“There’s my favourite manager.” Mused Jenny’s most favourite person in the world.
Marc Stevenson was the brother Jenny never had. They met while being interviewed for positions at The Maze Café, the exclusive café belonging to Labyrinth Publishing House. It had been friendship at first sight. Marc strongly believed they must have been separated at birth. Jenny and Marc were both 23, both majoring in English writing and minoring in English literature. They both had wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, high cheek bones and soft plump pink lips. It had amazed Jenny how she had never run into Marc at university until she found out he was studying online and only visited the university to use the library.
Marc suffered from terrible anxiety. His parents were drug and alcohol addicts, and he was taken away from them when they could no longer look after him. According to Marc, his adoptive parents were kind and loving until Marc announced he was gay. His adoptive father would taunt him and make fun of his boyfriends which then led to issues at school. By 17 Marc couldn’t take it anymore, he moved out and left school choosing to complete his final year online. Marc had confessed to Jenny that getting a part time job was the first time he’d actually been around people properly since he was 17 and he promptly informed her that her presence at work made all the bad stuff he’d endured go away.
Jenny’s dream was to be a publisher and writer. She couldn’t believe her luck when she noticed an advert for a job at the leading Publisher’s café. She applied instantly and was thrilled when they asked her to come in for an interview that same day. At the time, Jenny still had a year and a half to go on her degree and finding a part time job was imperative. Not only did the job at the café give her financial freedom from her parents but it allowed her to worm her way into Labyrinth’s publishing ranks. Her goal was simple. Get to know everyone. Befriend Mr Sanders the CEO and casually slip into the conversation her dreams of being a publisher and author. What she didn’t plan on was meeting Marc. When she had arrived for her interview Marc sat in the office, she had been instructed to wait in. He smiled at her and they instantly began talking. Jenny was a little concerned to find out Marc was also there for an interview. But her fears were lifted once the interviews were over and they were both offered the job.
“Good Morning!” Jenny beamed clutching her finished manuscript in her arms. Today was the day she’d give it to Mr Sanders.
“O.M.G is that it!?” Marc cried out pointing to the chunk of papers.
Jenny nodded before stuffing her bag into the staff cupboard. She had emailed sections of her manuscript to Marc and he had acted as her proof-reader. She had taken all his thoughts and suggestions seriously and she believed that his help had made the book so much more. Marc’s dream was to also work in the publishing house. He’d been working on his own Young Adult novella’s and frequently published them on web-novel platforms. Jenny had read most of his work and loved it. Just recently, she had encouraged him to begin his own manuscript.
Marc grabbed her and squeezed tight. “I’m so proud of you.” He beamed.
“Wouldn’t have been possible without your help.” Jenny replied while holding the manuscript away from her body. She didn’t want it to get squished.
“Mr Sanders is gonna LOVE it.” Marc’s enthusiasm was addictive. He skipped off when he saw customers arriving before greeting them with a beaming smile and directing them to a table.
Jenny found a spare draw next the register and placed her prized manuscript inside before tying up her apron in a small bow at the small of her back. She quickly checked her watch.
Only fifteen minutes until Mr Sanders would be in for his extra-large, extra shot, almond latte with three sugars and an apricot danish that he considered to be breakfast. Jenny fussed around making sure everything was filled and stacked properly, the counters were wiped down and that the fridge cabinets were fully stocked.
“Table 8 want two caps with only a little froth and no chocolate powder.” Marc said while gritting his teeth with a fake smile.
“Why didn’t they just order latte’s then?” Jenny asked banging the portafilter on the knock tube, dumping the used coffee grounds before inserting it into the automatic grinder.
“Beats me.” Marc shrugged. He stood next to her, pouring milk into a metal jug before turning the dial making steam hiss into the milk.
Jenny proceeded to clip the portafilter into place and pressed the button to begin the filtering process. She placed two cups under the filter. Soon the dark brown liquid spurted down into the cups below. Marc finished off the coffees by pouring in the hot frothy milk. He swirled the tip of a spoon through the foam on each creating a beautiful leaf like pattern. He smiled at his handy work before looking over his shoulder.
“ Psst Jen!” He whispered nodding over his shoulder. Before taking the coffees over to table 8.
Suddenly Jenny’s heart began to beat fast. Walking in through the front doors was Mr Sanders. He was flanked by his PA Samantha Pratt who was writing notes in a little book, and another man Jenny had never seen before. He was busy looking at something on his phone. Her eyebrows knitted together with curiosity at the mystery man. He was tall, had dark brown tousled hair and a strong chiselled jaw. He wore a navy-blue suit with a crisp white shirt and blue tie. There was no denying it, this man was gorgeous. Jenny pushed her thoughts about him aside as she went to the front counter with a smile on her face. Mr Sanders approached her with a big grin.
“Good Morning Mr Sanders.” Jenny said ignoring Samantha and the mystery man. Mr Sanders was beaming at her. His hair was going grey, but it had once been a deep chocolate brown colour. He wore designer glasses that sat on his nose elegantly hiding soulful grey eyes. His suit was hand made and an exquisite dark charcoal grey colour.
“Ah, Jenny my dear. A pleasure it always is to see your lovely face in the morning.” Jenny’s cheeks turned a light shade of pink.
“The usual for you Mr Sanders?” She asked tapping at the cash register screen in front of her.
“Yes. Cole, Samantha, anything I can get you?” Mr Sanders turned around towards his PA and guest.
“I’d love a tall Mocha.” Samantha said eyeing the mystery man who was still preoccupied with something far more important on his phone. If Samantha’s pencil skirt had been any higher everyone would have known her choice in underwear. Jenny suspected that she was dressed like this for the mystery man. Samantha usually wore rather relaxed fitting clothes. But this particular choice of skirt and blouse highlighted her slender legs, plump round bottom and perky breasts. Jenny’s thoughts returned to wondering who this man could be?
“Cole?” The old man asked again.
The mystery man looked up only just realising he was at the café. “Oh um. Vanilla Latte. Medium.” He turned around and walked out of the café still focusing on his phone.
Rude Jenny thought as she jutted away on the screen. “Won’t be long Mr Sanders. I’ll just get your danish.” The order dockets printed as Mr Sanders tapped him Amex card on the little machine next to the till.
She handed Marc the coffee order docket before going to the cabinet and taking out a fresh apricot danish and placing in a crisp paper bag. Marching over to the CEO, Jenny swallowed the lump forming in her throat and reached into the draw to retrieve her manuscript.
“Here’s your danish Mr Sanders.” Jenny said handing over the paper bag. “And I don’t know if you remember but you’d said you would take a look at my manuscript last week?” Jenny plopped the wade of pages onto the counter.
Mr Sanders looked at Jenny. “Of course I remember.” He smiled. He picked up the manuscript and tucked it under his arm before walking over to the mystery man.
Jenny was very excited. She could hardly contain the smile that threatened to beam over her face. She tried focusing on the next order and after they had paid Jenny focus was back on the trio. The mystery man was now on his phone, pacing a little and looking a bit angry. His eyes found hers and she quickly looked away, choosing to focus on a catering order that had to be ready by the afternoon. Once she felt he wasn’t looking at her again she looked back over. There was something different about Mr Sanders today. He stood a little stooped and he looked older than he had before.
“Mr Sanders’ order is ready.” Marc said snapping her out of her thoughts.
Jenny placed the coffees on a takeaway tray and checked Marc had labelled them correctly. She walked around to the other side of the counter and picked up the tray before walking over to them.
“Here are your coffee’s Mr Sanders. Have a nice day.” She beamed.
“Thank you Jenny. See you at lunch.” He winked at her which made her cheeks burn a little. She went to smile at Samantha and the mystery man as well but found that the mystery man was already glaring at her. Feeling uncomfortable Jenny smiled sheepishly and quickly trotted back behind the counter feeling relief when the trio walked over towards the elevators.
“Girl you know who that was?” Marc said grabbing onto her shoulders.
“That hot guy that was with Mr Sanders. Don’t tell me you didn’t notice him.” Jenny’s cheeks became hotter, and she cleared her throat and looked away. Marc smirked. “Damn girl he made an impression on you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Anyway, who was he?”
Marc leaned back against the counter taking his time before answering. “That my dear BBF was Cole Sanders.”
“Who’s Cole Sanders?” Jenny asked still feeling a bit flustered.
“Mr Sanders’ son.” He grinned knowingly at Jenny who’s mouth was wide open.
No way was that Cole Sanders, Jenny thought. Throughout her eight months working at the café the rumours surrounding Cole were often hot topics, particularly if he’d been caught cheating on yet another girlfriend or got arrested for evading the police. She had never actually seen what Cole looked like, but she never expected him to be a suit and tie kind of guy.
This could be interesting.