In the morning I rise early. I slept very little but I wake feeling renewed. Noor sleeps in the crook of my arm. Her hair like heavy silk across my chest. She has a little smile in the corner of her mouth as she sleeps. I kiss that corner and the beauty mark it keeps. I whisper my I love you on her skin that is now cooled by the morning breeze then slip out of bed as quietly as I can.
My mother is awake and in the kitchen brewing strong Cuban coffee and starting a big breakfast. She smiles when she sees me at the kitchen door. Her eyes twinkle with knowing.
"Good morning, hijo."
I smile back, blushing. I know she overheard Noor and me. The walls are as thin as paper and we made no attempt to keep quiet.
I sit down at the table. She places a coffee cup in front of me then sits down too.
"That Noor...es bonita, verdad?"
I chuckle at her attempt at subtly. "Si, es verdad," I agree.
"She is the one."
"Maybe," I nod, sipping my coffee.
"It was not a question," she says with another sly smile. "But you will still go to her." I know that she is speaking of Lisette. Even on this morning she is not far from my mind.
"Yes, but not for the same reasons as before."
"So why go to her at all?"
"Because I have to know."
"You have to know what?" Noor asks, her voice high and sharp with alarm. She stands in the doorway to the kitchen wearing my old high school soccer t-shirt and a sari tied around her waist. She is so beautiful it makes my heart ache.
Last night she begged me to leave it alone. She said that it would do no good to see Lisette. That it will only tear the scab off a wound that is just beginning to heal. I didn't promise her that I wouldn't because I know that nothing will keep me from seeing Lisette and finally resolving this.
"I have to see her, Noor."
"No, you don't," she says sternly. "Will you please talk him out of this?" she implores my mother.
"He knows what's best for him," my mother responds simply.
"No, he doesn't. You didn't see him in New York. He was really torn apart. This is the most centered I have seen him since we met. I think seeing her will do more harm than good."
"You don't know that, Noor," I say softly.
She sits down at the table and looks into my eyes. We communicate so much without saying a word. She knows I will go no matter what she says. She knows there is no way to convince me not to.
"At least let me go with you," she says finally.
"Now, you know I won't agree to that."
She reaches for my hand, laces her fingers through mine. "Just promise me one thing," she whispers.
"Promise me you'll come back to me."