“I’m telling you. It has to be her; Emma Troxell. Didn’t you hear about what she did?” An undergrad woman whispered to her friend who was wearing a too-big Baja hoodie.
“Amber. Jax. Good morning.” Emma handed off a steaming mug to a patron then turned to greet the duo with a welcoming smile. “Same as always? Hot cocoa, extra whipped cream, and a muffin for both of you? I made blueberry today. How are classes?”
“Emma are you Emmaline Troxell?” Jax asked fiddling nervously with the oversized Baja hoodie they wore.
“Dude!” Their friend elbowed them in the side.
“What! It’s cool if she is.” Jax elbowed back. “It’s not like I’m creeping on her or anything. I’m just asking.”
“Depends.” Emma poured two mugs half-full with steamed milk. “Would it be good or bad if I was her?”
“Oh. Emmaline is cool because she totally fucked over this huge evil corporation.” Jax said.
“Yeah. Yeah! She fucked them up by, like, literally fucking them. They lost a shit-ton of money. Like, half a billion dollars in value in a day!” Amber added.
“So, what she did was good?” Emma chuffed and fetched a cocoa syrup she’d prepared that morning. “If that happened at all, of course. I heard that was just an urban legend.”
“No dude!” Amber said. “That’s just, like, PR or whatever. They’re fucking trying to bury the story because Troxell owns friggin’ everything but, like, the internet has pictures.’
“Yeah. Look!” Jax handed their phone over.
Emma held the photo of herself from the Tower Incident. In it she was collared up and absolutely wrecked from two full hours of mindless sex. Feelings of freedom and catharsis swelled in her. Her afternoon mind-blanked was an adventure and a declaration of independence. The world now knew she was a non-entity in the Troxell family, openly opposed to them even, and she couldn’t be more happy about that.
“You think I’d do something crazy like that?” Emma handed back the phone and whisked their drinks.
“Well, you seem kinda punk. Like, serious fuck-the-man vibes.” Jax said. “But you don’t really dress punk ‘cause you have to work here and stuff.”
“And you totally, like, let people hook up here all the time.” Amber added.
“Wait.” Emma stopped mixing. “What do you mean people hook up here?”
The duo shrugged in unison.
“I’d better not catch you two fooling around.” Emma said playfully. After all, she had no right judging another’s exhibitionism.
“Us?” Jax said, turning red.
“Together?” Amber said, turning equally red.
“Oh. Well, maybe something to talk about over hot cocoa and a muffin?” Emma handed over the order. They paid and hurried off, both silently contemplating a lot more than they had planned on that day.
It wasn’t the first time Emma was recognized after the incident in the tower. Only two weeks had passed and her father’s PR army was just starting to scrape the story from the internet. Articles existed here and there but the story was loosing steam quickly. Most people didn’t expect to see his eldest daughter working at a quaint and cozy cafe.
More customers came and went. Any free time she could spare was spent on her phone. The redhead streamer she followed was an absolutely vibrating ball of anxiety, but she also radiated an honest energy that Emma had never felt before. In a star-crossed stroke of luck, this streamer just happened to be absolutely enchanted with the infamous woman form the Tower Incident. She’d even made a few videos reacting to heavily censored photos and videos from that day.
Emma paid a premium to directly message with the streamer. They chatted a little and Emma asked if she could pass along a photo. It was the same one that Jax and Amber had shared with her. The absolutely incandescent fawning glee that radiated from the streamer after seeing the image brightened Emma’s day. Emma couldn’t help but share in the joy. This was her new life and it was, so far, a good life. Her time as a locked away princess, paraded around by her father like a trophy was behind her now.
She also noticed Jax and Amber’s table was suspiciously empty. Their mugs and plates sat untouched. A pang of loneliness set in. She was free but no one called anymore. The only social contact she had were her customers. She looked at the steam and watched the red-headed woman pull her hoodie tight over her face, to hide how much she was blushing from her teasing fans.
“Maybe we’ll meet someday.” Emma sighed and started to serve her next customer.
Not the most steamy story but it felt right to go with the illustration. After getting mind-blanked Emma would surely be recognized by some people. Hope it’s nice to see a little picture of Emma’s life before she met Sal. It’s kind of like a tiny prequel, right? Also, I just really like writing Emma and Sal. They’re so damn cute together.
In other news, “A Day at the Center“, the next novella, is on its second round of editing. It’ll be full of mind-blanking fun and all the horny shenanigans you’d expect from the Student Body Rental Center.