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Double Dare(3)

By:Cassandra Dee



I came to, my cheek cushioned on something soft. What in the world? A leather sofa caressed my curves, the material so buttery soft it was like melting into a cloud. But there were more pressing problems, like my spinning head.

“Um?” I moaned, one hand automatically rising. “Where am I?”

The setting was unfamiliar, a large, airy space, with a seating area on one side and a giant desk on the other. And this was no regular desk. It was an imposing slab of white marble, veined with grey and gold streaks, expensive and intimidating. Who has a desk like this? the voice in my head asked. But my common sense took over. It’s just a piece of office furniture, Katie, scolded the internal voice. Calm down, you’re injured, girl. Don’t worry about stuff like that.

Shaking my head, I tried again.

“I’m sorry,” I murmured, scrambling up, which only made the world spin again. “Where am I?”

A kindly old man smiled back at me.

“I’m Doctor King,” he said. “And you’re at Major Corporation.”

My mind whirled. Major Corp.? That was a huge company on the East Side, miles away from Ninth Street Espresso. How had I gotten here? What was I doing here? But the doctor shushed me again, looking over his rimless glasses at my pale face.

“You got a little bump, that’s all,” he said kindly. “Just a bang to the head, but you’ll be fine.”

I shuddered, some of the facts coming back.

“There was this one customer,” I said slowly. “He was crazy, but then another customer came to my rescue. They were fighting over bear claws,” I murmured. “You know, the pastry?”

The kindly doctor chuckled at that one.

“I’ve known men to fight over less,” he said. “But are you sure it was over the pastries? Are you sure it wasn’t over you?”

I frowned, eyebrows coming down.

“I don’t think so,” I said slowly. “Most guys don’t even see me, I’m just the barista.”

“Well you must make a good cup of coffee then,” said the doctor with a wink. “But whatever it is, must have been serious because when Mr. Major brought you in, he called immediately. Ordered VIP treatment, nothing but the best.”

What in the world? No one has ever thought of me, Katie Jones, as VIP material. More like I was the invisible girl, blending into the wallpaper, just a piece of furniture. So I shook my head, confused all over again.

“Who’s Mr. Major?” I asked blearily.

But before the good doctor could answer, the door opened and there stood my rescuer himself.

“I’m Mason Major,” he growled, tall and dominant in a dark suit. “Welcome to Major Enterprises, Katie. You’ve had a shitty start to the day.”

I gasped, glancing at my watch and the numbers danced before my eyes.

“Oh my god, it’s ten a.m., I’m still on shift,” I gasped, leaping to my feet, only to fall back down dizzily. “I’m still on shift and there’s no one at the store right now, I’m gonna be fired.”

Mason Major’s expression remained smooth.

“I got it covered. I talked with your boss and someone else came to fill in, so you’re good.”

My eyes goggled.

“You talked to my boss?” I asked slowly. “You talked with Mrs. Patterson, who owns Ninth Street Espresso?”

He nodded.

“She was kind,” he said smoothly. “Very kind and understanding. Now Doctor King, if you’ll excuse us.”

I shook my head. Emily Patterson was the opposite of kind. She looked like Mrs. Doubtfire but beneath that kind, matronly exterior was a snake with a tight fist and a nasty tongue.

“Um, right,” I murmured. “Right, you spoke with Mrs. Patterson.”

Panic was already starting to rise in my chest because my job at Ninth Street is what puts the roof over my head. I’m an art student at the union   League, and between taking classes and working on my paintings, I put in almost forty hours a week at the coffee shop to pay for tuition and housing. So if Mrs. Patterson found out what had happened, I was toast for sure. I was gonna be fired, with no way to afford school.

Jumping to my feet, I stammered again.

“I’m so sorry, but I have to go back. I need to get back asap because Rocky doesn’t know how to use the espresso machine and Bernard is always late. I’m sorry, but I gotta go.”

And before the big man could say anything, I jumped to my feet and ran to the door. At least my head was better, at least I could mobilize like a normal person. But the door was locked, and I pulled uselessly at the handle, rattling it a bit.

“What the?” I asked. “What in the world? I have to go!” I gasped, but it was no use. “Do you have the key to this thing?” I asked. “Why would it lock from the outside?”