Most Eligible Baby Daddy(8)

By: Chance Carter

“Well, I truly appreciate you giving me a place to stay for a while.”

“Stay as long as you like, sweet heart. The pleasure’s all mine.”

Elle smiled.

Dennis remembered something and laughed. “I suppose you’ll want the furnace turned on,” he said. “There’s not much heat in this place without it. Certainly no hot water.”

“That would be really great, sir.”

“Please, call me Dennis.”

Chapter 5


WHEN ELLE ARRIVED AT THE diner, Kelly was already waiting for her with a hot cup of coffee. There was only one customer there, an old man in overalls, and he was eating his breakfast at the counter.

“How did you sleep?” Kelly asked.

“I love that place, Kelly. It’s so cozy. It’s perfect. I even met Dennis this morning. He’s going to turn on the furnace so there’s hot water.”

“Oh my God, I totally forgot about that.”

“That’s okay. I managed.”

“Well, I suppose the first order of business is to introduce you to the cook. She also happens to be the boss.”

Elle followed Kelly behind the counter to the kitchen, where a rotund woman with rosy red cheeks and a kind face was frying bacon over the grill.

“Gracie, this is Elle, the newest addition to the family. Elle, this is Grace, the mother of the family.”

Elle found herself giving a little bow. “Thank you so much for the opportunity,” she said.

“I’m the one who’s thanking you, Elle,” Grace said. “If this works out, you’ll be really saving our necks. I don’t know how much longer Kelly and I could handle this place on our own.”

“I won’t let you down,” Elle said.

“I’m sure you won’t, child.”

And true to her word, Elle didn’t let Gracie or Kelly down for an instant. She took to the job with the ease and confidence of a seasoned pro. She poured coffee, took orders, ran food, bussed tables, and chatted up the customers like no one Gracie and Kelly had ever seen. Even when Stumpy, the town drunk came in, Elle managed to put him at ease, got him to eat, which he rarely did anymore, and he even left her a tip.

“I can’t believe he took to you so soon,” Grace said from the grill. “He usually hates new people.”

“What’s to hate?” Elle said with a smile.

Then she went back to the counter and refilled the coffee mugs of the row of mechanics, lumberjacks, laborers, and forestry workers who were devouring their food.

“She’s going to work out just fine,” Grace said to Kelly, and Elle smiled quietly to herself when she heard it.

There was something about the place, about the whole town, that was bringing out the best in her. She’d worked her share of diners, but nowhere before had the customers seemed to welcome her so open-heartedly, or had the boss been so willing to see the strengths she brought to the job. At heart, Elle was a people person. She could take a look at a mother coming in with a bunch of kids, or a laborer coming in after a hard day’s work, and know instantly what they needed. Not food necessarily, she didn’t know what they’d order, but she knew what they needed. Everyone who came into a restaurant needed something, and Elle knew it wasn’t only about having something to eat. People needed the company, the interaction, someone to give them a smile and bring a little cheer into their day.

“You going to stop pouring sugar into that cup before it gives you diabetes?” she said to a gruff looking park official who worked on the mountain.

He looked up at her in surprise but she was already gone, grabbing a basket of toast for another guy at the counter.

More than one customer asked Grace about the new girl, and they all had an approving tone in their voice when they did it.

“It seems you’re going to work out,” Kelly said, when the two girls had a brief moment’s rest between customers.

“Do you think?”

“I know it.” Kelly turned toward the grill. “Right, Gracie? She’s going to work out?”

“If she keeps working like this, and doesn’t bring any drama into the place.”

Elle shook her head. “No drama, Grace, I swear it.”