“I need the biggest piece of chocolate cake that you have,” Chana said as she slumped onto the barstool.
Nasrin paused as she was wiping up the counter. “Bad day or did you finally give up on that diet?”
Her friend pulled a face that told her she wasn’t in the mood for jokes. Nasrin glanced around the empty cafe, and then produced the last of her special triple chocolate cake that she had made earlier that day. For all her customers knew, she had sold out of them around three that afternoon, but something told her to keep one behind the counter for an emergency. Diet breaking or a crappy day definitely qualified as an emergency in Nasrin’s book. She sliced off a large piece, placed it on a plate and slid it over to Chana who already had a fork in hand.
“You know that promotion I was up for?” she asked, stabbing off a bite-sized piece. “They gave it to that new guy, Mike. He hasn’t even been there for a year.”
Nasrin nodded. “We’re going to need more than just cake.”
It was a half hour before she normally closed, but in this case she didn’t mind making an exception. Nasrin closed the doors and drew the curtains, then brought out a bottle of red wine that had been in her office. Someone had given it to her as an anniversary present – two whole years running her own cafe and bakery. She wasn’t a huge fan of red wine, but she knew Chana liked it.
Nasrin moved them over to one of the bistro tables and settled in for a good long venting session. Chana had worked in an architecture firm since she graduated, but had been playing her cards to go in for a promotion. Evidently, being part of the same fraternity chapter was more of an incentive to promote someone with fewer talents and experience.
“Maybe I should try to find another place to work. I just hate that I wasted so many years there.”
“If anything, you gained experience that can be put to use somewhere else. Hopefully that place isn’t run by frat bros.”
Chana gave a huff and sipped her wine. “Probably few and far between.”
“You always have a place here if you want it.”
“I appreciate it, but you’ve seen how I’ve messed up box brownies before.”
Reaching across the small table, Nasrin brushed back the dark, curly lock of hair that had come loose from Chana’s updo. She didn’t know why she had done it, other than this urge to touch her friend. To her, Chana had felt more than a friend, but she had kept those thoughts to herself. She didn’t want to mess up what they had with her more-than-platonic feelings. Nasrin snatched her hand back.
Chana pressed her lips together in a tiny smile. “It’s okay.”
“Finish your cake, I’ve got some closing stuff that I should do.”
With that, Nasrin headed back over to the counter to pull her register and take it into the back office. She focused on her counting and paperwork, anything to ignore that slight misstep. After screwing up a perfectly good friendship with her former college roommate, Nasrin had thought she learned her lesson.
A soft knock on her doorframe interrupted her. Chana stood there with a soft look on her face. “Thanks for the cake and the wine,” she said. “And for letting me gripe at you. But you look busy, so I better head home.”
Nasrin stood and walked over to her. “Let me walk you out at least.”
Chana nodded, and the two of them went back to the front of the store. She waited for Nasrin to unlock the door before leaning over and kissing her on the cheek. “Thanks again.”
Nasrin felt her face go hot. “Anytime.”