I am so over this cold. I blow my nose into a napkin before tossing it in the trash can and getting out my little bottle of sanitizer from my apron pocket. I have the absolute worst luck. Seriously, it is a holiday weekend which means more customers and better tips and I am sick.
I sigh trying to clear the pressure I feel in my face. This would not be so bad if I wasn’t pulling 4 doubles in a row this weekend. I really need the money, or I would have never picked up this many shifts at once. I live on my own which is not so bad being 20 years old, but I have been on my own since right after my 16th birthday. A perfect storm of unfortunate occurrences resulted in my parents kicking me out. Have not seen or talked to them since.
Not that I can blame them entirely; my circumstances were a huge disappointment. But being on my own for about 4 years now does not make it any easier to get by. Currently, I work in a pretty popular diner. Being in the city, a lot of the fancy restaurants draw plenty of business, but this diner has been a well-loved establishment for years now. And the atmosphere is what keeps bringing people back.
I shove my sanitizer back in my apron pocket, fish out my order book and slap a smile on my face. Even though I am sure my nose is red from all the blowing I am doing, I know a mopey waitress will not make as many tips as a perky one. I exit the kitchen and make my way to my newly seated table. I can see they are all business types in clothes way too nice for a diner like this. Their business casual looked like it would take me a year’s salary at just this job to pay for.
“Hello! My name is Remi, and I will be your server today. Can I start you guys off with something to drink?” I said sweetly as I approached the table. There were three men and one woman seated around the table. One man had bright blonde hair and bright blue eyes. He flashed me a megawatt smile.
“Well, hey there Remi. That is a cool name. I would love a coffee if you wouldn’t mind,” he said. He had very bubbly energy.
“Absolutely! Just made a fresh pot too! Anyone else for coffee?” I said looking around to the others. I realized that the other two men at the table looked almost identical. One was giving me a curious look while the other had his features set in an irritable scowl, eyes averted from me. They both had dark, thick hair. The one giving me the curious look looked like he had not done a thing to the bouncy waves on his head. The sides were trimmed short while the top flopped around in a sexy way. The scowling one had his styled although similarly cut.
“Yes, we will both have coffee,” said the woman indicating the scowling man next to her. “Calder?” she said towards the one looking at me. It seemed to break his trance.
“Oh, right. Um, just water I guess,” he said. His eyes did not leave me.
“Alright then, three coffees and a water. I will leave you guys with those menus for a bit longer before I grab your orders. Anything else I can get you?” I said looking around. The atmosphere was a little tense despite my efforts to be cheery. And the way the one guy was looking at me was throwing me a little off.
“Nope. Thanks, Remi!” said the blonde-haired guy. I nodded to him and turned to leave.
I made my way back to the kitchen once more, catching Jessie in the back. “Your table looks a little stuffy but probably going to get a decent tip,” she said. “How’s that cold holding up?”
“Miserable,” I said, grabbing another napkin to blow my nose. By the time we leave here tonight my nose would be raw. “I don’t know. The one keeps looking at me weird. My other tables are all families so at least they are being nice,” I said with a shallow laugh. I was usually fairly good with people. I had barely ever had a customer that I could not calm down. Sometimes, the other servers even grabbed me to swoop in with their angry customers.
“Lucky. I have got a nasty mother-in-law hates the daughter-in-law situation going on at one of mine. Then the bratty little kids at my other table keeping spilling drinks,” she said. I just noticed the front of her was damp with what looked like soda.
“That stinks. Need a rescue?” I asked.
“No, it’s okay. You’re the sick one with 4 back-to-back doubles. I can hang for now,” she said. “Sure, you don’t want me to run to the drug store and grab you some more meds? You look like you are gonna faint…” she said. I knew she was just worried. Jessie was my best friend at work. We weren’t super close outside of the diner, but it was nice having someone to talk to at work.
“No, I already took some a couple hours ago. It’ll be a while until I can take something else,” I said, appreciating her offer.
“Alright, if you change your mind, I am off in an hour after this lunch rush dies down,” she said grabbing her plates and heading for the door.
I sighed again rubbing my temples. It was only Friday. Tuesday would be my only day off next week after the holiday weekend. I loaded up the coffee kraft, mugs and a glass of water onto a tray and grabbed the desert for one of my other tables. I delivered the desert before bringing the drinks over to the four. The blonde hair guy smiled brightly again.
“Thank you,” he said as I set down their drinks and filled the mugs with coffee. “I am Gentry by the way. This is Calder, that is Jaime, and that sullen looking brood is Cullen,” he introduced everyone.
“Well, it is great to meet all of you. Are you guys ready to order or would you like a few more minutes?” I asked. Random to be given all their names.
“I think we are all ready! I would absolutely love a burger with all the fixings and some fries,” said Gentry. I am pretty sure the smile had not left his face. I took everyone else’s order. Again, the girl, Jaime, ordered for the brooding one, Cullen. I went back to the kitchen to put in their order.
Another table was seated in my section, so I busied myself with getting their drink order and taking care of my other tables. Before the group’s food was up in the window, I decided to slide into the restroom really quick. I mostly blew my nose yet again and quickly splashed some cool water on my face. I was starting to feel warm and was worried I might be getting a fever now. I dried my face with a paper towel before exiting the bathroom.
When I walked out into the small hallway that held both our bathrooms, I walked right into a hard male body. I stepped back, rubbing my already sore nose. “I am so sorry…” I started as I looked up into a very angry pair of grey eyes. It was Cullen from the table. His jaw was set in a scowl and his eyes were hard. He took a step towards me and I stepped back only to find myself flush with the wall.
“I really didn’t m-mean to…” I said quietly. He was almost a foot taller than me as I looked up into his daunting face. He took another step closer to me, leaving less than a foot of space between us. His arms came up to the wall, caging me in between them. I could feel his body heat emanating from him, surrounding me. If my nose weren’t so congested, I am sure he would smell amazing too. I could not tell what he was even thinking with the expression on his face.
“I-I can get you a different s-server....” I was at a loss as to what to do here. A sneeze escaped my lips. Luckily, I turned my head so I didn’t spray him with it. I quickly reached into my apron grabbing a spare napkin to dab my nose. His eyes flashed with curiosity for a moment before returning to the hard gaze he was giving me.
“What are you?” he said in a whisper.
“Excuse me?” I said. What did he mean, ‘what are you’? I am a waitress in a diner with a cold; was that not pretty obvious.
Before I knew what was happening, he was gone, and I was standing in the hall alone. I took a second to collect myself. What had even just happened? Jessie peaked her head around the corner.
“Oh, there you are, food for the business guys is up. Need help?” she asked, giving me a weird look.
“No, I am okay. Coming,” I said pushing myself away from the wall. Let me just feed these people and get them out of here.
When I brought their food over, Cullen continued to look at anything except me. Calder on the other hand, kept giving me these really weirdly thoughtful looks. I noticed then that he and Cullen looked exactly alike except their hair and eyes. Calder’s eyes were purple and soft compared to Cullen’s cold grey ones. How strange to have purple eyes.
Luckily, they ate quickly. I brought the check over to them and wished them a great day before disappearing into the kitchen. After another round of nose blowing, I sanitize my hands, grabbed my next table's food, and exited the kitchen. Ally was coming on shift so she was going to take over here soon so I could grab a break. All I wanted to do was go sit outside in the cool air and close my eyes for a second. I came back to the table to grab the check, but they were gone. Opening the check folder I found $250 cash on a $52 check. This had to be a mistake. I ran out the front door, and looked all around, but the group was nowhere to be found.
I went back to the kitchen where Jessie and Ally were talking as they placed drinks on trays. “What is with you?” Jessie said.
“I just got a $200 tip from that group. The business ones,” I said still confused.
“No way!” she exclaimed.
“Wow wish I would have gotten here earlier,” Ally said.
“Can you take over my section now? I really need a few?” I asked her.
She gave me a smile. “Yea, no problem. You look a little pale. Eat something, okay?” Ally said.
“Thanks,” I said. I stuffed the tip in my pants pocket and went to the back room to grab my bag. I had brought my thermos with chicken soup in it. I grabbed it and went outside. We kept a little table outside in the alleyway with a couple chairs so we could escape the building when weather permitted. Some of the cooks and other servers smoked out here but I just like to get out of the nosy building.
I sat down at the table, leaning my back against the cool brick building. I folded my legs up, so I was sitting crisscross atop the chair. I rubbed my neck with my hands as I tried to relax a little bit. I could feel the fever coming on. My face was hot and the rest of me was starting to get cold. I sighed heavily, wishing for just a little relief to this congestion.
For some reason, I felt really weird about the large tip. Last year at Christmas time, I had received a large tip from someone but my manager told me the customer did it every year so she tried to give him a new server every time and I split it with the other girls on shift with me. I had not really gone the extra mile or anything. Honestly, I should have checked on them more than I did.
A weird feeling washed over me like someone was watching me. I opened my eyes only to be looking straight into a pair of purple ones. I jumped, my body colliding with the brick wall behind me.
“Ow…” I said rubbing the back of my head.
His eyes went wide. “Oh! I didn’t mean to scare you!” his velvety voice cooed.
“It’s okay. So, uh, can I help you?” I said trying not to sound rude even though he was the one staring at me.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. Standing up completely. Now that he wasn’t seated in a booth, I could see his handsome blue dress shirt was paired with slate grey trousers. Even under his clothes, I could tell he was in shape, really good shape.
“What does that mean?” I said giving him a questioning look.
He gave me a smirk. “Nothing, Remi,” he said, reaching out and running a finger along my name tag. I covered my mouth, sneezing once again. I slipped my hand in my pocket to fish out another napkin.
“Are you ill?” he asked, concern now clouding his features.
“Ha. A little. Nothing too bad,” I said wiping my nose.
“You shouldn’t be working then,” he said.
“Tell that to my landlord. Oh wait!” I said reaching into my pocket. I stood up and he stepped back from me. I pulled out the $200 tip they had left me. “I can’t take this. It's 400%!” I said trying to hand him back the money.
He held up his hands. “Oh no, I didn’t pay for lunch,” he said.
“But one of your friends did. Please, it is too much,” I said trying to give it back. He tucked his hands in his pocket. He turned to leave, looking at me over his shoulder without saying anything. I watched him strut down the alley and around the corner. My phone beeped telling me break time was over. I sighed. What was my day turning out to be?