Ten Seconds to Fall

Lucy doesn't know what to do with herself after graduation. That is, until she stumbles upon The 10 Second Fiesta.


4. The Day Ahead

"Hey, this is the place!" a scrawny freshman called out to his friends behind him as he entered the cafe, then he looked at me. "This is the place, right?"

"Yep," I sighed, relief flooding over me while I scanned and saw several other cars spilling out their teenage inhabiters. "This is, indeed, the place. Welcome. Can I get you something to drink?"

"What's good here?" he asked what had quickly become my least favorite kind of loaded question.

People have been asking me for recommendations ever since this cafe opened up. The few people who came in always seemed to have that lost look in their eyes as they stared at the menu full of convoluted drink names (part of me hated Jude for being such a strange drink namer). When my parents found out where I'd gone on graduation day, that was the first question my dad asked, followed shortly by several why's for several different reasons.

"Everthing," I told the kid honestly. "My favorite right now is the Smink."

He scrunched his nose at my answer, then I explained, "It means a smirk and a wink at the same time. It's basically a chocolate shake with a shot of espresso."

"I think I'll just have a black cup of coffee," he said.

Cheap kid trying to act grown up. As soon as he got his coffee and took a sip, he snuck over to what Jude had labeled The Land of Milk and Sugar to sweeten his drink and add cream.

More people filtered in, some ordering plain coffees and some ordering fancier drinks, which Jude was thrilled to make. He practically put on a show of his own. And more than one stupid girl fawned over him. It was irritating, but it was business. And we were doing fantastic. I almost couldn't keep up with all of the orders coming through. I couldn't believe how quick Jude was at making the drinks. When people ordered pastries it felt like a reprieve because I just had to take it off the rack and hand it to them.

Soon, the band introduced themselves.

"Thanks for turning out, everyone," Max, Kali's boyfriend said into the mic. "We are The Tremors and this first song is called Stop."

The crowd cheered and Jude pulled a seat up next to me once the drink orders slowed down.

He said something, but I couldn't hear him.

"What?" I asked.

He leaned closer and said by my ear, "This is amazing. You did a fantastic job."

"Thank you," I said.

"No, thank you," he smiled.

When the show was over, Kali and the band stayed behind to help us clean up. Once they left, I stayed back and helped Jude move the tables and chairs back in place.

"We should do this every weekend," Jude said and sat two cups of coffee on the table, one in front of me and one in front of him.

It was already blonde. I took a sip to find it had the perfect amount of sugar in it, too. I was a cheap kid trying to act grown up, after all.

"That sounds exhausting," I sighed and dropped my head onto the table.

He laughed.

"What if I got someone else to take the orders?" he asked.

"You're firing me?" I asked, too sleepy to actually sound shocked.

"No," he said. "You are kind of awful at customer interaction, but you're great with organizing everything and keeping things moving. You're a strategist."

"What are you getting at?" I yawned and took a sip of my coffee.

"What would you think of managing this place?" he asked. "It's obvious I was in over my head when I opened this place. I've got the talent for creativity and beverage making, but no head for business. How's about it?"

I started laughing, totally thrilled.

"Is that a yes, or are you mocking me?" he asked.

"Definitely a yes," I said and gathered control back over my senses.

I got loopy when I was tired. I yawned again.

"Are you going to be okay to get home?" he asked.

I nodded through a yawn, to which he shook his head.

"Nope," he said. "You wanna sleep here tonight?"

"The couch here is lumpy," I frowned.

"Not down here, dork," he laughed. "You take my bed and I'll sleep on the couch in the apartment."

"No," I said, trying to keep from blushing. "I couldn't. That's not fair to you, Jude."

"Well, I can't let you drive home. You'll fall asleep at the wheel," he said. "Then I'd be out a manager. That would be unfair to me."

"Fine," I grumbled and pulled out my cellphone.

I sent a text to my mom's phone to let her know that I was staying at a friend's house. I did't want to say whose it was, but I didn't want to lie and say I was with Kali, either.


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