The sound of small chatters filled the cafe, and the scent of coffee and other different kinds of food wafted through the air. Nova had been standing in front of two customers for the past four minutes, as they skimmed through the menu with a snotty look, unable to decide whether they would go for pancakes or chicken salad. This was the part of her job that she came to hate, having to deal with customers like these two. Sometimes, she wanted to quit and find a better job that didn't pay less.
"So, have you decided?" She gripped her pad in her hand. The redhead girl scrunched her face as she kept her eyes glued to the menu, while the blonde was typing away on her phone, completely ignoring Nova. "Excuse me? I said, are you ready to order?"
The redhead slammed the menu shut and looked up at Nova with a look so dark she expected her to cower behind it. But it didn't scare Nova one bit. Simply because she had seen a look far worse than the one the redhead was giving her.
"When we are ready, we will order. You don't have to stand over us and be so annoying."
Nova gritted her teeth but still managed to smile through all of that. If she wasn't sure the manager would fire her, she would have kicked them out of the cafe. Huh. Having dealt with her gangster boss so many times, he had unleashed a wave of unquenchable anger inside her.
"As you wish." She turned sharply and marched away from the table, muttering curses under her breath. When her eyes met the manager's, she hurriedly put her mask back on and stormed over to the counter.
"Everything alright, Nova?" The manager asked with lifted brows. He was watching her like he expected her to blow up, like all he wanted was for her to do that so he could have an excuse to fire her. She had been on his radar for a few days now. Every time she moved, he was watching her. When she breathed, he had to make sure she did it right.
Nova got that she had been a little distracted lately, but if he knew what was going on in her life, he would give her a break. Anyone in her position would act the same way if they got themselves working for a gang. And the fact that every time her phone rang or vibrated, she felt like hyperventilating because she expected it to be Ghost demanding her services.
For a whole week now, she had been jumpy, but more especially, annoyed. She couldn't figure out what was taking him so long to call her, and there was only one explanation for that; Ghost wanted to drive her crazy first. He had to enjoy torturing her to the point that there was nothing she would think about except their deal.
Well, he was really winning.
Because she felt like she might possibly go mad.
"....tening to me?" Someone snapped their fingers in front of her face, jerking her out of her thoughts before she faced the barista, Erica. Erica frowned when she realized Nova hadn't been paying attention to anything she had been saying. "Are you okay, Nova?"
"Yes, yes, I'm fine." She pushed her hair out of her face and tucked it under her ear.
"Okay. We have new customers at table six." Erica jerked her head past her shoulder, but Nova didn't turn around yet. "Kacey will take over table three."
Thank God, was what she was thinking before she head to table six, where two men sat in a booth, and Nova instantly had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. The one sitting on the left was taller than the one on the right, but they still looked the same. It was too early to jump into conclusion and she needed to stop being so paranoid that every man who walked in was part of Ghost's gang.
"Hi, what can I get you?"
There was really nothing about these two men that proved they were Ghost's men, and yet, she suspected them to be. They looked as if they needed an excuse to beat the shit out of someone. Even their dark clothes and mean look did not hide the fact that they weren't good men.
Intentionally looking away from their peering eyes, Nova looked down at her pad as she readied to scribble down their order, even though all she wanted to do was ask them why they were here. What did they want?
Her head snapped up to meet their eyes. Surprise them? Really? That was what they were going to say? Well then, I guess they would like water very much. She didn't say anything else, nor did she give them another glance before she was walking back to get them their order.
When she dropped the water in front of them, the two men didn't look annoyed or shocked, and quite frankly, that was what she had been hoping for.
The tall one responded with a mild tilt of his head, followed by a slow curl of a smile. "Water. You read my mind."
The short guy lifted his glass to her with a slight grin that made her want to crawl under one of the tables and never come out. They are playing me, she thought in annoyance. But since she couldn't outright call them out on it, she walked away from their table to tend to another customer.
In less than ten minutes, the two men called for her attention again and asked for another glass of water. She got them their order without exchanging any words with them, but their eyes had been following her around, blatantly staring at her without a care in the world.
If Nova thought this was the end, she had to be kidding. They kept ordering the same thing for the past thirty minutes, and when she got tired of them, she sent another waitress to attend to them, only for the waitress to return because they only wanted Nova and threatened to get her in trouble with the manager.
"What do you think you're doing?!" The command was quiet, but there was a raw edge to it that made them arched their brows.
"We would like to order again." Despite the blank look the one on the right shot her with, there was a cheerfulness to his voice that made her clench her jaw.
"You've been ordering the same thing for half an hour! I think it's time for you to leave."
They regarded her impassively, the expression in their eyes hard to define. "Well, we would like to order something different this time."
The look she directed at them was one of cold fury, and the silence filling the space between them was riddled with tension.
Nova stared uneasily over at them, but, determined not to lose her cool, she asked nastily, "Did he sent you to do this?" She did not missing the brief glance they shared with each other before the one on the left jerked his head to stare at her in confusion.
"I don't know what you're talking about." And she would have easily believed him because he sounded and looked so convincing, but from the short time she had known Ghost, she knew he would do anything to get a rise out of her.
Maybe he's here, hiding and watching me, laughing his ass off. Because that was what he was good at. Taking amusement in everything, not caring if it was hurting the other person or not.
She started to look around the cafe, at the customers and the ones coming in, but none looked like Ghost. None had the presence Ghost did. But it also didn't mean that he wasn't here.
"Where is he? Where is he hiding?"
"Lady, we don't know what you're talking about, but since ordering water triggers something for you, we would like two cups of coffee, please. Black."
"Stop lying," she hissed, irritated by the response as she clenched her teeth in anger. Why would she believe them? She clasped her hands behind her back and fisted her hands. "Tell him to back off and leave right now. He invaded my home, and now he wants to invade my workplace? When will it end?"
The one on the right leaned towards her, eyes full of fake concern. "Are you sure you're alright, miss? Sure you don't need to take a break? Because you look like you need one." A twinkle in his eyes, a sharp curve to his lips gave it all away. These assholes knew what she was talking about, but they were not going to admit it.
Ghost did send them. Her heart dropped clear to her feet, and she tried to ignore the sudden fuzziness in her head before she spun around and charged towards the door that said 'Employees Only', pushing the door open as she heads to the staff's break room. She opened the door with a loud bang and slammed it behind her, fishing her phone out of the pocket of her apron.
She pressed her finger on the dial button.
"Didn't I say to call me when there's an emergency?" She was greeted by his annoyed, yet masculine voice that sent a rush to her cheeks. "So, tell me, are you dying? Kidnapped? Stuck somewhere? Because you forgot to call 911."
Before Nova could retort, the asshole hung up on her. He hung up on her!
The second time he picked, she didn't wait for him to say anything before she was harshly speaking into the speaking, jaw tightened. "Don't. Hang. Up. I called for a good reason." She tried to control her harsh breaths, hearing him swore softly under his breath.
"This better be good because you're interrupting my torture session. I'm about to cut someone's fingers and I don't like interruptions. You get ten seconds."
Her eyes drifted shut as she inhaled, not fazed by what he said. "Did you send your guys after me?" she inquired after a beat.
In a typical Ghost way, he chuckled. "Depends on what you mean by after you? Did they do something to you?" There was no concern in his voice, just genuine curiosity.
She glared at the wall in front of her. "No–"
"Did they touch you?"
"Did they threaten you?"
Ghost refused to give her a chance to finish her sentences before he was spewing out more words,
"Kidnapped you? Put a gun on you? Did they say anything in particular that you found dangerous for you?" Each syllable was dripping with unkindness.
"I said no! They didn't do anything, so can you stop with the questions?!" She felt like she might explode because every inch of her was shaking with the anger only Ghost was able to bring out, the one where she finds that she was slowly losing control over herself, or that was what he planned to do—to drive her over the edge until she had completely lost it. That was when he might be satiated.
"Well, your explanation better be fucking fun, muneca, because I still fail to see any reason why you called me. Start talking before I block your number." His drawl was lazy, making her think that he was completely insensitive, and he had to be so used to people hanging on his words that he didn't even try to sound commanding.
"They're watching me! They have been ordering water for the last hour and they are not leaving!" Her fingers tightened around the phone she held against her ear, and something unsettling sat on her mind. "Are they...are they bodyguards?" She held herself stiffly, heart hammering against her chest.
That would explain why they weren't leaving and why they had kept their eyes on her. Nova did not know that her deal with Ghost not only came with his irritating self but with two bodyguards. Why would he think she needed protection? Unless it came with danger.
"Ah, babydoll," There was something almost filthy in the way he said the word. "just because I called you queen doesn't mean you get special treatment in my kingdom. But the special treatment you can actually get is the one you will deem inappropriate."
That made her entire body harden with tension as a voice in the back of her head shouted a cry of surprise and alarm. "Fuck you. I never asked for—"
"If they are in your workplace, then they must have really liked the waitress' hospitality," then a beat and a deep chuckle. "Congratulations, you may have found yourself a crush or crushes. Some people will find that cute."
"That is not cute! Call them off!"
"They're not dogs. I'm sure if you ask them to leave nicely, they might. Use good words, baby, or you might end up floating in the sea." He hung up again.
Son of a bitch.
Hours flew by and Nova had less than an hour before her shift ended. Just a few customers remained in the cafe, including Ghost's men, who had not moved an inch from their booth all day. She had decided to ignore them and act like they weren't there because if she had let them get inside her head, Nova wouldn't have made it to the end of her shift.
She had taken over the counter now when she saw two shadows looming over her. Her eyes suddenly narrowed, her body high on alert. They will never give up, will they? She couldn't wait to get off work and leave them behind, and if they dare to follow her back to her house, she was going to call the cops on them.
Her expression was unreadable when she asked, "Can I help you?"
"Yeah, the boss will like your specials," The taller one answered with a perfect smile in place.
"What specials?" Her voice held the ring of cold steel as she stared at them suspiciously.
He seemed to grin even more, his gaze sweeping over her. "Dark hair. Long legs. Big tits and soft lips. That ring a bell?" The quiet words hung in the stillness between them as they studied her in silence for a long moment.
Her teeth gritting together, she snarled, "Get the fuck out." Her body shook with anger, her eyes burning with fire, and the need to unleash them on these....these despicable men. She couldn't believe Ghost would ask them to do this.
"Is everything alright?" came the authoritative voice of the manager, who looked between her and the two men as though he spotted the tension between them and decided to intervene. Nova was glad for the interruption because she was close to throwing something at their heads.
It was the short one who answered, "Yeah, I believe so. Your waitress here isn't very cooperative." His mouth twitched and she had the impression that he found himself amusing.
The manager glanced across her. "Nova?"
"We asked for the specials, but she's denying it," he added lightly. "Seems like she's set to ruin your business."
At a loss for words, Nova's voice died away.
A nervous laugh came from the manager. "I'm so sorry, gentlemen. Nova," he called curtly, observing the angry expression on her face before smiling tightly. "Give them what they want."
"Yeah, Nova, give us what we want."
Breathe. There was no need to go to prison for killing the two idiots, and definitely not for Ghost. All he would do in return was to kill her brother because she couldn't take control of her anger.
So, she was left to put packets of sugar in the brown bag, making sure their eyes weren't on her before she handed the tall guy their order. Have fun, dicks.
"I hope your boss will like it," she said sweetly.
The short one shrugged. "Eh. He's seen better." He gave her a final wink. Nova glared at their backs as they exited the cafe.
And when she turned a little, something that sat on the counter caught her eye. The two men must have dropped it before they left. She picked it up and turned it over her palm.
A tiny little crown.