The entrance to the diner opened, sending in a blast of cold air. Bitsy frowned. “Lilly Jean, you know we don’t open until six o’clock. I can’t keep letting you in or everyone else will be coming in for their morning coffee before we get it brewed.”
“I know you and Spank are sweet on each other now. But that doesn’t give you special privileges.”
Lilly Jean walked behind the breakfast bar. She reached underneath the bar and grabbed a filter. “Regular or decaf, Bitsy?”
Lilly Jean tore open the packet of coffee and poured it into the filter. She nodded to the kitchen. “I hear Spank’s got his music on again. How he can listen to that shit is beyond me.”
Bitsy sighed. She’d have to talk to Spank; tell him to keep his girlfriend in line. She studied Lilly Jean as she took out two coffee cups from beneath the counter. Seemed to Bitsy that Lilly Jean was acting pretty fast; hooking up with Spank when she was still married to Daddy Sheriff. Coming into the diner like she owned the place. “Lilly Jean…”
“Why do I feel like a guest in my own diner, Lilly Jean?”
Lilly Jean tore open a creamer and poured it into one of the cups.
Lilly Jean emptied three packets of sugar into the other cup. “I come to help, Bitsy.”
“I don’t need help.”
“You lose your best waitress, you need help.”
“And how will people get their stamps today?”
“Not my problem. I quit.”
“Daddy Sheriff got me that job.” Lilly Jean shivered. “I’ve washed my hands of that man.” She picked up the coffee pot and poured out two cups.
“So you just burst in here, looking for a job? I’m losing customers right and left.” She’d been a fool to end her business relationship with Jonathan. She’d never expected it to backfire the way it had. “I can’t afford to hire you, Lilly Jean.”
Lilly Jean shook her head. “I ain’t lookin’ for a job, Bitsy. I’m here to help you. As a friend. Now where do you keep your aprons?”
“In the kitchen, with your boyfriend.” Bitsy sighed. The last thing she needed was Lilly Jean mooning over Spank, keeping him from his work.
Lilly Jean pushed through the swinging door and returned a second later, trying an apron around her waist. “Put me to work, Bitsy.”
“Lilly Jean, I…”
“Tell me everything that needs done before opening.”
Bitsy began counting on her fingers. “Tables need to be set. Water glasses filled with ice. More coffee made. Baskets lined with napkins and filled with sweet rolls…”
“Holy, shit, Bitsy. How many things you got to do every morning?”
Bitsy sighed. “How many angels can dance upon the head of a pin?”
“Oh, don’t go getting all spiritual on me, Bitsy. I’ll start with the tables.” Lilly Jean grabbed a stack of placemats and began setting them neatly upon the tables. “Well, go on,” Lilly Jean said, casting a glance over her shoulder. “I reckon a woman knows how to set a table without a body watching over her.”
Bitsy nodded and pushed through the swinging door into the kitchen.
A moment later, she returned to the dining room. “Hey, Lilly Jean?”
Lilly Jean looked up. “Yeah?”
Lilly Jean nodded. “Happy to do it, Bitsy.” And she returned to her tables, humming along to Spank’s music drifting in from the kitchen.
And for the first time since Ellie left, Bitsy allowed herself to smile.
For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Kurt challenged me with “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” and I challenged Jay Andrew Allen with “I’ve just made a horrible mistake…”