A/N: hey guys! I just wanted to say that I just changed the second chapter to this book, and added another chapter! Hope you guys enjoy & feedback is always
welcome/appreciated! :) love ya all lots<3
Mason’s Café rested on the corner of Burton Street, surrounded by thick, gnarled vines. A few crooked tables and a couple of wobbly chairs sat scattered around the
front. It was set up in such a disorganized fashion that it seemed almost done on purpose. Despite the café’s outwardly unsystematic appearance, it was a major hangout of Portsville.
Well, a major hangout for those who enjoyed strong coffee and dust-covered books. Tourists came to the café, fascination stamped onto their face as they took in the town’s history that had been engraved into a plague and hung behind the counter.
Inside, the café was moderately large, with two rooms branching off from the center one. The center room consisted of a polished counter with old fashioned registers. More seating arrangements had been strewn across the titled floor. The second room was a more elaborate seating one, for those who preferred private conversation or quiet. A chandelier hung from the ceiling, casting a soft, cozy glow along the maroon-colored walls. Each table held a candle in its center and tourists thought it was a great place for dates. The last room was a small library with shelves and shelves of books. The books ranged from the classics to Twilight. Mason, the owner, made sure to get recently published books every two months or so.
I stepped off the street, my boots squishing into muddied slush. Snow drifted down from the paper sky and I yanked my parka closer to my body with numbing fingers.
A chime rang throughout the café as I stepped inside. After stripping off my coat, I tossed it lazily on the coat rack. Mason sat behind the counter, idly flipping through a magazine.
He glanced up at me as I slipped behind the counter.
“Hey, Mas,” I greeted, glancing around at the nearly empty shop. “No business today?” He rolled his eyes at me.
“Just wait another hour or two. They’ll come and you’ll be plenty busy, don’t you worry,” Mason teased. I laughed, making myself a large coffee. Once the beverage was in my hand, I started back towards the library. “I’ll call you in when your shift starts!” he called and I waved a hand in reply.
The library was my favorite part of the café, besides the drinks. I’d always had a fascination with books.
After settling onto my favorite window seat with a copy of my newest obsession Willow’s Bend, I curled my knees to my chest and lost my mind in the story.
“Yo, Harlow. I knew I’d find you here,” my best friend Lacey called from the doorframe. I grinned up at her. Lacey Moore was the definition of classy. With her mom being a clothes designer, she wore all of the latest trends. Her willowing blonde hair seemed to always be perfectly placed. She was everything everyone wanted to be. Her appearance might be over thought but I knew she just liked looking her best. She was basically everything I wasn’t. And to be honest, not only did I not mind, I actually kind of enjoyed it. For what I lacked in fashion, I made up in my grades. I did considerably better than Lacey in school, but I’d always enjoyed her fashion advice, which was something she thought I always needed. We went well together.
“Hey, Lace. What’s up?” I replied, slapping the book shut.
“Our shift starts in five minutes. Mas told me to quote- drag you from your book and if need be, lock it in a safe unquote.” We laughed.
I shoved myself to my feet and made my way to the counter, tying an apron around my waist. Once I was behind the counter, I stopped and looked at the long line of people waiting to order.
“Holy crap!” I exclaimed, staring. Upon seeing my surprised face, Mason laughed and playfully whipped me with a dish towel.
“I told ya there was going to be a ton of customers!”
Customers lined outside the café, the line extending well beyond the block. They continued to wait even though it was raining out.
The first customer came up, a perky-eyed young girl with a huge grin on her face.
I smiled at her. “Hey, Laura. What can I get for you today?”
“Hey, Harlow!” She chirped, dropped a couple dollars and change onto the counter. “Can I get a hot chocolate and a coffee for my mommy?”
“Of course!” I replied, taking the money. Laura bounced on her heels, watching me as I made the drinks.
“Are you baby-sitting for me this weekend?” She asked, only her eyes visible over the counter. She was so adorable. I’d been baby-sitting her for three years now.
“Yup! I’ve already picked up some snack food for you.”
Laura squealed delightfully, clasping her hands in front of her. “Gummy Bears?” She practically shouted. I winked.
“Shh. We don’t want your mom finding out. Now get going. You don’t want to be late for your play practice,” I alleged, passing over the beverages. She scurried off. Lacey made a gagging sound next to me.
“How can you stand kids? They practically fall to your knees,” she said, tone disgusted. I knew she was just jealous that kids loved me more than her, but she refused to admit it.
Her nose wrinkled. “It’s gross.”
“Whatever you say,” I mused, laughing.
After around three hours, business finally died down. I glanced up from the table surprised to see that it was almost time to lock up. Lacey came out of the back, chucking her apron on the stool.
“I’m out. You need any help?”
I glanced up at her. “Nah, I’m good. I’ll pick you up at eight tomorrow for school.”
She made a face. “How bout we skip? I’m not feeling school tomorrow.”
I rolled my eyes, a laugh bubbling through my lips. “You’re never feeling school. And as much as I’d love to take you up on that offer, I can’t. I’ve got a huge exam in Chemistry. One that could make or break my grade.”
Now it was her turn to roll her eyes. “Fine. But you’re buying my coffee!” She called over her shoulder as she made her way to the door.
It was raining considerably harder than it had been before. It came down in sheets of white and I cringed thinking of the run I’d have to do to get to my car. Sighing, I went back to scrubbing the table, knowing that if I finished locking up within the next ten minutes I could make it home by ten.
Mason had me lock up every other day, or when he had to leave early. He paid me extra to do so, and I was more than willing to help out for additional cash. After college, Mason opened this café, in memory of his father that had died of cancer. For only being twenty-three, he was doing extremely well. I’d known him all my life and working for him just seemed to be right.
I didn’t mind staying late. He and I both knew that I needed the money.
I was so lost in my thoughts that I didn’t notice the door opening until the bell chimed. I jumped, letting out a yelp. The lights had been dimmed so it was hard to make out the person that stood in the doorway. A cool breeze slapped into my body from the open door just before it shut softly.
My heart pounded in my chest and I clutched the spray bottle with shaking hands. Adrenaline pumped hard through my veins.
“I´m sorry, but we´re closed.” My voice came out shaky and uncertain, a clear display of my fear. He’d scared the crap out of me.
The guy took a couple steps forward and my mouth couldn’t help but drop open. He was tall, around 6’6. My eyes glazed over his choice of outfit: dark-wash jeans, white tee, black leather jacket, and brown boots. My eyes snapped up to his face. A mess of brown hair lay sprawled across his head, a few strands scattering across his forehead. Dark narrowed eyes stared from under thick eyebrows. A few days of stubble rested along his jaw. He was more than attractive.
“I was hoping to get a coffee.” The deep, rich voice fit him perfectly. Cockiness hinted just underneath his tone and my own eyes narrowed.
I fiddled with the rag in my hands, twisting it along my fingers before lifting my chin higher.
“We closed about thirty minutes ago.”
He eased closer to me, eyes practically glaring into mine. I sucked in a nervous breath. He was basically radiating power.
“Could you make an exception?” There was an alluring seduction in his voice and I almost turned around and started up the machine. Almost.
My face hardened. I wasn’t about to let some supremely hot guy order me around.
“Sorry, but I’m not above the rules. Though I’m sure the Dunkin Donuts down the street would love to serve you since they’re open 24 hours and we close at nine on weekdays,” I replied, while slipping behind the counter. I yanked the apron over my head then grabbed my bag and keys from the back.
When I came out front again, the guy was still standing there, a frown settled onto his face.
I glanced down at my phone a groan escaped my mouth. Crap! Now I was going to be late!
Taking a deep breath, I shot the hot guy my best glare. “Listen, buddy, I’ve got to get home. So, if you wouldn’t mind getting out…” I snapped.
He just smirked at me.
“Not until I get a coffee.”
Something shut down in my brain and I felt myself turning around.
What the hell…cut it out, Harlow! I growled at myself and carefully steered myself back around. A quick flicker of shock ran across his face, but then it settled into a frown. I placed my hands on my hips.
“Sorry, my bad. I didn’t know you were deaf,” I bit out sarcastically. “Now, why don’t you leave before I get the cops to drag you out?”
The smirk came back and he slowly strode backwards, eyes never leaving mine. My heart started to race.
Once he was gone, I clutched my bag to my chest and cautiously peeked out the door. No one was in sight. After locking up, I bolted to my old blue Toyota.
My headlights sliced through the darkness like a knife and I peered carefully
around, waiting to see if the creep had decided to stick around. I doubted he would attack me, but just in case I rummaged around in my purse until my hands clasped around my Mace. It was better to be safe than sorry. And besides, people have killed over much stupider things.
With a quick shake of my head, I shoved the car into drive and almost peeled out of the parking spot. My trembling hands tightened on the wheel and I rolled to a stop at the stop sign at the edge of the parking lot. Something about the guy had set me off edge.
Biting my lip, I told myself to relax. I slowly eased off the brake and pressed the gas, heading for home.
See you tomorrow, Harlow…
The thought came so suddenly that I smashed onto the brakes, throwing myself forward. My forehead cracked into the steering wheel with such force that I gasped and a white flash of pain exploded in my skull.
“Shit!” I gasped out.
I turned the key with shaking hands and sat in the pressing darkness, allowing myself to calm down.
But as I started up the Toyota ten minutes later, I couldn’t get the thought out of my head.
Because I knew, no matter how crazy it sounded, that that thought hadn’t been mine.
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