Squeaky rodents sang about Christmas over the speakers of the coffee shop. Christmas had come early to Two Beans and a Latte. Two Beans and a Latte had been my primary job since I was in high school. Being a thirty-two-year-old barista was never my plan. Thankfully, Sean and Dean let me continue working there after college when the event planning jobs dried up.
The owners, Sean and Dean, were two of the greatest people I’ve ever met. Sean was the typical tall dark and handsome guy. He drew attention from both men and women when he walked through the shop. Dean attracted his own attention. With his blonde locks, he looked like he’d be at home in California.
They fit together like two perfect puzzle pieces. Two Beans and a Latte was their dream. Together they have built a customer base that loved them and their quirky ideas. Their dedication and love for Two Beans was the main reason I tolerated their need to celebrate ALL holidays.
Each holiday the shop had to be decked out in every decoration possible. Staff have to wear holiday accented aprons and hats. Windows are covered in lights, garland is hung throughout the shop and each holiday has its own play list. The music is played on repeat until you’re dreaming about it at night. Christmas has the best variety. The Easter playlist was painful. A person can only hear the bunny hop so many times before wanting to jab their eye out with a spork.
Dean was spraying fake snow on the windows while Sean followed behind him applying window appliques. Thanksgiving had just ended, and Christmas had thrown up in Two Beans. I tied my turkey themed apron, pulled my hair back in a low ponytail and put on a brown hat that said gobble, gobble.
“Why are we decorating so early?” I walked over to the door and flipped the sign from closed to open.
“Oh, darling, you know I just love Christmas.” Dean winked at her.
“Yes, I know, but it isn’t even after Thanksgiving.” I whined.
“Its close enough. You should be happy I am not making you wear your Christmas apron and hat yet.”
I clenched my jaw while I wiped the counter off.
Sean walked over to the counter. “I know you aren’t the biggest Christmas fan, but I gotta do what the boss tells me.” He shrugged.
“Boss? I kinda like that. As long as one of you knows who is in charge here.” Dean said sassily while adjusting a garland he hung.
The bell tinkled over the door. Meg, a slight middle-aged woman, hurriedly rushed in. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. The bus was late.” She ran in like a whirlwind. In her rush to tie her apron, she nearly tripped over the garland laying on the floor. Stuffing her hair under her hat, she started brewing the coffee I hadn’t started yet.
“No worries, hun. Cierra had it all covered.” Sean picked up the end of the garland and draped it over the counter.
“Ok good. Sorry, Cierra.” She apologized. Then in a whisper that Sean and Dean couldn’t hear, “Did I miss him?”
“No. I just flipped the sign a few minutes ago.”
“Good. He’s the highlight of my day.”
I crossed my arms and stared at her. “You have a boyfriend.”
“A girl can look. He is good to look at.” She smiled.
The man in question was a regular. He looked like some high-powered attorney, CEO or billionaire. He wore Armani suits clearly tailored to him, expensive Italian shoes, ties that were impeccably tied and expensive cuff links shone every time he handed over his money. Dirty blonde hair always had the just had incredible sex look. A chiseled jaw and slightly crooked nose gave him the look of a runway model. It was his blueish grey eyes framed by long lashes that melted a woman’s panties. If you add in his deep phone sex voice and his elusive smile, you had a god among men.
“Excuse me.” A deep voice shocked me out of my daydream.
“Oh...uh...sorry.” I stuttered.
My daydream was staring at me with a slight grin. “I want a coffee black with one sugar.”
“Yes, sir. Anything else?” A blush crept up my neck as I avoided eye contact.
Looking down at his phone, he absently answered. “No”
He handed me his black Amex card without another word. My reaction to this man was the same every day. All it took was a smile then I’d turn into a blubbering idiot. “I will have that right up for you.”
Before the words left my mouth, Meg handed me his coffee. “Jay.” I called. With a confident swagger he walked over and took his coffee with a sexy smirk. He walked out the door letting a cool breeze into the shop. The tinkling of the bell jarred me out of trance.
“I hate to see that man go but I love to watch him walk away.” Dean sighed.
Sean elbowed him while Dean just shrugged. “I can appreciate a work of art.”
“Preach!” Meg threw her hands up.
“I have to say though; my favorite time of day is when he comes in.” All heads snapped toward Sean. “What?”
“At least I try to pretend I don’t like seeing him come in every day.” Dean crossed his arms.
Sean laughed. “It isn’t that, hunny bunny. Cierra gets all tongue tied and stupid around him. In all the years, our sweetie has worked here, she has never done that. It’s quite entertaining.”
I blushed for the second time in five minutes. “Ugh! You guys suck. You’re the worst friends and co-workers.” I marched to the supply room to get cups we didn’t need
An hour later and the shop was bustling. People came in and out of the shop for the Two Beans coffee and pastries. Pastries were provided by the Tattooed Tart. Dean’s sister, Dinah, owned it. Dinah was most sought-after pastry chef in town. She happened to also be one of my best friends.
Dinah Rhoden looked nothing like her brother. Dean had an athlete’s body. He was well muscled and clean cut. He could easily pass as a male model. Dinah was curvier, had sleeves of tattoos and an attitude that made anyone think twice if they wanted to mess with her. Her hair was cut in a pixie cut and usually dyed an ostentatious color. She changed it according to how she was feeling. If they made a mood ring hair dye that changed with her mood she’d use that on a regular basis. Currently, her hair was bright pink tipped in black.
Coming from the back, Dinah carried in fresh sweet-smelling treats. She took her time arranging her fresh muffins, honey buns and scones. Meg and I worked around her while she placed them in perfect order. When she finished, she walked over to the coffee and helped herself to a cup.
“Dinah, I’m going to start making Cierra charge you for that.” Dean remarked.
“Oh, fuck off, big brother.” Dinah shot him the bird.
“Dinah!” He reprimanded.
She sighed and looked at me while I finished ringing up the last customer. “What?”
Dinah smirked. “You, me and Katrina still on tonight?”
“Of course. Why wouldn’t we be?”
Shrugging, Dinah said, “Never know if you two might find dates someday.”
I snorted. “That ain’t happening.”
“I was hoping you finally grew a pair and asked out Mr. Man Candy.”
I stuck out my tongue. She laughed and moved to leave. “We are meeting at The Cellar at 6, right?”
“Ok. I will see you there.” She walked across the front of the shop and stopped. She stared at all the Christmas décor and grimaced. “Dean, it looks like Frosty the Snowman took a shit on your window. Were you blindfolded when you were decorating because that’s the only excuse for this hot mess.”
“Dinah! Leave!” Dean yelled. Dinah laughed barely audible over the now blaring Christmas music.
Some days, I really hated my job.