Chapter 3

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Anya pushed through the swinging kitchen doors for what she hoped would be the last time for at least a few hours. The restaurant behind her was finally starting to empty. It helped that she had just declared lunch hour over and that the room would be so the staff could prepare for dinner.

She had her apron untied from around her waist before she had even left the thickly carpeted room, even though it was against protocol. She was the only one who had the authority to do anything about it and she had a feeling she would let this one slide. Who cared if a few of the guests saw one server without their apron for half a second.

She threw her apron in the general direction of the hamper, only vaguely aware that it had made it in.

The inn had never felt smaller than it had over the past two hours. Such a thing had never seemed possible to Anya but she could feel the walls moving in with each time she had to return to Luke's table, to serve them once again. His family turned out to be picking eaters and Anya spent more time at their time than at any others.

The only break came in her fifteen minutes set aside for her lunch. But even then her problems seemed more than happy to surround her on all sides.

She found Manny sitting with the wait staff at the table set aside for their lunch in the back corner of the kitchen and so Anya found herself eating lunch in the pantry. She only gained sideways glances from the waitstaff who hadn't been working for her for very long. None of the veterans batted an eye.

And so it was with a large sigh of relief that Anya slipped off her regulation work shoes and put on her snow boots, grabbing her jacket as she called to Gloria over her shoulder.

"I'm going into town to get your turnips. Did you need anything else?"

"Can I go with you?"

At the sound of Luke's very familiar voice, Anya swung around to find him standing just inside the kitchen. Its occupants were still moving fast, it's natural order flowing around them as tables were getting cleared away and dinner preparations were just beginning.

No one seemed to notice one of the guests had wandered past the "Employees Only" sign and Luke had to move out of the way to avoid getting trampled by the constant flow of workers hurrying in and out of the restaurant with stacks of dishes.

Before Anya could figure out to politely tell Luke "No. Thanks. I would rather get stuck in a blizzard," Gloria appeared from somewhere in the depths of the kitchen.

"Great. Anya will need help. Anya, take your friend here. The list is longer than I thought. You'll need help carrying everything."

"Wait. What? What do you mean? You said you only needed turnips."

"Yes. Turnips and asparagus and I forgot all about the mutton and the mint jellies as well. The butcher will have a box waiting for you, so will the grocers. You won't be able to carry it on your own. Take your friend to help you."

At the second mention of that particular word, both Anya and Luke spoke up to correct her at the same time.

"We're not-"

"She's not-"

"Good. It's all settled. Make sure you hurry. I need that mint jelly for dinner tonight."

Gloria was already shouting orders to one of her many underlings before Anya could argue. She took a glance at Luke's footwear and regrettably found that he was wearing snow-appropriate shoes. She had been hoping he would be wearing some sort of loafer, any legitimate excuse that would keep him from joining her on her venture into town. Even his jacket seemed sturdy enough.

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