nusual again.

Star City Books & Café was a sprawling enterprise, inhabiting nearly a full block in Seattles Queen Anne neighborhood. It stood two stories high, with the café portion dominating a second-floor intersection glimpsing the Space Needle.

An optimistic green awning hung over the central door, safeguarding those clients waiting for the shop to open. I sauntered around them and entered through a side door, using my staff key.

Wilson propelled me before Id taken two strides inside. ”Its about time. We… ” He halted and performed a double-take, reexamining me. ”Wow. You look…really charming today. Did you do something different? ”

Just a thirty-four-year-old virgin, I imagined.

”You
e only visualizing things because you
e so glad Im here to rectify your staffing dilemma. What am I doing? Stock? ”

”I, er, no. ” Wilson strived to snap out of his mist, still glancing me up and down in a manner I found disconcerting. His interest in dating me was no personal, nor was my persistent refusal. ”Come on, Ill show you. ”

”I told you— ”

”Its not the major registers, ” he promised me.

What ”it ” came out to be was the espresso counter in our upstairs café. Bookstore staff barely ever subbed up here, but it wasn unheard of.

Bruce, the café manager, banged up from where hed been crouching behind the counter. I always guessed Wilson and Bruce could be twins in a mixed-race, alternate-reality kind of way.

Both had lengthy, scraggly ponytails, and both wore a good deal of flannel in compliment to the grunge age neither had completely recovered from.

They differed primarily in their complexion. Wilson was Japanese-American, black-haired with flawless membrane; Bruce was Mr. Aryan Nation, all lustrous hair and blue eyes.

”Hey Wilson, Katharina, ” professed Bruce. His sights broadened at me. ”Whoa, you look incredible today. ”

”Wilson! This is just as terrible. I confided you I didn need any customers. ”

”You notified me not the basic records. You didn let out anything about this one. ”

I unlocked my mug to revolt, but Bruce hesitated. ”Come on, Katharina, I had Matt call in sick today, and Gwen certainly quit. ” Discerning my stony mood, he promptly put in, ”Our registers are nearly similar to yours. Itll be easy. ”

”Besides ”—Wilson lifted his mouthpiece to a satisfactory fabrication of our supervisors— ”assistant supervisors are reckoned to be eligible to fill in for anybody around here. ”

”Yeah, but the café— ”

”—is still part of the store. Look, Ive got to go open. Brucell show you what you desire to understand. Don bother, itll be fine. ” He rapidly flickered off before I could decline again.

”Coward! ” I wailed after him.

”It surely won be that awful, ” Bruce repeated, not comprehending my anguish. ”You simply take the money, and Ill make the espresso. Lets practice on you. You need a white chocolate mocha? ”

”Yeah, ” I agreed. Everyone I labored with learned about that particular guilt. I usually managed to knock down three of them a day. Mochas that was, not colleagues.

Bruce walked me through the essential strides, illustrating how to mark up the cups and locate what I desired to shove on the directorys touch-screen interface. He was exact. It wasn so terrible.

”You
e a realistic, ” he ensured me later, handing over my mocha.

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