“How does Phoe know?” I asked, surprised. Tati smiled and turned her phone to me, and I saw a recording on it.
“I recorded it live, and Phoe watched, she’s so proud to call you Hellfire’s head old lady.” Tati squeezed my hands and let go as Chance swept in and threw me over his shoulders.
“Chance!” I shrieked as he patted my ass and then carried me down a corridor. Chance kicked open a door, and I didn’t get the opportunity to look around before Chance placed me on his feet and took my mouth.
“Fuck, I’m so proud of you Goddess, so fuckin’ proud of you,” Chance rasped against my neck. “Took everything I had not to interfere, trusted you, and I was right to, class act Clio.”
“I had to stand up to Maura,” I whispered back my hands going to his belt buckle. Chance’s cock was rock hard and had dug into me when he kissed me. I needed Chance right now, and I needed down and dirty. Chance grinned and gave me precisely what I demanded.
Two days passed quickly, and before I knew it, I was being dragged down to the tearoom by an excited Leslie and grinning Diesel. Rooster stood by the door and opened it as I walked in and gasped. Leslie, Diesel, Chance and everyone else had kept me from the tearoom for the last week, and I was amazed when I walked in. It was a dream come true.
As soon as you passed through the door, the bakery counter sat to the left, the glass gleamed in the sunlight and behind that were the shelves for bread goods. In front of me stood the sandwich counter, a low hum just barely reaching my ears, showing it was switched on. In between them, set at an angle stood the hot food counter with hot plates behind. Something I hadn’t considered but should of, was the large, complicated coffee machine. The cold drinks fridge stood in the back right-hand corner behind the sandwich counter.
The walls were painted a warm pale yellow with murals of flowers and ivy. A specials board was attached to the wall where people could clearly see it. The tiles on the floor were a red terracotta with white patterned tiles as a border. Smiling in happiness, I peered through the arch and gasped, it looked as if I’d stepped into an English tearoom. There were wooden tables set out in the large space, not crammed together but with room between them for waitresses to move around. The square tables sat two, four and six people, a white tablecloth covered each table and, in the centre, sat little vases for a small bunch of flowers.
Diesel had exposed the beams in the ceiling and stained them a dark colour, and they stood out against the white of the ceiling. Two walls had been left bare plaster painted cream and sported flower murals. Skilfully, Diesel had attached stained matching wooden planks to the walls in a Tudor design. The other two walls were covered in a blue-grey tongue and groove, and the top half was cream with ivy murals.
A wooden shelf ran around the four walls about a foot away from the ceiling. Dotted around the shelves were quirky teapots and other knick-knacks Leslie and I had found. The design wasn’t overwhelming but eye-catching and cute, it very much resembled an old English tearoom. The atmosphere gave off an air of warmth and friendliness, I felt welcomed, which was what Leslie and I had strived for.
Happily, I spun in a circle and hugged myself and Diesel looked smug at my reaction. A tiny slice of England had weaved its way to Spearfish. Anita and Clarice had been hired by Leslie and me already. Clarice was a thin, woman with reddened cheeks and a ready smile, an aura of sadness lingered in her eyes, and my heart went out to her. Anita, on the other hand, was a merry, bubbly young woman, with a rounded figure and a contagious laugh. We’d met them last Sunday when they came to the cabin and cooked up a monster of a buffet which led to Bear jokily proposing to Anita.
Leslie and I had also interviewed and hired a fifty-year-old man called Eddie, who’d worked in England for many years in various cafés and restaurants. Eddie’s resume was impressive, and he’d also cooked a buffet. Thankfully his cooking on par with Clarice’s and Anita’s and they complimented each other. Anita and Clarice had agreed to work on a rota of two weeks on early and two weeks on middles, it suited both the women. Eddie had adamantly asked to work the late shifts, he preferred them to the earlier shifts.
Today the three chefs, Leslie and myself, were meeting to discuss the menu, and I expected it to go well. But this morning I was checking over the completed tearoom and kitchen, looking for snags. Not that I expected to discover any as Leslie had micro-managed the project alongside Diesel, the brother as much as a perfectionist as Leslie was.
I wandered into the enormous kitchen and gasped, it was amazing. My area was clearly defined with my two baker’s ovens and my appliances stacked neatly on the worktops. There were two small larder fridges installed, and I finally agreed the thinking behind them made sense. I loved the feeling of space, and when I turned, I saw the chef’s area. Two huge extractor fans were installed in the ceiling to draw the scents of food away from each other’s areas. Smiling, I checked the walk-in freezer and refrigerator and was gratified to see dedicated areas to myself and the chefs.
“This is wonderful!” I exclaimed and spontaneously hugged Diesel. The man froze in my embrace. There was a hint of embarrassment before Diesel’s arms folded around me and he brushed his lips against the top of my head.
“Glad you like it, girl,” he rumbled, and I squeezed Diesel tightly and let him go to spin in a circle.
“I love it, don’t you Leslie, look at this, it’s perfect, the tearooms are perfect, oh my god, I can’t wait to open next week.” A momentary doubt hit, and I shoved it aside. Leslie and I wouldn’t fail, I could bake, and the three chefs were amazing, there was no failure to be had here. Diesel left half an hour later with just three items on the snagging list as Clarice, Anita and Eddie entered with Kris on their heels. I hadn’t been expecting Kris, but it made sense he attended because he was the night manager.
The breakfast menu was easily agreed, pancakes, a full English, oatmeal, a fruit bowl with yoghurt and waffles. Eddie suggested muffins, crumpets and muesli and after a discussion, these were added too. The lunch menu caused far more heated debates, but we settled on soups, stew, jacket potatoes, toasties, salads, an English meal called a ploughman’s lunch. After discussion, we decided to offer traditional English fish and chips, egg sausage and chips, gammon steak with fries and in a nod to American cuisine mac and cheese.
The dinner menu was confirmed with a variety of dishes, a filled Yorkshire pudding, stews, beer-battered fish and chips and steak and kidney pudding. Anita suggested pie and mash, sausage and mash, beef wellington and a mixed grill and the other two agreed. After a heated discussion with Eddie added toad in the hole, liver and onions, sausage in batter with chips, steaks, cottage pie and shepherd’s pie and fish pie. Clarice won the war on starters, and prawn cocktail, garlic mushrooms, chicken wings, breaded mushrooms, stuffed peppers and soup was added alongside good old English pate.
Silently, I worried that they were taking on too much when they began discussing how to fill the two counters, they were responsible for. Again, they chose soups, jacket potatoes, pies, and then chose chilli. Eddie also insisted on Bolognese, samosa’s, tacos, Cornish pasties, sausage rolls, filled pastry slices, a rice dish and finally hot chicken wings and thighs.
I relaxed as they all agreed on the sandwich counter being filled with pre-wrapped sandwiches, such as cheese, ham and mustard, prawn cocktail, roast beef and egg mayonnaise. Salads, pork pies, wraps and subs were added to the counter with, scotch eggs, duck spring rolls, satay sticks, cold kebabs and gala pie.
Leslie and I wanted a cream tea available from twelve o’clock, and I agreed to bake the cakes, and make breakfast foods such as the waffles and pancakes. Happily, I offered to make doughnuts and cupcakes but also cakes like red velvet and Victoria sponges. Desperately, I began laughing when we realised none of us had experience with the monster coffee maker, and Leslie looked perturbed. Even worse, we realised we’d need someone to work the blasted machine.
Suppliers had been arranged, and I was happy with those we had in place, a local farmer would deliver us the fresh fruit, vegetables and salad every three days. A local butcher was handling the meat orders, and we’d found a reasonable locally owned wholesaler. After further discussion, we threw in several vegetarian dishes and then discussed whether we needed a prep cook. At this point, I began having a meltdown and Chance appeared as if magic.
When we showed Chance the menu, he’d much the same concerns around the barista and prep cook. Chance told Eddie to call his friend who Eddie said had recently been made redundant. Eddie vouched for his friend who arrived an hour later, Vinnie was that eager for work. Vinnie was a quiet man who held his own against the exuberant older man. Chance asked several questions, interrupting the impromptu interview. Finally, without mine or Leslie’s say so, Chance hired the man on a ten till seven shift and my mouth dropped open.
“Chance…” I began giving Vinnie an awkward glance.
“Goddess, you need staff to make this work, yeah you and Leslie are working from a deficit, but I got faith in the two of ya. The menu is fuckin’ fantastic, and I can’t wait to eat here, but your people will need a prep cook. Stop arguing and take the help I’m giving, if you don’t make a huge profit the first week, I’ll fuckin hang,” Chance said decisively. With a frown, I opened my mouth again, and Chance shoved a finger under my chin, shutting my mouth.
“Chance!” I exclaimed blushing.
“Whatever way you look at it, none of ya can work that machine, so two baristas are needed. The chef’s need Vinnie or they’re spending time on shit he can do. One thing I wanna know, would it make sense for you guys to prepare food for the following day and leave in the fridge to cook the next day?” Chance asked ignoring me.
“Yes, certain things can be pre-prepared and cooked the next day, the pastries and so on, some of the meals,” Eddie replied, and Anita nodded.