The smell of freshly brewed, imported coffee fills the small space as the bustle of voices can be heard. The waitress moves swiftly between the tables with a tray and plates of food as friendly greetings and hearty conversations float up into the air, giving off a peaceful vibe.
Macy's is a small corner cafe with loads of personality. A place where housewives gather for a morning gossip and businessmen close deals. Others just sit and watch the passersby, reading their newspaper and enjoying a freshly brewed cup of coffee.
Some walk in for a take-away beverage while others get a toasted sandwich or hearty lunch pack to go. No matter who walks through the door, they are always greeted with a warm welcoming smile. It feels like home and that is the ultimate goal at Macy's Corner Cafe.
For Macy McCullen it is a dream come true. A small place she can call her own. Where people can come to rejuvenate and recharge during a hectic and sometimes stressful, day at the office. A place to relax and enjoy the smaller things in life.
Situated on a corner of a huge business corporation, the owner is lenient with the rent, as long as he gets a double Espresso each morning on the house. It's a small cafe that seats about twenty people, with a counter and coffee station and at the back is a small kitchen and tiny office space.
The business district is getting busy and Macy makes her way to the front of the cafe to help with orders. She only has three employees. One Barista, John Lance. One waitress, Sandra Morris and a chef, Peter Drew. They are a small group, but these are the people she can depend on. They have her back all the way and at any given time.
A commotion at the counter draws her attention. "Where is my coffee?" A booming voice is heard as a deafening silence spreads throughout the cafe. Everyone looks in the direction of the counter where a tall, broad shouldered back can be seen. Jet black hair combed in sleek neatness. Macy hurries over before another bomb is dropped. She frowns at John behind the counter as his complexion is pale. Out of anger or embarrassment?
"What seems to be the problem, Sir?" She asks and pair of steel grey eyes turns to her. Her mouth goes dry. If handsome was a sin, this would be it. This man will be guilty as charged. A top sinner. Standing well over 1.9 meters tall with the body of a Greek god and a face fit for a model magazine's front page. The tailored suit hugging in all the right places. "I ordered a coffee and it is taking to long. I am a busy man and don't have time standing around." He hisses, his perfect lips in a tense line.
Macy looks at John as he places the take away cup on the counter, glaring holes into the man's back. "There you go, Sir. On the house. Patience is a virtue and enjoy your coffee." She says with a smile and walks past the stranger.
Everyone goes back to chatting and their morning gossips, leaving the stranger fuming. Do these people know who he is? He can break them with a flick of his finger. The little spitfire from a moment ago got his attention, though. No one ever dared speak to him the way she just did. Even looking him straight in the eye. She's a brave little mouse.
He takes his coffee and storms out the door towards the waiting car. His mind still going to the scene of a few moments ago. "Where to, Sir?" His driver asks him, looking at him through the rear-view mirror. "To the office, Jackson." He says as he leans back into the black leather seat allowing the tension to leave his shoulders, taking a sip from his coffee. Savoring the essence of true Arabic goodness.
Back at the cafe, John turns to Macy. "I am so sorry about that, Macy." He says as she takes her place next to him behind the counter, smiling at a paying customer. "About what? A customer that was impatient. It's not your fault he can't wait for a supreme brewed cup of coffee. You did good. No need for apologies." She says as she smiles up at him.
John sighs and gives a nod. Macy is not one to get worked up easily. She handled the situation like a pro. He doesn't have the heart to tell her that the man was a well known, even feared, gang leader. That might be a nail in her coffin.
He knows the stories of the local gang, the Black Dragons. Feared and notorious for their ruthless and merciless actions. Their leader, Mason Palmer rules with an iron fist. A king among the leaders. John was a part of it all, but he left the gang business to make something of himself. At least, that is what he told everyone.
He qualified as a Barista and started working at Macy's. Since then, he has not looked back. He loved working for Macy McCullen. She is a true leader and a levelheaded boss. But he has witnessed her bad side. The tiny brunette is not one to be messed with. Her blue-grey eyes not missing a thing as they watch, observe and calculate everything. Weighing all the options, sometimes overthinking them.
With lunch drawing to an end, Macy goes back to her office. There's piles of paperwork that needs to be dealt with. Luckily it's mostly filing. The processing is done already. She hates filing. It's such a waste of time, yet so important.
Her thoughts go back to the encounter between her and the godly customer. If it was not for his rudeness and coldness, she might have considered talking to him again. Unfortunately, first impressions last and that was not a very good first impression. Yet, there was something familiar about him. She just can't put a finger on it.
She sighs. Get over it, Macy. With a suit like that, he must be a CEO or director of a huge company. He's way out of your league. You're just a simple cafe owner. He will never even spare you a second glance. She scolds herself before getting back to work.
She's also made herself a promise not to get involved with someone in the near future. Her heart and spirit was broken once too many. The last break-up was the toughest. She and Derek were in a relationship for nearly five years. They were friends since university and that later turned into something more serious.
He cheated with her best friend and she caught him. She knows it's not the only time. She's still gathering the pieces of her broken heart. She always thought he was "The One". The prince in shining armor. Her saving grace. She was led on and paid the price. The tough girl image is just a facade, serving as protection. A firewall against love, tenderness and caring.
Derek still calls from time to time, but she tries to ignore him. She's done being the second best. Derek only used her as he saw fit. She throws all her weight and time into the cafe. It's a way to stay sane and not dive head first into self pity and depression.
And then there is John Lance.