I sat back in my seat. “Yeah, lightweight. It means that you can’t handle your liquor very well. One drink gets you buzzed, the next gets you drunk.”
“Buzzed?” he asked. “Like a bee? I do not understand.” His brows furrowed, his expression endearing. He had really striking eyebrows.
I had to stop thinking like that.
“Kinda,” I said. Actually no, it was better not to confuse him. “Okay, buzzed is like when you’re feeling good. Loosey goosesy,” I waved my arms up and down like a spaced-out hippie. “Tipsy. Almost drunk. You know, you’re like…”
“Happy,” he filled in.
“Yes,” I said. Well, unless you were drinking and in a shitty mood, then that first drink just makes the tears fall. But that was neither here nor there.
“Do you get…happy, Vera?” he asked. His voice was lower and leaned into me ever so slightly. I caught a whiff of fresh-smelling cologne, something expensive that probably came in a turquoise bottle. The cologne made me happy.
I gave him a small smile, suddenly self-conscious. I had expected his eyes to be resting on my cleavage, this damn black tank top kept falling down so low, but he was staring forward at the seat in front of us, waiting patiently for my answer.
“Um,” I said rather eloquently. “I’ve been known to get happy.”
He nodded as if he were pleased with that answer and relaxed back in his seat, the space between us widening again. “In Spanish there are many words I could use, but Manolo said there would be, how you say, consequences if we not speaking English. I admit, I did not realize that we won’t be able to speak a word of Spanish. I can’t imagine I will survive three weeks.”
I felt a strange pang of disappointment. “Only three weeks?” I asked. “I’m here for four.”
“I bet you’re going to get tired of talking,” he smirked. “And I will get tired of having to think. Perhaps I shall end up dumb in the end.”
“Ah, but if you have enough beer, you can be dumb and happy.”
“Buzzed,” he corrected, grinning impetuously. He brought his phone out from his pant pocket. “I must write that down. Buzzed.” He made the z vibrate as he said the word and I couldn’t help but smile. When he was done he put the phone away and steadied his gaze at me.
“Now,” he said slowly, “it is my turn to ask you.”
“Wait, I was going to ask you where you worked.”
He cocked his head to the side, his smirk deepening. “Those aren’t the rules. Next turn. Now, Vera, tell me what you want to…achieve…when you leave Spain?”
I pursed my lips. “I’m not sure I understand.”
He ran his hand through his hair as he tried to gather his thoughts. It really was thick and shiny and artfully messy, the color of this dark brown desk that was always in the display at my favorite antique shop. Coffee with threads of gold. A few grey hairs teased his temples and for the first time I started wondering how old he was. Not that it mattered, but he had such an easy, jovial way about him that it never occurred to me that he’d be much older than his early thirties.
He cleared his throat. “Sorry, my English…okay.” He waved his hand at me. “Why did you sign up for this? We all have because of our jobs or our companies. But why did you? What do you hope to gain?”
I blinked a few times at his question. “Wow,” I remarked. “That’s pretty deep. What happened to where are you from? Or what do you do for a living?”
Mateo wasn’t fazed. “I can tell you are either Canadian or American, yes? Where you are from is not important. What you do is not important. Why you are here? Yes, that is important.”