“So I put all that coffee grounds in the teeny basket to make one cup of coffee, boss? ‘Cause that’s how much coffee I use to make a whole pot at home,” Moon Moon said uncertainly. Lex gave the stink-eye to his new minion and silently mourned the loss of the twins. They may have been only eight years old but even they could have figured out making espresso verses making drip coffee by now. Why exactly had he told Marissa that he would keep the shop open while she was away?
“This is not the correct grind for drip coffee, Moon Moon. This was specially roasted and ground for espresso,” he said patiently. He had learned that he didn’t need to hide his sarcasm—that flew right over Moon Moon’s head. But he could not raise his voice to the silly wolf or he’d have to spend at least ten minutes reassuring him that he didn’t think Moon Moon was dumb and useless. In fact, the wolf was not useless. He quite possibly was the best non-Egyptian Lex had ever found at seeing through deception. You couln’d lie to him, either literally, or implied. Moon Moon was socially inept and overly naive, but he wasn’t useless.
“And expresso is extra strong coffee in a teeny cup, right?”
Ok, scratch that. The lout was useless, at least as a barista.
“I have a better idea,” Lex said with a tight little smile. “How about you go back to doing surveillance on the Hancock pack territory and I’ll bring in some nice pretty young girl to serve the coffee.”
“That’s a great idea, boss. You know, that Rosa chick is lookin’ for work,” Moon Moon said as he began stripping off the Java Joe monogrammed apron so fast he almost hanged himself with the neck loop. Lex watched in amazement. He had thought that euphemism was a joke. He shook his head slowly as Moon Moon half threw the apron at a hook in the back office—from the coffee bar, which was more than thirty feet away—and ran out the door as if he thought Lex would change his mind. Oh, and no way was he going to hire anyone called “the Poison Puta” to work the counter. The idea was to keep Java Joe in business, not turn the whole town off to drinking gourmet coffee.
A bell over the door rang and a gaggle of kids came tumbling in. They weren’t really kids, of course. All five had been frequenting the coffee shop since Marissa opened the door but if he remembered right, the Goslin girls were now in college. They probably knew the menu better than he did—wait.
“Ladies,” Lex said with a charming smile as he watched them fumble in pockets and back pack pockets for enough change for one drink each.
“Oh, hi Lex,” Glinda Goslin said with a shy smile. ‘We have enough today, we promise.”
“I was actually wondering if you would be interested in a… mutually agreeable proposition.”
“Um…” Glinda said hesitantly.
“Mom said not to take you up on deals, Lex,” Georgette Goslin said brashly. He noticed that she was half hiding behind Glinda, though, so the brashness was probably due to the fact she had some cover. He was both a god and a cat. They were nineteen-year-old quintuplets and goose shifters.
“Don’t you want to hear what the proposition is?” he asked, eying the neat and clean but very worn clothes the girls were wearing.
“Ok,” Glinda squeaked nervously.
“I happen to be in need of some staff, preferably someone who knows the difference between espresso grind and drip grind.” That got their attention, fast.
“And maybe someone, or five someones, who know how to make everything on the menu?” That query came from Geraldine. Lex smiled warmly and half bowed to her.
“Indeed,” he said warmly. “And someone who would not call anything served in this shop “expresso.”
“Ugh!” all five of them said at once. Lex nodded his head in solemn commiseration. He didn’t really care what peopled called it but he did know that that specific pronunciation annoyed coffee snobs to no end.
“And we mustn’t forget the coming holiday season. It wouldn’t just be the wages you’d earn. It would also be the money you aren’t spending for your daily coffees since the job includes one drink per shift,” Lex said with a burst of insight. Gloria, their mother, worked hard to take care of her five girls alone after losing their father in an unfortunate hunting accident ten years ago, but the family wasn’t wealthy. Paying for five cups of coffee daily had to bite into the family budget. He could tell by the almost worshipful looks on all five girls’ faces that he had them hooked.
“But our homework…” Ginny said cautiously.
“I doubt with five of you to tend the coffee shop in the evenings, anyone is going to run out of time to study. Besides, you always study here anyway.”
“No moring shifts?” Georgette asked. She didn’t sound upset, just curious. “Me and Ginny don’t have our first class until eleven Monday, Tuesday and Friday.”
“And me, Gemma and Gerry don’t have a class until noon on Wednesday and Friday,” Glinda added. Lex grinned. Perfect. That would leave him only having to cover about five hours a day, which wouldn’t cut into his own plans much at all. With Moon Moon keeping an eye on the Hankocks and Marissa out of state and unale to curtail his more njoyable pastimes, that left him plenty of time for his true interest; screwing with that upstart Indian tiger, Ghan.