergasted. "How do you know my name?"
"Oh." A faint blush crept onto his fair cheeks as his eyes locked with mine, "I overheard you just now. I hope you don't mind."
I shook my head and flashed him a smile, "Of course not. Nice to meet you." Even though we had been seeing each other regularly every Friday.
"Same here." He answered, returning my smile, "I'm Nate by the way."
I nodded, "I know. It's on your apron."
"Right." He laughed. His eyes crinkled, making his smile all the better.
"Well, I'd better go." I said as I whirled around.
"Wait!" Nate called out.
I turned to him with a questioning look, "Yes?"
"Weren't you in the process of ordering something?" He asked.
I let out a small smile and shook my head, "That's quite alright, I had my pick-me-up for the week. See you." That had been the first Friday in three months that I went home without a bubble tea in my hand.
The following Monday during lunch I spied the full canteen, trying to find a spot so that I could eat in peace. Unfortunately, it was very crowded inside. I turned around and stalked outside instead. A head of familiar sandy brown hair caught my eye as I made my way to a large oak tree. He was sitting by himself, his head buried in a large book. I slowly approached him.
"Nate." I said as I plopped down in front of him.
Nate's head jerked up, his eyes wide as he took me in. "Victoria?"
"The one and only." I grinned as I threw my bag to the side and retrieved my sandwich. "What're you doing?" I asked before taking a large bite.
"Just catching up on some reading before class." He answered lifting his book.
"Finance?" I scrunched my nose. "I hate numbers."
Nate laughed, "Yeah, well, they're kind of a necessity in life."
"Don't I know it." I muttered as I fished a bottle of water out of my bag. "You not eating?"
"Already finished." He answered as he closed his book.
"So… have you given it any thought?" I asked as I wolfed down my lunch.
Nate blinked, "Given what any thought?"
"On whether you'd like to try bubble tea or not?" I reminded him.
He gave me a blank look, "Are you trying to conform me or something?"
I pouted at him, "I just want to show you what you've been missing out. The rich flavour, the texture, the sweetness. Oh god." Thinking about it made me drool.
An amused expression adorned his face as he stared at me. "You are something else Victoria."
I stared into his dark eyes, my mind suddenly suspiciously blank of any coherent thoughts, "Uh…,"
"I think for now I'll have to pass." He rose from the grass and brushed off any dirt from his pants. "Lunch hour will be over soon. Walk you to class?"
I snapped out of my trance and glanced up at him. "Class?"
"You have that Trendwatching workshop right now too right?" Nate said as he held out his hand for me.
I slowly took it and his warmth enveloped me as he helped me to my feet. My mouth felt awfully dry. "H-how'd you know?"
Nate smiled at me, "Turns out, we share some classes."
I gulped, "We do?" That was strange. I don't think I've ever really seen him around. Though, truthfully I didn't really socialize with a lot of people either.
"I found out like two weeks ago. I saw you sitting in the back during one of the Marketing lessons. Quite a coincidence, right?" He chuckled.
"Wow. Yeah." I breathed. "Well, I guess from now on I'll have a lunch buddy. If you'll have me of course." I added quickly, not wanting to come over too presumptuous.
Nate beamed at me. "I'd be honoured."
I broke into a smile and swung my bag over my shoulder. "Awesome!" Even though we've only had like two conversations to date, he was a nice person and I liked being around him. Becoming a friend would also give me opportunities. Opportunities to introduce him to the delights of bubble tea. Nate would soon know what he had been missing out on all this time.
"Yo, Nate!" I called out to his retreating back.
Nate turned around and smiled as he spotted me, "Victoria. Joining me for lunch today?"
I nodded as I sprinted towards him, "Hope you don't mind." I had been joining him for lunch daily now. It had become a routine, quite a pleasant one at that too. Sometimes we even did homework together, and he'd help me with Finance. Nate was a really nice guy and I didn't regret befriending him one bit.
"Oh. It's you." The girl behind the counter said as I walked up to her.
"Hey! I missed you." I grinned as I took her in. "That change in shift work out well for you?"
"It did. Until you showed up today. I thought you only ordered drinks on Friday?" She answered as she glowered at me.
I laughed, "Well, yeah, but today I didn't come for a drink. I was hoping you could sell me a small bag of those tapioca pearls."
She raised on of her eyebrows at me, "What for?"
I shrugged offhandedly, "Little experiment."
"Riiight." She answered. "Usually we don't do that, but since you're a pretty regular customer I guess I could make an exception."
"Thank you!" I said earnestly as she scooped a handful of tapioca pearls into a ziplock bag.
"These were prepared today. Don't wait too long to use them otherwise they'll turn soggy." She said as she handed me the bag.
I handed her the money as I carefully slipped the goods into my schoolbag. "This means a lot to me."
She rolled her eyes, "Yeah, yeah. Just get out of here."
I smiled and waved at her before I dashed out of the store. Be careful Nate. You'll never know what's going to hit you.
After I had the tapioca pearls I rushed to the nearest fast food joint and ordered a strawberry milkshake. When I got to my car, I opened the lid and poured the pearls into it. I smiled as I mixed the pearls with the straw.
"Oh, shoot." I mumbled to myself as I realized that the straw was too small for the pearls to go through. I rummaged through my bag and found a spare bubble tea straw still wrapped in plastic. "Perfect."
"I thought you might not join me today." Nate said as I made myself comfortable in the patch of grass before him.
"Yeah, sorry about that. I was just picking some stuff up." I told him as I settled down. "Here, this is for you." I thrust the milkshake in his hand.
He raised one of his eyebrows at me, "What's with the humongous straw?"
"Oh, that." I let out a breathless laugh as I hooked a finger through the collar of my shirt out of nervousness. "I accidentally dropped the first straw and found a spare one in my bag."
Suspicion was still visible in his eyes as he nodded. "Well, thank you Victoria."
I struggled to give him a smile. Was this such a good idea?
Nate started to take a huge sip of the drink but soon his face turned red and he started coughing uncontrollably.
"Oh my God!" I grabbed the drink from his and threw it in the bin before turning back to him and patting him on the back. A lot of the drink had found its way out of his mouth. "Nate, are you alright?" I asked, the worry etched into my voice.
He continued coughing, though his complexion cleared considerably. Thank God he was still breathing.
"What was that?" He asked incredulously.
I was still rubbing his back and had retrieved a napkin from the pocket of my coat and handed it to him. "What was what?"
Nate shook his head, "I don't know. Something got caught in my throat. Sorry. It must've not looked very appealing."
"Who cares what it looked like! You were about to die!" I said, my heart still beating uncontrollably. "Are you alright?"
Nate's eyes met mine and he placed an arm on my shoulder after he wiped his mouth. "Take deep breaths Victoria, I am fine. See? Still breathing."
"Don't joke about this!" Oh my God, I felt absolutely awful! This was all my fault. I practically killed him.
"Look it's not your fault that the fast food chain put weird stuff in that drink."
If only you knew Nate, if only you knew. "Listen, I have to tell you something, I-."
Nate shook his head, "I'm fine, alright? Stop worrying, it makes me feel bad."
"We should drop this. Come on, sit down. Let's finish lunch."
Dejectedly I sat back down, feeling absolutely remorseful for what just happened. Alright, Victoria. No more tapioca pearls. Perhaps just a taste of a yummy bubble tea drink without the pearls would do him better.
"Hey Victoria." Nate beamed at me.
"Hi!" I said, scooting over from beneath the tree so he could also have a spot in the shade. "Are you feeling better today?" I still felt horrendous about yesterday.
He gave me an exasperated look, "I'm honestly fine Victoria. Take my word for it, alright?"
I slowly nodded as I looked at him. "Well, here." I thrust my thermos at him. "I feel really bad about yesterday, so I picked something up for you."
He stared at the steel tumbler, "What is it?"
"Iced coffee. Caramel Macchiato." I said as I handed it over. I then proceeded to unwrap my lunch. "Try it."
This morning I had gone into the bubble tea store and ordered the coffee bubble tea without the tapioca pearls. The girl behind the counter had looked at me like I was crazy. After she handed me the drink I quickly poured it in my thermos.
Nate took a tentative sip, his face immediately contorting. "Wow, diabetes alert."
"What's wrong?" I asked, fear sweeping over me again.
His nose was slightly scrunched and the corners of his mouth pointed downwards, "It's just really sweet, that's all."
"It is?" I grabbed the thermos from him and took a sip. "You're right." I gave a slight shudder. "Let's not drink this." Perhaps the pearls usually neutralized the taste somewhat. Tomorrow, I would give him something else, something that was definitely not too sweet. Something that was tasty and would make him smile.
Each day I found myself spending lunch with Nate and we talked about everything and anything. School, hobbies, dreams and our families. I enjoyed getting to know him better and found myself looking forward to his company all the time. Additionally, every Friday after classes I hung around in the shop. I would order a drink and we just talked about whatever came to our minds when there were no other customers around. Being with Nate made me feel euphoric. But the fact that the bubble tea mission was failing did not do me well. Each time I contemplated a flavour that could possibly knock his socks off and each time I failed.
Well. Who knew Nate was allergic to Lychee? He apparently didn't either. Two weeks had passed since the choking incident and I had tried giving him a different flavour every day. The Lychee one was the quest of today. Quest failed. Red spots had appeared on his arms and face and we rushed to the hospital. The doctor diagnosed it as an allergy and made us wait for the medicine.
"Victoria, I really appreciate all these drinks you've been giving me." Nate told me as we were seated in the waiting room on uncomfortable chairs. "But you honestly don't have to."
"You hate them." I voiced his thoughts. I had failed my mission. I could not get this man to like bubble tea. He was only hurting because of me.
"No, I don't. I look forward to trying something new each day. Today, unfortunately was a dud." He joked.
I looked up at Nate, guilt tugging at my heart, "I'm really sorry Nate. I keep making you sick and I should stop but somehow I can't and you end up suffering each time."
Nate put an arm around my shoulder and pulled me near, "Don't beat yourself up for it Victoria."
My heart seemed to leap at the close proximity. I looked up into his warm eyes and decided I had to tell him the truth. "Those drinks… all of them were bubble tea flavours. I tried to get you a taste of it, so you could get hooked and forget about milkshakes!" I wailed miserably, "I'm sorry I let you down Nate. I tricked you. And I feel so bad about it." I didn't deserve to be in his presence.
"You tried to make me drink bubble tea?" He asked incredulously.
I nodded sullenly, not brave enough to meet his gaze. "Just the flavours. I left the tapioca pearls out of it after the first time you choked."
"So that was what it was. I almost wanted to sue them." Nate said dryly.
My head shot up and I met his eyes. "I truly am sorry Nate." God, I felt horrible and it was my entire fault.
"Then I know exactly how you can make it up to me."
My eyes widened, "You'd give me that chance?"
Nate eyed me for a moment and then broke out in a chuckle, "Come on, Victoria. It's not the end of the world. So you tried me to get hung up on that fruity drink. I don't mind, it shows me how much you love it and how much you want to share that with me."
"You're not mad at me?" I asked in a small voice.
Nate shook his head, "I'm not mad at you. In fact, I should be grateful. Without you, I would have never found out that I was allergic to Lychee."
The fact that he could talk so lightly about this made my heart flutter. "You're so kind, Nate." With the arm that was still wrapped around me, he gave me a small squeeze on my shoulder.
"So, about how you can make it up to me. How about a date?"
I stared at him, gaping, "A d-date? With me?"
"Of course with you. Who else?" Nate answered softly.
As I stared into his eyes, I could almost find myself lost in them. Falling freely. "I'd love to."
That following Saturday, I was ready for the date. Still nervous as heck, but ready. I wore a flowy white top that stopped around my hips paired with a pair of dark skinny jeans. On my feet were black ballet flats and my long dark hair was in a side French braid. Casual, but not too casual. Brown eyes stared back at me from the mirror. They stood wide in excitement and there was a flush on my cheeks. I was looking forward to this date. My heart hammered against my chest as the doorbell rung.
"Hi." I said, a little bit breathless as I opened the door.
Nate smiled at me, his eyes crinkling as he took me in. "Hi. You look lovely."
I shyly tucked a strand of hair behind my ear. "Thank you." I murmured. "You look quite dashing yourself."
He was wearing a black button down shirt with a pair of navy blue jeans. His hear was slightly tousled as usual. He looked incredibly handsome. "Are you ready?"
I nodded as I clutched the purse to my side. "Yes. Can I ask where we're going?"
A mischievous glint reached his eyes and he grinned, "You'll find out soon enough."
"You took me to the competition?" I asked incredulously as he held the door open for me. I stepped out of his car and stared at the large building.
"Yeah, well, I thought it was kind of lame of me to bring you to my workplace. You're there every Friday anyways." He said.
I laughed. "Yeah. But still, wow." My nerves had died down and I felt as comfortable around Nate as I always did. However, the air was slightly different today. I could feel it. There were sparks all around us. Maybe they've always been there. Maybe I had just been too blind to see them.
"I know you've been hell-bent on making me try that fruity drink, so here I am, fully submitting myself to you."
I gently put my hand on his arm and stared up at him, "That's really sweet of you."
"You know I'm doing this for you, right?" Nate said as he locked his gaze with mine, "I'm betraying the milkshake with its cousin for you."
A blush crept on my face and I couldn't help the small bout of laughter, "I almost feel bad for the milkshake." I bit my lower lip as I averted my gaze. I had tried so many times to trick Nate into drinking bubble tea that I lost sight of it all. If he really didn't want to, why should I force him?
"Hey." Nate said as he gently put a finger under my chin and lifted it so that I would meet his gaze. "You know that I'd pick you over milkshake any day right?"
I swallowed as his eyes entranced me. His beautiful dark eyes that seemed to contain so many emotions. "Really?"
"Really." Nate murmured as his head lowered.
My heartbeat seemed to pick up speed as the distance between us diminished. My eyes closed as his lips touched mine. It was a slow, gentle and soft kiss that took my breath away.
"I was right." Nate beamed as he looked at me.
"About what?" I wondered, still feeling the lingering touch of his kiss on my lips.
"Choosing you over milkshake. You taste infinitely better." He laughed warmly.
My cheeks heated as I gaped at him. "You did not just say that!"
Nate's fingertips grazed my cheek and his eyes bore into mine, "Why? It's the truth."
"Fine." I huffed as I crossed my arms over my chest. "Then I will always pick you over bubble tea."
He stared at me, surprised.
"Even though there are probably a thousand flavours across the world, whenever I am with you my insides are filled with warmth and your smile brightens my day. Your eyes enthral me and I can't make myself look away. I don't want to look away. I like you a lot more than bubble tea." I looked at him, trying to gauge his reaction. He still seemed to be surprised at what I was saying, but I could tell that he was pleased by it. "And, okay. I admit it. You also taste infinitely better than bubble tea."
"You say that as if it's a bad thing." Nate teased.
"Well, I kind of thought I had found my perfect pick-me-up. But it turns out, that was you Nate. It will always be you."
"You have no idea how happy that makes me, Victoria." Nate murmured, his eyes soft.
I uncrossed my arms and took his hands in mine. "Then show me."
A beautiful smile adorned Nate's face as he closed the distance between us again. "You bet I will."
And then he lowered his head and captured my lips with his, showing me exactly how happy I made him and I made sure to show him how happy he made me.
A/N: Bubble Tea is so delicious... too many flavours to pick from. Hope you enjoyed this oneshot! :)