Luna and I worked tirelessly to ensure the grand opening of Whole Latte Love was perfect. I had let her hire the staff that she thought would suit us best: Amar, our baker; Nerina, our barista; Myron, our floater; and Paris and Kate, who looked after the daycare side. Luna assured me they were all competent, pleasant to speak with, and came from solid backgrounds. She also ran a criminal record check for me, to ensure we weren’t dealing with anyone unscrupulous, and I did my own research to ensure they weren’t tied to any Titans.
The seven of us met in the early hours of the morning for a final orientation and prep for our first customers. We sat together near the window, coffee and snacks spread out on the coffee table, a comfortable silence surrounding us as we took the first sips of our drinks. Luna was beaming with pride at what she had brought to life, and I was pleased to see her as such. She would never have been able to do this in her real estate job.
“Alright team, today’s the big day!” Luna said, nearly bouncing in her seat. “We’ve gone through all the training and orientations needed, and I think we’re ready for whatever Olympus has to throw at us.”
I hid a smile as Nerina sat straighter, nodding in agreement with her manager. “Remind me, are we going through with extended hours for today, or is it starting off as business as usual?”
“Extended hours,” Paris said, brushing stray blonde hair from his face and glancing at Kate. He reminded me too much of that idiot who started the Trojan War. “At least for us, right?”
“Today we will be open two hours longer than usual, so you are correct, Paris. However, it will be for the whole store, not just the daycare side.” My team murmured their understandings. “If there is anything you need, at any time – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or need help with a fussy customer, or perhaps you just need a moment, please do not hesitate to let Luna or myself know, alright? Your wellbeing is just as important to me as that of our customers.”
“Yes ma’am, will keep that in mind.” Amar smiled at me and winced slightly when I rose, looking at the clock. “Is it that time?”
Luna bolted from the couch to the counter, straightening the napkins and creamer. “Just about! To your stations, everyone!”
Amar, Nerina, and Myron took to the floor, adjusting their aprons and nametags, while Paris and Kate headed through the back to the daycare. We had several children lined up for a playdate here today; parents and guardians testing the waters, to be expected.
There was a considerable amount of people waiting outside the cafe door – Luna had done well with advertising our name everywhere. I glanced out the window to see a line had formed down the block with people chatting and laughing, checking their watches and phones.
“Let’s get started.”
Luna grinned widely at me, and unlocked the doors, turning our sign over to OPEN. She greeted each guest as they filed through the front door, the room suddenly filled with chatter and laughter over the low blues tunes that played. I helped Amar and Nerina as best I could without getting in their way, but Luna had chosen well – they were very proficient in keeping up with the steady stream of demands that were coming in. I made a note to thank Luna later again for her diligence. I stayed with the cafe team for a few hours, answering questions from customers who were keen on finding out why the goddess of night wanted to run a coffee shop and daycare, of all places. I simply told them that even the night needs a shot of caffeine every once in a while, and reminded them that I was a mother as well – to over two thousand children, which made them balk and then laugh nervously. It was endearing.
I stopped Luna as she headed into the kitchen. “I’m going to look in on Paris and Kate, will you be alright on your own here for a bit?”
Luna flashed a beautiful smile at me, flushed. “Lady Nyx, I am more than alright. This is one of the best days I’ve had in a long time. Besides, uh, of course, Scotland,” she added, stumbling over her thoughts and making me laugh. She turned to face me properly, and took my hands briefly. “Thank you for trusting and believing in me. I appreciate it more than I can say.”
I squeezed her hands back and smiled. “I am here to help, Luna. Call me if you need me.” I watched her bounce into the kitchen before I headed out the back door and to the other side of the business.
The sounds of laughter greeted me, and my heart warmed immediately. Paris was sitting beside two toddlers, reading a picture book to them while they pointed at various parts of the pages, while a few older children – perhaps 5 or 6 years old – were playing on the foam block set up in the middle of the room. Kate was standing off to the side with the parents, passing out cups of our coffee, a tray of pastries sitting on the shoe shelf. I joined them, and many of their faces lit up.
“Everyone, I’d like to introduce our founder, Lady Nyx of Olympus,” Kate said, a smile on her face.
“Please, call me Nykki, if it suits you better.” I shook hands with them all, before standing back to watch their children as well. “I hope everything has been going smoothly so far?”
A woman with long, dark hair that hung around her shoulders took a swig of coffee, nodding enthusiastically. “It is – Kate just showed us the bedroom set-up you have upstairs. I can’t believe you have accommodations for infants as well, that’s so rare to find nowadays. What made you choose to do that?”
I mulled her question over for a moment, wondering how much to tell, and settling on a partial truth. “As Kate might have told you, I am a mother as well, and our family is quite extensive, to say the least. I know that sometimes, you cannot always be there to take care of your child, so having a safe place to have someone watch over them for a little while can do wonders for a parent.”
“Forgive me, Nyx, but I would have assumed this would just be for you gods when I first saw your advertisements.” A young man with long hair pulled into a bun piped up, his coffee untouched so far. I noted his use of my real name, and nodded.
“A fair assumption. However, all children are precious, whether they are immortal, mortal, or a combination thereof. I would hope any guardian with a young charge would love and take care of them, and I especially hope that they have a wonderful lawyer if they do not.” He balked at that, and went back to watching the children – I had a feeling he was reconsidering something.
“Lady Nyx – er, Nykki, sorry -” A woman with a short pixie cut addressed me, an embarrassed smile on her face. “What do you mean by your lawyer comment? You would go after neglectful parents?”
“I mean if I find out that a child in my care has been neglected, or is being neglected, or is not being taken care of properly, they will find the best lawyer on this side of the Atlantic knocking on their doorstep alongside myself.” No point beating around the bush, and by the stunned faces, it got the point home correctly. I took a sip of my coffee as one of the older children, a young girl, ran up to the woman with the dark hair and hugged her around the legs.
“Are you having fun, Penelope?”
Her daughter looked up at her with a silly grin. “Yes! The other kids are nice, and I really want a squishy chair, Mom, like those ones.” She pointed at the bean bag chairs set up, and her mum gave her a faint smile.
“I’ll think about it, honey.”
Penelope ran off, and I watched her mum’s face fall into worry, before getting pulled into conversation with Kate. She reminded me of my Clotho a bit, and I felt my heart go out to her. I’d speak with this woman later.
The end of the day came staggeringly quickly, at least to me, and we had to usher customers out of the coffee shop with take-out bags with the reminder that we are open seven days a week. When a few customers pointed out that we were supposed to be twenty-four hours as well, I had to remind them that the first day was always the busiest and that we needed to replenish. They left begrudgingly after that.
We regrouped after locking up both sides, and sat once more near the front windows looking much more tired than we had this morning. Luna, however, looked ecstatic.
“I think today went well, no?” I asked her, the others nodding in agreement.
“Today was wonderful, Lady Nyx! All our customers were so thrilled with our service, we had many ask if we do catering – I told them I’d get back them – and there were plenty of second and third orders.” Luna sat back in her seat with a grin on her face. “We did really well. Whole Latte Love is going to be amazing.”
Amar and Nerina went over a few details that they thought would help make their work flow smoother, Myron chiming in when needed, while Paris and Kate spoke of who they thought would be coming back to the daycare and who might be a hit and miss. My mind wandered to Penelope and her mum once more, and I wondered what troubled her.
My team finished tidying up and grabbed their things before heading home, Luna promising that they’d have the second and third teams hired and trained up this week. To keep us twenty-four seven, I had offered to stay and run the nights myself in the meantime, since I didn’t particularly need to sleep. We’d work out the scheduling once everyone was up to speed – I wasn’t concerned about it.
When it was just me left at the shop, I turned the lights off and sat in the dark, staring at the wooden ceiling and thinking about family and the people I met today. It was hard to not want to delve into their lives and steer them in a better path, especially if I knew I could be useful to them. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t my job to play Fate – that’s what I had my daughters for. But maybe, I could be something more.
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