Chapter 1: The Café
“Let me go!” I heard her scream.
“It comes from loving him!” he shouted back. I heard couches fall over and her screaming became louder. I stormed inside and found him standing there, with her hair in his fist. Tears were pouring down her face.
“Yes, Mom. I know. But, look at it this way: It’s my last year of college and I’m still working at the café and when I’m done I can find a real job and help you,” I said to my mom, Emily over the phone as I’m walking from class at Loyola Marymount University, the best college in LA. I’m wearing my casual jeans, white sneakers, and a light blue T-shirt.
“Amabel, darling, I know how hard you work, but it’s not your job to take care of me. I’m safe here in the hospital. Don’t spend your money on me, please. Amabel? Honey? Are you there?” Mom said with a sigh. “Yes, Mom. I’m still here,” I confirmed, holding back the tears in my eyes. I don’t know why, but the moment I allow tears to escape from my eyes, I feel weak. A little voice in my head would always tell me, “Oh, this again? Just stop crying! Others have it worse...”
“Listen, Mom. I gotta go. My shift’s about to start and I’m not even there yet, so...”
“It’s okay, honey. I understand. I love you, Bell.”
“I love you too, Mom,” I said and ended the call. I take a deep breath and quickly look left and then right, making sure it’s safe to cross the street, and ran quickly to the other side. My shift started at exactly 3 pm. When I looked at the time on my phone. “Are you kidding me? 2:52? Shit!”
As I’m running I’m beginning to imagine Claudia’s attitude when she realizes that I’m late once again. When I got to work, I pulled the glass door open and lurked back to the kitchen, trying to hide.
“You’re late, Amabel!” Claudia shouted from the kitchen as I ran inside and pulled my apron on. “I know. I know. I know. I’m sorry. I’m on it, Claudia!” Sometimes I wonder if that woman has eyes at each corner of her head. I threw my head forward and tied my dark brown hair into a ponytail. Now, I’m ready to work.
I fastened my apron around my waist and rushed to the front. My best friend, and roommate, Gwen asked, “Where the hell were you?” She looked at me as if she wanted to examine me and then suddenly laughed at me. Gwen wore her white sneakers and a short white dress with gardenias on the bottom around it and her blond hair in a ponytail.
“Why are you laughing?” I ask with a fake smile across my lips.
Gwen pointed at my apron, showing me that I tied my apron inside-out. I do not have time for this. I give Gwen a glaring smile and said, “Haha, very funny...” and loosened my apron and wore it like it’s supposed to be - with the Starbucks label on the front and my name label at the top left corner.
“I had to run here. My mom called,” I said, packing the coffee cups on the shelves. “How is your mom?”
I really don’t want to talk about my mom. But this is Gwen. I have to tell her. She’s my best friend and we tell each other everything. So, I sigh and drop my shoulders and said, “She’s hanging in there, you know. But I think she wants to give up. She told me that it wasn’t my responsibility to take care of her and that she didn’t want me to spend my money on her. I mean, how could I not. She’s my mom and...”
And right then and there we’re interrupted. “Can we get some service around here?” a guy asked. And not just any guy. The most popular and hottest guy in college. Jake Annandale. They say that if you looked deep enough and long enough into his blue eyes, he could make you do anything he wants. His eyes work like compulsion.
He definitely could have been a character in The Vampire Diaries.
He was wearing a black leather jacket to go with his black MV Agusta F4CC bike. He wore his navy jeans with holes on the knees, black leather boots that ended a few inches above his ankles, and a white T-shirt, showing off every single curve of the muscles on his body.
I stood up from underneath the counter, looked at him with a Do-I-look-like-I-want-to-serve-a-rich-ass-douche-like-you smile, and said, “Sure, what can I get you?”
I can’t believe I used to have this major crush on this dude. But then again, it was eighth grade. What did I know back then? I was a child. Correction: I was a girl trying to keep up with bills and to ensure that my mom and I had something for dinner.
“Two Cappuccinos, one Salted Caramel Mocha Frappuccino and an Iced Caramel Macchiato,” he said, looking at my name tag, “Amabel...” He gave me a seductive smile, bit his lower lip, and brushed his hand through his dark brown hair. Trying not to look at that handsomeness, I typed his order on the computer and when he said my name, I accidentally looked into his eyes for a second and then back at the screen.
“Uhm, dine-in or takeaway?” I asked.
Is he ignoring me? Seriously? He rested his elbow on the counter and looked back, ignoring me. “Uh, Jake?”
He turned his head, giving his attention to me, and said, “Dine-in...”
“Okay, I’ll bring your order to you as soon as it’s done...” I said with a nod and disappeared behind the doors to the kitchen. He took a toothpick and lightly chewed on the side of his white, sparkling teeth, then glanced a look at Gwen and winked. Gwen loves a good bad boy. But she’ll never admit it, not even to herself. She’s the kind of girl to make the guy do the chasing.