I was resting my head on my hand above the counter. It was a slow day at the cafe. Not many people came in this lazy afternoon. I groaned inwardly while looking at the clock tick. My shift was about to end; and clock was too damn slow! Don't get me wrong. I love my job. It's just that I really needed to be somewhere today.
My boss, Brad, is tall, dark, handsome(despite wearing old glasses), and is in his late twenties, was sitting in his small office busy mumbling and counting the recent income we've made this week. He only has a handful of workers in the café but he still manages fine even on hectic days. He's a great boss and a good friend.
I just stayed at the counter glancing at the only customers left in the cafe. I usually pass the time, if not reading, then by observing customers from afar. It's creepy, I know, and I'm not a psycho or anything, but it's actually pretty interesting, for example:
This one guy was a business man, about in his early thirties, was a regular customer of ours. He always orders an expresso and reads only one page of the newspaper, which was weird. I figured he was stressed at work because he must be thinking something deep to be like that.
Then there was the old lady that always sits on the same corner and orders the same tea everytime she comes in the café. She comes almost everyday looking outside the window peacefully but with a sad expression on her face. I figured she must've gone through a great loss.
Another one was the gorgeous woman in her mid-twenties, sipping on a frappe. She comes, almost as if it was scheduled. She was like a model but she always hides her eyes behind a pair of dark sunglasses. I figured that she must have been crying.
I knew them all by face but I did not know their story; and those were only some of our regulars.
I looked back at the clock. Five minutes left until my shift was over. I was now tapping on the counter waiting, until a customer walked in through the door sounding the small hanging door bell. I looked at him and knew that he wasn't a regular. He was a new face in this old café, but he seemed familiar though. He was tall and muscular in all the right places. He had chocolate brown eyes and messy yet sexy disheveled black hair, gorgeous cheek bones, and full pink lips. He could leave a girl drooling but not me. I wasn't going to fall for any more handsome faces like my past naive self. No sir. Lesson learned hard.
I straightened up as he reached the counter and said with a protocol friendly customer smile, "Welcome to Bean There, how can I help you?"
"Uh... one cuppachino frappe. Take out." he said in a deep husky voice, while giving me his payment.
I looked at the clock.
"Coming right up." I said as I took the bill from his hand then handing him his change.
I made his drink as fast as I could while constantly glancing at the clock.
I moved faster, finally handing him his drink just as the clock striked three. Before I left the counter, I heard him mumble something inaudible that caught my attention but when I took a second look at him, he already left the cafe. Weird. I then grabbed my coat from my chair and my bagpack without further delay and dashed to peek my head at the office door briefly declaring, "Brad, I'm going!"
"You can't leave! Amy hasn't arrived from the delivery truck yet!" he said standing immediately, panicking about my late co-worker because no one would be left at the counter when I leave. Amy was probably flirting with the hot delivery truck driver at the back again which doesn't really surprise me.
"Brad, I don't care. It's three o'clock and I'm leaving. We had a deal!" I retorted, reminding him our deal which was for me to work the next weekend for two shifts, fours hours each in exchange for me to leave early today.
"But Ella!" he called out almost whining while following me outside his office.
"Manage the fort yourself, chief!" I said as I cockily and victoriously smiled at him then walked towards the door to leave the cafe.
I heard him huff in surrender and try to straighten up as another costumer walked through the door just before I left.
Once outside, I went straight towards my bike. I snuggled myself tighter in my coat, as if it was even possible. It was particularly cold in this autumn afternoon. Too cold for my taste. While sighing, I eagerly hopped on my bike and rode towards the shelter. I promised Sister Anna that I would visit today and deliver her gift to my little angel during his birthday which was due in the next couple of days.
I rode as fast as I could while avoiding the cars that passed by the small neighborhood. When I reached the shelter, an old building, I stopped to lock my bike to a railing then went up a small flight of stairs before knocking on the door. I was greeted and surrounded by small children with excited youthful smiles and hugs. All of them greeting me "hello" and "hi" simultaneously. All of them were asking me a lot of questions, which made me laugh until I shushed them and told them to ask me one at a time.
"Ella! Ella! I'm so glad you visited us again! Did you bring it?" giggled an eight year old girl, who had blue eyes and a cute braid.
"Ella, Did you bring sweets for us?" eagerly asked by a small sweet looking boy who was about five years old.
"And for me too?" asked by another boy who was chubby and was already chewing on a small chocolate bar.
I mentally slapped myself for being forgetful. "I'm sorry guys but I didn't bring any sweets today." I said sadly, giving them an apologetic smile while they sighed saying, "Awwhhh..."
"I promise I'll bring some next time, okay?"
As soon as I finished the sentence they jumped up and down screaming for joy saying, "YAY!" They all gave me a happy yet suffocating hug.
"Okay kids. That's enough. Break it up then go upstairs and clean your rooms. Anymore hugs and you might crush Ella here." a soft old voice called out before the children went dashing upstairs. She was chuckling her way to me and giving me a bear hug. "Welcome my dear."
"I missed you Sister Anna."
"What did I tell you about calling me that?" she said while raising an eyebrow at me.
"I meant: I missed you Nana." I said, correcting myself.
"Much better." she said before closing the shelter door.
"Why do you call yourself that now anyway?"
"It's spunky and hip." she said, popping the "p" in "hip".
We both laughed before I asked her, "But you're a nun. What does that have to with religion?"
"Dear child, it's just a name. God has given us a life of free will. Use it wisely; and remember that we are not determined by our names, we are determined by our identity: heart and soul. That's all that matters; and I'm not attaching myself to the worldy things but I'm just going with the change or flow. Besides, it was the children's idea. Not my fault I got a funky nickname. I'm black and you don't hear me complaining." she said, chuckling while leading me to the waiting room.
"Wait here while I get his present, okay?"
"Okay." I said, genuinely smiling at her. She simply nodded and returned a smile.
When she left, looked around the room that was filled with many painful and happy memories of mine. It was worn down. You could see the dusty old ceiling fan slowly turning, old paint that lost its color and is peeling off the walls, an old painting of the founder which was a nun, old furniture and the huge pale carpet on the floor. It maybe old but it was a warm home to those children who needed it.
Sister Anna came back inside and gave me a box covered with a blue gift wrapping paper and a small silver bow. A small tag on it was written with: KEN. I smiled at the box then looked at her saying, "Thank you."
"I hope he'll love it."
"He will. Thank you, for everything."
She gave me another hug before detaching herself from me saying, "Anytime my dear. God bless you, and don't forget to visit next month okay? We want to see you before the holidays."
"Okay Nana." I said, happily putting the gift delicately in my bag then slinging it over my shoulder with care.
She smiled warmly at me before I said goodbye, promising her and the kids at the shelter that I would be back before the holidays and with sweets. While riding my bike towards my dorm, my phone suddenly rang. I didn't want to stop so I just picked it up from my coat pocket and answered.
"ELLA, WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU?" screamed a girl on the other side of the phone which made me wince and laugh at the same time.
"I'm on Earth, stupid; and I'm heading to the dorm as we speak. Don't get so paranoid on me Tori." I said, reprimanding my crazy yet lovable true best friend over the phone.
I heard her sigh in relief then spoke up sounding stressed saying, "Good, coz I really need your help with these papers. If I hear another word about History and Literature, so help me, I'm gonna explode!"
I chuckled at her outburst then said, "Tori, we'll talk later. I'm still driving."
"Calling while driving is dangerous Ella." she reminded me with a friendly warning tone.
"I'm driving a bike. A bike, Tori. Stop being paranoid. Nothing bad is gonna happen." As soon as the words left my mouth, I instantly regretted what I said.
As I slowly turned to cross the street, I didn't see a car speeding straight towards me. I was about to get run over in like a split second until some strong arms wrapped themselves around my waist and pulled me off my bike with so much force that we were thrown back to the sidewalk's pavement just in the nick of time.
I felt out of breathe. It was like the wind was knocked out of me. I almost died, again but in a different way. I felt helpless and all I could say was, "Oh... my... God..."
I suddenly felt shivers of electricity course through me as his hand touched mine and my rescuer put his mouth too close to my ear making me feel his hot breath as he asked in a familiar deep husky voice, "Hey, are you okay?"
"Um... yeah." I mumbled, nervously.
When I turned around to look at him only to find myself gaping at his handsome face. Oh my Lord, it's him! The guy from the café earlier. The day just got more interesting, didn't it?