Chapter 13

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A/N: Dedicated to @AmberMarcellus for daring to try something new


The last clients – an elderly couple that I was fond of – left and Winnie locked the door behind them, turning the hanging sign over so that it read CLOSED. A tired sigh left her lips as she entwined her fingers together and brought her arms above her head in a stretch.

"I feel so old when my back cracks like that," she complained, separating her hands and bringing one to her neck to massage it. "What time did Rhys say he will be here?"

"Just after closing," I looked out the window towards the escalators. Several familiar faces were around but not the one I craved to see.

"Well, the tables ain't gonna clean themselves." My colleague grabbed a wipe and her tray. "I'll do the ones to the left," she pointed to the side where the majority of the tables were, "you take care of the bar and of these to the right," her hand twisted in the direction of six smaller tables, before she muttered: "Wish Tim stayed to help out, but at least he's home making me dinner."

After a few hours spent in futile attempts of brightening my mood, her fiancé had returned home with a long shopping list and an order of 'something healthy, but put some meat in it; I'm not a darn rabbit' as their last meal for the day.

"I'm already done with the bar," I noted and headed straight for the smaller group of tables with a tray in hand. I placed the cups and larger mugs on the platter and hurried to carry them to the sink at the back before returning with a towel to wipe the tables. I sighed once I returned to the main part of the café; it was still just Winnie and me there. I used my towel-free hand to reach into my pocket and take out my phone. The large digital clock said 8:07; it was almost ten minutes after closing time and he still wasn't here.

Half-heartedly, I swiped the fabric over the smooth surface of the tables, getting rid of the crumbs from the various pastries we offered; I was done by 8:13. I then repeated the process on each table, this time with a dampened cloth to get rid of the coffee stains. 8:24. Almost half an hour was definitely not what I'd call 'just after closing'; had something happened?

I moistened my lips and then got myself a small bottle of water from one of the refrigerators. The cold liquid was rough on my dry throat but managed to sooth my nerves a bit. I looked at my phone and frowned, realizing only three minutes had passed since I'd last checked. A knock on glass made me turn my gaze from the object in my hand to the door. I emitted another sigh – finally one of relief – and walked in fast strides to unlock the door, pocketing my mobile in the process.

"What happened?" I asked instead of a greeting and Rhys, who had leaned down to kiss me, sulked. He looked to the side where Winnie was overly attentive to the tables, pretending she wasn't attempting to eavesdrop, and slightly shook his head.

"I'll tell you in the car, okay? But nothing bad," he reassured in a haste, and when he bent down this time, I allowed him to peck me on the lips. "Can I help you finish up here?"

"Oh, I'll do that; you two go..." my colleague's perky voice trailed off as she realized that a minute ago, she'd been  trying to convince us that we were either out of earshot or she hadn't been paying attention to us.

"Thanks, Winnie," I said, smiling as I saw her first pucker her lips, then pull them in between her teeth to keep herself quiet. I was already untying my apron and walking to the small locker that I kept it in, along with a few other necessities such as an extra shirt.

"We can wait and drive you home," I heard Rhys' suggestion, followed by her non-hostile refusal:

"One of my neighbors works in the perfumes section; she'll give me a lift."

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