The Best Goodbye(Rosemary Beach #13)(13) by Abbi Glines
“The flatware has to be rolled to the specifications given. Elle gave three classes on this, and all of you needed to attend at least one. The flatware rolling will be done by every server every night at close until there are three hundred prepared and ready to go. This shit isn’t anywhere near right. Can one of you demonstrate how this should be done?”
No one raised their hand. The strained look on Captain’s face had silenced them all. Stepping forward, I held my hand up. “I can.” I’d been through two of Elle’s classes, and she’d taken every opportunity to make an example of me. I had wrapped more than thirty sets all by myself one day, because she kept saying my work was sloppy. I had no doubt I could do it.
Captain’s eyes locked on me, and he picked up a linen napkin and a set of flatware. “Show me.”
I didn’t let his piercing eyes intimidate me, but I also didn’t hold his gaze. There was always the chance that he’d finally see the eyes behind the glasses. I took the supplies and placed them on the table he was standing beside. Then I wrapped them up more perfectly than anything Elle had ever done.
“Looks like someone paid attention.” The relief was obvious in his voice. “Elle is out for the next few days. I need you to teach this bunch how to do this,” he said in a soft tone, then lifted his gaze to everyone else. “If you can’t wrap the fucking flatware properly in two days’ time, you’re fired. Is that understood?”
The tension in the room was heavy, but they all replied in the affirmative. That meant I had the rest of the day to teach them the proper way to wrap flatware.
“Good job,” Captain said, in a voice that stirred memories. There was kindness in his tone. Almost as if he felt we were a team. We had been the best team once.
“Thanks,” I replied.
“If any of them give you a hard time, let me know. I’m not opening this place with any slackers on board. There’s a pile of applications on my desk from people who would gladly take their places.”
I didn’t doubt that. Other than the Kerrington Country Club, this was the only place in town that would bring in big tips.
“OK,” I said, looking away from him and back down at my hands.
“Get to it,” he barked at the rest of the room, causing me to jump. Then he patted my shoulder and walked out of the dining room.
The grumbles and complaints started as whispers and grew louder quickly. I thought I caught Elle’s name a few times. No one seemed concerned with doing what he’d just ordered them to do.
“Hey, Rose, you good?” Brad asked, as he stepped into the dining room from the kitchen.
I held up a napkin in my hand and forced a smile. “I have to teach everyone how to roll flatware,” I explained.
He looked around at the others, noticing their lack of concern, then frowned. “Hey!” he called out, getting their attention. When all eyes were on him, he pointed to me. “Y’all need to learn how to roll the fucking flatware, and Rose doesn’t have all damn day. Pay attention.”
Several of the females smiled at Brad as if they’d do whatever he wanted them to do. He was single and attractive, so I didn’t blame them. They stopped gossiping about where Elle might be and listened as I started the first of many lessons that day.
• • •
The word was that Captain had broken things off with Elle, and she was at home, pouting. Whatever the case, I was relieved to have a break from her for the next few days. But it was too much to hope that she wouldn’t come back. Girls like her didn’t give up without a fight.
Once everyone was clued in about why Elle wasn’t at work, they seemed more willing to listen to the flatware lesson. Brad checked in on me every thirty minutes or so to be sure I had their attention. I liked that about him. He was helpful and seemed to care. Again, it was a nice feeling. One I hadn’t had in a very long time.
“Hey,” Brad said now. “I tried a new entrée today for the menu. You interested in helping me taste it? We could eat it here or go back to your place and share it with Franny. A kid’s opinion might be good.”
I lifted my eyes to meet his while I polished the tables. I hadn’t heard him come in, but there he was again, being nice. “Uh, yeah. That sounds good. I mean, going to my place. Franny will need dinner.”
A grin broke across his face, making him appear even more handsome. “Great. I’ll pack everything up and meet you back here in a few.” He hurried back to the kitchen.
With a pleased smile on my lips, I bent down to finish polishing the thick mahogany wood of the tabletop I was working on. Captain had said they needed to shine.
“You and Brad seeing each other?” Captain’s deep voice filled the room, making my heart flutter. Frustrated, I shoved the feeling away and stood up to look at him. His expression wasn’t friendly or curious but, rather, stern.
“We’re, uh, friends. I think,” I replied. Because honestly, I wasn’t sure what we were yet.
“You think?” He seemed annoyed by my answer.
Straightening my spine, I held his gaze and gave him back the same annoyed expression he was giving me. “I don’t see how this is your business.”
A smirk touched his lips, and he tilted his head slightly to the left, but his eyes were hard. Nothing like River’s. Not when he looked like that. “Brad’s the best chef in the Southeast. I won’t fire him. It’ll be you that’s gone if things don’t work out. Understood?”