As she sat there waiting, her eyes closed in the recollection of a distant memory: skateboarding down a road when a swarm of young packrats tried to mug her. The wide-eyed eight year old had been one of them, one in the back, her eyes indicating she didn’t really want to do this. She was the one Trinity pinned to the ground after chasing her bad friends away, no one should tell you what to do, you’re meant to be a leader, not a follower and definitely not this; next time I break your face.
Would Cinnamon Bonn remember her? Trinity Tiller wondered. That seemed so long ago; she’d been a 13 year old brat herself at the time and truth be told she’d have preferred Cinnamon be leader of the gang if anything.
Nearly 20 years had passed since that encounter with the younger girl. It was their first official meeting – and last so far as Cinnamon knew. Trinity had been keeping track of her – like a hobby; except she’d considered it a duty.
Her heart was racing like play race cars on an electric track. Trinity’s fingers clenched. There was a truth that needed to be told. Trinity was afraid; of rejection more than anything else.
“Trinity,” There was a pleasant smile on the old woman’s face. Estelle Cooper was owner of this pleasant little upperscale eatery. It was named Shontel’s for a deceased daughter.
Wearing an attractive blue dress the white haired woman sat down a cup of tea for Trinity, and a cup at her own spot; she settled a tea pot in the center. Then she sat down. The smell of the apple-cinnamon herbal tea met Trinity’s nose with a take me now command. It tasted so good going down her throat and initiated a calming reaction.
“Morning Estelle,” Cinnamon greeted. “I’ve checked in at the Promenade Suites; I heard Cinnamon’s working there part time.”
“Oh, yes,” Estelle replied. “Regrettably I haven’t been able to give the child all the hours she needs here, and she wanted more money before her first round of college begins.”
Trinity nodded her head. Not a problem she could easily relate to. “Two jobs wow.” She shook her head. “Not sure I could do that.”
“The girl has had a hard life for sure,” Estelle said in a near admiring tone. “But, she seems to have come through it fine.” She smiled. “She said she met someone who knocked some sense into her.”
Trinity smiled, could it be her? “So, how are things going with her?”
“As usual her work here has been above the par,” Estelle said. Her pride was near motherly. “She has a real nose for food, and a good eye for atmosphere.” She sighed and shook her head. “I can only hope college doesn’t ruin her.”
“How is her job at the Promenade going?” Trinity asked. It was run by Mike Ferguson, a real hard-nose and a butt kissed of the rich and popular.
“She works as a lifeguard and waits tables,” Estelle said. “Says the pay’s not bad and tips are okay.” The woman took a breath. “Not as good as what she makes here of course.”
Estelle began telling Trinity of one of Cinnamon’s more recent adventures. Apparently while working the pool she’d managed to save the life of one Richard Pomegranate. Upper Crust boy about Cinn’s own age, early 20’s; clean cut, handsome boy with ruddy features. Anyway, she saved his life; of course he wanted to display his appreciation by taking her out to dinner.
“I didn’t think Mike approved of employees fraternizing with guests,” Trinity commented.
“Well, you know Mike,” Estelle said.
In other words, Richard shoved some cash at him and he changed his mind.
Anyway, Estelle continued, he brought her here and some girl chicks came along. Oh, they were trying to cause trouble and embarrass Cinnamon.
Trinity could hardly wait to here how Cinnamon reacted. Of course the group had been here and probably didn’t know Cinn worked here.
They tried tripping her up, and bribing a waitress to make her look bad; but the girl wasn’t having any of it. When she was brought something she knew wasn’t Fish Bourbon, she took it right back and showed them how to make it proper.
Estelle’s face lit up. “It was so funny, of course I had to reprimand the waitress and the cook, after all this is no place for childish tricks, one does not play with food.” Her face soured.
Apparently a certain blue-eyed blonde named Ilya Trenton had appointed herself as Cinnamon’s chief rival. Trinity had never had much use for blue-eyed blondes herself; her first boyfriend had been one. Personally, she had lot’s of night black hair that curved about her neck; and dark brown eyes. The boys all seemed to think she had a pleasant looking figure, or maybe it was her money.
“Is Cinnamon going to be here tonight?” Trinity asked.
“Oh, I’m afraid not,” Estelle said. “Mike’s got her waiting tables.”
“Oh,” Trinity felt a little disappointed. Still, this could work out perfectly.
Estelle’s face became somber. “You know, in some ways I think having her has helped me with-“ she hesitated and took a sip of tea. “With the passing of my own baby girl.” Her eyes examined the cup in her hands.
“In fact,” Estelle continued. “I-I’m thinking of retiring and letting her take over the business.” She shook her head. “Maybe do some traveling; I’ve never been to Disney World you know.”
Trinity smiled. “You should go; but I think we’d all miss you if you retired.”
“Thanks dear,” Estelle said. Then a remembrance seemed to flash in her hazel eyes. “Oh, my manners, how are your folks.” She stopped herself short. “I’m sorry, your father died recently.” Her faced pinkened from embarrassment.
“Mom’s fine, she did have some reservations about my plans,” Trinity said. Dad, well, he was dead after a quick round with pancreatic cancer.
“Trinity,” Estelle’s voice again became serious and quite sad.
She looked to the old woman and took a sip of tea. “Yes ma’am?”
“I’m afraid this Ilya means some kind of harm to Cinnamon.” Estelle said. “We, we cannot allow that.”
Trinity whole heartedly agreed as she shook her head. “No ma’am, we can’t.”
Taking a breath Trinity slowly exhaled. “I’m afraid, Estelle, I’m afraid she’ll hate me when I tell her what I feel I must.” It was a hard admission to make. Others had their own opinions on how Cinnamon would react; hers was the far darker one. “She may want nothing to do with our family.”
“Could you blame her?” Estelle replied.
I suppose not. Trinity thought. The two ladies finished their teas. Then, Trinity had to get back to the Promenade Suites.
Life had been like apple pie for Trinity. Born to wealth and power, but taking a page from hero Shirley Temple Black, learning at an early age to manage her life well so she’d stay financially and in other means secure through life with proper investments and a good career.
Dad had been a real estate guy making his wealth and mom was high up the food chain of a large banking firm. Trinity’s path had been medicine and she was a doctor and married to an attorney.
Returning to the Suites, she was greeted at the door by none other than smiling Mike Ferguson himself. His fake teeth gleamed a bright white; his hair was dark and looked maybe a tad overdyed. She’d warned him about the perils of overdying his hair in the past.
“Miss Tiller, I’d heard you were with us again,” Mike greeted. He gently took her hand in his. “So nice to see you.”
“Nice to see you too Mr. Ferguson.”
“Just call me Mike,” He told her for the zillionth time.
She smiled. No. Trinity decided to head out to the poolside lounge. Finding a chaise lounger, the young woman settled down into her thoughts; then surfaced from them and simply listened.
Oh Richard, she’d heard someone call. “Still interested in that life guard girl?” The speaker sounded as though he were talking through his nose. Ugh, that sound always got on her nerves.
“No, that was just a thing,” the man called Richard replied.
Trinity focused on the speakers. They sat at a table drinking what looked to be pink lemonade.
“Well, I should say she was hardly your sort,” nasal voice said.
“Worse than I could have imagined,” Richard replied. “Ilya’s been digging into her past.”
“Oh that nosey cow,” nasal voice said. Now Trinity was ready to cut him some slack. “Who does she think she is?”
“The keeper of lines,” Richard replied. “Between us and them.” He took a breath. “TO be fair I did point out that the whole date thing was my idea and I had to bribe Mike into coercing her.”
The nasal guy made a snorting noise. “So, what did Ilya learn?”
“She’s a slum kid, a practical alley cat who’s been masquerading as a respectable young woman.” Richard said.
“So, it’s bad that she got a respectable job and is trying to make good for herself?” the other man replied.
“Well,” Richard seemed stymied. “Of course not, – I guess.”
The nasal man looked to Trinity and their eyes connected. He suddenly looked away from her, quite aware she was listening to them.
“Miss?” A waiter said. “A drink?”
“Pink Lemonade,” Trinity replied.
“Yes ma’am.” He answered and walked away.
“Estelle seems to like her,” the other man said.
“I wonder if Estelle knows her whole story?” Richard said.
“Do you really think the old woman would care?”
She knows more than you dimwits realize, Trinity thought. Her fists clenched.
“Well, Ilya plans to send her back to the slums,” Richard said. He shrugged his shoulders. “She was quite put out about what happened at Shontel’s.”
Trinity fished the cell phone from her purse and pushed some numbers. “Sweetie? I need to find out everything I can about a certain Ilya Trenton.” She listened. “Love you too, meet me at the Promenade for dinner,” She paused and growled. “We’ll have desert in my room.”
Her husband growled back in her ear. Somehow Trinity needed to get Cinnamon settled with a good husband.
“Problems miss?” It was the nasal voice man, now standing by her.
“Trinity Tiller,” She announced. His eyebrows flinched as if he recognized the name.
“Daughter of the late great Lawrence Powers?”
“The same,” She replied.
“I was an admirer of his,” the man said. “You must have been proud.”
“Not all of his work was admirable,” Trinity said. Then, she frowned sadly. “But, I do miss father.”
“I’m sure,” the man replied. “Well, our parents are only human after all; still, we have to accept their faults and their graces.” He paused, looking her over. His eyes noticed the big rock on her finger. “Benjamin Grace. Nice to meet you.”
“I couldn’t help notice your interest in my conversation with Mr. Pomegranate.” Benjamin said.
She would take the blunt approach, “I don’t want anyone messing with Cinnamon.”
His brows again twitched. “And why do you care about a lowly alley cat?”
“That would be my business.” She replied.
“Granted,” He said. He was looking at her closely, as if trying to peer into her soul; he wasn’t just trying to take in her pretty figure anymore.
“You,” he started and then suddenly stopped. “I think you would enjoy scratching Ilya’s eyes out.”
“Only is she got in my way,” Trinity replied. The waiter brought her the lemonade.
Benjamin smiled, nodded his head and walked on. Would he warn Richard or Ilya? Somehow Trinity thought not.
She watched the young woman in full body swim outfit walk to the lifeguard’s chair, “I’m here to replace you Laura,” she said to the other girl.”
“Thank Cinn, been quiet so far,” the fast-voice freckled girl replied, hoping down and scurrying away. Cinnamon climbed into her seat. She had a made of dark-red hair, some nose freckles of her own and vast green eyes
Cinnamon crossed her long legs before her and settled in.
Trinity rose and started toward her. Funny how butterflies seemed to be popping up in her stomach; now of all times and for once she had absolutely no idea of what to say. But, Richard Pomegranate cut in as though not even noticing Trinity.
“No offense of course,” Richard replied.
“I only went out with you because Mr. Ferguson told me to.” Cinnamon said. “He even gave me a cut of your bribe.”
“Oh,” Richard sounded genuinely cut. “Really? I mean it’s not like I’m unattractive.”
“No, you’re not,” Cinnamon replied. “Actually you’re very handsome.”
“Then why do you make is sound like you had to be forced?” He asked a little hotly. “Are you gay? Not that I’d have a problem with that?”
“Oh, really Mr. Pomegranate, I am not hear to meet men, I just want to make some college cash.” Cinnamon paused. “You’re the one who said we have nothing in common as I remember anyway.”
“Well, true,” Richard said.
It was like he couldn’t take her not being broken up, Trinity thought. Then, Cinnamon looked past Richard and noticed her, “Can I help you miss?”
Richard spun around and saw Trinity. They’d met before, at a couple of mom’s business parties.
Now, what the Hades was she going to say?
Richard spun from her back to Cinnamon, “Trinity Tiller,” He announced. “Another high class snobbish socialite.”
Little testy there, Richard. Trinity thought.
“Honestly Richard, I don’t understand what your problem is?” Cinnamon snapped.
“Problem?” Mike showed his head. “Is there a problem?” His hands were wrung behind his back. “Something wrong Mr. Pomegranate?”
“No,” He replied tersely. “Nothing.” He stormed away.
“Miss Bonn, I’m not paying you to argue with the guests,” Mike said hotly.
“There was no argument,” Trinity said and smiled sweetly.
Mike looked at her. “Oh, hello Miss Tiller.” He gave her another smile and walked away.
Trinity took the young woman’s figure in. About her size, five-six and pretty.
“Something the matter?” Cinnamon asked.
“My father died recently,” Trinity had never been a fan of those pretty euphemisms, passed on or lost. She took a breath. “He had dark-red hair and green eyes like you.”
A distasteful look appeared on Cinnamon’s face, “Are you saying I look like a man?”
Trinity laughed reflexively. “No, definitely not. It’s just, “ she hesitated uncertain what to say.
Cinnamon’s expressions shifted to a considered puzzlement. “Have we met?” She shook her head, “You seem awful familiar.”
“Well,” Trinity recalled their first official meeting and impishly smiled. “I did beat you up once.”
Cinnamon flinched. Anger was in her eyes and some fear. “I remember.” Then she thought further and jabbed a finger, “Pretty tough for a rich girl.”
Pride surged through Trinity. “Batgirl was one of my heroes.” She swirled around and executed an acrobatic high kick.
Cinnamon laughed. Her eyes returned to the pool as she thought back. “Didn’t we go to the same high school?”
“Raleigh High? Yes,” Cinnamon replied. “Though I was a few years ahead of you.” She shook her head. “Mom thought a public school education would be better than the private school many of my friends attended.”
“Well,” Cinnamon said with an apparent indifference. “Nice seeing you again.”
“Yes,” Trinity said. We need to talk; the words just wouldn’t come out of her mouth. They kind of got stuck She just smiled, turned and slunk back to her table.
Never before had he been so treated. Angrily Richard pulled back the spring and slapped the pall down the slot of the old fashioned type pinball game. He’d been playing it since he was a child.
Richard Pomegranate had expected many things, emotion, anger derision of the wealthier classes, whatever; but not such a – a dismissal; as if his interest wasn’t even wanted.
“Damn it,” he snapped as his fingers failed to make the flippers keep the first ball in play. He prepped the second ball.
He’d smacked his head in a wild dive, got a mouth of water and went in. Within seconds Richard was in her arms and she was knocking the water from his lungs. So, he decided to reward her with dinner.
For some reason she’d been reluctant. Richard had thought it was because of her boss; Ferguson had some very strict rules. So, he convinced good ol’ Mike to lighten up some.
How was it this lower class girl was having such an effect on him?
“Richard, how is it?” Benjamin strode over and glanced at the score. “Kind’a low.”
“I just started,” Richard said. An excited “Yes,” escaped his lips as lights went off and the points went up as the ball bounced around.
“Something the matter?” Benjamin asked.
“Not a damn thing,” Richard snappishly answered. He blew a snort of air through his nostrils. “You would think that a lower class girl would show some appreciation and even gratitude that someone like me would take her out to dinner.”
“She didn’t put out?” Benjamin asked.
“Don’t be crude,” Richard told him. “I wasn’t even after that.” He took a breath; not that he would have turned it down. The corner of his eye caught the ball headed out of bounds.
It was time to put the third ball in play.
“What did you want? Her to fall apart because you dumped her?” Benjamin asked. “It was only one date, and two of your lady friends did tag along trying to make her look bad.”
“Not my fault,” The words stressed in Richard’s throat. He hadn’t asked Ilya or Kai to come. Sometimes Ilya could be quite the nuisance.
“Gentlemen,” Speak of the nuisance and hear she was.” Clad in bright colors patterned in a blouse and knee-length skirt, she approached them with a flaring smile on her face.
“Nice to see you,” Ilya said. “Richard, I’m glad you came to your senses and have decided not to see that girl anymore.” She shook her head. “People should really stay with their own kind, you have the rich like us and the poor like her.”
Ilya’s face crinkled as she watched the ball bounce around the machine. “What a ridiculous game.”
“I like it,” Richard said.