I was drawing on a paper napkin. It was the early hours of the morning; just after two am. I still didn’t know why they insisted on keeping this place open twenty four hours, when all our customers disappeared before one am and didn’t reappear till six, for the morning rush. Yet here I was, doing the grave yard shift for two reason. Why? To get out of the house. My step brother, Evan would be currently getting off his face and when he was high he’d always make moves on me.
Evan my step brother, had two sides. When high he was flirty— which disgusted me. He’d make moves, and on the odd occasion would trap me, feeling me up; luckily I have always been able to get out of it. But the morning mood he’d be in was always worse. He was abusive, mean and just plan cruel. Sometimes I think his back hand was more pleasant than the words which felt like a whip to the heart.
My father died in a car crash, with his mother. They were married for six years. Evan was always older, but was babied by his mother. He never moved out of home, even though he was twenty five when they died. I was sixteen and left to his custody. He got all the money, the assets everything. I got a place to call home, but it sooner became hell when the abuse started.
I was nineteen and this was my first job. I had to beg Evan to let me keep it. He wanted me under his thumb, controlling my money was a big thing to him. It stopped me from leaving. Me having a job meant I could leave. He hated that. So he took my pay check. So all I got out of this job was the freedom to not be at home. Which surprisingly was a good deal for me right now. Till I worked out another way to earn money and escape the hell that I was trapped in.
I finished high school with really high grades, but college wasn’t an option, as my brother refused to pay. Scholarships were also not an option, as I didn’t meet the requirements. Everyone knew our family had money. Including the schools. After all Dad was on a board of a few of them.
I was busy drawing a design on a napkin. Art came easy to me. Sort of was my coping technique to the shitty world. I missed the days I could escape with a paint brush.
I jumped sky high, when someone tapped me on the shoulder. I couldn’t stop the curse words coming out. Looking over my shoulder, scared immediately for a new reason. I slid off the stool, taking a step away from him.
“Can I help you?” I managed to get out without stuttering. Now I wasn’t smooth around guys. That fact should be known. I’m the typed of girl that will stutter, skip words and then take off in embarrassment.
The mans eyes ran over me, then he looked me back in the eye. He’s tall, I didn’t walk around with a measuring tape so I couldn’t give an exact number. But I would say over six foot deliciously tall. And this man, he’s all man and my hormones notice that. He’s got detailed tattoos across his perfect tanned skin. The ink runs over most of his body that is on display. He’s wearing dark jeans, which have road dust up them and a tight black shirt, and on top of that— which is the reason I took a step back, is a vest. No not a grandpa knitted vest. Nope. It’s leather, decorated in patches and immediately I know— this man isn’t from this town. Because we don’t have bikers.
“Coffee? That possible?” he says, and his voice, oh my lord, it’s deep but had this velvet swirl to it. It’s hot, and I feel my face blushing.
Whatever you want mister handsome.
“Sure no worries.” And again I’m impressed with myself because I managed to get out another three words without stuttering. But my cheeks are flushed. Hopefully he puts that down to the no air conditioning in here and it is the middle of summer.
He nodded his head, giving me one more look before he walked off. I can’t stop my eyes from following him, and see he is sitting with three other men and a woman. Noticed immediately that the woman moves over for him to sit down.
Damn. He’s taken. Oh my god Layla. Like you had a chance, I say to myself and walk around the café, putting the coffee pot on. I’m barely even in the moment as I wait for it to heat up. Honestly no one came in of a night. Even out chef was asleep out the back on the camper bed. God. He’d be in a foul mood if I have to wake him up.
I glanced over my shoulder, seeing the woman. She has a bright smile on her face. “Can I have a yoyo?” Her eyes went to the tall glass container.
“Sure, but they’ve been in there since yesterday, so help yourself.” I knew for the fact the owner didn’t keep track of them and usually threw them out come morning. Once I found that out, I am not going to lie, I ate a lot of them during my shift. Sometimes I feel like I eat this place clear of left overs. Not that is shows on my body. Because my dear old brother, believes I don’t need food. Can’t stop myself from rolling my eyes. Yep. He barely ever buys food. Another reason I wanted to work at a diner.
“Oh my god, thank you. I’m dying for food. But seriously, we’ll pay for them.” She helps herself opening the container lid off.
“Don’t be silly. They just get thrown out come six.” I said grabbing the coffee pot and a tray of mugs.
“Do you have hot chocolate?” She asks, walking beside me to their booth.
I thought they wanted coffee? “Um yeah I do, what would you like?”
“She’ll have half full of sugar and the rest coca.” A man says. I look at him, he’s in the middle, looks younger than the first guy I laid eyes on. But I would have to say they were related. “Oh and don’t forget the marshmallows sweetheart, she’s got a sweet tooth.” He winked at me. And it made me feel unease. Not because he seemed like he meant it in a bad way. In fact I was sure he just called me sweetheart because he called every girl he meets sweetheart. But I’m not used to men’s attention or pet names.
Evan made sure men in this small town, know better than to come near me.
“Okay.” I smiled uneasy while pouring the men coffees. “I’ll be right back.” I said finally after pouring the last coffee. Then I spun around.
“Can you bring the rest of the yoyos back with you?” The woman said to my back and I just nodded my head, not glancing back.
Once I made the hot chocolate and placed the yoyos in front of the girl. I went back to the counter drawing. Looking at the shattered napkins across the counter that I had been drawing on. I picked up another from the holder, moving the others to the side, and began to draw again.
I once painted before my father died. He said I had a talent. But he is my father he had to say that.
Twenty or so many minutes passed and I didn’t put my head phones back in. I was just trying to nail the drawing I was doing, when the bell on the door chimed.
“Coming,” I said annoyed slightly and pushed myself away from the counter. Then I saw him. Immediately the hair on my neck stood up.
“I need money.” He said storming in.
“Then go to a bank Evan!” I can’t stop myself snapping at him. The last time he did this I nearly lost this fucking job!
He arched his eyebrows at me. “Wanna say that again?”
I took a steady breath out, not saying a word. I watched him go to the till, clearing it out. It was common for Evan to go through the maximum cash out amounts on a Saturday night. He was here obviously because he had hit the maximum and the drugs of his choice tonight were more expensive.
“See you at home. We’ll talk about your tone then.” He says, after clearing out the till, putting the money in his pockets. He didn’t even see the people at the booth. Just walked out, like he owned the place. And I can’t stop myself from glaring in his direction.
I fucking hate him. I hate him so much. I can feel my lip trembling and while he didn’t see the people in the booth, I knew they were there. So I refused to cry in front of strangers. But I knew the tears were going to come down regardless. So I walked to the rest room, pushing the door open, and when I walked in there. I broke.
He was going to cost me this job. The morning will come Renee will fire me over this, that is if she doesn’t report it to the police. I got off last time, but she clearly said if it happened again she’d have no option. But then again perhaps prison wouldn’t that bad. God I’d do anything to get away from Evan.
There was a knock on the rest room door and I cringed. I was not a pretty crier.
The door cracked open and the woman from before poked her head in.
“You okay love?” She says before walking in, closing the door behind her.
“Don’t worry about paying, just go.” I said my voice muffled from tears.
The woman comes down to her knees in front of me. I’m leaning my back against the tile walls, under the hand dryer.
“Boyfriend?” She asked clearly having heard my stupid brother.
“Step brother.” I forced out.
She rolled her eyes. “Worse! I have four brothers.” She is smiling softly at me. “Those men out there dictate my life.”
“They are your brothers?”
“Yep.” She slowly sits down on her legs, “Now I bet you are thinking you got off easy.”
“Does yours starve you, beat you and threaten to rape you?” The words just come out, like word vomit. “Oh my god,” I said quickly. Did I just say that out loud! Yes I did by the shock on her face. I quickly get up, “You should go.” I don’t know what else to say. Just hoping that is enough for her to leave.
I see her get up in the mirror, standing behind me, her eyes locked with mine in the slightly cracked mirror.
“I’m guessing it is complicated?” She asks, and I just nodded my head. “My name is Dee.” She introduced herself, and I turned around, wiping some tears from my cheeks.
“Layla.” I introduced myself, but I knew come tomorrow she wouldn’t be around. After all there are no bikers in this town.
“Well Layla, how much money was in the till?”
I frowned and then surprise widened in my eyes. “Um doesn’t matter.”
“Come on, we can replace it, no one would be the wiser?”
“No don’t worry, I can do that.” I lied.
“Come now, are we really going to be friends that lie to each other? Cause if that is the case, I totally only had the sugars you put in my hot chocolate and I did not steal Parkers coffee sugars to add to it.”
I can’t stop the small smile from appearing on my face. “You’re really funny.”
“My brothers would say funny looking.”
I held back the giggle. Dee is stunning little brunette, she tiny in size, like a porcelain doll. Sort of seemed weird she was surrounded by bulky muscular bikers in the booth.
“So, I’m going to ask again. How much money was in the till?” Dee sort of seemed like the type of person to not take no for an answer.
“Dee, come on!” A male’s voice shouted from outside the ladies rest room.
I smiled. “Thanks Dee, but it’s okay. I’ve got it handled.”
She frowned and opened her mouth to argue when then another males voice shouted her name.
“It was nice to meet you Dee. Ride safe.” I didn’t know what else to say. I hadn’t had girlfriends, so I holding a conversation with a girl was sort of odd for me.
She sighed. “It was nice to meet you too Layla.” And then she shook her head. “You win this round. Miss stubborn.”
I followed her out, and three of her brothers we already heading out the door. I noticed that the one I had admired, mister handsome, was still at the booth.
Then I realized why, he was on the phone. I went back to the counter, picking up my paper napkins of my drawings to put them in the bin.
I looked over my shoulder. My eyes locked with his, and I swear for half a second my heart skipped a beat. “No worries.” Didn’t know what else to say.
His lips twitched up, seeing me clearly blushing; why I had to blush is a curse of my hormones.
I watched him walk out and then ripped my attention back to the drawings, picking them up and then walking to the bin, dropping them. I grabbed my phone putting my earphones back in, as I walked to clear the booth they had been at with a tray under my arm.
Then under one coffee cup, were hundred-dollar bills, twenty of them; and I was speechless.
I abandoned the tray and dashed through the dinner, and reaching the door, I swung it open. Stepping out, I saw the bike break lights up the road. I cursed. How the hell was I going to pay them back for this? But then again it occurred to me. I’d never see that biker family again and that included mister handsome.