Authors: T. B. Markinson
CONFESSIONS FROM A COFFEE SHOP
T. B. Markinson
Published by T. B. Markinson
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Copyright © T. B. Markinson, 2014
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
“Mother, stop! Father is not boinking some slut in his office!” I yelled into my cell phone, feeling color swarm up my neck and fury rising from the pit of my stomach. It was too early in the day for one of Mom’s attention-seeking stunts. “I have to go.”
I looked over my shoulder, phone crooked under my chin. A beautiful woman stood at the counter, poised to order her coffee.
“Wait, don’t you dare hang—”
I pushed Mom’s shrill, threatening voice out of my head and set the cell phone down. I adjusted my cherry-red apron and pretended the woman hadn’t just heard me yelling at my mother about my father having an affair. “I’m sorry for the wait,” I said.
Why did I have to shout the word boinking?
Just act casual
, I told myself.
“Cori? Cori Tisdale?”
“Uh, I’m sorry—” As I stared into the woman’s amber eyes, recognition dawned on me. “Samantha Clarke?” I replied timidly.
“Yes!” Enthusiasm brightened her features. I wanted to run screaming from the store. I hadn’t seen Samantha Clarke since graduation eleven years ago. Back then we were high school girls. But now she was no longer a girl. Sam was all woman, and she was standing right in front of me smiling.
“Wow, it’s been a long time.” I pasted on a happy face and tried to stop my eyes from roving over her navy pinstripe power suit.
My khaki pants, white button-up Oxford shirt, and apron didn’t leave any doubt as to which of us had done something with her life and which hadn’t. I felt like a failure—a complete and total failure.
“So, are you manager here?” she asked without a hint of derision.
“No. This is just a part-time gig…until …” Should I admit to Samantha that my jobless girlfriend had charged up our credit cards, and I was working part-time to pay down the debt? I already felt like a loser; I didn’t want her to think I was a total waste of space. Plus, I didn’t want her to judge my girlfriend, Kat. Yes, she had racked up a huge bill, but that didn’t stop me from loving her.
“Yeah, times are tough right now.” Samantha gave me a glance that managed to look encouraging without being condescending or smug.
“I have a real job,” I continued. “I teach at a university.”
I neglected to tell her that I taught at Adams University, which was more like a community college in my book. The people who ran the joint felt differently, but I couldn’t blame them for that. All of us wanted to feel more important than we were, which was why I was doing my best to downplay the fact that I was serving coffee to Sam at six in the morning.
“Really? I always thought you would end up teaching. But I figured you would teach PE at a high school, or coach college ball.” She smiled innocently. “I loved watching you play basketball,” she explained.
“Ha!” I tried to laugh sincerely and not act hurt. Apparently she still thought of me as a jock—a lesbo jock with zero brains. “No, I teach English. British lit, actually.” I couldn’t control the snobby tone in my voice.
Why did I have to say British lit? Why didn’t I stick with just English?
Because deep down, I’m a snob, and I was feeling sorry for myself.
“Figures.” She gave a curt nod of her blonde head. “You always had your nose in a book when you weren’t on the court.”
Samantha had been a cheerleader—the popular cheerleader who all of the boys and some of the girls, myself included, had lusted after. She hadn’t been stuck on herself back then, and from our brief conversation this morning, she still seemed grounded, unlike snobby me.
“What do you do?” I fidgeted with the pen on the register. The store was in the heart of Boston’s Financial District, and although it wasn’t officially open this early, I didn’t want to tell Sam she had to leave. Soon, customers in suits would pour in, like they did all day long. Few had time to chat; most made me feel like an idiot.
“I’m a portfolio manager,” Sam said. “You know, investments for 401(k)s and such.” She rolled her eyes, as if it were nothing.
“Impressive. Any good stock tips?” As soon as the words left my lips, I felt like an imbecile. Flames of embarrassment burned me from neck to hairline, until I was sure she could see the blood pulsing through my veins. I waved a hand. “Just kidding, of course,” I added, feeling like a bumbling teen trying to chat up the prom queen, which she had been, back then.
My former crush was kind enough to ignore my
. Asking for stock tips while standing in a Beantown Café apron—what was I thinking? Everyone knew that insider trading was a big no-no. Remember Martha Stewart.
“What can I get you, Samantha?” I changed the subject. I had enjoyed seeing her again, but I wasn’t sure my ego could take much more.
“A praline latte, please.” She set her shiny, patent-leather briefcase on the floor and pulled her wallet from her purse. Inside, I spied a credit card from almost every major credit company.
She wouldn’t have to get a part-time job if her partner ran up her cards
, I thought.
Stop it, Cori.
“Sure, what size?” I chirped, sounding like an idiotic bird hoping for a breadcrumb.
“All right. One Bean Supreme Praline Latte coming up.” I felt like an ass saying Bean Supreme instead of large, too, but my manager encouraged such behavior. The owners of the Massachusetts-based chain thought they were so clever using Beantown as the name that they tried to incorporate it into everything in the store. I hated my job, but I still needed to keep it. Kat only had access to one card now, and the limit was drastically lower, but I still had a lot of work to do to get us out of our hole.
I turned my back on Samantha to make her coffee, my mind racing. A cheerleader turned portfolio manager? Even as much as I hated stereotypes, I had to admit I’d figured Sam would have ended up working as a concierge at a fancy hotel or something. I certainly didn’t expect her to be so smart and so successful. Don’t get me wrong, Sam was intelligent back then, but most people noticed her charm—or her body—more than her brains. Oh, the dreams I had about her back in the day.
But I couldn’t. Samantha was the cheerleader everyone had wanted to fuck. She had to have known that back then, but she never acted as if she did, which only made her more fuckable, at least in my mind.
Behind the machine, I took in her beauty unnoticed. Long, bouncy blond hair, amber eyes, a toned body with ample cleavage, a devilish smile, flawless skin, and an ass to die for. A person could bounce quarters off her ass. It was a cliché, but also true in this case. Samantha wasn’t the wholesome girl next door. I mean she was sweet, but she gave off this “I know how to be naughty” vibe. Trust me, it was a turn on. She was the whole package.
In high school, she had volunteered her time tutoring underprivileged kids, and I don’t think she did that just because it looked good on college applications. Samantha actually cared about others. She sang in the choir, and her voice made me wet on more than one occasion. The paradox of it. Her looks suggested she would sound like an angel. Nope. Her voice was gravelly, more like Janis Joplin’s. Back then, I sensed she didn’t like the restraining quality of our choirmaster, as if she wanted to get on stage and grind out the song.
Oddly enough, she never dated anyone in school. Occasionally, I would spy her with a random guy here or there, but from what I heard, no one captured her heart. The boys respected her enough not to label her a “Wham bam, thank you, ma’am.” Not that she was loose. But in high school, boys tended to say that when the hottest girl in school wouldn’t give them the time of day.
Most of the girls couldn’t find a reason to hate her. I lusted after her. Nobody had any idea how much I wanted to sleep with her.
We didn’t hang out much, but it wasn’t hard to keep tabs on Samantha. Our private school was rife with gossip. Add rich snots to the mix, and we all knew everything about everyone else, even if we didn’t want to.
The minutes it took to make Sam’s latte were excruciating. I felt completely ridiculous manning the humming coffee machine in front of her. When it screamed like a banshee, frothed milk flowed out of the metal pitcher to make my distraction more obvious, I wanted to melt into the floor just like the escaped foam. Samantha busied herself on her iPhone, leaving me to my shame.
When the coffee was done, I slipped on the cardboard sleeve so she wouldn’t burn her delicate hands. From the looks of her, she didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors. Either that or she wore some super-duper sunblock. I thought her ivory skin made her even more appealing. Her golden hair was slicked back into a professional-looking ponytail. I wanted to let it down, run my fingers through it.
Stop it, Cori. You’re spoken for. What’s wrong with you this morning?
“Here you go.” I gave her the drink, being careful not to touch her hand, fearful I might break it—or pet her.
“Thanks, Cori. How long have you been working here? I haven’t seen you before.” Samantha removed the lid and blew into the steaming foam. Then she dipped her pinky in, drew it out, and licked it.
Seriously! This was how I had to start my day: all hot and bothered?
“A little over a month,” I finally answered. “I pop in a few times a week.”
I felt better saying “pop in” instead of “I work here.” It made me feel like I was doing the company a favor rather than slaving away for a wage barely above the minimum and with zero health benefits. Maybe I should just put
on my nametag.
“Cool. Well, I’m in here all of the time, so I’ll see you around.” She raised her cup to me as she headed out the door, breezing past a gentleman on his way in who stopped and held the door for her—and then leered at Sam’s perky ass until she was out of sight.
Finally, the creep approached the counter. He answered his cell phone and immediately put a finger up to keep me quiet, as though I had been dying to talk to him. What a jerk!
I rolled my eyes, tapping my fingers on the countertop.
“Morning.” Harold, my coworker, ambled in to interrupt Mr. Cell Phone Jerk’s peace and quiet.
He was thirty minutes late, which was pretty good for Harold; usually, it was more like an hour. As soon as Harold learned that I had worked for the coffee chain before and knew it like the back of my hand, he left me to open the store by myself three times a week. I had done my first stint at Beantown Café back in high school. I’d also worked there on and off again during college. When I got my teaching job, I actually burned my apron, thinking I’d never return. Karma was a bitch. Perhaps burning my original apron had upset the Beantown Café gods.
Dammit! It wasn’t even 6:30 a.m. and I was already in a crap mood. Usually, this kind of funk didn’t settle in until at least nine.
As soon as the obnoxious customer had gone, Harold strolled out from the back room, tying his apron around his waist. “How was your night, Cori?”
I opened my mouth to answer, but in typical Harold style he had already launched into his own story, stopping only when another customer entered. The first time I had met Harold, he’d proclaimed he was Mr. Cool, but with a capital K.
Kook—with a capital K
, I remember thinking.
There was absolutely nothing cool about Harold then, and there still wasn’t now. Tall, gangly, and bearing remnant acne, Harold still lived with his mother. His thick, dishwater brown hair was so soft that the bowl cut he sported made it flounce around limply with every tiny head movement. Pale brown eyes appeared completely vacant above Harold’s plain face and a chin that slipped into his neck. A beard might have given him the illusion of a chin, except that Harold, at twenty-seven, was still without any sign of scruff. I doubted he had ever shaved. He looked like a ten-year-old trapped in a man’s body.