Crescent seriously contemplated beating her head against her large mahogany desk. The towering stacks of unread material were becoming unbearable, and she couldn’t see herself getting ahead of it anytime soon. Midnyght Talez is one of the top 5 publishers in America, if not number one. And without an assistant, or more hours in the day, it was becoming harder to stay on top of things. When was the last time she could admire the desk, her sister had bought for her birthday? 2 weeks maybe? Oh god, this was getting bad. She needed help, and she needed it now. Looking over at the antique grandfather clock that stood tall next to her double hard wood office doors. She had 30 minutes before she needed to leave to meet Cass at her café.
She was the boss, right? So, who’s going to stop her from leaving? And 30 minutes wouldn’t do much for the giant pile on her desk. Making up her mind, Crescent pulled her long black hair up into a tight ponytail and grabbed her thin black coat off the back of her chair. With one last glance at her desk, she threw some documents in her bag, swearing to read them tonight.
Buzzing her secretary, “Le’anne, please hold all calls ’till tomorrow, unless someone is dying… literally.” If she didn’t say that, the number of voicemails on her personal phone would be tragic.
“Yes, ma’am.” A small voice replied back.
Now the hard part was taken care of. Well, the second hard part. Making it out of this office alive was going to be the most difficult part. Tucking her bag under her arm, she took several deep breaths before pulling the heavy wooden doors open. It was like a bunch of hungry wolves staring at a fresh piece of meat. Quickly shutting her door behind her, she all but ran down the hall towards the elevator. Unreal! She didn’t make it ten steps without people thrusting more papers into her face or asking if she had a chance to check an email. One they sent only FIVE minutes ago.
Crescent always wanted to give herself a nice pat on the back. The number of times she could have accidentally burned the building down from all the stress, and every time she made it with only a few singes on her leather purse strap. That is easily replaceable. Even if she wanted to answer any of them, she wouldn’t know who to address. They were all talking at once, so it was just a loud thrumming in her brain. Laughing at her own dilemma, she all but punched the elevator button. Spinning on her heels, she pushed her shoulders back and looked over the room. She firmly stated, “the next person to ask me a damn question is fired!”
Ding. The sound of freedom. It took everything in her to keep a straight face. Turning back, she entered the elevator. As the doors shut, she saw the mass of shocked faces. Once they were closed, she leaned back against the cool metal walls and laughed lightly. She wasn’t actually going to fire anyone, but it was always nice to have a moment of silence. What she really needed was an assistant. Maybe her sister was right. The idea of an assistant was quickly turning from a nuisance to a dream. She was so far behind, she didn’t think she would meet any of her deadlines.
It hadn’t taken long to reach the lobby. She was a sucker for the antique feel, so the entire building was earth toned, with wood accents, and large windows to let in as much natural light as possible. Her favorite security guard, Dominique, stood behind the large front desk full of monitors. He reminded her of a big brother. He was always making sure that she was okay. When she stayed late, he would wait for her and walk her to her car.
“Ms. Thyme. Have a good night.” Dominique said with a soft smile.
Dominique was prior army and could easily be mistaken for a bodybuilder. Smooth brown skin, neat dread locks that hung past his shoulders, and deep green eyes that held so much kindness in them. He stood at 6’5”, and if she had to guess, every bit of 280lbs. And it was all muscle. The man was drop dead gorgeous, but yet she had no sexual attraction to the man. Just like a brother.
“I’ve told you a thousand-times Dominique, call me Crescent. I’m not some 80-year-old cat lady. Yet,” she stated playfully. At the rate her love life was going, she should accept the cat lady position sooner rather than later. Getting a man wasn’t an issue at all for Crescent. Her long jet-black hair curled right at her hips. Beautiful bronze toned skin, light brown eyes, and an athletic build. She had no issue enjoying some eye candy. But that was all she could enjoy. Logically, she knew they were good men, but it was like there was some sort of barrier stopping her from sleeping with them.
Dominique’s deep laughter echoed through the lobby. He stepped out from behind the counter, his long legs eating up the distance between them. Walking alongside her, he reached to open the driver’s door of her blacked out GMC Sierra Denali. “You don’t think this truck is a little big for you?” he teased.
“My personality won’t fit into anything smaller,” she said with a wink. Giving Dominique a quick hug, she threw her bag into the passenger seat and enjoyed the roar of the engine as she started it. As she closed her door, Crescent thought she saw a look of concern on Dominique’s face. But when she turned back, it was like it had never been there. Maybe she had imagined it. He looked at her with his sweet smile and waved as she pulled away. Checking the time again, she cringed, 3 minutes late. Oh, she was going to hear about this. Hopefully, she would show mercy and still make her favorite coffee.
Welcome to the Free Flow Café
Cassandra stood at the counter of her café. Traffic was slow as usual this time of day, people were about to get off work and head home for the evening. She loved to just sit and watch the people that occupied her quaint café. What were they thinking about? Maybe they were thinking of ways to surprise their spouse about their promotion? Cass laughed at her own thoughts; did they ever wonder what went on in her head? Gosh, they would really have to have a sense of humor to live up there. Today would be one of her better days. Her sister always came by after work to visit on Tuesdays and Fridays. The ticking of the clock on the wall was going to drive her insane, she has checked the damn thing many times waiting for 6pm to finally come so she could see her sister.
Giving into the urge to check the clock, devilishly slow as it was, she sighed at the time showing 8 minutes till her sister was supposed to be here. The bell over the door rang as an older woman walked into the café. Cass greeted her with a warm smile. “Good afternoon! How can I help you today?” The soft wrinkles on the woman’s small face creased with a soft smile of her own. As she spoke, Cass couldn’t help but notice the smell of summer rolling off this woman, like sweet fresh cut grass and sunshine.
“Would you happen to have some coffee grounds left?” her voice was soft.
Cass nodded happily at the woman, walking into the kitchen. She never thought she would have needed such a large gallery, but she was glad she had it. During lunch hour, it made a difference to have the extra space. Digging about the shelves, she knew she had some back here, where the employees stashed it was another thing. “There you are…” pulling a stool over, she pulled the used coffee grounds from the top shelf and bagged them up before walking back out. Placing the bag before the older woman, “Are these okay?”
Totaling up the old woman’s purchase, “your total is 11.37.” She handed Cass a ten and five, telling her to keep the change. “Thank you. Have a great day,” Cass called after her. Cass looked over her shoulder at the two teens bustling back and forth, filling other orders and wiping down some tables. “Kira, are you closing tonight?” Cass already knew who was closing, but she needed another distraction from the loud ticking of the clock that was demanding her attention.
“Yes ma’am, myself and Jordan are closing up tonight.”
Kira was such a pretty, petite girl. Big red curls covered her head, deep sea-green eyes, and maybe a little shorter than average height. Cass wasn’t the type of boss that minded dating within the workplace, so long as it didn’t interfere with their duties. Other than the obvious goo-goo eyes they make at each other, you would have never guessed they were seeing eachother. But Cass could read their minds. Like REALLY read minds. And reading these two, they were totally official. She nodded to Kira, showing she heard her. She didn’t want to continue to distract her for her own selfish reasons. What kind of boss would that make her? Rolling her eyes, she gave in. 6:01. Crossing her arms, ready to pout, she had to remind herself quickly that Crescent had been swamped with high priority articles lately. So much so that Cass was helping with the proofreading. God, was she grateful that she didn’t have to do that for a living.
Cass pulled a folded flyer from her pocket, ’open mic’. She was super excited to tell Crescent about the event she was going to put on tomorrow night. It was a discussion they had several times in the past year, but she just didn’t want to seem like the money hungry type, so when a customer suggested it, she could have hugged them. The café had a decent sized stage and several independent art pieces from local artists that hung on the walls.
Crescent threw her car in park behind the café and all but ran through the back doors. She was late and prayed that Cass would still make her favorite coffee. Was it pathetic that she was slightly winded, and she maybe ran 100 feet? “Note to self: make time for the gym.” After taking a few seconds in the kitchen to catch her breath, she pushed the employee only doors open just a smidge and whistled to get Cassandra’s attention.
It was about damn time. Remember Cass, keep your cool. Cool was for the people at the beach, so that didn’t apply to her. Spinning dramatically towards the double doors that led to the kitchen, Cassandra crossed her arms over her chest and raised her eyebrow at her sister for effect. “You being late could only mean one of two things,” raising her hand and putting a finger up for each point she made. “You were caught up with a new boy toy, or you are so far behind in your work and you’re choking on words that you’ve always hated to say.”
Crescent rolled her eyes at her overly dramatic sister. Stepping completely through the double doors, she leaned up against the counter, trying to figure a way out of this confession. She needed a distraction. Crescent noticed the small parchment that Cass had rolled up in her hand, plucking it out quickly and praying it was something that would change the subject. Thank God. ‘Open Mic’ was something to talk about. “Oh my goodness, Cass! This is amazing!”
“Crescent!” Cassandra called, stomping her foot. A silent demand for Crescent to return to the previous topic.
Her shoulders sagged in defeat. “Fine, Cass, you were right. I need help. Can we move on now?”
Cassandra burst into laughter. She covered her mouth with both hands when a few heads had turned in their direction. Grabbing her sister by the arm, she yanked her back into the kitchen. Placing a medium cup of Crescents favorite Chai-Tea Latte before her, “you might want to heat that back up? If you had been on time, it would still be hot.”
Crescent plopped down in a well-cushioned chair, her cup brimming with her not hot latte. With little effort from Crescent, slight wisps of steam drifted from the small slit in the lid. Being able to manipulate fire wasn’t always bad. “The only man toy I have is in these unfinished books,” she sighed heavily, recalling the stack she grabbed to take home. “Cass, you know I love you, right?”
Cass shook her head at Crescent. That was a nice way of asking her for help. “We’ll have a quick hire in the morning and then we are going to enjoy this open mic if it kills us,” she said lightly. Even though Cassandra gave Crescent a hard time, she knew how hard it’s been for her sister these several weeks. Her work was piling up, and she had no one to help her with it. Placing her hands on Crescent’s lap and laying a gentle kiss on her forehead. “How bad could it be?”
Crescent placed one hand over her sister’s and smiled up at her. You would have thought she was the younger sister. Cass had never had to sit through a quick hire. And if drinking in the morning wasn’t frowned upon, that would have been her preferred way to get through it. “I’ll buy dinner tonight and I think Lord of the Rings is going to be a must.”
Pulling away from Crescent, concern etched between her scrunched eyebrows. “That bad?”
Elanor watched the two sisters until they disappeared behind the “employee only” doors. Being a petite woman, it was hard for people and creatures to suspect her lethal capabilities. In her mind, any edge was a level up. Opponents had slower reaction time for things they didn’t expect. Her pixie cut hair dyed pink, which complimented her long face and deep blue eyes. Babysitting duty was not her usual thing, but over the last few months, she had grown quite fond of Cassandra. Everything about her was just so fluent. No wonder the prince had chosen her. Well, rumor has it fate chose her for him, but you didn’t see him too mad about it.
Usually, on the days that Crescent showed up, Cassandra would leave shortly after her arrival. Like that was her que to go the hell home. Finally.
As much as Elanor loved being here. Not.
She was practically itching to go home and train. You don’t become lethal without honing every skill you had. And always looking for more to master. Elanor was human but had attained the title of ‘Guardian’. It was a prestigious title amongst the vampires, so it spoke volumes about Eleanor’s abilities. Not long after receiving her title, they assigned her to watch over Cassandra. Looking at Elanor, she was the stereotypical punker. Black platform boots came up mid calve, white fishnet stockings, black and red checkered skirt so short it would make that old church lady scoff, black corset with a red dragon wrapping all the way around, black leather jacket, and one blood red diamond stud in her right nostril. In the small silver clutch that hung from her left shoulder, she had a gun with specialty bullets. Silver coated. Lethal to any supernatural being, if placed right.
The boss man should be awake by now. Any reports about Cassandra were to be reported to him directly, immediately. Pulling out her phone, Elanor shot him a quick text, “She is heading back to her house with her sister.”
Before she could put the phone back in her clutch, it vibrated. Is there anything of importance that I need to know?
Elanor groaned. She knew she would have to be back here tomorrow for ‘open mic’ night. A bunch of emotional weirdos. “Yeah, Cassandra is having an open mic tomorrow night, so I’ll be here for that.”
The response was immediate. I will join you.
Great. Now she had to stay for the entire thing, “starts at 6pm.”