This week, and perhaps beyond this week, much of the Diner staff is going to be doing writing prompts, with everyone responding to the following scenario:
A regular customer of the paranormal persuasion discovers his or her diner of choice is no longer a safe haven.
Here's what I came up with. Enjoy!
SURVIVAL OF THE FAIREST--Available now, Samhain Publishing
“Sorry, sweetie, we’re out of porterhouses.” Harry’s grey-haired waitress slid a stemmed water glass onto the table in front of him and flipped her receipt book to the next page.
Out of porterhouses? How could Miss Sandie’s Cafe and Tea Room run out of porterhouse steaks when he was the only customer who ever ordered them?
Harry stared at the frilly, blue-checkered menu as if another werewolf-friendly item were going to appear among the scones and scotch eggs. Miss Sandie’s was his customary lunch spot, but he’d rather fire up the grill himself than settle for a fruit plate.
“Are you sure, Annette? Did Sandie maybe order some T-bones?” He sniffed the air, but he couldn’t detect much beyond the fresh flowers on his table and apple pie that saturated the dining room. He didn’t have the greatest nose in wolfdom, but it wasn’t as dull as a human’s.
“Your friends from earlier cleaned us out.” Annette stuck her hand on her hip. “Sandie doesn’t mind keeping you in steak, Harry, especially not after you fixed her car, but this isn’t a greasy spoon. It’s a tea room.”
Harry eased his chair away from his favorite spot beside the pastry cabinet, but a table of gossiping women blocked his view of the tea room. “Which friends?”
“Your lady friends.” Annette smoothed her lacy white apron and sniffed. “I use the term ‘lady’ loosely, you understand. No ladies I know behave like that.”
He didn’t like the sound of that. He had a number of lady friends, but none of them would have given Annette a sour face. Or ordered steak at a tea room. He liked his ladies sweet, handy with a stove, and one hundred percent human.
“Have you seen them around town, maybe at Wal-Mart?” he asked. Millington, West Virginia, wasn’t big, but it was close enough to Wheeling that they did get tourist traffic. Maybe it was coincidence.
Annette shrugged. “They looked familiar, but I doubt they got those leather skirts up at Wally World. And why anyone would want to wear a spiked dog collar, I have no idea.”
“I don’t know, either,” Harry said. “What are your specials today?”
“The same as every Thursday,” Annette teased him, but she told him anyway.
While she talked, Harry cursed inwardly. Hell and high water. These “friends” had to be Bianca and her cronies. He came to the tea room to hide from the pack and pack politics, but if they’d invaded his sanctuary, he’d be severely put out. It had taken him two years to cultivate Miss Sandie and her staff, trading discounted automotive and computer repairs for steaks cooked just the way he liked them, friendly faces, and the occasional heated bingo session.
No hard-drinking, hard-living pack wolf would be caught dead in this frippy, frilly tea room. He hadn’t thought they’d follow him in here, of all places. But apparently they had.
Couldn’t they just leave him alone?
The alpha female needs an alpha male, Harry. Wolves aren’t made to live alone, Harry. Join the pack, Harry.
It wasn’t his problem their alpha had gotten himself tossed in the state penitentiary for trafficking stolen goods. Contrary to popular werewolf belief, shifters could be just as human as the next human if they wanted, and pack life was a choice, not a necessity.
A choice Harry didn’t plan to make.
“Earth to Harry.” Annette tapped his menu with her pen, distracting him from his sulk. “What do you want for lunch? The spinach quiche is good and we just got in a fresh batch of strawberries.”
“Let me get a ham and cheese croissant, heavy on the cheese and even heavier on the ham, a side of scrambled eggs with that tomato sauce, a plate of scones, a selection of marmalades, and a strawberry and walnut salad. Oh, and fruit tea.”
“Hungry boy,” Annette said.
He handed over the menu and winked at her. “If any of my so-called friends come back, tell them you’re out of steak and save the porterhouse for me.”
The bell above the door tinkled out a merry tune, and she slipped her receipt book in her apron pocket. “Why don’t you tell them yourselves?”
“What do you mean?” Harry swiveled in his chair and watched Bianca, Violet and Gert saunter through the front door, their spike-heeled boots and skintight clothes as out of place in Miss Sandie’s Cafe and Tea Room as Miss Sandie would have been in a biker bar.
So what do you think happens next? Maybe we'll find out next week. And be sure to stick around this week as more Diner staff members dish out some free fiction and fun stories.
Image is from the Whitley Creek B&B: http://www.whiteleycreek.com/queen_of_the_meadow_bloom/2007/03/index.html