Authors Notes: - Sorry about the long wait between chapters two and three!! I really feel bad but for some reason I just lost interest in this story right after I started it… Strange but oh well. It's back now. ^_^
When I woke up the sun was setting. Various shades of orange and yellow were cast on my wall and washed out the colors of my blue paisley bedspread. My watch's alarm abruptly went off, waking me completely up.
I snatched it off the side table and turned off the alarm. Reluctantly I slid out of the soft warm twin bed and meandered my way to my bag. It was a backpack I'd owned since I was in grade school. Despite its age it was in excellent condition and didn't look nearly as old as it was. There wasn't anything special with how it looked. It was just a plan black backpack with three pockets. The large main one, a smaller secondary pocket on the front and an even smaller pouch stitched onto that one. I picked it up off of the rocked chair I'd discarded it in and searched through the secondary pocket for my meds. After a brief bleary eyed search I with drew the small orangish-yellow translucent bottle. Inside were a dozen small oval shaped blue pills. No, not Viagra but my antipsychotic pills Zyprexa.
For over two year's I've been taken this particular brand of antipsychotic drugs. The one before it wasn't strong enough and had too many side effects. Luckily this one usually dampened the so called 'positive' symptoms that I suffered. Most notably hallucinations and voices. Unlike some other sufferers of schizophrenia I didn't have delusions of being spied on or any other paranoid delusions. Mostly I just heard voices talking to me and saw things that didn't exist, like Mordrin's ears. The effects of the drugs had to be wearing off, that had to explain what I saw. Because people don't have giant pointed ears, that just wasn't normal.
I swallowed the pill by itself, it was unpleasant but I wanted to get it in me before I wondered downstairs. Hopefully earlier was just a momentary laps and all would be well with the world again.
The bedroom I'd picked for myself was small but cozy, in the good way. It was probably on ten by ten feet big and a perfect cube. In the middle of the north wall, pushed up against it was the bed. It had a blue paisley and white comforter on it with matching blue sheets and pillow cases. Personally I wasn't the biggest fan of paisley but it fit with the image I had of my grandmother.
There weren't any decorations on the walls, except for a single crucifix hanging on the wall over the bed. Personally I was always disturbed by crucifixes.
Outside of a small empty book case, a rocking chair and two end tables on either side of the bed the room was empty. I'd already moved my luggage into the closet, though I hadn't actually unpacked yet. This was my home now but I felt like a stranger, like I was just visiting. The knowledge that there was a strange, in more ways than one, man living with me didn't help make me feel anymore at home.
After girding my proverbial loins I made my way downstairs into the café. It was packed with every table overflowing with people. Even all the tables outside were taken up. People played various board games, chatted and laughed between sips of their various concoctions. I was shocked that I hadn't heard them sooner, the building must have great soundproofing.
"Hey, no shoes no service." A voice playfully remarked from beside me.
I looked down into the pleasant blue eyes of a surfer. He had to be with a tan as perfect as that and messy sun blond hair. After staring at him blankly for a moment I looked down at my feet, which were in fact bare.
"Uh, sorry." I replied, not sure what to say to him.
His eyes twinkled with amusement and he laughed. "You a new employee?"
"Sort of," I answered sheepishly with a small shrug. "I own the place now."
"Wow really? What ever happened to Granny anyway? Did she retire?"
I hated to look into his pleasant smiling face and tell him the truth, but lying would just be weird. "Actually she died." I told him with a flinch.
"Oh," his face fell and all that pleasant joy that had lit it faded. "Bummer..."
"Sorry to have to deliver the bad news." I mumbled to him as I made a dash for the counter. He watched me go sadly.
Mordrin was being swamped at the register. There were three people standing in line and one woman very slowly and carefully selecting just which muffin she wanted from the display. Mordrin patiently watched her, looking as if he could wait a century for her to decide between the low-fat blueberry muffing and the no-fat lemon poppy seed muffin.
Unfortunately when I looked into his face nothing had changed. He had the same bland but pleasant expression and his ears were just as pointed before. Great, that meant I'd have to call my shrink and try to find a new one in the area.
I told myself that what I was seeing wasn't real and resolved to act normally. Sadly my version of normalcy disturbed most people.
As I neared the counter Mordrin's odd eyes shifted from the attracted bottle blond making the life or death muffin decision to me. His expression didn't change and no new emotions entered his eyes. I gave him a weak smile as I approached and lifted the hinged counter and joined him behind the register.
"How are things going?" I asked as pleasantly as I could manage.
His eyes shifted from me and meaningfully looked around the café.
"Well enough I take it…" I mumbled glancing at the line, which had grown to four customers who now were starting to look impatient.
"How about I deal with this customer," I pointed to the muffin woman. "And you start on their orders. I'm sure I can manage to ring up a muffin."
He nodded, accepting my battle plan and moved towards the next customer, giving them a querying look. I was surprised at how much his expressions could say, while barely altering at all. It was almost as if he was projecting his feelings at people. I ignored my pseudomute coworker and turned my attention to the woman.
"Which is better?" She asked, pointing between the blueberry and poppy seed muffin.
I thought quickly about how to answer that conundrum and couldn't come up with anything that didn't sound stupid. The quality of muffin's varied greatly from one establishment to the next and I didn't want to give any false impressions, so I did the only thing I could think to do.
"How about you buy one and I'll give you the other for free." I offered with my best customer service smile.
"Really?" She smiled broadly, revealing slightly too white teeth.
"Consider it a manager's special." I said, still smiling, though I feared my face would break if I kept it up for too much longer.
"That's so cool." She crooned reaching into the tiny pink purse dangling from her equally tiny wrist.
I grabbed a small paper plate and used those strange wax paper tissues that every bakery carried and put the muffins on the plate. She held over a dollar and I exchanged it for the muffins. I turned to get her change from the register and she said: "Keep the change."
Glancing towards the big chalkboard behind me I discovered that a muffin was seventy five cents. Gee, she was a big spender. I gave her a parting smile, just a little bigger than the one I'd given her before and stuffed the dollar bill into the register just seconds before Mordrin snapped it shut. He looked at me curiously and I stepped back with a small shy shrug.
"Is there anything I can do to help?" I asked after making sure I had all my fingers.
He turned to a coffee machine that had warming plates on the top and retrieved a full decanter. Holding it out to me he motioned to the room.
"Refresh drinks?" I asked and he nodded.
I ducked out from behind the counter, carrying the scalding liquid and began to search for people who looked in need of a refill. As I drifted from table to table I couldn't help but imagine Mordrin with mime paint on. I couldn't imagine why he'd be so quiet. It was like he took the strong silent stereotype to its extreme. Sure in some ways it made him seem dark and mysterious but I was sure the truth of the matter was much more sobering than that. For all I know he could be an idiot and that was why he didn't talk.
After taking care of everyone inside the café I opened the front door and moved out onto the porch area. The smell of sea water hit me in the face and soothed my nerves. It was like a breath of sanity. No matter how jangled I felt inside the sea air just calmed me right down. If I could live on the beach twenty-four seven I would probably be the sanest person ever. Sadly I didn't have the fortune required for such an endeavor, nor the kind of job to support that lifestyle.
Before my uprooting I'd only worked a few other jobs, most of them fairly boring. Receptionist, telemarketer, and courtesy desk was about the extent of my experience. Food service was something completely new to me and I was a little afraid of it. When I'd told Mordrin earlier that I'd never brewed a pot of coffee before I was being honest. I'd grown up in a coffeeless house and never had the desire to drink the stuff. The task of running a coffee should be left to people who love coffee, not novices who don't know the difference between a French roast and an American roast.
Soon enough I'd emptied my pot, when I looked inside I found a new one sitting atop the coffee maker, waiting for me. Mordrin was handling the customers well, despite the few words he exchanged with them. The line was now gone and only one man stood at the counter, watching as Mordrin mixed his drink. As I approached the man turned to look at me. He smiled and I couldn't help but smile back. I'd only been in L.A. for less that a day and already I'd seen more gorgeous men than I could shake a stick at.
He was wearing a black suit with a dark red tie. In his left hand he held a cane with a silver ball at the top. I noticed he stood with all his weight shifted to his left side. Suggesting that the cane wasn't decorative, despite his gothic appearance. He had expressive gentle gray eyes and a beguiling warm smile. His hair was golden brown, fairly short and swept back from his face. It matched his swarthy skin perfectly.
"Hello." The man in black said in a genial voice.
"Hi." I replied shyly, walking behind the counter.
"Mordrin was just telling me about you." He said, his smile widening.
"So he talks to you?" I said, glancing sideways at Mordrin as I switched pots of coffee.
"Yes, he does," the man chuckled then quickly became serious. "So, you are the new owner?"
I nodded and moved back out from behind the counter. He turned and said as I walked past: "I would hope that you don't sell."
"You know about that?" I asked, pausing at a table near the register to fill a distracted business man's cup.
"Yes, Mordrin said he was worried you might sell."
I looked between the two men and raised an eyebrow. "He really does talk with you."
Mordrin sat down a small cup of what looked like espresso before the man and turned to brew a new pot of coffee in the decanter I'd finished with. The started to pick up his cup then glanced towards Mordrin and back to me, looking embarrassed.
"I apologize, I'm being rude." He leaned forward and extended his right hand. "My name is Antonio." I noticed a slight Spanish accept when he spoke this time.
"Are you going to kiss my hand too?" I asked, glancing at his hand warily.
"Only if you would like me to." Antonio replied with a slightly more playful smile.
I felt warmth rush to my cheeks despite myself. His smile grew a little more. I switched the decanter to my other hand and took his. Without my bidding his lifted it to his lips and planted a tactful kiss on my second knuckle.
"A pleasure to meet you." He said, his breath warm on my skin.
"I'm sure he already told you," I said as I retrieved my hand. "But my name is Cynthia."
"Yes, he had." Antonia said, nodding to Mordrin who seemed to be ignoring us.
"It was… nice meeting you." I said tactfully as I returned to my current task. As I left the room and returned to the porch I could feel him watching me. I tried to ignore him and focused my attention on finishing the refills outside.
Out of curiosity I glanced to the window and spied the hours of business. To my surprise the place was open every day from five in the morning to eleven at night. I couldn't imagine waking up at five, let alone before that to start opening. That meant… I glanced inside at Mordrin who was busy behind the counter, cleaning up after himself while he waited for a customer. He probably hadn't gotten my sleep since my grandmother's death. I couldn't imagine he slept more than a few hours a night before he had to get up and open the café. Yet, he looked perfectly rested and casual as he worked. I felt a renewed sense of respect for him. He worked hard, harder than I'd ever worked before in my life. Despite it he didn't look like he had a single complaint.
As I watched Antonio sat in a table near the counter and began talking with Mordrin. At first the tall dark man did all the talking but eventually I saw Mordrin's lips move. He said little but Antonio didn't seem to mind, nor did it apparently hinder their 'conversation'.
One thing I had to say about my move, I doubt I'd have another dull day again. Between running the café and living with Mordrin I knew things would only get more interesting.
* * *