Monster:Angels of Chaos MC(3)

By: Zoey Parker

“You keep track of all those soap operas you watch,” Mr. Hauser pointed out with a chuckle. “All the characters and the storylines.” I laughed along with him.

“That’s different. I’ve been watching them for years—she’s only been here six months!” They both looked at me, the picture of a cute little old couple if ever there was one.

I shrugged. “I have a good memory, I guess. It comes naturally. Plus, I like you. It helps.” I winked at Mr. Hauser, and he chuckled again.

“If I were thirty years younger…” he hinted.

Mrs. Hauser gave him a playful smack on the shoulder. “Try fifty years,” she corrected. “Besides, a pretty young thing like Christina wouldn’t have the time for you.”

Mr. Hauser rubbed his shoulder in mock pain. “See how she abuses me?” They both laughed, and I joined them half-heartedly.

“If you were young and single, Mr. Hauser, I’d give you my number for sure.” I handed them their pastries, thinking they would drop the subject now that they’d been served.

“A pretty girl like you should be married, or at least going with somebody,” Mrs. Hauser insisted.

I bit the side of my tongue to hide my distaste. One thing about living and working in a small town where you knew everybody: everybody knew you right back. At least they thought they did.

“You’re such a sweet girl, too. Don’t worry,” she patted my hand reassuringly, “the right fella is out there for you.”

“Chris, another gallon of whole milk!” Amy was working the espresso machine, steaming milk for lattes. I smiled at the Hausers and turned to help her.

“Thanks,” I whispered. “That was getting awkward.”

“Mrs. Hauser’s always trying to fix people up,” Amy explained. “She’s a sweetheart.”

I didn’t disagree. I just wished she’d let my business be my business. There wasn’t much about me I didn’t share with others, except my love life. That was off-limits.

Awkward conversations aside, I loved the work. I felt energized, accomplished, all because my customers were pleased. Once the rush died down, I went from table to table, saying hi to those I hadn’t gotten the chance to chat with, while Amy manned the register and coffee machines. All the while I reminded myself that I was making my mark on the town, which was a fantastic feeling.

It was a great little shop, too. I’d only bought it a little over six months before, when the previous owner had to pull up stakes and move across the country to care for a sick parent. Everything was in working order. All I had to do was step in and take over. The best part was, since the move was taking place in such a hurry and he didn’t want to leave the shop abandoned, I managed to get it for next to nothing.

I wiped down the tables that had just emptied, feeling proud of what we were building here. Sure, the customer base was already healthy when I took over, but now there was a feeling of family. I heard it time and again, how happy the customers were when they came in and I knew who they were. That’s what I wanted to set me apart—well, that and my baking.

“Christina, this is the best carrot cake muffin I’ve ever had,” I heard one woman say over a mouth full of food. I smiled and reminded her that I could always box up a couple for her to take home. My recipes were my babies, and I guarded them with my life. I’d always wanted to go to culinary school. Well, this was the next best thing. Besides, what was the point of culinary school but to have my own bakery one day? I’d pretty much cut out the middle man.

Good thing, since I didn’t have the money for tuition anyway.

A loud growl sounded outside, and every head turned toward the plate glass windows that looked out onto the street. It was a pretty little street, very all-American, with its shops, striped awnings and leafy trees. The sight of two dozen motorcycles traveling down the center seemed extremely out of place. Their engines roared as they passed by.

“Damn it,” I heard one of the customers grumble. “I thought they were gone for good.”

Amy came up beside me. “They’re back,” she murmured.

“Who are they?” I had never seen them before. They all rode black bikes, all dressed in denim and leather. They were a fearsome-looking bunch.

“The Angels of Chaos,” she said. I heard disgust in her voice.

“Why haven’t I heard of them before? Where did they come from?”

“Most of them were in jail, some big thing around a year ago. Destruction of property, suspected arson. They were all on probation for one reason or another, so they all got time for violation,” she explained quietly. “I never heard the specifics, but suffice it to say nobody was sorry to see them go. I guess they got out. Their clubhouse is right on the outskirts of town. They’re not allowed to do business inside.” A couple walked in just then, and Amy went back to the register to take their order.

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