"Mindy! Wake up! I thought you wanted to be early for work today." the screeching voice of Mindy's younger sister Elena awoke her from a deep afternoon sleep. She groaned and slowly opened her eyes. Elena stood at the foot of her bed, hands on her hips, looking annoyed. Mindy squinted up at her, then frowned as her foggy mind registered the fact that her 17 year old sister was at home on a Wednesday, when she should be at school instead.
"Why aren't you in school Elena?" she asked groggily. Her sister let out a cruel laugh, a grin appearing on her round face.
"I attend online school now, remember?" she asked. "Or are you so caught up in your own pathetic life that you've completely forgotten about mine?" Her smile had faded now and Mindy was greeted with an all too familiar look. The silent: you're-a-good-for-nothing-terrible-guardian-and-i-deserve-to-live-with-someone-else-i-hate-you look. Mindy saw the hatred in her sister's eyes 24/7 and it hurt every time. She sighed, threw the covers off her, swung her legs over the side of the bed and let her bare feet touch the hardwood floor.
"What time is it?" she asked, still a bit sleepy.
"4:40 pm, time to get going if you want to get to work by 5. But knowing you, you'll probably be 2 hours late, again." Elena answered bitterly. "And all because the apartment’s too messy for you to find your things."
"Shut it. It's not like you're here to help with chores. You're always traveling around, writing stuff on your stupid blog..." Mindy grumbled, a little too tired and frustrated to fully argue with her younger sis.
She made her way to the bathroom. She showered and brushed her teeth then came out, a towel wrapped around her slender body. She put on her work uniform: a yellow polo shirt with the words Burgerland printed in cursive on the left side, khakis and sneakers. She pulled her dyed auburn hair back into a ponytail, grabbed her uniform for her second job, shoved it in her backpack with a couple snacks and in about 20 minutes she was ready to go.
"I'll see you tomorrow morning." she told Elena as she headed out the door. Her keys and phone created a bulge in her right pocket. "Call me if you need me, okay?"
"Yeah, yeah, whatever." Elena mumbled. She wasn't even looking at Mindy, she was busy tapping away on her iPhone as she messaged readers of her online blog 'Elena of the Internet'. Blogging was like a full time job for her. She mainly wrote about her favorite band 5 Seconds Of Summer and even followed them as they went on tour. Mindy only knew two of their songs 'Don't Stop' and 'She Looks So Perfect'. Elena called her a 'fake fan'. But she was too busy taking care of her bitter younger sister to become a 'real' fan.
They had grown up with their Aunt Chelsey because their parents weren't around to take care of them everyday. Their Mom was an archaeologist and was always digging artifacts in some dangerous country. Their Dad was a news reporter and was busy chasing down the biggest story rather than taking care of his daughters. Then the week before Christmas, when Mom and Dad were heading home to visit the girls they got in a car crash and died. Then two weeks after the funeral, Aunt Chelsea went missing, leaving nothing behind for the police to trace. Mindy had to take two jobs to pay the rent for the apartment they had once lived in with their aunt. Luckily, Mindy was 19 by then, old enough to to take of herself and 17 year old Elena. Instead of the sisters drawing closer together, mourning their triple losses, they were further apart. They'd never been close, but now they were almost like strangers.
"Yay Mindy! You finally made it before 7:00 today," Stacia, Mindy's co-worker and best friend since preschool said as soon as Mindy walked into Burgerland's kitchen. Mindy groaned in response, too miserable to say anything.
"She's only 15 minutes late!" Marcus, Mindy's other co-worker exclaimed in surprise. "That's a record breaker! You're usually two hours late!"
"Can we just get to work please?" Mindy asked. "I'm not in the mood for jokes about my punctuality."
"Whoa. Someone's feeling crappy today." Marcus observed, raising an eyebrow.
"Don't push her buttons Marc," Stacia warned. "Remember what happened the last time Mindy was pushed to the brink?"
"Oh yeah! The Hot Oil incident!" Marcus laughed. "Oh man! Kay got burned so bad, she-"
"Can we not bring that up right now?" Mindy's voice was icy and sharp, like she could physically cut Marcus with it. His smile faded as he realized that she wasn't just in a bad mood because of a bad hair day or something, she was angry, absolutely furious but she was holding it all in. This went deeper than just a strand of auburn hair out of place.
To protect himself from any potential injuries, like a pan of scorching oil to the face, Marcus remained silent as he, Mindy and Stacia started preparing food for anxious and greedy customers.
"Finally! We are DONE!" Stacia exclaimed at the end of her, Marcus's and Mindy's shift. It had been 4 long hours in a hot kitchen cooking greasy food and Stacia had somehow sweated through her black tank top. Stacia always seemed to sweat a lot, even in the middle of winter.
The three friends took off their hairnets and then Stacia and Mindy went to the bathrooms to change their clothes. Stacia came out in a oversized flannel t-shirt over her tank top and skinny jeans and Mindy came out in the clothes appropriate for her next job. Marcus remained in his Burgerland uniform. He didn't care if the kids at his high school who lived on his block made fun of him for working at a fast-food restaurant. At least he was earning his own money.
The three of them made their way into the dark New York night. The chilly air blew around Stacia's black hair. She was contemplating dying the tips blonde. Maybe she'd bleach all of it blonde.
"Hey guys, how do you think I'd look as a blonde?" she asked suddenly. Marcus and Mindy looked at her.
"You'd look okay." Marcus shrugged.
"Just okay? Dude, I was looking for 'fantastic', 'hot', 'sexy', 'gorgeous', 'beautiful'. You know, even, 'pretty' would fit the bill."
"Sorry." Marcus apologized. "You'd be all of those, all rolled into one." Stacia smiled up at him.
"Yeah. Really." Marcus nodded. They stared at each other for a moment then Marcus looked away, blushing. The two would be a cute biracial couple. Stacia was biracial herself. Her mom was African American and her dad was from Spain. Her had a small nose, an oval face, skin the color of hot chocolate and her hair was long, black and curly. She had it straightened that day, for no good reason except that she had lost it in her room and came across it suddenly that day. Marcus had curly, frizzy, dark brown hair, an aquiline nose and olive skin. He was half Italian, half Russian, but all of him really liked Stacia. He never thought that a beautiful girl like her would ever fall for a Star Wars loving, unathletic, comic book hoarding, math obsessed guy like him. Could any girl like him?
Yeah. Mindy could. She'd just never admit aloud that she and her best friend had the same crush. It'd just cause drama and possibly heartbreak. She couldn't take anymore heartbreak. She'd lost her parents, her aunt, her sister -not that she'd ever had her in the first place- and she couldn't lose her best friend either.
The three of them continued walking in moderately comfortable silence. When they got to Stacia's apartment building a couple minutes later, they stopped.
"So, you guys wanna come in for a bit?" she asked. "There's this horror movie on tonight. We can watch it while eating junk food!"
"As fun as that sounds, I gotta get to work." Mindy told her.
"And it's nighttime. I should keep Mindy company, just in case you know?" Marcus said. Mindy looked up at him, surprised at his protective nature.
"No, it's okay Marcus. You don't have to do that." she told him, hoping that he would anyway. A small smile crept onto his face.
"Are you sure? 'Cause I love a good horror movie." he answered.
"Then come on!" Stacia grabbed his wrist and started dragging him to the apartment building. "Be careful Mindy!" she called over her shoulder. "No accepting candy from strangers!" Mindy watched them as her heart sank all the way down to her feet. She regretted saying that Marcus didn't have to stay with her, but it was supposed to have a reverse effect! She'd say 'No you don't have to,' but he'd come with her anyway. Isn't that the way it's always worked???
Mindy sighed and continued walking to her next job at the Cambridge Hotel where she worked as a cleaning lady. It was a crummy job, but at least it paid well. It was a 5 star hotel and multiple famous musicians had stayed there over the years. People like Dolly Parton, Taylor Swift, One Direction, Whitney Houston, The Backstreet Boys, plus so many others.
Four more musicians would join that proud line up.
Mindy finally got to the hotel after about 10 minutes of walking down the dark street dotted by glowing street lamps. She saw a bunch of screaming teen girls out front with their phones out, looking nervous, glancing around. Suddenly Mindy's own phone started buzzing. She took it out of her pocket and saw that it was a text from Elena. OMG! 5SOS IS COMING TO THE CAAMBRIDGE!!!!!!!! OMG!!!!!! Mindy frowned. 5 Seconds Of Summer was staying at the Cambridge? Well how did Elena find out about that? She texted her sister the question and made her way through the anxious teen girls to the front entrance of the large hotel. When she got in, the staff was buzzing about. One of the bell boys nearly knocked her over.
"Whoa! Eric slow down!" she cried, as the blonde caught his balance.
"Sorry." he apologized with a smile. "I'm in a hurry."
"Why?" she asked. "What's the rush?"
"5 Seconds Of Summer is staying here!" he exclaimed, grinning. He was a big 5SOS fan. And he happened to be Elena's boyfriend.
"And how do you know that?" she asked.
"Well the manager told me...and then I may or may not have called Elena, who may or may not have Tweeted it to her over 2 million followers." he replied slowly.
"Great. So, now what? This place is going to be swarmed by fangirls?"
"Probably." Eric answered matter-of-factly, then continued to go to wherever he was headed to in the first place. Mindy reported to the manager's office where she got the list of the rooms that needed cleaning, then she was off down the hallway in search of the staff room so she could drop off her backpack then start cleaning. But instead of ending up
in the staff room, she ended up slamming right into the solid mass of a human body.
"Oh, I'm sorry." she apologized.
"No worries. Are you okay?" the person she bumped into asked. His deep Australian accent made her tilt her head up to see what he looked like, distracting her from answering his question. A tall, cute guy with wavy brown hair and a slightly concerned look in his eyes was staring down at her. He looked vaguely familiar. Where had she seen him before?