“Hey Mom, Grandma,” Cara called when she got home after her interview with Sandy.
“Well?” her mother asked as she came out of the kitchen wiping her hands on a rag.
“I got the job,” Cara said.
“Great.” Caroline smiled. “Now we can put in to-go orders for you to bring home for us. That bourbon steak I had the other night was to die for.”
“I know,” Cara agreed. “They really get their stuff fresh. That cook was filleting fish when I was there today. I’m glad I don’t have that job.” Cara wrinkled her nose.
“Yeah, me too,” Caroline agreed. “So when do you start?”
“Tomorrow. Sandy hired a couple of other girls, and we have orientation tomorrow at noon, and then we’ll start working tomorrow night. I’m kind of nervous,” Cara admitted.
“Why?” Caroline asked. “You’ve waited tables before.”
“Yeah, but that was normal food. Hamburgers, chicken, steak. They have a variety of more exotic meats. I don’t have the first clue what venison or bison tastes like so I won’t know what to tell the customers when they ask about stuff like that,” Cara said, flipping strands of her blond hair over her shoulder.
“Maybe that’s part of the orientation tomorrow,” Caroline suggested.
Cara made a sour face that made Caroline burst out laughing. “Maybe I’ll tell them I’m a vegetarian.” That made Caroline laugh harder.
“What are you two laughing about,” Ralph asked as he and Valerie came into the house, both covered in dirt from working in the yard.
“Cara was having visions of having to try venison and bison,” Caroline said.
“Umm,” Ralph moaned and rubbed his slightly protruding stomach. “Both are delicious if cooked right. I bet the cook at the Midland makes great venison and bison. I’ll have to order some the next time we go.”
“I’d like to try the rabbit stew,” Valerie said. “My grandmother used to make it, but I haven’t had it since I was a kid.”
Cara shook her head and went to the kitchen. “I’m going to stick to the chicken, I think.” That got more laughter from her mother and grandparents.
Her mother turned out to be right about orientation being an opportunity for the new servers to try some of the dishes. Sandy didn’t make them try a bite, but she did make them smell the food. Most of it smelled delicious, except the fish. Cara was not a fan of fish. Despite her repulsive thoughts about the food, Cara did try the bison because it smelled like steak. It was pretty close to steak and quite good.
The cook, Elliot hovered with his arms crossed over his chest while they were trying the food. He seemed pleased that everyone approved of the things they’d tried.
The two other girls Sandy hired were also college students. They were both going to be attending Morehead State in the fall. Brittany was an education major, and Megan was an agriculture science major. They were both nice, but Brittany seemed a little stuck up. Cara liked Megan right away. She didn’t get any lesbian vibes from her, but they were both into science and their common interests seemed to bond them right away.
Steven came in later that afternoon while the girls were wrapping up their orientation before they started preparing for opening. The three girls were waiting for the other two servers who would be helping them tonight and standing close to the kitchen watching Elliot and Jason prepare the food. Steven swaggered over to the girls and said, “You must be the newbies.”
The three girls nodded.
“So which one of you wants to go out moonlight fishing after work,” Steven asked, cockily appraising each girl.
Brittany snorted disbelieving and said, “I have a boyfriend.”
Megan made a face and said, “I’m engaged.”
Cara didn’t even look away from watching Elliot and Jason, and said, “I’m a lesbian.”
Jason started laughing. “I think that’s the quickest shoot downs I’ve ever seen. Three right in a row.”
Steven flipped him off and shrugged at the girls. “Your loss.”
Cara turned to Steven and gave him the once over the way he had each one of them, and then said, “I doubt it.”
Steven laughed the comment it. “That’s okay.”
Elliot doubted it was okay. Steven had already made it clear he thought he was God’s gift to women and had made references to liking to be rough with his dates. Elliot would be keeping a close eye on how Steven treated the new servers, and he would mention Steven’s comments to Sandy. The last thing a new restaurant needed was sexual harassment charges.
The two other servers, Michael and Sarah, both were a little older than Cara, probably in their mid to late twenties. They had worked at the restaurant since it opened and were very well versed on the menu. Some of the more exotic foods, like rabbit stew, made Cara’s stomach turn a little, but she would probably only be eating a salad here anyway.
Brittany and Megan had apparently only worked in slowly paced restaurants before because they seemed to be a little overwhelmed by how quickly the restaurant got busy. Cara was used to this kind of restaurant and, other than having trouble remembering all the different types of meats available, did pretty well with keeping her customers happy. By the end of the night, she’d made twenty-five dollars in tips. That wasn’t bad for a Wednesday night in a town this small.
Everyone was required to stick around after the restaurant closed and help clean up. Cara suspected Brittany would not be back. She had huffed and complained all night about how hard they had to work. Megan looked tired, but she seemed to be okay.
The bartender, Steven tried twice to get Megan to go into the beer cooler with him before Sandy stepped in. She went into the cooler with Steven, and when they came back out, Steven did not look happy.
The two cooks, Jason and Elliot, made quick work of the kitchen area and then came out to help with wiping down the counters and sweeping the floors. Cara noticed the Elliot guy staring at her a few times. He was pretty cute and seemed nice. She was pretty sure he heard her comment about being a lesbian earlier, but sometimes guys thought girls said that so that guys would leave them alone. If he kept staring at her, she would tell him that she didn’t go for dudes.
Cara wondered if Jason wasn’t gay. Her gaydar went off a little with him, and he seemed to have a hero worship thing going on for Elliot. Cara had to admit some of the stuff that had come out of the kitchen tonight looked and smelled fantastic. The dinner her family had here the other night had been great. When her mom found out she got the job here; she asked if Cara got to bring home left overs. Based on the way Elliot made each plate so unique she suspected he didn’t have pots of stuff already made that would be left over to be sent home with a worker, used the next day, or thrown out.
When everything was done, it was close to midnight. “Okay, let’s lock up,” Sandy said. “We will all walk out together.”
That produced groans from Brittany and Steven, but Sandy said, “This may be a small city, but shit happens no matter where you live. My employees will be safe on my watch.”
Cara was glad Sandy insisted they go out together. Steven was giving her the eye again, and the guy was creepy. She noted that Elliot and Jason followed everyone out. Glancing at the two of them, they didn’t look like they were very tough. Elliot was not super tall for a guy, but he looked wiry and quick like a runner. Jason was about the same height as Elliot, but the way he carried himself made Cara think of a martial artist. Even though he appeared relaxed, his eyes were watchful, and he looked like he could pounce on someone if necessary. She found the fact that the two of them were watching over the rest of them comforting for some reason.
Sandy stood by her Jeep watching everyone get in their cars like a drill sergeant watching her troops. Cara was certain Sandy must be ex-military. The short haircut made her look butch, but it was the way she carried herself that said military.
Cara pulled out behind Megan and noted that Sandy and Elliot seemed to be hanging out until everyone left the parking lot. She picked her cell phone up off the seat next to her and called her mother to let her know she was headed home. It was only a fifteen-minute drive, but she found herself hurrying and strangely nervous. There wasn’t anyone following her, but Cara felt like she was being watched.