IMPORTANT NOTE: Take a Bite Cafe will continue here until 18th October when it will transfer to my new site.

Broad Faker, Book 4 in the Book of Lot series, is now available on Wattpad and my new site.

Megan receives a present from Nan

During breakfast I sat at the counter taking orders while Mattie carried the plates and made the drinks. It was better than sitting upstairs leaving everything to Jimmy and Mattie.

In the lull between breakfast and lunch I sat in the corner with a pot of tea refilling the salt and pepper shakers and going through my share of the paperwork to find Jimmy had done it on top of his own. I knew it was Jimmy because he’d signed all the check sheets. Efficiency thy name was Jimmy; we had check sheets for everything, a rota for taking unused food to the foodbank, and we couldn’t even mix tongs to serve cake slices to prevent allergen contamination. His proudest achievement was his level five food hygiene rating and he worked damn hard to keep it. I loved that about him.

‘Have you done it yet?’ Nan said and sat down opposite me with a cinnamon latte with cream on top.

I got a folder out of my bag and slid it across to her. ‘Forty A5 flyers. Bit presumptive.’

She opened the folder and frowned at the contents. ‘I know you, you were climbing the walls within five minutes.’

I couldn’t argue it was an unfair assessment. ‘What’s with the coffee? You always have tea.’

‘I’m testing the girl, I don’t think you have to worry about your job.’

My tea went the wrong way and I coughed. Nan leaned across the table and slapped my shoulder. ‘Always trying to do things too quickly.’

I suspected Jimmy would disagree. I cleared my throat and croaked, ‘You really shouldn’t do that, Nan.’

‘I told you, I’m old and bored there’s nothing else to do.’ She thrust a paperback at me. ‘Here, have a read of this.’

I took it, turned it over in my hands and peered inside. Saving Suzy by Stefanie Simpson, I hadn’t heard of it but I didn’t read much romance, I’d never found many that suited my inclinations and didn’t make me want to beat the shit out of the characters who were meant to be alphas or doms.

‘What is it?’ I glanced at her. ‘Aside from a book.’

‘Erotic romance, might be right up your alley, no pun intended. A little female domination.’ She leaned it and winked. ‘I’m thinking of having it as the first book club book.’

Sometimes I wondered how much Nan knew or suspected about my proclivities but was certain I didn’t want to ask. Sometimes ignorance was bliss. ‘I think I’ll be working rather than partaking.’

‘Doesn’t mean you can’t read them.’ She smiled. ‘Maybe they’ll inspire you.’

I set the book aside, whether I read it or not I was certain reading it at work was a definite no. I couldn’t insist on coming down to work and then sit around reading books, not on day on anyway.

‘Coffee?’ She pushed it towards me. ‘Vincent has been getting tea, that’s argument enough not to drink it.’

I looked at her.

‘You eat dairy chocolate sometimes.’ She folded her hands on the table. ‘Speaking of, did you and Jimmy enjoy my gift?’

‘Pretty sure it was inappropriate.’

She chuckled and preened a moment. ‘It was the perfect gift to persuade you both that two should be one.’ She pressed her forefingers together.

It was taking a lot of effort not to do a guilty seat shuffle so I took a sip of her coffee to change the subject. There was too much coffee and not enough milk, I might need to give Mattie a coffee making tutorial. ‘You’re safe.’ I pushed the coffee back to her.

She took it and wrapped her hands around the cup. ‘Sooo, how’s it going?’

‘How’s what going?’ I asked.

‘You and Jimmy…’ She waggled her eyebrows.

I rolled my eyes, I should’ve realised nothing was going to sway her from the subject. I opened my mouth to say that nothing much was going to happen because we were sleeping in separate rooms but couldn’t seem to conjure the lie. My mind decided it was the perfect moment to summon up what I’d been teaching Jimmy after bedtime the night before. My face turned hot.

‘That looks promising,’ Nan said.

I closed my mouth and looked over at the counter. There was a man there talking to Jimmy, he seemed vaguely familiar. I didn’t think it was the misogynist coffee guy but Jimmy had his arms crossed and his shoulders hunched but the guy didn’t seem to have noticed.

‘Are you trying to look at his arse?’ Nan asked. ‘You should really be on the other side of the room for that.’

I looked at her.

‘Oh please, point out a man over sixty whose arse looks half as good in a pair of jeans. I need material.’

‘Mater…’ I raised my hands. ‘You know what, I don’t want to know.’

‘Nothing bad, it’s just that with a few guys you do find yourself thinking “if only you were thirty years younger and didn’t think you were hammering together a flatpack”.’

That image was going to stay with me.

‘I swear to God, some of them wouldn’t know how to find a clit if you labelled it with Las Vegas signage,’ she continued.

Jimmy didn’t have that problem and he didn’t look very happy.

‘I tell you,’ she said jabbing the table, ‘the lack of decent clit stimulation is a symptom of the disease of patriarchy. It’s all about a guy milking his balls, not a care for the enjoyment of anyone else.’

‘Excuse me.’ I got up and crossed the counter. ‘Something the matter?’

The man beamed at me, he was movie poster handsome and he knew it. He looked a bit deflated when I didn’t smile back and scowled at my crutches.

‘Lenny, this is Megan,’ Jimmy said, arms folded and shoulders hunched.

‘I’d shake your hand but you might fall over.’ Lenny chuckled as if it was a particularly funny joke.

‘You’re lucky there’s witnesses or I might hit you with one.’

He laughed. ‘Oh, she’s a peach.’

‘Lenny invited me to his wedding.’ Jimmy shifted closer to me on the other side of the counter.

‘Jimster here hasn’t RSVPed so I thought I’d drop in and ask. Always know where to find him.’ He said this as if there was something wrong with Jimmy working in the same café for the better part of twenty years. I called it a job well done. ‘Charming place, charming.’ He looked around with an expression that said our café was anything but charming.

I’d met his like at university, rich and posh but for whatever reason missed out on the redbrick unis and ended up at ex-polys smoking pot and spending their parent’s money. Granted a lot of the student body seemed to end up smoking pot but not usually on mummy and daddy’s dime.

‘Nothing’s changed, except on top.’ Lenny smiled and tapped the side of his head.

Jimmy ran his fingers through his hair.

‘Were you born obnoxious?’ I asked.

Mattie hurried back to the counter and became very interested in cleaning the coffee machine.

‘I beg your pardon?’

‘You’ve come into Jimmy’s café supposedly to check he’s coming to the wedding but it seems more like you’re negging him, or whatever the fuck you want to call it.’

He blinked. Jimmy stared.

I stepped closer. ‘I think if you claim to be his friend you should apologise and buck up your ideas.’

Nan leaned over to the woman at the next table and said, ‘That’s my granddaughter.’

‘I think if Jimmy had a problem with how I talk about him he’d say something.’ He folded his arms trying to look threatening.

‘You just said “about” not “to” while talking about Jimmy like he’s not right next to us,’ I shot back. ‘Have you ever considered you’re making people feel too unsafe to voice their opinions? Quiet acceptance isn’t consent.’

‘Are you quite finished?’ Lenny asked.

‘For now.’

He sniffed. ‘I like her.’ And he walked out.

Jimmy smiled. ‘I don’t think I’ve ever seen you get that angry before,’ Jimmy said.

‘I thought you were going to hit him with a chair,’ Mattie said, wiping off the steam nozzle then added under her breath, ‘You should’ve hit him with a chair.’

Jimmy shook his head. ‘I’m surprised he didn’t revoke my invitation.’

‘And prove me right?’ I asked. ‘For shame.’

Mattie started frothing milk and beneath the roar Jimmy leaned across and whispered in my ear, ‘If you feel up to it you can have any filthy sex thing you want.’

‘Tempting, later.’

He grinned and kissed my temple.

When I sat back down at my table Nan said, ‘So what did he say? Have you swept him off his feet?’

I picked up the book. ‘He said thank you.’ It wasn’t a lie.

Feature image by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Read along with Megan and find Saving Suzy on Amazon

For more episodes of Take a Bite Cafe click here.

Published by Jesse

I'm a writer and academic specialising in fantasy fiction and creative writing theory. I'm allergic to pretentiously talking about fiction and aim to be unashamedly ‘commercial’. Surely all fiction is commercial anyway, or what’s the point in publishing it?

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