When someone looked at me, knowing who my mother is, they always told me one thing. I was like my mother. In so many ways, that was true. But I was also like the quiet girl in class who doesn't talk to anyone and everyone wonders about. You must have had a classmate like that. You know, a person who made you wonder what they were thinking about if only for a second. When I was in college, everyone always said one thing. It's the quiet ones you have to look out for. If only they knew. I didn't plan a nuclear war or anything but I did come up with fifty different ways to kill half my class and thanks to my upbringing, I shredded every single one of those ideas. I might sound crazy, but I'm really not. Life has thrown a lot at me and for the first couple of years, I didn't fight but then I said, screw you life, we're doing this on my terms. So, now we are doing this on my terms, which basically involves long buried emotions that are never going to be exhumed. And since I made that decision and I wasn't wallowing in self-pity, I had a lot of free time on my hand; free time that I used to become rich. Well, technically I was already rich but this was my money, not my mother's. So here I was, a 24 year old single girl with seven successful cafe's. I know I could have done anything with my life. But there's nothing better in life than chocolate and coffee, so I opened The Chocolate Coffee Cafe.
I was a really busy bee, so don't you think it's unfair that I was interrupted at four in the morning while I was sleeping. I mean, come on, few things are precious to me and one of them is sleep, especially since I only get a few hours of it every night. It's a lot of work making my brain to stop thinking so I could go to sleep. Anyway, so there I was at four in the morning getting not one but two calls. I had no choice but to answer the first one because it was pressing against my bladder. So I got up and ran into the washroom, stubbing my toe on the foot of the bed, then nearly tripping over the dresser and then being blinded by the light in the washroom. I needed low wattage bulbs. I think I fell asleep sitting on the toilet because the next thing I knew I was tipping over. I flailed my arms and reached for anything that would keep me upright but ended up on my knees anyway. I got up and flushed, going back into my room. I fell on the bed but an annoying buzzing sound kept sounding in my ear. I felt around with my hands and grabbed my phone, bringing it to my ear.
"Hello," I mumbled against the pillow. Pillows were so nice. I was so happy my mother made me buy Egyptian cotton sheets.
"I'm at the hospital. Can you come and get me?"
I was awake and out of bed faster than you can say...well, get up and get out of bed. It was four in the morning, I wasn't thinking straight. I grabbed my jacket and purse from the chair in the corner of my room and ran down the stairs. I didn't care that I was still wearing my purple and white checkered pajama's and purple top with the six buttons undone or that my brown hair looked like birds were nesting in it. I ran out of my house, locking it in a hurry and down the porch steps and into my car.
The hospital was about an hour's drive from my house. I got there in half that time. Hey, when an eleven year calls you in the middle of the night from a hospital, you have to hurry. I parked the car and jumped out, slamming the door behind me. But the edge of my jacket got caught and I slammed back against the car, hard. I was going to be so sore in the morning, well later in the morning. I freed myself and ran into the hospital. The nurse at the counter looked up when I ran in through the emergency doors.
"I'm here for Carly Franklin," I said.
"I'm here." The voice came from behind closed curtains. I gave the nurse a smile and walked to the bed, pulling back the curtains. There on the bed lay Carly, my best friend and business partner Cookie's eleven year old daughter. I'd met Cookie right out of college, three years ago. Cookie was in a job she couldn't handle and there I was to save the day. Cookie only owned three out of seven cafe's with me but she was the only one I had ever gone into partnership with.
"Don't ever call me at four in the morning from the hospital," I said. Carly blinked her pretty grey eyes at me and my heart melted. It wasn't frozen at four in the morning anyway.
"Are you a doctor?" I asked the guy in scrubs who was probing Carly's head.
"He's an intern. Dr. Baker," Carly said, looking up at him with love. I rolled my eyes. Only an eleven year could fall in love with every guy who saves her.
"What's wrong with her?" I asked, snapping my fingers in front of Carly's face. I didn't need a lovesick pre-teen on my hand. Dr. Baker looked up at me and gave me one of those appreciative half smiles. Dude, it was four thirty in the morning. I pulled up the zip on my jacket all the way to my neck. Good thing he got the message.
"She fell down a few steps of stairs but she doesn't have a concussion and nothing seems to be broken and her vitals are fine. She's free to go. Give her children's Advil if she has a headache," Dr. Baker said. He signed her chart with a flourish, then smiled at me and then her before he walked away. Carly stared after him and sighed.
"Come on, let's go. Where did you fall down anyway?" I asked. Carly jumped out of the bed and slipped on her flip flops. She slipped her skinny arms into her jacket and shook out her blonde hair.
"At Kirsten's house. We were having a sleepover. Your hair looks like a haystack," Carly said. I growled at her and grabbed her arm. I signed her discharge papers and dragged her behind me to the car.
"Did you call mom?" Carly asked, getting into the car.
"Dude, when I get calls from hospitals at four in the morning, I don't stop to make calls," I said, getting in the car myself. I turned the key and the engine came to life. Pulling out of the parking lot, I swerved onto the street and started driving home.
"Did you just call me dude?" Carly asked with a giggle. I tried really hard not to smile but it was hard not to. Her giggle sounded like wind chimes and I smiled at her.
Carly had fallen asleep when we reached home. I parked my car in the driveway and got out. The light of dawn had hit the skies and I walked around the car to get Carly out.
"It's okay, hon. We're home," I whispered. Carly moaned and wrapped her arms around me. She leaned on me and I struggled to get her into the house but I managed and I put her to bed in the downstairs guest room. I pulled the blanket over her and kissed her forehead. Closing the door partway, I made my way to the kitchen and put on coffee to brew and then took off my jacket.
I knew I had a moral obligation to call Cookie and tell her that Carly was here but I didn't want to wake her up. She had a doctor's appointment today and she would take any reason to not go. She didn't like talking about it but her diabetes was serious at one point in her life and she didn't want it to come back. She wanted to be healthy for Carly.
I left the coffee to brew and went upstairs to shower and get dressed. I woke up considerably under the hot spray of the shower. Steam rose up around me like smoke and I closed my eyes. I wasn't sure if it was possible to sleep standing up but if it was, I would have managed that too. I washed my hair thoroughly and rinsed it. Stepping out of the shower, I wrapped a towel around my body and one around my hair.
Cookie and I had decided on basic black and white uniform for the baristas at the cafe so I always wore black to work. My mother complained that I bought black clothes in bulk but all I really did was work so I didn't have a chance to wear pretty colourful clothes. I put on a pair of black skinny jeans and a long sleeves deep V-neck t-shirt and grabbed my black pumps. I kept a pair of flats at work because it was really hard to move around quickly in pumps.
The coffee was brewed and I poured myself a cup, taking a big gulp. I sighed as the sweet, sweet caffeine poured down my throat. I looked at the clock on the oven and it was nearing six o'clock. I had an hour to kill before Carly woke up and then I took her to school before going to work. It was a good thing she kept spare clothes here or she would have to wear mine again. Her principal had reprimanded her on the...inappropriate clothing choice. I wasn't here and she chose from the high school pile; a super short skirt and a tight tank top with leather jacket and combat boots. Hey, I was going through my rebellious stage when I wore that.
I pulled out my keys from my bag and unlocked the door of the cafe. Walking inside, I turned off the alarm and turned on all the lights. Leaving my files on the counter, I turned on the coffee machines. Then I grabbed my files and bag from the counter and walked to the back where my office was. I dumped my things on the desk and exchanged my pumps for my flats. The morning barista and cook wouldn't be here for another 15 minutes because that's when we opened so I decided to have a cup of coffee until then.
I sat on the counter, swinging on my legs back and forth and looked around the cafe. I visited all of them at least twice a month, but I came here daily because this was the first one ever. The space was small when I bought it. I could only fit about six tables in here but after a year, when Cookie officially joined me, we decided to open up the space. We opened up one area and made it an outside deck. There were two shops on our right that were for sale, which we bought and we expanded. The front of the cafe was all glass because we both loved sunshine and we got a bookcase and behind the bookcase there was the whole leaves growing on the wall thing going on. There were at least twice more tables in here now, not to mention the armchairs for the customers who preferred to read.
The front door opened and my barista walked in. She was a first year college student who was working to pay off her loans and to have a little extra cash money for expenditure. She loved shoes. She could marry shoes. She'd said that in her interview. Cookie had hired her in a minute. She had short black hair which she had pulled back in a ponytail and sharp blue eyes which were always on alert. Nothing slipped past Hannah.
"How do you always get here before I do?" Hannah asked.
I shrugged. "I'm the boss."
Hannah took her stuff to the back and I jumped off the counter when the first customer walked in. Time to get busy. I always kept my brown hair open when I was working because I would put my iPod in my back pocket and put the headphones wire under my top and put it in one of my ear. The loose hair made sure that no one could see it. The volume was always turned down low because the last thing I wanted was a lawsuit on my hand.
OneRepublic played quietly in my ear as I took the customers' orders and Hannah made them. The cook came in twenty minutes late, as usual but I didn't have to time to glare at him. I would have to have a talk with him later. The cafe opened at eight am sharp and that's when the morning barista and cook needed to be here.
"Coffee with two shots of cream, three shots caramel and half a shot of sugar with whip cream and chocolate sprinkles."
I blinked up at the middle aged woman who was ordering. Whatever happened to good old black coffee? Hey, I wasn't complaining or anything but it made me laugh, the concoctions of coffee people came up with every day.
"That'll be 6.75," I said. The woman handed me a ten and I handed her the change. Hannah gave her the coffee and I moved onto the next customer. Five minutes before nine, my heartbeat sped up and I tried really hard to calm myself down. It wasn't fair how my body reacted to nine o'clock. Well, it wasn't the time as much as who came in when the clock struck nine. We had a grandfather clock and when it chimed nine, I held my breath and counted. 1...2...3...4...5...6...7...8...9... My eyes lifted to the door just as it opened...and it was like watching heaven reveal itself.
He's been coming here every morning at nine and every evening at six like clockwork for the past six months. It was another reason why I always came here and didn't go to another branch. Every morning, his dark blonde hair was pulled back and every evening, his hair was hanging over his forehead and falling in his eyes. Today, his hair was already falling in his eyes, which meant he had an early day. His eyes were the most exotic color of blue and had teal flecks. His only flaw was that he was a lawyer; a partner at his father's firm. I didn't like lawyers. His eyes found mine and he gave me his breathtaking smile. I smiled back at him.
There were only three customers in line before him and I quickly got rid of them. Katy Perry was singing in my ear about the one that got away and I tried not to see it as an omen. I got my superstitions from my mother as well.
"Hello," Reyes said.
"Hey," I said. I stared into his eyes, forgetting that I had to take his order and that there were customers behind him.
"So, the usual?" I asked.
"Yes, and a caramel mocha latte," Reyes said. I took his order and then his credit card. Then I turned around and made his coffee myself. I wondered who the other person he was ordering for was. His usual was two creams and two sugar coffee. I made the latte and his coffee and grabbed a tray. Reyes had moved to the corner where there were no customers and I handed him his order.
"Special someone?" I asked, playfully. It's not like we had a conversation every time he came here. I didn't know if he had a girlfriend. All I know is that he came here every day and that he didn't bring anyone with him, except his associate and his best friend, who has also his law partner. Reyes smiled and then frowned at me.
"Yes, my assistant. I need her to do me a big favor; life and death," Reyes said, seriously.
"I thought you don't do life and death cases," I said, tilting my head a little. Reyes looked down at me, his blue eyes so serious that my insides quavered. It wasn't like I was expecting him to ask me out on a date. I wanted him to, I wasn't going to lie. I have never wanted anything more in my life. But it's been six months and he hadn't asked me which obviously meant he wasn't interested. It couldn't be that he was afraid to ask me, he was a lawyer; he had the confidence to ask out a girl.
"I don't, this one is personal," Reyes said.
"Well, good luck," I said softly. I gave him a small smile. He gave me a breathtaking half smile.
"You know, you make the best coffee I have ever tasted," Reyes said. He took a sip from his cup and turned around and walked away. I swallowed the lump that had formed in my throat and tried to focus on work. But no matter how hard I tried to focus on the orders or on the songs in my ear, I couldn't let go of the sneaking suspicion that Reyes was saying goodbye.
I knew my mother's old fashioned ways were going to come bite me in the ass. Or in this case, break my heart all over again.