Clearly he was aware of the soft scratching sound as her fingers tenderly stroked his stubble. Except for that and his pounding heartbeat, the rest of the ambient sounds of the balmy late summer night melted into a subliminal murmur. For a split second, he melancholically realized that from here on, nothing would last, and he would never forget this day.
He was now already three days in Lisbon and let himself truly drift through the city with its small streets, many hills but especially excellent pubs and bars. His first day consisted of a late breakfast at the Fabrica Lisboa directly on the Rua da Madalena, followed by sparkling white wine and local ham at the Mercado da Baixa, a subsequent short detour to one of the countless Mantegarias for a coffee and a Pastéis de Nata, regional stockfish and beer for dinner and then the headlong jump into the intoxicating nightlife in the Bairro Alto district. The next two days followed a similar pattern, and he felt like he could finally take a breath.
Since the last night again held new, refreshing acquaintances with beer and high-proof for him, he arrived only in the early morning hours, slightly tipsy, in his small hotel in the upper part of the city. Consequently, it was not until shortly before 11 a.m. that he had breakfast at the Café Chiado, near the idyllic square Luís de Camões.
After a steaming cappuccino and a pastéis de nata and a piece of almond pastry each on the small wooden table, he pulled out his Hemingway and began to read. When he had finished the first two pages, he looked at the entrance of the café, where one of the historic trams was just passing, very pleased with himself and his situation. He put his book aside, took a careful sip of his cappuccino and reached for the pastéis de nata. Basically a puff pastry cake filled with a devilishly good vanilla custard cream. Just as he finished it, savoring the almond cake and fine crumbs of powdered sugar trickling onto his book, he heard a conversation in his native tongue right behind him. Inevitably, the conversation pushed its way to the forefront of the background noise.
"I really need to bring you guys some. Warm vanilla pudding in crispy puff pastry - the bomb!"
Her voice sounded joyfully excited and the conversation had affectionate tones, seemingly someone familiar.
"Yeah, I do. I just always get a little silly ordering because I can't pronounce the name. Thank God, people are so super friendly here."
With so much disarming honesty, he was bound to grin. A few sentences later, he knew she was in Lisbon on business, would be leaving in the morning, and had talked to her mom on the phone. She finally said goodbye and promised to bring some of the cakes again. He realized now that he had been rather impiously eavesdropping on their entire conversation and felt a little ashamed of it. However, this did not stop him from wanting to find out who exactly was sitting behind him. He downed his last puddle of cappuccino, gathered his courage and turned to face her. She held her coffee cup lasciviously to her lips with her left hand while she scrolled over her phone with her right thumb. A few strands fell into her face while the rest of her blonde hair was tied back in a braid. Her white blouse, which she paired with navy blue pants, further emphasized her graceful figure, and between the hem of her pants and her snow-white sneakers, his gaze fell on her delicate ankles. Her pale complexion was accented by subtle makeup and a lipstick of deep vermilion. Her attractiveness was undeniable. While he was still giving her a look, she was already looking up at him from dull green eyes and smiling mischievously.
"Sorry, but I couldn't help but pick up scraps from your phone call. If you want to order some more of those custard tarts, just ask for PASCHTEISCH DE NA-TA." He turned to face her fully now and stroked his hazel hair with his right hand. Not unaware that his white shirt stretched discreetly across his chest and arms in this pose.
"Oh, what a coincidence! Are you from... too?" She broke off the sentence with a joyful gleam in her eyes, when he was already making the completion of her sentence unnecessary with a smiling nod.
"Thanks for the tip about the cakes, I'll keep that in mind! What are you doing here in Lisbon? Work or vacation?" And from the way she looked into his eyes at her question, he had a feeling of genuine interest. He was not to be deceived.
Now that names and motivations for being in Lisbon had been exchanged, and it was established that neither of them had any specific plans for the day yet, but both wanted to explore the city, his chair was moved to their table and they launched into deeper conversation. An hour later they left the café for the Castelo de São Jorge, from which they enjoyed the magnificent view of the entire city. This was followed by an extended walk through the narrow streets of the old town and exquisite local cuisine in the late afternoon. Whether it was the exciting desire to explore, the feeling of freedom, the mutual attraction or the sweet-tart red wine with the meal, it was impossible to say. In any case, one thing led to another and they found themselves on Largo São Domingos towards evening, having just ordered two small glasses of ginjinha. They drank the sweet and spicy cherry liqueur down with relish and then proceeded to munch on the pickled cherries at the bottom of the glass. Now, as they spat the cherry pits onto the floor in front of the tiny bar according to the tradition explained to them, they stood in the last sunlight of the day. Looking out over the whitewashed church, they enjoyed the conclusion of their little adventure. Energized by the impressions of the day and the sweet liquor, his hand clasped her side and slid from her ribs down to her hip. Turning to face him, she slid one hand inside the lapel of his leather jacket and the other stroked tenderly along his prominent cheekbones to his stubbled chin. Only a few inches separated their faces as their bodies pressed against each other. An irresistible, slightly sweet scent of vanilla, almond and rose emanated from her, which mingled with the fresh, spicy scent of his perfume and faint hints of incense from the nearby church. One look into her green eyes made him forget everything around him and he closed his eyes as their moist lips found each other. He could still taste the sweet flavor of the liquor on her lips, which completed the symbiosis of scents, tastes and impressions. A light breeze swept across the square, enveloping them and letting them break free of their connection. With the last rays of the day's sun, he realized how close beauty and transience were.