I wake up and look at my alarm clock which reads 3:30pm. Stretching to loosen all the muscles that have stiffened during my nap, I put my feet on the small plushy cream colored carpet and slip on my green slippers. I make my way to the kitchen and turn on the coffee pot: I always set it up before I go off to work. It’s a habit I got from my mother who used to work nights at the local hospital.The smell is ambrosia to my brain, as if I could absorb it into my blood just by smelling it. Tonight was supposed to be my night off, thanks to the ditsy twins I will probably work every night until we find replacements. Good thing I don’t really have much of a social life.
I turn on the news and start making some eggs for breakfast when my attention is drawn to the newscaster on T.V.
“This just in: There have been two bodies found by the river sometime after 3 am last night. Families have been notified and the bodies identified. One Candace Williams, age 25, known to her friends as Candy, and the second victim is Amber Varilly, age 23. Both young women worked at at Midnight Café here in town: A known vampire owned business. Autopsies will be performed, but this is definitely not a vampire attack since the bodies were still full of blood. The city wants to know what happened to these two girls. Back to you in the studio Jim.”
I drop the skillet and it slams on the floor eggs going everywhere. all over the floor and fear grips my heart. They’re dead? How? I can’t believe this.It struck me odd that the bodies were found right around the time I closed the Cafe. Archer was there last night and he did leave early enough to dump the bodies. That wouldn’t have left me much time to kill them.
I am reaching for my phone to call Roscoe and Tony when it rings. I hear Roscoe’s deep tone when I answer, ,“Peaches, do not turn on the news yet we are on our way to your place.” I sigh, I should’ve known they were.
“Too late Roscoe,” I tell him sadly, and sounding stricken. “I just saw the news. I will make more eggs, coffee is already brewing.” I would have to make a few more pots: I really need a bigger pot, I muse.
“Open the door Peaches,” I hear over the phone and through the door, causing me to giggle slightly. I should have known they’d turn up unannounced with such news. I hang up and throw open my door to see both of my dearest friends who are more like brothers.
“Come in, I can’t believe they’re gone! It’s going to be so bad since they mentioned the café. Did either of you see them leave with anyone? The last time I saw them I was counting the money to put in the office just the night before. So I didn’t see them leave with anyone if they had.” Neither Tony or Roscoe saw them leave that night since we’d had to close the kitchen down early due to a gas leak I had discovered that had discovered.The fridge had broken down too. It was fiasco I had to get the repair guys to fix it and replace all the perishable food, So I had them go home early.
“So none of us saw them?” Tony asked, then thought for a minute. “Actually they were hanging with the Archer heads, but I didn’t see them leave with them. I thought they were just being friendly to get more tips, you know how they were.” Sadly we all did.
“Do not speak ill of the dead, no matter how true it is,” I sigh going back to my now mess kitchen floor.
Roscoe smiles, “Here Willow, you go sit, I’ll make us breakfast. I even grabbed some groceries. I know how often you forget to go to the store. Girl, you really need to eat more . How small you are just isn’t right.” Rolling my eyes and go sit on my couch, I can’t help but wonder how Dustin is going to feel about all this. I know for a fact that all his businesses are warded against violence, so it hardly ever happens at any of his businesses, but they don’t protect us out of work. We are solely responsible for what we do outside of work. In the seven years that the Café has been open there has never been an issue. So why now? I wonder if this is going on anywhere else, or just our Café? Or is it maybe all of Dustin’s businesses.
“Hey, Princess Peach, your breakfast is done!” Tony is standing in my living room motioning for me to follow him.
How dare he go there! Two can so play that game. “ Coming Luigi! Hey Mario! Our dark knight, Luigi is calling.” Tony just busted out laughing and walked with me to the kitchen.
“You two are too much, you know that right?” Roscoe and I shrug, neither of us phased by the other. Ever since we met when the Café first opened we have always joked around.
“How did you ever get your nicknames? I don’t think you ever told me?” Tony asked. He’s been around us enough when we were joking around, I’m just surprised it took him this long to ask.
I smile and take a bite of my eggs. “Well, believe it or not. it had nothing to do with the Mario games. It was a sunny day and we had just gotten some fresh peaches in. I made a comment about how much I love peaches and a customer heard me and said she loves peaches with fresh whipped cream. We laughed about it until a very racist threw his two cents into our conversation.
Well, he didn’t know Roscoe for obvious reasons. Well, the rude customer grabbed my ass and squeezed and said some inappropriate things. Roscoe heard and left the kitchen, still wearing his batman apron. The jerk who grabbed my ass, being who he was, went after Roscoe verbally. Needless to say, Roscoe came to the rescue and the lady at the counter called him my Dark Knight. I remember looking at her for a minute: She laughed and pointed at the bat symbol he was wearing. So he would call me Peaches when I was having a bad shift to make my smile.and I would reply by calling him my Dark Knight. Until you joined our fun and crazy crew, that is, Tony. Then you became Mario, and when you two started dating became Luigi because soon after that he slipped and called me Princess Peach.” We all laughed together and it felt good to relax after the news I heard, and before going to work.
I notice the boys have their uniforms with them: Apparently, they planned on staying all day. Which I didn’t care about since we always have fun together anyway. It’s 7:00 when we turn the news on again.
“This just in: Four more bodies have been found. Two males and two more females! Each killed the same way as the previous two. Their names have not been released, pending notification of next of kin, we do know they are employees of Vampire associated businesses. Two carried name tags from the Local bookstore, Main Vein. The other two worked at a downtown hotel. The question on everyone’s mind is ‘Who is doing this?’ and “Could it be the Fellowship Of the Sun?’
The Fellowship Of the Sun, as you may remember, was disbanded and tagged as a terrorist cell four years ago.
Enquiring minds want to know: What does this mean for our fair city since most of the businesses are Vampire owned or are Vampire friendly. Back to you John.”
I look at my best friends and can’t believe my ears. The Fellowship has been out of play for four years like the broadcaster said, or so we thought. “Shit! Willow, what is going on? Boss man is not going to like this.We should call him so he doesn’t get blindsided.”
I shake my head, “It’s 7 pm Roscoe, he’s already up, and I am pretty sure he has seen the news. I don’t doubt that every vampire in the city has heard the news.”
We clean up after dinner and take turns showering and getting ready for work when there is a knock on my door. We all share a look as I walk to the door. Who’s at my door? Everyone I know is already here.
I open the door to see a very worried Dustin in his black trenchcoat. “Dustin! Are you alright?” When he doesn’t come right in I realize he can’t. How stupid am I. “Dustin, I invite you into my home.” He nods, relieved, and walks across the threshold.
“Are you alright? Have you heard? And you should have checked before answer that door.What if I was a human killer.” He asks as his eyes land on Roscoe and Tony who agreed with him.
Yes, we heard about Candy and Amber earlier, and the four others just now. What’s going on Dustin? and no one knows where I live but the three of you.And besides, I have my dark knight over.Besides we were just heading to work anyway. ”
He looks at me like I had seven heads. “Even after all the deaths on the news? Why?”
I look him in the eyes so he would understand that I mean everything I’m about to say. “I came to work for you after the revelation when the Fellowship threatened to burn down your building. I showed up for work to help you clean up the glass that was smashed and the Café destroyed, so yes, I was planning on going to work tonight. You are one of my friends, you are my boss, but also a friend. And I may not know all the rules and protocol of your world, but in mine, that means we stick together.And we stick together. There is more power in a united front. If we close down for even one night they win. Whoever they are? I maybe just a human, but I am your friend. I could walk out my door right now and cross the street and die from being hit by a car. You hear about how one food product is being recalled, like chicken, but that doesn’t stop everyone from buying it still. And seeing as Roscoe and Tony are both dressed for work, I think it’s safe to say we are with you, boss.” I look to my other friends and they nod their agreement.
Dustin just looks at us for a minute, before closing the distance between him and I.Placing his hands on my shoulder he gazes into my eyes as he lays a kiss on my forehead. I smile.It is the first time he has shown any real affection for me. And I feel a shiver down my spine I would have to think about that later along with why my Lady parts seem to be in a knot.
“What do you say, boss ? Shall we go feed the masses?” He smiles a little apprehensively, “I say let’s go open a café.”
He sighs, “Okay, whose car are we taking then?”
Roscoe raises his hand, causing me to quirk an eyebrow at him. What? Are we still in school?. “We should go in two cars in case one gets vandalized.” So it was agreed and we were quickly on our way to The Midnight Café. Just before we entered, Dustin tugged on my wrist gently enough to just get my attention. “Thank you Willow, for being a friend.”
I smile as he kisses my hand, “No problem Boss. Now, let’s go before we’re late. I hear the boss is a stickler for punctuality.” He chuckles and it sends pleasant chills down my spine.