Ten-fourteen. Kimber prepared a hazelnut frappé. Her hands moved from rote memory. She’d made the same drink every day at that time for the last three years. Without fail.
The bell above the door tinkled, signaling the arrival of a new customer. Quarter after ten, on the nose. She looked down, letting her hair fall forward to curtain her face, and glanced at the patron entering the coffee shop. Skye Summerhill, right on time.
For the most part, Kimber enjoyed working as a barista at Perk Up. Her coworkers were funny and the customers—most of the customers—were friendly. Good tippers, too. They made it possible for her to take night courses toward her degree. So what if everyone else her age had already attended and graduated college, already been working for ten years? Most had gotten married and started a family. Kimber might be behind them, but she’d get there eventually. For the time being, her life was good. Comfortable. Happy.
Except for every day at quarter after ten.
Skye’s high-pitched voice grated on Kimber’s nerves, but she plastered on a fake smile—okay, truth be told, it was probably a grimace—and approached the counter, frappé in hand. “The usual, Skye?”
“What? No pleasantries?” She glanced at the tip jar. “There would probably be more in there if you were friendly.”
Kimber dropped the pretense and glared at her. “We aren’t friends, Skye. Never were.”
“Now, that’s not true. We used to be best friends.”
“Best friends don’t steal boyfriends.”
“Are you still not over that? It’s been a decade.”
It had been eleven years, three months, actually, not that Kimber would admit to counting. Besides, her sorrow at losing her high school boyfriend evaporated years ago. It was the bitterness at her friend’s betrayal that she’d never gotten over. “I’m over Tommy, if that’s what you’re asking.”
“Then what’s your problem?”
“I don’t have a problem.”
“Could have fooled me. You’re always so mean to me when I come in here.”
“Then stop coming in.”
Skye recoiled like she’d been slapped.
Kimber wished she’d had the pleasure of actually slapping her. “What can I get you, Skye? I’ve got work to do.”
“There’s no one in line but me.”
“I do more than wait on customers. So order, or leave. I’m busy.”
“Give me one large mocha cappuccino with a shot of espresso and two extra pumps of chocolate syrup.”
That was Tommy’s preferred beverage. Far too sweet for any normal human. God, she hated it when Tommy joined Skye for coffee. They’d sit right across from the counter and flaunt their relationship, holding hands and stealing kisses.
And Kimber thought Tommy’s cappuccino was nauseating.
“Is that all, or do you want a frappé, too?”
“No, something different today.”
Figured. Skye had probably seen the drink already prepared and decided to make things difficult.
Skye lifted her left hand to her chin and tapped her pursed lips, like she was deep in thought.
Kimber recognized the gesture for what it was—a punch to the virtual gut. She had a wedding band on. Her stomach churned.
Skye pointed to the display of teas in a wildly unnatural way, clearly trying to show off her ring, and smiled a saccharine smile. “I’ll have the lemon ginger herbal. Ginger is supposed to be good for morning sickness.”
Kimber made the drinks in silence and passed them over the counter. “They’re on me, today.” No way was she sticking around while Skye paid the bill. She managed to mumble one last word, insincere though it was. “Congratulations.”
“Why, thank you, Kimber. What a kind gesture. Finally, we’re able to move past—”
Skye continued talking, but Kimber turned her back ran to the restroom. She wasn’t the one with morning sickness, but she doubted she’d be able to hold down her breakfast.
This post inspired by the WordPress daily prompt: Tea.