Jesse, Chris’s right-hand woman, smacked him on the shoulder. “Yo, dude, you look like you haven’t slept in weeks.”
“Well, thanks,” he frowned. “I’m still being bombarded by calls from that place to get me to sell. They won’t quit. Didn’t they get the message?”
“Apparently not. They been callin’ ya at home?”
“No, on the cell and all because that one girl that used to work here got employed by them. I suppose the powers that be thought they’d be able to pick up some secrets or learn something new about me, or the restaurant. Didn’t they know I brainwash my former workers,” Chris laughed.
“You wish. You just don’t share anything important, which is smart. Now me on the other hand—” She cocked an eyebrow. “I could be an asset to someone if they swayed me to leave.”
Christopher stopped immediately and glared at her. “You’d never.”
She drew up her lips. Within seconds, she guffawed and smacked him on the back pretty hard. “Babe, no. I’m just messing wicha. I’d never leave your side. I told you the day Jayson died I’d help you run the place till we couldn’t do it anymore, and I meant it. You know I’m a rebel at heart. I couldn’t go anywhere and work for “the man” and feel comfortable. I ain’t wearing no suit and tie for nobody.”
Christopher choked a little from the slap and let out a small sigh of relief. He didn’t know what he’d do without Jesse if she left. Good thing she always had such a good sense of humor, and because he liked her as his second-in-command, he vowed never to piss her off if he could help it. They’d had run-ins a couple of times over various decisions, but he knew most of the time the two of them would come to an agreement in the end.
“Well, I’m glad about that.” He straightened his tie and shrugged his shoulders. “I need you here, Jess. Most days, I’m not sure what I’d do without your intellect.”
She blushed. “Aw, Chris, I swear if I didn’t like women and you didn’t like men, we’d be a match made in heaven, right?”
“Aw, sweets, c’mon, perk up a little bit, will ya? How about an arm wrestle for old times?”
“No, naw, that’s o−”
“Come on, babes. Let me see if that gym membership is doing you any good.”
Chris eyed her and sighed. It would make his day if he could finally beat Jessie in an arm wrestling match.
“Oh all right, fine.” Chris leaned down on the counter and waited for Jessie to grip his hand.
She did so immediately with a smirky grin. “All right, ready?”
“Yeah.” Chris gritted his teeth and narrowed his eyes, waiting for the signal to go. He inhaled sharply, willing himself to win.
Jessie gripped his hand tighter and pushed.
Chris held his own, grimacing with every move. His hand felt like it was going through a meat grinder, but he refused to give up easily.
“You’re there, almost there, yep… uhh!” Without too much effort, Jessie slammed Chris’s hand down on the counter.
Chris exhaled, shrugging his shoulders. “So much for that extra time I’ve been spending in the gym.”
Jessie slapped his arm. “Aw, boss, you’re a lot better than when you first re-opened this place. Remember I used to do it in a lot less time four years ago.”
“Yeah, and Uncle Jayson would root you on, too. The old coot.” Chris laughed, thinking about the man who practically raised him. Uncle Jayson had given him the shop and his apartment when he died. Chris couldn’t have been more grateful for those, meaning he already had a job and a place to live when he finished college.
After losing his parents at such a young age, Chris’s only parental unit was his Uncle Jayson Wettlon and his Aunt Myrna. If it weren’t for them, he might’ve ended up being a child in the disorganized adoption system.
“Yeah, he was a wonderful guy. I sure miss him, but hey, I gained a brand new boss who I like just as much.” She winked.
“Well, thanks for that, I think.” Chris spun on his heel. “Let’s get out there to help Wanda, Geoff, and Perry with the breakfast rush. I’m sure they’re running around like crazy.”
“Yeah, I suppose we should stop pussyfooting around. No offense, boss.”
“None taken.” Chris shoved the kitchen door open. The minute he did, Wanda walked past him with several bags of donuts in her hand.
“Let me help you with that.” Chris grabbed six of them and started calling out names. “Cynthia, Sherry, Tabatha.”
All three women walked up in a line and grabbed their orders.
“Thank you for coming to Donuts to Go. You have a great day.” Chris smiled at all three and continued to call out more names. As he did, several more people made their way through the entrance, filing in the single line behind the ropes. Others asked Laura, the hostess, for a spot to sit to have coffee along with their pastries.
After handing out the rest of the bags, Chris couldn’t help but beam with pride, looking at the amount of foot traffic Donuts to Go dealt with every day. Chris had inherited this business when he graduated from University of Illinois with his bachelor’s in business administration. Despite all the hard work along with sleepless nights needed to run it, he’d kept the place going just as his uncle had wanted him to.
“Chris, hey, man. You good?” Geoff slapped his shoulder.
“Yeah, I am.” Chris nodded at the man and grinned. “Just thinking how great everything is right now.”
“Cool, man. You looked like you were in deep thought for a minute there.”
Chris turned back around and grabbed more bags from Wanda. “I was, Geoff. With everything so good, I was thinking where the heck do I go from here?”