Saturday, February 5, 2011

Adventures At Cupid Cafe (Friday Fiction) [Part 2]

This week's Friday Fiction is hosted by Julie Arduini @ her block, The Surrendered Scribe. Click here to read and share more great fiction!

Author's Ramblings: Ack! I am late with this post. Honestly, it has had me scrambling this week, but of course, it feels like a huge accomplishment just to have it down with the kind of krazy week that I've had. It feels a bit off and jumpy and there seems to be so much drama that I thought I was writing a soap opera at the rate this was going. *sigh* Oh dears. I do hope you enjoy this installment, I've tried to keep it up to par with the first, but it's taken some effort to get it together. The conclusion should be next week. (and I say this peeking tentatively over my keyboard-LOL). Please enjoy the read and do leave a comment/suggestion/feedback/questions/whatever. Think you know what will happen next week? What would you like to see happen next week? Let me know! I love hearing from everyone and I always take the suggestions into consideration--it makes the story more fun. Happy weekend! 

Cupid's Cafe : First Heart


RECAP: At the mysterious Cupid's Cafe, five girls work to make the establishment a warm and inviting resting spot for everyone who passes beneath the legendary stone archway. Things are running smoothly until gift shop manager Kamei, discovers that her school friend Celia is seeing the resident playboy, Brent.


The morning passed fairly quickly and when the shift was over, the café was closed for school hours. By the time the afternoon had rolled around, a somber mood had overtaken the employees of Cupid’s Café.

“He’s a slimeball.” Kamei banged through the breakroom door, slinging her backpack to the floor. “It’s like he breathes and he oozes. I hate him. What could she possibly see in him? He’s a stuck-up, two-timing jerk!”

“Gross.” Tomi wrinkled her nose, fishing out her uniform from the wall lockers and walking over to the curtained corner. “Cheri, I have four minutes to spare ‘till the shift starts. Don’t you dare mark me as anything else but on time. I need the bonus.”

“I thought you said you bought that study guide already.” Cheri shrugged into her apron, checking it in the wall mirror.

“This is a test prep packet.” Tomi’s voice was muffled. “I am going to test out of that class.”

“It’s a fun class.”

“Easy for you to say, Miss Dual-Enrollment, know-it-all.”

Kamei yanked open her locker, snatching her café uniform from the plastic hook. “How can you two be so calm?”

Cheri perked a brow. “Because I’m at work and calm is good. Hurry up and get dressed.”

“Forget work. Brent was chatting up Monica in the hall today. Twice. I overheard them and he was being a-”

The door burst open and Lucy skidded into the room, bracing against it as it banged shut. “Am I late?”

“You will be.” Tomi stepped out from behind the curtain, stuffing her street clothes in the bottom of the locker. “The bonus is mine. Next time, run faster.”

“Shirp up.” Lucy stuck her tongue. “I mean, shut up. I ran all the way here.” She heaved a breath. “I really did. Hi Kamei. Cheri, I can still make it, can’t I? Please?”

The redhead glanced at her watch. “If you can change in-” A blonde streak flew by her, the curtain rustling. Cheri shrugged. “If you need it that bad.”

“None of you are listening to me.” Kamei stared at them. “I can’t believe it. I finally have something to say and something that is majorly important to me and I can’t even-”

“We are listening.” Cheri said, quietly. “We heard.”

“Then why aren’t you doing anything?” 

“What do you want us to do?” Cheri sighed. “It isn’t like we can actually do something, Kamei. Besides, this isn’t like you at all. You’re supposed to be more like Tomi, calm and rational. I know Celia’s a good friend of yours, but if she and Brent decided -”

“Done!” Lucy burst out from behind the curtain, her apron crooked, her hair a mess and her shirttails uneven.

“And wrong.” Cheri caught the younger girl by the arm, twirling her around to face the wall before she began to fix by straightening tugging and pulling the uniform to a more neat appearance. “Next time, skip the vending machine run. It shaves five minutes off your travel time.”

“I was hungry.”

“We get free food here.” Tomi rolled her eyes. “You couldn’t hold out for five minutes?”

“I can’t believe you guys. You really aren’t even listening. We’ve done all sorts of things together and we’ve had crazy adventures because of idiots like Brent who think that they can just pick up any girl for the-”

“Kamei.” Cheri paused, reaching over to swipe a hairbrush from her own locker to start fixing Lucy’s hair. “The answer is no. I don’t think that we should do this.”

“This isn’t some kind of joke.” Kamei growled. “It’s sick, that’s what it is.”

“A trick?” Lucy blinked in puzzlement. “Doesn’t make any senses.” She shook her head. “Sense. It doesn’t make any sense.”

“Does it have to?” Tomi sighed. “Still, there isn’t anything we can do about it.”

“About what?” Melody entered the break room, already kicking off her boots and pulling her hair into a low ponytail. “Hello everyone, lights and signs are on. If we don’t get out there and working, there’ll be a bit of a delay on the afternoon menu and if we do that, Naola, is going to eat you guys for lunch.”

“No fair, how come you don’t get eaten?” Lucy pulled away from Cheri’s mothering fingers. “My hair’s fine.” She fluffed it with her fingers. “So much for the bonus.”

“I don’t get eaten, because our lovely owner likes me more.” Melody winked. “Besides, I’m the skinny one.” Lucy pouted.

“I’ll start them, you do the social thing.” Tomi wiggled her fingers in a wave. “You know, the music and whatever else it is you chef people do.” She started for the door and paused. “Did you take any reservations at school, anyone I should be expecting?”

“Um, a couple. It’ll link up in a moment.” Melody extracted a small tablet from her jacket pocket. “Give it a second to sync up. There’s also going to be a request from a Nicole Berham.” She paused, deliberately, her calm eyes fixed on Tomi’s figure in the doorway. “I’ll take it personally.”

The other girls stared after her.

“A request?” Cheri spoke first. “We haven’t had one of those in a while.” 

“It’s not something to be happy about.” Melody said, quietly, trading out her school outfit for her own chef’s jacket. “Cheri, make sure you’re the one to take care of her.”

“Why?” Tomi straightened her shirt collar. “It’s not like we’ll do anything to her if we meet her first-”

“Cheri.” Melody interrupted, her eyes narrowing. “Make sure.” With a frown, the older girl swept from the room.

“Good grief.” Tomi exclaimed, standing aside to let the older girl pass. “Just because she’s a college student, doesn’t mean that she has to treat us like-”

“Do we have any love potion?”

The chatter stopped.

Cheri smacked Kamei over the head with the hairbrush. “Don’t.” She said, furiously. “Don’t say what I think what I think you’re going to say. You’ve been whining and moping—as great a listener as I am, you’re the one that hasn’t been listening at all. Haven’t you heard a word I’ve said? Haven’t you heard yourself? You did not just say that.”

“I didn’t say anything.” Kamei said, dully. “I just asked a question.”

“Not a normal bestion.”

“Question.” Tomi corrected, automatically. “Kamei, I know her too. I don’t think it’s right, but we shouldn’t interfere. This is Brent-”

“It’s because it’s Brent.” Kamei burst out. “She cut class because of him. She never cuts class. She’s more reliable than I am and you know how responsible I am. He sent her twenty-five texts in five minutes—while he was chatting up Monica in the hall before second period. I can’t ignore that. Celia’s my friend. I thought you guys were my friends too. I guess I was wrong-”

“Did you tell her?” Cheri interrupted. “Did you take your friend aside and tell her. That’s all you had to do and after that, you need to-”

Kamei looked away. “Of course I did. This has been going on for awhile. Apparently she was just careful to keep it from me.”

“Really?” Cheri sighed. “You should take a hint then. Don’t interfere where you’re not wanted.”

“I can’t stand back and do nothing. She’s clueless!”

“So tell her what you say and then leave it at that.”

“I did. I told you already that I did.”

“You did?”

“I just said that I did.” Kamei glared at her. “Celia is my friend. What part of that don’t you understand?”

Tomi frowned, her earlier mission forgotten as she now lounged in the doorway. “So let me get this straight, you told her? What did she say?”

“That it was fine. That she’d deal with it. That she was happy and Brent wouldn’t do something like that because he was happy too.”

“Well, there you have it.” Tomi threw up her hands. “She’s fine. He’s fine. No outside involvement necessary.”

“He was talking with Monica.” Kamei forced the name through her clenched teeth. “With Monica of all people in that whole stupid school.”

“With Monica? You mean, Monica Carheil?”

“Yeah.”

“She has a boyfriend already.” Cheri’s exasperated expression wavered. “She always has someone around her.”

“Look, will you just help?” 

“There isn’t anything to be helped.” Cheri scowled. “Besides, can’t a guy just talk to a girl without everyone jumping on him? Just because he has a girlfriend doesn’t mean he can’t even talk to the opposite sex.” She sighed.

“Normally, that is good common sense.” Tomi wrinkled her nose. “But this Monica you’re talking about. We’ve already had issues with her.” She shook her head. “More broken hearts than I’d care to cure.”

“But she had a boyfriend, didn’t she?” Cheri protested. “You guys are making this out to be-”

"Not anymore, she doesn’t.” Tomi rubbed her forehead. “I can see where this going.” She looked up.

The doorbell chimed.

“I’ll get it.” Cheri trotted off. “You all hurry it up, alright?”


~*~*~*~*~

“Melody?” Cheri burst into the kitchen. “Melody, Nicole Berham is here. She has a request slip and she says that she’s in a hurry.”

A tired Melody appeared in the inner kitchen doorway, wiping her hands on a towel tucked into her apron waistband. She took a key ring from one of her pockets and began to turn the combination locks on a set of cupboards in the corner. “Did she sign the paperwork already?”

“Er, not yet.” Cheri blushed. “I kind of, well-”

“You kind of what? Go get it.” Melody shooed her away with one hand. “Go.”

“But-”

“She’ll wait by the counter, I’m sure of it. Don’t worry. Now go.”

Cheri went.

By the time she returned, the potion was ready and waiting in a slender glass cruet with bright pink liquid shimmering from within.

“Looks kind of plain.” Kamei entered the prep area with a handful of ribbon rolls in her hand. “I could make it more festive.”

Melody eyed her for a moment and then took a step backwards. “Suit yourself. It might cheer the poor girl up.” Kamei moved forward, trying different colors and patterns, before settling on a rich scarlet specimen that she fastened around the thin neck. She held it up to the light only for Melody to take it from her hand and carry it up to the register with a warning glance thrown over her shoulder.

Nicole was waiting. She was a girl with red-rimmed eyes stood beside the counter, her hands gripping the marble so tight, the trademark spots of white were visible on the joints. The hood of her jacket was pulled up and her wallet was still on the edge of the counter as if she hadn’t dared to move after completing the payment.

Taking the clipboard from Cheri, Melody set the potion on the counter and retrieved a small polka-dotted giftbag. She stuffed Nicole’s wallet into the bag as well. She explained the suggested use and cautioned against possible side effects before handing it over. "Take care."

~*~*~*~*~

“What was wrong with her?” Cheri watched the customer leave the café, her earlier energy seeming to have faded. “She was a complete wreck. Her hands were shaking when she pulled out that wallet, but the ticket-” 

“I know.” Melody sighed. “And I couldn’t rightly say. Naola gave her a ticket, so it must have been legitimate.”


“What was it? I mean, what kind of…potion?”

“Restorative. To revive the heart, remind it to stand strong for what it believes in.” Melody shrugged. “You probably don’t want to know.”

“I do!”

“Do not.”

“Melody.”

“Go play hostess. I have cakes to bake.”

“Fine.” Cheri huffed. “Don’t forget cupcakes.”

Melody only smiled, disappearing back into the kitchen. After a minute, Kamei returned to the prep room, a tiny espresso cup in hand. Cheri nearly choked. “Kamei!”

“I had to do it.” Her short black hair curved around her pale cheeks, lending an even more exotic air to the Asian girl now hugging the cup to her chest. “I couldn’t just stand there, Cheri. She’s my friend.”

“And I thought I was your friend. I can’t let you do this.”

“You can’t stop me either, so I guess we’re kind of even then.”

“Kamei, You don’t even know that it will work or if they’ll come here today.”

“Brent always brings them at least three times before they ever break up. He’s only come here once with Celia.”

“You were counting.”

“Celia is my friend.”

“Why am I suddenly thinking creepy stalker kind of friend?” Cheri rubbed her face. “Think about this, really think about this. If anyone finds out, you’re going to wish-”

“You can’t change my mind, Cheri and he’ll be here. Celia said they were coming. She said it was proof that he liked her.”

“Fine. But if something goes wrong here-”

Kamei didn’t answer, but her grip tightened on the cup.

“Does Melody know?”

“If she knew, I wouldn’t be standing here.”

“Point taken.” Cheri hesitated in the doorway and then she gave a shake of her head as the door chime sounded again.

~*~*~*~*~*~
“They’re here.” Lucy bounded into the prep room.

Kamei and Tomi were huddled in the corner, whispering frantically amongst themselves. “Shhh!” Kamei grabbed her. “Not so loud.”

“They can’t bear me.”

“Hear you.” Kamei glared at her. “Slow down, if you make any slipups, this is going to be your fault that-”

Lucy shrank back with a pout. “I was only-”

“Good job.” Tomi said, smoothly. “Good girl. Keep an eye on the rest of the tables. We’ll handle the rest.”

“Yay!” Lucy gave a snappy salute, dancing back out to the dining room.

Tomi frowned. “If you want our help, Kamei, you’d better start screwing your head on straight. Lucy doesn’t have to help. She’s a freshman, a new one at that. She doesn’t even understand half of the drama going on here. I know Celia because we’ve had a few classes. I understand that Cheri was trying to say and I respect your concern, although I wouldn’t have gone this far, but if you’re going to pull this off, you can’t do it on your own.”

Kamei opened her mouth and then shut it. There was an awkward silence between the two girls and finally she shrugged. “Fine.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

“They ordered strawberry torte and a parfait with two spoons and two cherries.” Lucy rattled off the order, leaning against the counter as she watched Melody frosting cupcakes. “Can I have one of those?”

“Do you need the sugar?” Melody smiled, adding an extra pop of frosting before handing it over. “Eat it slowly. How’s it going out there.”

“Slow.” Lucy moaned. “This is exhausting.”

“Is my strudel actually complaining?” Cheri stuck her head through the doorway. “Hey Mels. Lucy, now is not snack time. I need extra hands and feet out there.”

“I’m a strudel now?” Lucy perked up. “But I’m eating a cupcake.”

“Would you rather be the cream puff?”

Lucy swallowed the other half of her muffin and wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Strudel. I like strudel.” She dodged away from Cheri’s hands. “Strudel with frosting!” She called over her shoulder.

Cheri rolled her eyes. “Sometimes I think there’s a five-year-old somewhere in that head of hers.” She sighed. “Mels? How’s it coming? Are we lagging?”

“A bit.” Melody nodded towards the ceiling monitors. “The fruit roll is going to take at least another fifteen minutes through.”

“What about the torte?”

“I’ll put it together after these.”

“Do you need extra help?”

“Calling Naola would be a problem for you, wouldn’t it?”

Cheri blushed. “I-I-”

“Are you doing this for Kamei or Celia?”

“How did you—never mind, of course you knew.”

“I’m to guard those keys with my very sanity.” Melody gave a sad smile. “You know, this is going to be a headache.”

“So? You’re the oldest one here. Stop us.”

Melody uncovered a tub of chilled strawberries, she dropped a tub of whipped cream on the counter with an audible thump. “It’s a free country, isn’t it?”

“Mel-”

“I’m not going to make up your mind for you, Cheri. That’s your choice alone. The torte will be done in a moment. Send Lucy for it.”

~*~*~*~*~*~

“I want another muffin.” Lucy moaned as she flopped onto the short counter stool. She yawned. “I’m tired and I still have homework.” 

“The afternoon shift has barely started.” Cheri frowned. “You already had a muffin.”

“But I like muffins.”

“Monica is here too.” Tomi sputtered. “I don’t believe this.”

“You’d best believe it.” Cheri sighed. “I saw her too.”

“Is she alone?” Kamei held her breath.

Cheri looked away. “…yes.”

“Ha! I knew it.” Kamei smirked. “She’s trying to get Brent away from Celia. It isn’t going to work though.” She held up a steaming teacup. “Tomi, could you deliver this to table twelve?”

“Do it yourself.” Cheri straightened, suddenly. The other girls stared at her. “I mean, this is your idea and everything. Therefore you should-”

“Fine. I will.”

“But she’ll recognize you.” Tomi looked from her to Cheri. “Hey, Cheri, do you think that this is a good idea?” 

~*~*~*~*~*~

“Well, is it working?” Tomi joined Cheri at the register, serving tray tucked under her arm. "I can't tell at all. I thought potions were supposed to work right away. Which one did you pick?" 

"I had nothing to do with this." 

"What? But you're usually the one that-"

"This was one hundred percent Kamei." 

Tomi blinked. "Wow."

“Full house, isn’t it?” Cheri forced a smile, turning her attention to the petite blonde that skipped over to the register. “Lucy?”

“Muffin?” The blonde perked up. “Please, please tell me there is a muffin involved with-”

The sound of glass breaking was accompanied by loud voices. Cheri was out from behind the counter and heading towards the commotion as Lucy and Tomi hurried after her. Kamei stepped out from the gift shop as they all arrived at the scene. 

Brent and Monica were standing in the middle of the aisle, shouting at each other, a shattered sugarbowl on the wooden floor between them. A furiously blushing Celia was tugging on Brent’s arm, trying to calm him down.

“You little-!” Monica shrieked. “You’re the one that’s causing all of this-”

“Brent, please?” Celia tugged on his arm. “Don’t make a scene.”

“I’ll make a scene any time I feel like it.” Brent yanked his arm free, sending Celia reeling.

Kamei reached out to catch her friend, the impact forcing her to take a step backwards. She looked from her friend to the angry duo. “Celia, what’s going on?”

“Excuse me.” Cheri cleared her throat. “I’m afraid I’ll have to ask you two to leave. You’re disturbing the other customers, if you would?” She gestured towards the lobby.The duo didn't move. Cheri moved forward, a hand on each of them, her voice a few shades darker. "Sir, Miss, this way if you please?"

The other customers began to murmur amongst themselves and Tomi quickly turned around, a cheerful smile on her face. “Please excuse this, everyone.” She rocked forward on the tips of her toes. “To make up for this, Cupid’s Café will be providing a complimentary cup of tea or cocoa. I will bring it to you shortly.” 

~*~*~*~*~*~

The next day in school, Kamei picked up her lunch tray, heading for the table she usually shared with the science club. She was halfway there when Celia intercepted her with a tear-stained face in the middle of the cafeteria.

“What did you do to him?”

“What?”

“You came to the table and you gave him a complimentary cup of tea and then he went berserk. He wouldn’t take any of my calls and he wouldn’t even talk to me this morning. He didn’t even look at me! What did you do to him?”

“Huh?”

“Don’t give me that. Brent! You came to me yesterday spouting all of this know-it-all-junk that he liked Monica, as if you knew everything.”

“C-celia, calm down, what’s going on?”

“I wasn’t going to go because you worked there. I wasn’t going to go, but he wanted to. So we went. We went to your café again and you gave him something.”

Kamei tilted her head forward, her hair slipping forward to hide her face. “I don’t know what you mean.”

“You liar!” Celia shoved her back into a table, one hand on each of her shoulders. “I thought you were my friend. I’m not stupid. I know strange things happen at that place. I’ve heard the rumors. I’ve seen the people. You did something to him.” Her hands fell back to her sides. “How could you, Kamei? I really thought you were my friend.”

© Sara Harricharan

1 comments:

Julie Arduini said...

Ooooh Sara!!! I'm hooked. I thought you did an outstanding job building up the action and you absolutely left it on a cliffhanger. I want to know what is next for sure. Great dialogue,too! Thanks for participating in this week's Friday Fiction. I know you are crazy busy but your entry was worth it!