PLAYING HOUSE – Chapter Four


“Mocha for Jessica,” I shout. A woman steps out of the crowd and picks up the cup from the counter. I smile at her – she returns the smile, nods, and leaves.

I return to making drinks. It’s 7:30 AM, and the cafe is packed. Not uncommon since we’re in the middle of the office district. 

I begin making the current drink. The order is vaguely familiar. Cold brew, two hazelnut pumps, and a copious amount of sugar. I turn the plastic cup around, finding Kaiden written on the side. Fuck me. “Caden,” I say. I watch him step out from behind everyone else.

He takes his cup but stays put at the counter. “Can we talk?”

“Does it look like I can talk right now?” I ask, gesturing to the cafe. Every table packed, the queue going out the door, and the waiting crowd looks murderous without their morning coffee.

“I’ll come back later,” he mutters in defeat. “Take care.” And with that, he’s out the door and on his way. 

His navy blue suit hugs him perfectly as he strides down the street, walking with authority. I used to pick on him about that suit…

Sitting in the stock room for lunch is the best we can do at the cafe. We have a courtyard round the back of the building for deliveries, but it’s unsafe to sit out there due to the other stores in the area.

“Why is there never any everything bagels left,” Kai groans as he sits down next to me on a stack of coffee bean bags.

I shrug, eating my sandwich. “I always end up with plain…”

“Should we just order more everything bagels?” He questions, unwrapping his sandwich.

“Good luck getting Lilie to agree to doing that again,” I chuckle. I’d gotten her to do it once – we trialled it for a week. Turns out, if you have a lot of everything bagels – nobody buys them. Reverse psychology.

As we sit silently, eating our lunch, commotion erupts in the cafe. Lilie comes into the backroom; arms crossed over her chest. “Your ex is here for you.”

Ex? My last ex was over six years ago, in Lancaster, England. Caden. I take the last bite of my sandwich, get up, and walk into the cafe. He’s stood at the counter – holding up the line – looking all stoic and handsome in his blue suit. “Are you causing issues?” 

A smile creeps onto his face, softening his expression. “Lilie’s being a bitch.”

I roll my eyes as Lilie laughs. I walk around the counter and out the front door, Caden entow. “What do you want to talk about?” 

He catches up quickly with his long strides, towering over me as he walks beside me. “I was expecting more resistance…” Caden mutters.

I stop abruptly, allowing him to take a couple of strides before stopping and turning around. “You were expecting me to argue with you?”

Caden nods. “Our last conversation was less than pleasant.”

You’re telling me. I cried for hours… Again. “It’s been a week, I don’t hold a grudge for longer than a day; you know that.”

He bobs his head again. “Yeah, I do…” He pauses. “I need to know what I should do…”

I look down, my eyes wandering over his suit. It’s in his weekly rotation of suits, and while he gets them dry cleaned, I always re-ironed the trousers for him – the blue needed a little extra attention, and he never had time. The leg creases on his trousers are barely visible. He’s not had time. “You need to iron your damn trousers…” I mutter, looking up to find his blue eyes wide and a broad smile on his face. I’ve missed you. 

“You’re making jokes now? Five weeks without me and you develop a sense of humour?” He chuckles.

I shrug. “I’ve always had a sense of humour – you were just never any fun to be around.”

Jokingly grasping his chest as if I’ve shot him through the heart, he laughs, “rude, Alice. Very rude.”

“Yeah, well, you’ve never needed my advice before. Why do you need it now?” I question. 

Caden’s smile fades, a sad frown setting in and showing how tired he is. “I’ve regularly needed your advice – it’s just never been this big of an issue.”

“Does she know you’re here?” I blurt. Until this year, he’d visited the cafe daily for his morning coffee and afternoon snack. This is the first time he’s visited this year, it became apparent very quickly that she’d forced him to stop coming by.

He shakes his head. “No, she doesn’t.”

Of course, she doesn’t. If she knew, she’d probably be having an aneurysm right now. Maybe for good reason. “What do you regret?” I ask. “Do you regret moving in with her, or moving to East Village, or…”

“Or?” He probes.

I stand in silence as I try to find the right words. “Do you regret letting me stay longer?” 

The question seems to shock him. He tenses, his spine straightening and his jaw clenching while his hands dig into his pockets. Caden’s eyes now look anywhere but my face. Shit. 

Want to read the rest now? Playing House is now available, in full, on my store!

PLAYING HOUSE is now available, in full, as an eBook for just 99p!
Available to read online for free and downloadable for 99p.
Available from Theodora’s Emporium and Amazon.


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