Chapter 24:

No Staff, Only Vibes

Corruptions Are Best Exposed In The Autumn!

A large clang echoed throughout the kitchen and the main dining area as Lily dropped the large steel mixing bowl in her hand, spilling flour all over the floor and even on Sesame’s face.

“Meow!” the cat whimpered and dashed away.

“You’re going to do what?!” She shouted, causing a few heads in the café to turn.

“Like I said, I’m thinking about marrying into Dally’s family,” I continued while wiping the floor with soap and a cloth. “The girls name’s Eleanor.”

It had already been two months since I visited my father in prison, but his voice continued to echo in my head, day in and day out:

“And it helps if you get married! You can share the debt together!”

“Fuckin’ old man…” I mumbled while cleaning plates in the sink. Who would’ve thought I’d actually consider his advice?

“Meow!” Sesame walked back to the kitchen, this time with my red scarf in his mouth.

“Sesame, why do you have that?” I kneeled and gently took it out of his mouth. The scarf was quite worn down by this point: several red strings stuck out from the side, and small rips outlined parts of the edges as well. Even though I still couldn’t figure out who snuck into our café that day while we visited Mila, I still had a hunch that it was Rin.

“Kai, do you even have romantic feelings for that girl?” Lily asked. She had stopped working entirely at her station, and was waiting for my answer, causing me to sigh.

“No, I don’t. In fact, I’m quite creeped out by her,” I answered, knowing everything was coming out unfiltered. “She somehow knew where I worked, has been asking for me to renounce my family name on TV for a year, and was the one who stole the apology letter I sent to Mila 5 years ago.”

“Wow. that’s Elias’ levels of creepy, indeed.”

Soon, a few more customers began entering our café, and Lily and I went back to work.

Actually, it was more than just a few customers.

“Shit! Why are there suddenly so many people here an hour before we close?!” I scrambled to the front to help Lily with the cash register.

“Ugh, I knew we should’ve hired more people!” Lily grunted while she ran to the espresso machines. “We need someone who can prepare the food! Kai, do you know if Charles is available?”

“No, he has class today!”

The lineup stretched all the way to the entrance, and every table was flooded with customers. When I asked them where they heard about the café and any idea why there were so many crowding our shop today, I got a suspicious answer:

“We came here because your café was on TV!” A woman explained while waiting near the door.

What?! I stared back at him without muttering a word. We were on TV?

“Yeah, it was sick!” another man popped his head out from behind the line. “I don’t know how this place managed to get TV coverage, but it’s been blowing up on social media too!”

“It was posted by a woman named Eleanor Tren!”

Eleanor’s causing all of this?!

Even though I should’ve been happy that so many customers were filling our place up after a rather quiet morning, there was simply not enough staff. Ever since Lora and Julian left to start another coffee shop back in their home country of Dosa, it had just been Me, Lily, and Charles running the shop. Lily and Charles both went to college together, and traded shifts every day while I worked full-time.

I scoffed as more people joined the line from outside. This was a disaster in the making. There was no choice but to turn people away.

“Lily,” I tightened my apron. “I’m going to go and stop the line from getting longer.”


A voice popped out from near the other side of the counter, and I froze without taking another step. It sounded awfully familiar.

Who said that?

Panting while in a full red tracksuit which matched her hair and a sports bag around her back, Rin Miya stood before my very eyes.

“I can help out!” she yelled through the crowd of noisy customers. “Just tell me what to do!”

I did was stand there, speechless but happy. “Wait, how did you know that-”

“Forget about that!” she rolled up her sleeves and sharpened her gaze at me. Her chestnut eyes sparkled thanks to the café light above. “Let’s get to work!”

“O-Okay!” I gulped and darted my eyes around to see which station needed her help. “Then please, wash and dry the plates, and then prepare them on the counter for Lily to serve the food!”

“Got it!”

Rin tied her hair back and got right to work at the sink, and I turned back around to tend to customer orders. While we barely had any time to look at each other, I trusted her enough to get the work done. Because of how busy it was, time began flying by fast, and Rin ran out of dishes to wash.

“Kai, what should I do next?!”

“Are you able to tend to customer orders?” I glanced over at the espresso counter, realizing it was only Lily who was making all the lattes, cappuccinos, espressos, and so on. “It’s okay if you don’t know how to use the cash register-”

“I know how to!” Rin shouted. “I used to work at a Sternbicks in high school, so don’t worry!”

“Sounds good!”

We swapped stations like two students trading desks at school and got right back to work. I could tell Lily was watching us from the back once I arrived next to her to help make the drinks.

“You two are still getting along well I see,” she smirked.

“W-Whatever,” I replied while pouring frothed milk over a coffee. “She’s worked in a coffee shop before apparently.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Finally, after another hour or so, the customers finally died down as our closing time neared. All three of us dropped to our knees, breathing a collective sigh of relief. The end of hell had finally arrived, after a day in which I truly thought my job at the café was in jeopardy.

“Wow, that was one hell of a shift,” commented Rin, and Lily and I both nodded our heads.

“Sorry you two for making you both go through this. Lily, I promise I’ll deal with this somehow to prevent an overflow like this from happening again.”

“You mean like hiring more people?!” Lily suggested, and I laughed.

“Yeah, you’re right,” I grinned. “I’ll start looking for another barista to join us.”

Rin walked over to the other side of the counter and pulled over a chair to sit. I stood up and made two more lattes, poured two glasses of water, and placed them both on the marble top.

“Here, you two. Thanks for your help today… and Rin, I’ll write you a paycheck through email if that works.”

“Not a problem.”

We both continued laughing, and before we knew it, our conversation finally picked up where we last left off, which was almost a year ago.

“I’ve been following your team still,” I started while petting Sesame who hopped on the counter. There was something needed to admit, which had me on my toes: “Um, since I still had my season ticket, I went to a few games. You were so close to winning the championships this past year.”

“Oh, I see…” she replied with a hand holding her chin up, sitting and drinking her latte with the other one. “Yeah it was a real bummer. Every year, the other schools seem to get better and better, but I guess the semi-finals are still a great result.”

The air around us was warm, and I couldn’t help but watch her lips as they sipped the coffee I made. Her cheeks were slightly red; perhaps I wasn’t the only one who still felt awkward since we broke up quite spontaneously.

“Did anything controversial happen this time?” I asked, trying to distract myself from staring at her face.

“Thankfully no,” she answered. “The other teams just played better. Anyways, I should get going.”

She got up from the chair and grabbed her brown coat and purse.

“Oh, right, right...”

Ring ring!

Lily’s phone rang so loud that I bit my tongue after twitching in startlement. “Ow…”

Rin chuckled as she watched me and I tried to put on a happy face despite the pain. Something about her beauty just never left my mind, even after an entire year.

“Hello?” Lily walked over to the corner and answered her phone while covering her other ear with her hand. “Gio, what’s going on?”

Gio? I directed my eyes at Lily across the room.

After a few seconds of silence while Lily listened on the phone -

“No, no way…”

Her voice began cracking up, but all I could see was the back of her head.

“W-What’s going on?” I asked, walking over to her at the corner.

She dropped her phone from her hand, letting it slam against the wooden floor. Her arms dropped lifelessly next to her torso, and she turned around at me with watery red eyes. Her mouth was half open, but her face was as pale as paper.

“Mila… she passed away.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I glanced over at Rin, who probably bore the same faceless expression as me.

“But I thought she had a donor!”

I was ready to yank my own eyes out while my teeth grinded against each other. I swear, she told me she had a donor!

“She never did,” Lily replied through her sniffling, and hiccups followed. “Apparently she lied about that.”


Mila, you idiot.