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 and Jimmy get some surprise visitors

Jimmy and I collapsed on the settee and put on the TV, To Have and Have Not was on.

‘I love this movie.’ I wrapped my arms around his and rested my head against his shoulder. ‘Bogart and Bacall, classic.’

He rested his cheek against the top of my head. ‘That was a nice day.’

‘It was.’ I shifted to give him a soft kiss then deeper then we forgot we were tired.

Jimmy pulled his jumper off and tossed it aside followed by his polo shirt. My shirt got stuck around my elbows as I fumbled with his belt buckle.

‘Mind the knee,’ I mumbled.

He put a gentle hand under my knee, keeping it supported and out of the way as we eased back. Had I been taking off his clothes? It didn’t seem important. His mouth was important, his back under my hands, the weight of him against me.

The buzzer went off.

‘Ignore it,’ he mumbled, digging his fingers in my hair.

‘Ignore what?’ I wrapped my uninjured leg around him.

The buzzer went again.

‘Go away,’ he muttered, rubbing against me under the urging of my hands.

I suppressed a giggle.

‘Open the fucking door, Jim,’ Dan shouted below the window.

We went tense.

‘Daniel!’ Mrs Levine shouted.

Jimmy got up so fast he over balanced and tipped onto the floor, banging my knee as he went. I yelped.

He scrambled to his knees. ‘Are you alright?’ He framed my knee with his hands, stuck somewhere between patting it to check and knowing it was a terrible idea.

‘I’m fine.’ I got up and made a vague gesture. ‘Maybe put a shirt on.’

‘Oh, yes…’ He ran back and forth until he found it under the sideboard next to the door. He yanked it on and grabbed his keys from the bowl on the sideboard.

‘Fly,’ I said.

He cleared his throat, zipped up and fastened his belt.

Dan held the buzzer down. I didn’t need to see to know it was him.

Jimmy ran his fingers through his hair. ‘I should get the door.’

Getting down the stairs was still tricky so I got up, straightened my clothes, picked up his forgotten jumper and put it in the wash basket, and put the coffee pot on while Jimmy and his family did their hellos.

By the time they came up I was sitting at the table with two cups of coffee as if we’d been there before they arrived.

‘Jimmy can’t get rid of you, can he?’ Dan asked with a grin and put two bags on top of my papers.

‘Free food? ‘Course not.’

He laughed.

‘So she should.’ Mrs Levine came in, she was tall and curvy with thick curly hair that reminded me of Dan’s.

‘Well, I-’

‘Of course, you should,’ Mrs Levine said as if I hadn’t spoken.

Mr Levine came in behind her, he looked more like Jimmy down to the receding hairline and permanent stubble. Jimmy came in behind them

Mrs Levine clicked her fingers at Jimmy. ‘Plates, make yourself useful.’ She sat down opposite me and smoothed her dress. ‘James doesn’t pay you enough for a nice place, he has a nice place.’ She twisted to look at him. ‘Or maybe you pay her more?’

From his rabbit in headlights expression I took it Jimmy hadn’t told her about what had been going on, in any sense.

Dan had his lips pressed together in an expression that suggested he might piss himself laughing any moment as he took Tupperware boxes out of the bags and set them on the table. I shot him a look and he shuddered against the onslaught of laughter.

Mrs Levine’s gaze flicked back to me. ‘You can’t cook. You can’t live alone if you can’t feed yourself.’

‘Keep interrogating the poor girl and she’ll run away and not come back, Sarah,’ Mr Levine said without looking up from his paper. ‘James and Daniel will never talk to you again.’

I ran my tongue over my teeth and became very interested in my coffee.

Mrs Levine sighed. ‘You save James money, he saves you money. Fair.’

An image of Jimmy a few minutes earlier sprang to mind, some might say it was more than fair.

‘If I was going to interrogate her, I’d ask why none of my sons is good enough for her,’ she added and stared at me.

Jimmy dropped a pile of plates and half of them smashed against the kitchen floor. We all stared at him in silence.

He cleared his throat and bent down to pick up the pieces. I wanted to get up and help him but I couldn’t get down to reach the bits. Dan crouched down beside him to help, slapped his shoulder, and whispered something that made Jimmy give him a horrified look when he wasn’t looking.

Mr and Mrs Levine didn’t notice, they were both looking at me and I felt like a butterfly who’d been pinned for inspection. Did they know? Were they trying to make me confess? Was I getting paranoid under the weight of parental disapproval? Probably.

‘I had a bad relationship,’ I said, quietly. ‘He turned up at the café and…’ I sighed. ‘I just want to be on my own for a bit do my own thing.’ A few images of exactly what I had been doing sprang to mind, I blushed and sipped my coffee loudly.

Dan and Jimmy stared at me and Mr Levine shifted uncomfortably. Mrs Levine rounded the table and pulled me into a hug so tight my nan would’ve been impressed. The problem was being short put my face right in her boobs so I might suffocate. It was a common problem.

‘Poor girl.’ She stroked my hair. ‘Pay no attention to me.’ She ducked down to look at me and whispered, ‘He gives you any trouble tell me and my boys will take care of it.’

I nodded. ‘I’m fine. Full on moving on.’

‘I knew you were a strong, independent girl.’ Something in her voice told me she was still plotting ways to pair me off with one of her sons. I supposed I should take it as a compliment, she must like me or she thought I had good birthing hips for grandbabies, but I’d still have to be bearable, I assumed. ‘You sit there and let us take care of you.’

‘Thank you, Mrs Levine.’

She patted my shoulder. ‘I keep telling you to call me Sarah.’

I smiled but suspected it looked more like a wince.

‘Poor, sad girl.’ She kissed top of my head and rubbed my back. ‘I always liked you. Jimmy was right to hire you.’

Everyone looked at her. She’d once said to Jimmy in my hearing he only hired me because he’d been led by a pretty face.

I sipped my drink rather than say anything, with any luck the ground would open and swallow me.

It didn’t.

Feature image by James William on Unsplash

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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