The clank and bang of trays, ladles, cups, and utensils soothed Charlie the instant she slid in the back door of the kitchens. Somehow all that noise had come to symbolize a home away from home for her. Maybe, just maybe, that same sense of comfort that she always felt at Glide and St. Anthony’s would have drawn Tiffany back tonight as well.
Charlie greeted everybody on staff as she weaved through the chaos, but didn’t stop to talk. She had only a few minutes before she had to hustle over to Cleo’s and make some money.
She stepped through the line of guests, already scanning the tables. Then she headed down a middle aisle, checking every table, but her attention was yanked to a man who’d just come in the main door. He wasn’t facing her, engaged as he was in conversation with the aide posted there, but her breath caught anyway—because he didn’t belong here.
He stood tall and straight and was fit and clean. One glance told her he was both confident and determined. He hadn’t shaved recently, but usually did, she guessed. Good-looking, too, but in a rugged way. In another life, she thought as an aside, you’d have been my type.
Sandy brown hair—too long, for a gust of wind blew through the door and pushed it into his face. He swiped it back with a large hand. In the other, he flashed a photograph. The aide, Aaron, a good guy who helped out when he was able, shook his head.
A cop, then. Looking for someone.
Out of long habit, she tensed, ready to flee—but Aaron was pointing at her already, and the intruder’s eyes locked with her own.
Charlie felt her stomach drop out and her whole world tilt precariously. Cops were to be avoided; they asked too many questions and might look too close. She willed her legs to move, to turn, to run, but she was frozen in place. There were too many people watching. And she wasn’t ready this time. She’d been caught off guard.
Don’t panic. Think, think! She ran a hand over her hair—short, tousled, blond. Had she remembered her contacts? Yes, her eyes were blue.
No choice, she’d have to play it cool. She was Charlie Hart. She was Charlie Hart…
Copyright 2015 © JB Schroeder, LLC and Two Feet Press.