The phone Brooke held in her hand only rang once before it was answered.
“Hi Angie, it’s me, Brooke,” Brooke announced.
“Brooke. It’s so good to hear from you. It’s been a while since we were able to get together,” Angie began. Then, with a slight giggle, she asked, “So, how are things with you and the man hater?”
“Ah, well, that’s kind of why I’m calling. She kicked me out this morning and I need a place to stay for a bit, if it wouldn’t be too much trouble.” Brook whispered, embarrassed.
“Oh honey, of course you can stay with me. I don’t know what is wrong with that woman,” Angie told her with a huff. “Do you want to talk about it?”
“No, not really...it’s-it’s just to fresh right now. I’ll tell you this much, because if you go to town you’ll probably hear it anyway. I stayed in a motel room last night with a man, and before you ask, no I didn’t have sex with him! I went and had dinner with him, and afterward I just didn’t want to go home. We ended up falling asleep at some point during the movie, and... anyway, long story short, mom thinks she’ll be a laughing stock over it.”
“So…you’re saying you spent the night with a man, and didn’t do the deed with him?”
Brooke felt her face heat up. “Um…no, but we might have kissed a bit…”
Brooke huffed slightly. “And we might have gotten a bit touchy with each other, but that was all Angie!”
Angie laughed then.
“Hey, it isn’t funny!” Brooke huffed, feeling slightly offended now.
“Oh, but honey think about it and you’ll see it is! The man hater can’t stand it that her daughter has a boyfriend! I’m happy for you Brooke, you deserve some happiness after your mom and Ron. So, don’t let it get to you, live, love, be happy,” Angie said laughing again. “Oh, and honey, if you make this guy happy, without giving him sex, then in my book he’s a keeper!”
Brooke gave a light laugh of her own. “Thanks Angie, and honestly, I already think he is. Now, I hate to cut this short, but I need to get to work. I get off at seven and I’ll eat before I come, so, say your house by eight?”
“Sounds good, I’ll see you then Brooke,” Angie agreed. “Bye!”
“Bye,” Brooke murmured in return before hanging up her phone.
Josiah parked his motorcycle in the parking lot next to the café and gave a heavy sigh. He had so much to do, yet all he could think about was Brooke. He had wanted to go with her, be her support if she needed it. Yet, he understood why she felt that would make things worse also.
So, shaking his head, he headed for the café door and all the work that awaited him.
Two hours later he sat back in the office chair with a groan. He had finally finished cleaning the filing cabinet cleaned out, then had started on the books. He was no accounting genius, and the books looked good, yet something didn’t seem right.
The café was in the black, barely. From the nightly takes they should have a whole lot more in the bank.
So, why didn’t they?
They really could have used the extra money with all the remodeling he was doing. It wasn’t going to put them in the red, but it was going to be tight for a while.
His growling stomach brought him out of his internal hair pulling, so he stood and stretched.
Walking into the kitchen, he pulled out the pre-made sandwich and the drink he had bought on the way in that morning. He went into the dining area and took seat where he could look out the window as he ate.
He had just finished when he heard the rumble of motorcycles.
With a grin he stood and walked to the door. Unlocking it, he stepped outside to greet Terry and Promise as they stepped from their motorcycles. He said, “You made it.”
“Would have been here earlier, but Promise was hungry,” Terry mentioned as he gave Josiah a bro hug.
“Yes, well, I didn’t know what to expect here,” Promise said. Then she stepped up and hugged Josiah also.
He hugged her tight, breathing in her vanilla scented perfume. “I’m so glad you’re here Promise, I’ve missed you.”
Laughing she gave Josiah as squeeze before letting go. “Come on, show us around.”
So, leading the way back inside, that’s what Josiah did.
“The place looks good,” Terry said.
“Everyone worked hard yesterday, well, everyone but me, I took off on them,” Josiah said with a laugh.
Sitting down at a table Promise raised an eyebrow. “Really, and where did you go?”
“Next town over. Mr. Tucker also left me a motorcycle shop. So, I went to check it out. It’s in good shape, business is good, and the manager seems to have his head on straight. The only thing I want to change there is to get a full-time mechanic. They have two mechanic bays but no mechanic, except on Friday and Saturday,” Josiah told them. He then added, “I think they might be losing a lot of business because of that.”
“Hm... I think Parker is about fed up with that idiot he’s working for, you might talk to him,” Terry said.
Parker was a brother in the MC and a hard worker. He was fresh out of college and the boy might be young, but he knew his way around a car. The man he worked for knew what he had and tended to work Parker like a dog because of it. Bad thing was, the man didn’t pay Parker near what his work was worth.
“I’ll give him a call tonight,” Josiah told Terry as he rubbed his nose between his thumb and forefinger.
“There’s something else bothering you, what?” Promise asked softly.
“Yeah, lots of things, but I’ll figure everything out,” Josiah agreed. “The biggest thing right now is...”
There was a tap at the door.
Josiah turned to look and saw Brooke standing there. He grinned as he told his friends, “I guess you’ll get to meet Brooke now.”
“Brooke?” Promise asked, turning to look herself.
Josiah stood and headed to the door as he said, “Yeah, the new love of my life.”
“Wow, that was quick,” Terry commented.
“It was quick with Misty too,” Promise reminded Terry.
Josiah opened the door and pulled Brooke into a hug.
Brooke buried her face in his chest and took deep breaths.
Josiah frowned as he ran a hand down her back and felt her shaking. Knowing something was wrong, he gently asked, “What’s wrong? Did things go really badly with your mom?”
A sob escaped her.
In that moment, everything but Brooke, and her well-being, fled his mind. So, he picked her up, cradling her in his arms, and headed for his office, leaving his puzzled friends behind.
Once there, he sat down at the desk and just held her. He rubbed her back gently and placed kisses on top of her head.
Slowly her sobs quieted. Then, in a broken voice, she whispered, “She kicked me out, told me to pack my stuff and leave. She already had boxes in my room waiting.”
“She kicked you out all because you...? Baby, you’re a grown woman, it makes no sense for her to do that,” he murmured almost to himself. “Where will you go?”
Brooke pulled back and wiped the tears.
He handed her a tissue from the box on the desk, and she blew her nose.
“I called my friend Angie, I’ll stay with her a bit, until I can save some more money up. I have a little bit, just not enough to rent an apartment yet,” She told him, then she looked at him and said, “Kiss me Joey.”
So, he did. He poured all the love and comfort he could into that kiss. Soon he had her moaning as her arms encircled his neck.
When they were both breathless, he pulled back. He allowed his gaze to then move over the woman in his lap.
Her lashes were still damp from her tears, her eyes red rimmed, but she had a flush on her checks and her lips were swollen from kissing; beautiful.
Josiah knew it was too soon, he knew it was quick, but he knew what he wanted, there were no doubts in his mind any more. He wanted her in his life and in his bed, he loved her. He wanted to marry this beautiful woman, and he wanted to marry her soon, but he’d give her a bit of time first.
“What are you thinking about so hard Joey?” She asked.
She raised a hand up and ran it along his bearded chin.
Grabbing hold of her hand, in his own hand, he brought it to his lips. He then kissed her palm before placing it back on his face and holding it there. Then he told her, “I’m thinking about how beautiful you are and how much I’m beginning to love you.”
Her eyes widened as she asked, “Oh Joey, are you sure? I-I mean, are you sure it isn’t just lust or something like...?”
“Oh, no, Baby, it isn’t lust. It’s love, and I know it seems quick to you, but never doubt that my feelings for you are real. I don’t expect you to say it back, but I will warn you, I plan to do everything I can to win your heart,” he told her gently.
Then, he sealed his promise with another kiss only pulling back with they were both breathless.
Brooke sat on Joey’s lap gazing into those beautiful blue eyes of his, after he’d kissed the very breath from her body. She couldn’t believe he loved her, she felt her smile widen. So, reaching up, she pulled the... ‘do-rag’, that’s what she thought it was called anyway, off his head. Then she ran her fingers through his shoulder length dark hair.
He pouted at her as he asked, “What’d you do that for?”
She giggled before saying, “Your hair is so soft and pretty. Why do you cover it up?”
“Because, when I wear my helmet it makes my hair anything but ‘pretty’,” he informed her.
This caused her to giggle again.
He then continued, “So, I was thinking, maybe after you get off work you might come by and have dinner with me, before going to your friend’s house.”
“I’d likes that very much,” she told him. “In fact, I’d like to spend a lot of time with you, when you aren’t busy here.”
“Never fear Baby, I’ll always make time for you,” he promised her. “Once we open back up tonight, I’m leaving the cafe in the capable hands of Promise and I’m going to see about getting a mechanic for the shop. Which reminds me, you need to meet Terry and Promise.”
She nodded, glancing at the accounting books on the desk as she stood. “A little light reading?”
“What?” He questioned, pausing in putting his do-rag back on to look at her.
She pointed to the books.
and watched him frown.
He frowned as he told her, “Yeah. I’ve been trying to get a feel for the finances here. The books look good, and we’re in the black, but something just doesn’t feel right somehow. I feel it in my gut, but I’m no accountant, so I’m not finding the problem.”
“I could look at them for you later if you like,” she offered. “One of the classes I’m taking is accounting and I’ve always been good with numbers.”
Joey gave her a relieved look. “Would you?”
She nodded that she would.
He continued, “That would be great. Now let’s go meet Terry and Promise before they think we gotten lost!”
So, they left the office. They found Terry and Promise cuddled up in one of the booths kissing.
“Are we interrupting? We could come back later,” Joey teased.
“Like you weren’t just doing the same thing!” Promise said with a laugh.
Brooke felt her cheeks heat up just thinking about the things she and Joey had done in that office.
“Hey brother, you never turn down a woman’s lovin’!” Terry said wiggling his eyebrows.
“Yeah, yeah, whatever Terry,” Josiah muttered with an eye-roll. “Anyway, Terry, Promise, I want you to meet Brooke, she’s the woman I love.”
Joey gave Brooke a heated look and she felt her face heat once more.
Promise jumped up and threw her arms around Joey.
Joey hugged her back.
“Oh Joey, I’m so happy for you! You deserve to be happy,” Promise said. Letting him go she turned to Brooke with a big smile. “It’s nice to meet you Brooke, my brother here has been sad for a while now. It’s good to see a smile on his face, a smile you put there.”
“Um...thank you,” Brooke told her before she turned to look at Joey. “Brother? I didn’t know you had a sister?”
“Sister from another mister, not by blood,” Joey answered.
“Oh,” Brooke said giving them a smile. “Well, it’s nice to meet you both, but I really need to be going, or I’ll be late for work.” She then turned to Joey, “Um...I guess I’ll see you later then?”
“What time do you get off again?” He asked stepping close, wrapping her in his arms.
He nodded. “Alright. Come here after, and we’ll have a bite to eat before closing time at eight.”
Brooke gave a nod. “Okay, I’ll see you a little after seven then Joey. Again, it was nice meeting the two of you.”
“Good to meet you also,” Terry and Promise answered back.
Brooke gave Joey a kiss before heading for the door and work. She had a spring of happiness in her step.
Josiah gave a longing sigh as he watched Brooke get in her car and leave.
Promise giggled behind him.
Josiah turned and asked, “What?”
“You’re so love sick it’s funny… JOOEEYY!” She said as she giggled again.
Giving a huff, he ignored her. He then sat down and opened the folder he’d left on the table earlier. Then, taking a deep breath, he said, “Okay, so here are the changes I’d like to make.”
After much discussion, they finally had all the details worked out.
Josiah sat back then and looked at the clock. “It’s almost three, everyone should start coming in. You ready for this Promise?”
“Oh yeah, this isn’t my first rodeo, I’ll be fine,” Promise said just as the first employee arrived.
Everyone was on time and after everyone was seated, Promise stood up.
Josiah quickly looked around to take in their reaction to her. He did this mostly because he knew she probably wasn’t what they were expecting, even though he’d warned them.
Promise was tiny at five foot, and maybe one hundred pounds. Her hair had once been brown but was now dyed green. Her tank top proudly showed off her sleeve tattoo on her left arm. She was also wearing black leather pants along with her vest which proclaimed her to be ‘Property of Slim’ and a ‘Fury Rider’.
“Hello everyone, my name is Promise and I’m your new manager,” Promise began. “Now, for the most part I’m a pretty laid-back person and it takes a lot to make me mad, but I’ll be the first to tell you, you make me mad and it won’t be pretty!
“Also, I’m sure Joe already told you this, but I’ll say it again. If you have problems with the fact that I’m in a MC or have tattoos, then there’s the door. Most people don’t, but I know people in small towns where there aren’t a lot of us are sometimes leery of us. So, I’ll tell you straight up, the ‘Fury Riders’ are clean. We don’t deal drugs, or sell guns, and we aren’t a bunch of criminals. We are honest hard-working people just like you,” Promise concluded before pausing.
Nobody moved, so she nodded.
“Alright then, down to business,” Promise said. “Joe and I have talked about a few changes to the menu, such as a veggie burger for those who don’t eat meat, and a few sugar-free deserts. Cooks, don’t stress, it’s only going to be a few items and they’re all simple to make. Plus, we’ll need new menus with them on it first. Also, uniforms will change slightly. So, I’ll need everyone’s shirt size. Men, you will be wearing black T’s. Ladies, yours will be red or yellow. Sound good?”
There were nods all around.
“Now, Joe has mentioned that some of you may not have been trained properly, so tonight I will be watching all of you and taking notes. Here’s how it will work. Just for tonight there will be four sections, one for each waitress. Molly will be hostess and seat people as they come in left front, right front, left back, right back. She will give them their menus and silverware, which from now on will be wrapped in napkins. If you don’t know how to wrap them, you’ll be learning that tonight too. Waitress, as soon as someone is seated, get their drink order, wait five minutes, then ask if they’re ready to order,” Promise turned to Josiah then. “Anything I forgot?”
“Just that as soon as the table empties, bus boys get it cleared, waitress get it cleaned, and make sure to get the seat as well as the table. We’re hoping to have a full house tonight, and every night, and a lot of our business will depend on good service,” Josiah added.
“Alright then, any questions?” Promise waited, but everyone was quiet. “Okay then. If you’ll come up one by one and give me shirt sizes, we’ll get that out of the way.”