Home > The Good Luck Cafe

The Good Luck Cafe
Author: Annie Rains

Chapter One


The March sun beat against the top of Moira’s head as she stepped in front of Sweetie’s Bake Shop and pulled open the door. She breathed in the familiar aroma of coffee and pastries as she walked inside, and sighed happily. Home sweet home-away-from-home.

“Moira!” her mom called from behind the counter. Darla Green had bright red hair that she’d kept long since Moira was a little girl. The only hint that she and Moira were even related was the stamp of rust-colored freckles that both women had across the bridges of their noses and cheeks. “You’re running behind, aren’t you? I thought you might not be coming in this morning.”

Moira headed in her mother’s direction. “My shift starts in half an hour. I’m sorry to say I’m getting my coffee and bagel to go this morning.”

Darla frowned as she started preparing Moira’s breakfast. Moira didn’t come in every morning, but two or three times a week she found herself here to see her mom and satisfy her cravings. Call her superstitious, but the fact that it sat catty-corner on Good Luck Avenue always made her feel like there was something lucky in dropping by. Maybe there weren’t the leprechauns of her childhood imagination, but she was fortunate to have a place to come where she could visit with friends and family and get her daily dose of caffeine all in one.

Moira glanced around the room as she waited, spotting several locals in their regular spots, including Reva Dawson, who had her laptop front and center. Reva was undoubtedly working on her latest blog post. Moira did her best to avoid being fodder for Reva’s town blog. Moira kept a quiet life out of the spotlight. As a 911 dispatcher, she worked behind the scenes of the goings-on in town. She knew every bit as much as Reva, probably more, but she didn’t feel the need to gossip like the infamous town blogger did.

Beyond Reva, Moira spotted her best friend Tess sitting at a table on her own. Tess had her phone in front of her and was swiping a quick finger up the screen, a telltale sign that she was looking at TikTok or, in Tess’s case, more likely BookTok. Tess owned the local bookstore a few doors down the street and ran the weekly book club that Moira attended.

“Here you go, sweetie.” Darla slid a cup of coffee and a bagel wrapped in wax paper toward Moira.

“Thanks, Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too.” Darla flicked her gaze at Tess. “You going over to say hello?”

Moira nodded as she collected her breakfast items. “A very quick one. Being late for the dispatch is, in actuality, a life-and-death thing. Or it could be.” Maybe, if Moira didn’t live in Somerset Lake, where the biggest day-to-day emergency was a lack of parking on Hannigan Street.

Darla tsked as a smile spread through her rosy cheeks. “You always have been a dramatic one, haven’t you?”

“I’m not being dramatic right now. A lot could go wrong if no one’s there to answer the call for help.” This wasn’t exactly true. There was always one other dispatcher on shift. Since Somerset Lake was a small town, that was all that was needed. Moira was proud to be one of the few. She loved her job and knowing that she was quite possibly saving people’s lives. Or, more often, kittens that were stuck in trees and couldn’t figure out how to make their way down. But she liked saving them too.

Moira waved at Tess and walked over to where she was sitting. Tess looked up from her phone as Moira paused at the head of her table.

“Hey, you. I was hoping you’d come in today. Have a seat?” Tess asked. Today, her black hair was pulled back in a low ponytail with a few loose curls framing her face.

“I wish I could, but I have a shift in twenty-five minutes,” Moira said. “I need to get home.”

Tess visibly wilted. “Boo-hiss. I’m so jealous that you get to work from home.”

Moira offered back an eye roll. “Oh, please. You own your own business. It might as well be home for you.”

“True.” Tess grinned. “Tomorrow then?”

Moira nodded. “Sure. I’ll come in a little earlier so we can have breakfast. Sound good?”

“I’ll look forward to it.” Tess checked the time on her phone’s screen and heaved a sigh. “I need to get to the bookstore anyway. Lara doesn’t mind opening for me, but I don’t want to take advantage of her. She’s the best thing that’s happened to me in a while. I don’t want to run her off.” Tess stood and pulled the strap of her purse onto her shoulder.

“Don’t you mean River Harrison is the best thing that’s happened to you?” Moira teased. River was Tess’s fiancé, and Moira was sure she’d never seen her friend so happy. The fact that her best friend had found love—for a second time—did Moira’s heart good. Those who wanted a life partner should have one. Moira, on the other hand, wasn’t interested in sharing her home, her bed, or her life with anyone. Maybe it was because she had grown up as an only child. It hadn’t made her spoiled, but it had definitely molded her into a fiercely independent woman who didn’t mind being alone.

“You’re right. River is the best thing, and Lara is a close second.” Tess laughed as she collected her trash to discard on her way out. Then she and Moira waved at Darla before pushing through the exit doors. “So tomorrow?”

“I’ll be here. See you then.” Moira started walking. The parking on Hannigan Street was scarce, which meant she’d parked the length of a football field away. Maybe that was a slight exaggeration, but she was glad she’d chosen sneakers when she’d left the house this morning.

Moira started hurrying toward her vehicle when her cell phone pinged from the front pocket of her purse. She fumbled with her coffee and bagel, shifting them to one hand so she could free up the other and dig inside her purse. When she pulled out her phone, there was a text waiting for her.

Dad: Did you see your mom this morning? How was she?


Moira frowned at her dad’s message. Her dad didn’t usually check up on Darla. He’d retired last year though. He seemed to be loving his newfound freedom, but Moira thought her mom seemed to be struggling with the fact that he was discovering new hobbies while she was working long hours—although it was doing what she loved.

Hugging her coffee to her side with the bagel resting on top, Moira used her opposite hand to tap out a return text with her thumb.

Moira: I just left Sweetie’s. Mom seemed fine to me.


Moira didn’t have time to wait for her dad’s reply. She picked up her pace, still holding on to her phone and breakfast. The aroma of the Asiago from the bagel wafted up to her nose, making her belly grumble. Then a gust of wind blew her hair into her eyes and mouth.

Ugh. She didn’t have a free hand to swipe it away, so she blinked through the curtain of dark hair, spotting her car up ahead.

“In a hurry?” someone asked.

The unexpected voice startled her. She whirled to find its source, her subconscious already matching the deep voice to a name before she looked into the man’s bright blue eyes. The sudden movement made her bagel tumble off the top of her coffee cup, where it was balanced. Moira tried to snatch it out of the air before it hit the pavement, which made her coffee slip from her grasp.

Gil Ryan attempted to catch the bagel and drink as well. He lunged toward Moira and stretched out his hand, bumping his forehead into hers.

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