Chapter 2 : Crossroads Café
Old Al’ stepped outside his car and opened Bianca’s door. He reached for Rosy and held the baby in his arms before walking toward the café.
Bianca almost jumped out of the car. She was in awe in front of the Crossroads Café. The building was a massive three-story cabin in logwood. You could see that it was well maintained as the white painting was dirt-free. Huge windows decorated with complicated carvings of wolves, vines, stars, and moons.
The café had a big sign. It was the silhouette of a black howling wolf with “Crossroad cafe” written in bright yellow. She wondered what the link was between a wolf and a crossroads. The logo did not make sense to her.
Old Al’ made a sound and she realized that she did not move, too engrossed by the beauty of the café. She joined them as the old man opened the door where a warm atmosphere welcomed them.
Bianca got stuck again by the interior. It was everything that she liked. A rustic decoration with massive pieces of wood. A huge bar with an impressive range of drinks, from coffee to strong alcohol.
On the right was a beautiful fireplace. There were big black couches and fluffy colorful blankets on the floor. She realized how exhausted she was and that she would love to try the comfort of those couches.
Old Al’ put Rosy on the bar and used a small bell that Bianca didn’t notice. A young man appeared from nowhere, surprising the woman.
“‘Sup Old Al’ ?” he started, then stopped as soon as he saw Rosy. “Hey Old one, you made a baby behind our back huh?”
Old Al’ plainly looked at him, “bring me warm milk for the little one, Mat… What do you want to drink, Bianca?”
Mat almost made a strangled sound on finally noticing Bianca. “Alo… seriously? A stranger? Here?”
Old Al’ raised his shoulders “This is Crossroad Café, no ?”
Mat silently approved and started to warm the milk for Rosy. “You guys are lucky. I have an old baby bottle that I thoroughly cleaned yesterday. I wanted to give it to my sister… she’s gonna be a mom soon, you know ?”
“What about you Bianca ?” asked the old man again.
“A cup of coffee would be fantastic, please,” She got closer to the bar before Old Al’ gave her Rosy. “Go sit on one of the couches near the fireplace, you girls need to get warm… really a crazy night…”
Bianca just nodded yes and sat on the couch that was right in front of the fire. She was looking at the carvings and the little statues of wolves decorating the fireplace. She was thinking “The owner must like wolves. So beautiful… the artisan is talented…”
“Hey …” Mat came with the warm milk and the coffee. “I didn’t know if you wanted sugar or milk in your coffee so I brought you a little bit of everything. I added a BLT sandwich too, my welcome gift to you!”
“Thank you so much…” started Bianca.
“I am Ayawamat, but guess everyone is lazy and just calls me Mat.” He extended his hand and Bianca reached for him.
“I’m Bianca, nice to meet you.”
Mat was the typical nice guy. Charming and always smiling type. He had dark wavy hair with gentle brown eyes. He was wearing simple jeans and a black shirt where a bright yellow « Crossroads Café » stood. The same as the one at the entrance, with the black howling wolf.
Mat did not release Bianca’s hand as soon as it was socially acceptable. “You are a good soul, aren’t you?”
Bianca raised an eyebrow questionably. “A good soul?”
Old Al’ made a sound in his throat. Mat realized that he was still holding Bianca’s hand. “Well… enjoy your drink Bianca!” and he turned to go back behind the bar.
Bianca didn’t know how to react for a moment… “Must be an American thing” she murmured. She gave the baby bottle to Rosy and she put two sugars in her coffee. The second the hot beverage hit her tongue, she couldn’t refrain herself and spit it all out.
Old Al’ and Mat waves of laughter resonated in the café while Bianca was trying to get her composure back.
“Ohlala what is that?” she now had teary eyes and the sourness was killing her.
Old Al’ gave her a glass of water. “This is what people here call cow piss…”
“Excuse me! I like to call it the sorcerer’s coffee grounds” said half-vexed Mat. “I can make you another one. It might be good… we never really know.”
“I think I’ll stick to water…”
A loud bang could be heard and a dark shadow appeared.
A half-naked, very wet man had just come inside the café. His red eyes seemed demonic and were searching for something.
Old Al’ slowly approached Bianca. He murmured, “Keep your head down, don’t look at him”. Then he put his hand on her shoulder and said “What a crazy night… what are you doing her…”
“Silence, old man…” said the deepest voice ever.
Bianca was holding her breath. Everything in that man was screaming danger. She was getting worried for the safety of Rosy. But, a part of her weirdly wanted to listen to that man’s voice for all eternity.
“There’s an abandoned car on the main road…With an interesting smell. And it’s just funny how it disappeared then reappeared here…”
Mat answered while composedly cleaning a whisky glass. “We don’t know what you’re talking about, Alpha… there is no one here except for Old Al’ and I.”
A furious growl echoed in the café and Bianca had to hold her hands to her mouth to not scream. Because of the shadows on the floor, she could see Mat getting lifted by the throat.
“Are you trying to lie to an Alpha, mutt ?” the voice was threatening and Bianca started to shake.
“I’m not trying to lie to you, Alpha…” said Mat while he was thinking “I actually am.”
Old Al’ said blandly “This is Crossroads Café, Alpha. Anyone can come here and no one has to obey to no one. There is no hierarchy, that’s why this place exists. Don’t forget the only rule that exists here. You signed the treaty as everyone did. ”
The man called Alpha released Mat who was now coughing harshly on the floor.
“Well… you’re right. But Old Al’, just tell the -interesting smell- that I have all her belongings in my pack. And that she’ll have to come by herself to have them back…”
The sounds of breaking bones and loud growls resonated. Along with a loud bang, indicating that “Alpha” had gone out.
“Man that was intense !” said excitedly Mat. « Have you seen, guys, how I fought against him !?”
Old Al’ released Bianca’s shoulder and was shaking his head. “Ah yes, yes, you fought like a champ’.”
Bianca got up and watched towards the now closed door. “What was that ?”
“That, my dear, was Alpha Black…” started to answer Old Al’. “And I think you are in a tricky situation right now.”