Chapter 2

The café was in full swing. The waitresses hopped from customer to customer, distributing coffee and baked good. It didn’t help  that the red button up top and short black skirt left nothing to the imagination, as the customers hugged each of the girls tightly. Rosalie was happy she didn’t have to deal with the customers. She saw some of the younger men doing what they could to see under their skirts. Both waitresses had blond hair and picture perfect faces, but one wore more makeup than the other. Their body type were both model skinny.

The building was all brick with ‘Mama Chika Cafe' In big black letters. The brick work was a mix of red, rustic red and cream. The window frames were black above the café. They had an old look to them. On the base the large windows were still outlined in black,  but the windows were  much bigger. Large black flower boxes hung under them with pansies and marigolds of multiple colors. There were two large four person tables and a two person table on either side of the door in a small fenced area.  They where black metal glass tables with red umbrellas. The chairs where cushioned red patio chairs. The tables could be moved together to make bigger if needed. The fence was black and outlined with the same black flower baskets with more marigolds and pansies. Every other box had morning glory ivy in them that healthily flowed to the ground.

“Well, this is your stop,” The cab driver said. Rosalie nodded as she took a deep breath. She carefully looked for her wallet in her bag before she pulled out the cash for the trip. The women smiled happily as she left the cab to remove her bags. Placing her shaky hands on the cool metal handle,  she slowly opened the door. The smell of coffee wafted up to her, she could really use one to ease the tension.

“Rosalie,” A voice called out to her. Rosalie's head whipped around to find the owner of the voice before her eyes fell on a plump older women. She came waddling over to her and embraced the young girl. Rosalie stood frozen unsure what to do. “Oh dear me, look at you girl. Such a beauty. Your grandma sure could talk about you,  but to see you in person is just so much better. She sure left out how skinny you are, however. No matter, Mama Chika will make sure them curves are plumped.”

“Oh dear, where are my manners?” The women said as she took a small step back. She wasn’t very tall, only came up to Rosalie's shoulder. Her graying hair was cut short. Her face held no wrinkles and was beautifully tanned. If not for the graying hair you would think this women was no older then 40. She held out her very warn hand to which Rosalie filled. Her nails were well shaped and  clean. Rosalie caught her beautiful Blue eyes as she spoke. “I’m Chealse Mika Harrison. Most people around here know me as Mama Chika. Your grandmother was my best friend. She asked me to give you a job as a Baker here if you were ever to return.”

“It’s nice to meet you,” Rosalie smiled happily knowing she would get along well with this women. She already reminded her so much of her Grandma.

“Now you have come at the best time ever. When I saw your resume I was so thrilled. My Baker is on maternity leave,  which doesn’t help due to the fact we were in need of a second baker anyways,” Mama Chika spoke as she led her towards the café. Her black dress pants with a beautiful green long sleeve blouse didn’t do much to hide her roundness. “Brent, go grab Rosalie‘s luggage and bring it to my office.”

“Yes Ma’am.” A very young boy said. He looked no older then 14 with slicked back red hair. He had black pants on with a white t-shirt and a water proof red apron. Rosalie knew he had to be a dishwasher or something.

“My grandson. Hardest worker you will ever see.” Mama Chika smiled happily as she watched the young boy run past her. He gave Rosalie a picture perfect smile, which made her smile back. “Careful, he is a flirt.”

“Oh,”  Rosalie was shocked. She didn’t even realize she was smiling after him.

“Don’t you worry your cute bottom, you’re here with Mama Chika. She will look after you like my own children. Now let’s get you to the back and set up for tomorrow.” Mama Chika laughed gently to herself. Her belly jiggled  like Santa’s belly giggled in the movies.

The Café was packed as the two waitresses who were so light on their feet, moved around them and the customers. There was 8 booths, 9 small tables and a small bar seating along the far wall. The tables were black and the out line of the booths as well. The cushions and chairs were red. The one side of the room was packed with coffee machines with displays that were empty, but should be filled with baked goods. Rosalie jumped a little when a growl of frustration broke out of Mama Chika.

“Rachel, where are those baked good I asked you to display?” Mama Chika called.

“Table 7 and 8 needed new coffee,” One of the blondes  called. Mama Chika shook her head, as she began to v-line it to the back. Rosalie followed close not really sure what else to do. She didn’t want to stand on the floor alone. As they entered the doubled swinging doors, the smell of fries and fresh toasted bread hit them. The cooks all tipped their heads to them as they passed. Rosalie shuttered as she got closer to Mama Chika who’s mind was solemnly on the baked goods. Through another single swinging door was the baking space. It was set up much like a regular kitchen with tons of counter space and shelving units for everything. There was 4 large ovens built into one wall and four on another. Two proofers sat underneath them. The counters were marble and filled with baking mixers and bowls. There were measuring cups all over the large island with flour this way and that. The space was a mess. There was everything everywhere. Smack in the middle of the counters on the one wall was a sink and it was pulled with wooden spoons and spatulas, mixing bowls and measuring cups.

“Well, it was clean in here when I left last night,” Mama Chika grumbled, as she walked in and scooped up a tray that was on the counter. There was a rolling rack with a few other pastries ready to go out. Mama Chika didn’t even say another word as she rolled the rack out.

Rosalie was upset with the space. If there was one thing that was always clean at her house it was the kitchen. She never knew when inspiration would hit and she would want to bake. As she heard Mama Chika shouting orders, she knew she had a little bit of time. The dinging of the bell signaling the door opening was another good indication to her. She placed her purse down on a clean corner of the counter and pulled out an elastic for a simple braid before she rolled up her sleeves.

She found the dish soap and began to remove the dishes piled high in the sink. She got the sink filled  with hot water and carefully collected the other pieces of dishes and plopped them into the warm water. As she turned off the tap, a gentle singing was heard. She looked over to see the proofer flashing lights. She gently stepped over and opened it to see croissants that were almost ready to go. She grabbed them and placed them on the counter. Taking a look at the oven, she knew it was a simple model. Setting the temperature she put in the croissants and began to look for a timer.

“Top left cupboards,” One of the cooks called as he walked by. It startled Rosalie who managed to knock the small stack of dirty dishes beside her to the floor. No one came to help, which to her was a relief. She carefully stepped over them to find it exactly where he said it was.

Her hands submerged into the water and removed the cloth she had found. She quickly rung it out before starting to clean the counters. Once the islands were  shining brightly, she threw the orange cloth into the water and began to clean it. She gently cleaned the counters on the wall before going back to the dishes. She began to hum a song called ‘Better Together' By Luke Combs. It drowned out the busy sound of the café and helped her focus. When she finished humming she would start another.

The cooks were so intrigued by this new women. She was so quiet as she moved around the baking area. It was like it was her own dance studio. They each took peeks in to make sure she was okay. It didn’t help rush hour had  hit and they were busy. Her humming however kept them going. It was so beautiful. It made them feel so happy and light that the hard work didn’t seem hard. They both agreed she was going to be a favorite here.

“I’m sorry, my dear. Rush hour.” Mama Chika smiled as she walked into the kitchen about 45 minutes later. She had actually forgot the poor girl back in the baking nook. Rosalie smiled as her timer went off and she pulled out the croissants.  She placed the pan on a cooling rack before shutting the oven and turning it off.

“I’m sorry, I know I’m not supposed to start, but I didn’t have anything better to do,” Rosalie  spoke gently, as she put the oven mitts by the tray. Mama Chika smiled happily as she waddled over. She wrapped her arms around Rosalie and held her tight.

“And this is why your Dorothy’s Granddaughter.” Mama Chika smiled when she held the girls shoulder at arms length. Mama Chika held back the tears that where threatening to fall. She reminded her so much of her best friend.

Rosalie’s Grandma was so carefree and gentle. You could find her always in the kitchen baking or cooking up something wonderful. She was an experimentalist as well. Many of those recipes they used right here in the café were  hers. It was like their own secret pieces no one would have. Mama Chika was so devastated when her friend came down with her illness, the café wasn’t the same without her. She brought a certain calm and happiness that no one has been able to replace.

“Now I would like you to be here by 4. We open up at 8 but that should give you enough time to get most of the pastries done. The rest can be done as you go. You leave at noon or later if you wish. We try and bake fresh as best as we can, but that never happens. Most of our pastries, especially right now, is ordered in and cooked here.” Rosalie frowned as they walked out of the clean area and into a small office. It looked more like a storage space then an office.

“You buy frozen dough?” Rosalie asked causing Mama Chika to frown with a nod. She wasn’t proud of it but just couldn’t keep up because of how short staffed they were.

“Hopefully, once Becki's maternity is over, we will be able to go back to fresh. Now we have a huge freezer and walk in cooler. This should allow you to get some of the dough out and prepped for the next day. Proofers are both working great and all 8 ovens are ready to go as you have seen.” Mama Chika smiled happily. “I am so excited to have you on the team. Here is a book of recipes of the stuff we make or have made. With Becki pregnant some of it couldn’t be made.”

“Wow,”  Rosalie said looking at the 2 inch binder full of recipes. She looked a few over before looking away. The excitement spread across her face and Mama Chika smiled even bigger.

“They should be organized, but I haven’t looked at it in months.” Mama Chika smiled. “Now that cousin of yours should be around here somewhere. I’ll go find him if you wanted to pop into the shop. I’ll get him back here for these.”

“Thank you.” Rosalie smiled happily, as she followed the old women out. The café was quiet now with a few people around. She realized it had to be just after lunch now.

“Rosalie,” Rosco's crisp voice called over to her from a corner table. A man sitting with him got a little nervous. Rosco, of course disregarded him as he ran over and wrapped Rosalie in his arms. “Oh, goodness girl! Just couldn’t go a day without your best friend, now could you?”

“I guess not.” Rosalie smiled up to him. He was 6 feet and towered over her smaller size of 5’7”. It was average size for a women, but she still felt so short. Amber would always tell her ‘you can at least wear heels.'

“Come on girl, if you're anything like me, you're going to be famished. Let’s get you something,” Rosco said leading her to the counter. He did a quickly blow kiss over his shoulder to his boyfriend. His boyfriend smiled happily though he followed Mama Chika to the back.

“What should I get?” Rosalie asked looking at the order board.

“Oh, you so have to get a croissant,” Rosco said holding up two fingers and pointing to the croissants one of the waitresses where putting out. Rosalie remembered her being the one Mama Chika called out to.

“Alright and a medium caramel macchiato,” Rosalie smiled happily as she reached for her wallet. She began to panic when she realized her purse wasn’t with her. Rosco grabbed her trembling shoulders, causing her face to look up to him.

“Its probably on the counter in the back,” He smiled gently to her. She nodded, but worry still etched her face. All of her important documents were in there. It wasn’t like her to just leave something like that, but she did get distracted. Rosco chuckled as he turned them back towards the cashier. “Plus, I’ll pay.”

“Will you grab my coffee as I run back to grab it?” Rosalie asked, a little embarrassed for her outburst. He chuckled with a nod. He pulled out his small leather men’s wallet and took out his credit card. The waitress smiled happily, as she set the machine up for him before stepping away and starting up the big espresso machine.

Rosalie carefully walked to the back to look for her purse. She got worried when the area was clear and her bag wasn’t there. She stood in the doorway, trying to remember where she had possibly left it. Fear took her as a scream ripped out of her throat. Two arms snaked around her waist, but were soon gone as she screamed. She took off and hid in a corner with her head on her knees and her  arms wrapped around herself. She was shuttering as the tears began to flow. ‘He couldn’t be here.’ She whispered to her self as she hid. She would always have the kitchen cleaned and her ex would come in and use the space for a full out war with her. Of course she couldn’t do anything against him, as he forced her to do as he said. Sometimes it was just rough kissing to the point she was pushed against everything. Other times it was forced pleasure where she would have to clean up ripped clothing.

He was so confused, but he knew instantly who he had to get. He made quick work of the distance,  as his muscles bulged gently while he moved. His eyes scanned for his other half who seemed to be grabbing a coffee and croissant from the counter. He was so happy it had quieted down.

“Rosco,” His husky voice carried over the crowd, causing his love to shutter once his voice reached him. Rosco turned and caught his lover’s green eyes with his hazelnut ones. He had to blink however when he saw the fear flashed across his face. A man of nothing but smiles was frowning in fear. He elegantly walked over to him making sure his hips swayed. Rosco knew how much that drove him crazy.

“Babe,” Rosco spoke gently, as a mother would with her frightened child. His green eyes looked down at his feet worried. He was warned to be gentle and to take things slowly. He forgot all this and knew Rosco would be so mad.

“She…” The words came out and Rosco knew right away.

“Oh god babe. Please tell me you didn’t,” Rosco whimpered,   stomping his left leg. He nodded causing Rosco to scream quietly before taking a deep breath. “Where is she?”

“This way.” His long face lifted as they walked to the back. His brown hair tied back into a man bun. He had very broad shoulders with a muscular chest that was hard to the touch. He worked out a lot as it was something Rosco liked. He supported a 6 pack and nothing but pure muscles in his arms and legs.

The cook was at the entrance of the baking nook keeping watch. He smiled to them before leaving to finish an order. Rosco passed over the croissants and coffee before racing into his girl. She was still in the position he had left her. Tears had stained her leggings, as she still feared what was about to happen. Rosco gently place his hand on her shoulder, causing her to gasp and move away from his hand. In doing this her hip hit the cabinet, as her legs slid out. Her arms fell as her face saw his and jumped into his embrace to cry.

“Oh my pumpkin. Easy girl, no one is going to hurt you,” Rosco soothed as he gently rubbed her back. She couldn’t believe she jumped into his arms, but right now she needed someone. He made her feel safe, like nothing in the world could hurt her. And that feeling was all she was holding onto. Rosco held her protectively, knowing how badly she needed it. To him,  it was the second chance he didn’t get with his sister. “Easy, girlfriend. Brother Rosco is here.”

“Brother?” Rosalie asked a little confused as she leaned up to look at him. Her face slightly stained with tears. This broke him, he felt no angel should cry.

“Oh, don’t you know it. You need a brother right now and I’m here for you, babe. Unless you want me to be sister Rosco. Either way up to you,” he joked, causing her to chuckle a little. He joined in her laughter before she dropped her head back to his shoulder. He held her tight as he tried to get up. “Alright angel cakes, though I don’t want to break this hug you need so badly, but I really hate sitting on the floor.”

“Sorry,” She apologized breaking  out of his grasp. He looked over at the hunk in the door way and sighed. His boyfriend’s eyes were down casted.

“Now my dear girl, this hunk is a bit of an idiot, but he is my idiot,”  Rosco said pulling her to her feet. He kept a tissue in his pants that he used to clean her face and pulled her close. She looked over to the door and shuttered. “Chris, this is my girl Rosalie.”

“I’m so sorry,” He spoke as gently as a masculine man could. It still caused her to shutter, but she gently waved. With Rosco here, she knew she was safe. His muscles were what scared her the most. His face showed a gentle heart that she wanted to get to know. A part of her felt like she did however.

“Come, come. Your coffee is getting cold,” Rosco exclaimed, grabbing the coffee and placing it in her hands. She happily wrapped her fingers over the warm cup and gently breathed in the caramel coffee. “You will come and sit with me, while he looks for your purse.”

“Its in the car,”  Chris said gently. “That’s why I was coming to get you.”

“Oh, babe,” Rosco said while kissing his cheek. Chris gently stepped aside, as Rosco pulled Rosalie along with him. “See? My hunk is totally harmless. A little stupid, but utterly harmless.”

“I’m sorry,” Rosalie apologized, hoping they wouldn’t fight because of her. He was so happy to see him and she couldn’t let them fight.

“Smile, Rosalie,” Chris gently said, as they sat down at a table in the far corner away from everyone. She nodded gently with a smile. This caused his heart to lighten. He knew he would have to be extra careful now that he has startled her. “I know you don’t really remember me, but I’m  Christopher, your cousin.”

“Oh no,” She said, her face suddenly turning white. Seeing this caused Chris to begin to have his own panic attack, as he tried to figure out what was wrong. Rosco was confused at the reaction.

“Breathe, babe. Sit down and breath,” Rosco calmly said, as he got up and led the now frantic Chris to his chair. He walked over to Rosalie whom was crying again. “Now pumpkin, deep breaths okay? Everything is fine.”

“But it’s not, ” She said feeling  so helpless. This was her cousin, no wonder he felt so familiar. She should have know, she shouldn’t have jumped.

“Oh dear it is. I promise.”

“I bet he thinks I’m pathetic, ” She whispered. Rosco burst out laughing, not meaning to but it just came out. Here he thought it was something bad, like she was the one that told his parents he was gay or spat in his milkshake when he was in the town they flew from.

“Oh, sweetheart. He doesn’t think that at all,” Rosco said  trying to hold his laugh in.

“But,” Rosalie hesitated. He was this well built guy here to collect his cousin that was a poor excuse for a person. They did grow up together for most of their childhood back when she was stronger. They would have adventure in the forest, as if they were knights of the fearless Robin hood. Sometimes, they would play fight with others to get them  away from her turf to save him. She remembered all of those things and frowned because the girl she was now was not that strong girl anymore.

“This manly hunk is afraid of spiders, love. There is nothing more pathetic then that,” Rosco  laughed.

“Rosco,” Chris whined when he finally was able to hear what he said. He had a fear of spiders, especially the jumping ones.

“Oh babe, you know it’s true. Plus if you were manly all the time,  how could I feel manly sometimes?” Rosco leaned over to kiss him. Chris had to close the distance.

“Get a room,” Some teenagers called from down the way.

“Oh, wouldn’t you love that,”  Chris snapped back at him. Rosco just ignored it, as his eyes fell back on the smiling Rosalie.

“Now there is that cute smile. Come, my peace is ruined. Plus, I so want to see the home you live in now,” Rosco said as he got up and dragged Rosalie to her feet. She just laughed as the three of them made it out of the Café together to the black Mercedes. Rosco got her settled into the back, before taking the passenger seat. Chris stood in the door once Rosco left it.

“Rosalie, I want you to know that there isn’t nothing you can do that will make me think of you as a pathetic person. You were always like the sister I never had. If anyone should feel pathetic, it should be me for not being able to do anything for you,” Chris gently  said, as he held the door open for her. Rosalie smiled up at him, taking a deep breath as she lifted her arm out to him. He slowly molded her into his hug. He made sure to feel for any flinching or tremors, or anything that would warn him to let her go right away.

Rosalie held her cousin tight. She couldn’t believe she had forgotten  about him. He made her childhood fantastic and now he was here again. She knew her future had to be bright because she had her partner in crime back. She loved his embrace and in reality, it made her forget how broken she felt. She knew she could do this if she had both these guys at her side.

“Promise me, you will be my warrior again?” She asked, remembering the promises they  made before she left as a child.

“As long as your my princess,” He smiled happily as he leaned away from her and kissed her forehand. Rosco was beaming with pride as he watched a happy smile appear on her lips. He couldn’t believe this once trembling girl was warming up to people quickly. If he could,  he was going to make sure he was the dragon that protected the princess at the top of the tower. As Chris entered the drivers seat, Rosco grabbed his extended hand and smiled. Then he realized he didn’t want to be the dragon,  he wanted to be the maid in waiting. The dragon could be the man Rosalie fell in love with. He hoped the dragon was strong and powerful, enough to protect and love her.

Rosalie snuggled into the black leather seats, as the two love birds talked about random things up front. Though it had just started, it had been a long day for her. She was exhausted as she sipped her coffee. To her surprise it was still warm, as it slowly slipped down her esophagus. She carefully ate the croissant so it wouldn’t dirty the car, though Chris told her it was okay. He would just get it vacuumed later. She didn’t want to inconvenience him.

They were being so sweet to her, she felt like a princess in their  presence. She hoped it wouldn’t end, but she knew it probably would. Nothing good ever came to her. The fact she was here safe and had two men that made her smile and a job that was perfect for her, was almost a dream come true. She knew it wouldn’t last, so she would live every minute of it until it did. She knew she was safe here. Her ex never knew where she grew up and he would never think to look for her here, as it was to long of a drive. With a gentle sigh, she looked out the window and for once, she pushed her past away and lived in the beauty of her new life and she was happy.

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