Home > A Royal Christmas

A Royal Christmas
Author: Melody Carlson




After more than eight years of crafting “clever” custom beverages at Common Grounds Coffee, Adelaide Smith was ready to call it quits. Instead, she smiled stiffly at the pair of teen girls stepping up to the counter. “What can I get you?”

“I’ll have a venti vanilla latte, nonfat milk, whipped cream, five Splendas with one Sugar In The Raw packet on the whipped cream,” the first girl said.

Adelaide’s brows arched. “Raw sugar on top?”

“You know, to make it crunchy.” The girl pulled a card from her wallet.

“Uh, right.” Adelaide maintained her poker face over the slightly schizophrenic order, then she turned to the second girl. “How about you?”

“I want a venti iced latte, with six ristretto shots, with breve, four pumps of vanilla, five pumps of caramel, and three Splenda. Poured not shaken.”

Adelaide blinked. Were these girls for real or was she being filmed by some YouTube jokester? Glancing around, she saw no phone aimed her way, and both girls seemed genuine as they took turns running their cards with, of course, no tips. Then as she meticulously relayed the convoluted orders to her boss, Vicki, who broke into loud giggles, Adelaide noticed her best friend, Maya, frantically waving at her from outside the shop.

Was Maya behind this little gag? But Maya just pointed to her little electric car, parked in the fifteen-minute space, and then to her watch. The big clock behind the counter confirmed Adelaide’s shift was indeed over. And knowing Maya would be eager for her coffee—the usual payment for Adelaide’s ride home—and less eager to move her car or be ticketed, Adelaide started on Maya’s usual venti mocha with skim milk. Now that was a sensible order.

“Can you believe this?” Vicki laughed as she sprinkled sugar on top of the whipped cream, then pointed to the five empty Splenda packets. “Go figure, huh?”

“I know.” Now, instead of making her usual end-of-shift latte with whole milk, Adelaide filled a cup with hot water, then plunked in a peppermint tea bag.

“What, quitting coffee, are we?” Vicki frowned as she slid the second complicated order on the counter and called out the girls’ names.

“Not permanently.” Adelaide removed her apron. “But with only two days left here, I thought I should start weaning myself.”

Vicki shook her head. “I still can’t believe you’re really leaving us.”

“I should’ve done it sooner, Vicks. Not because of you and Lance. But you know I should be in my externship by now.” Adelaide reached for her parka. “Hopefully I’ll secure something before January.”

“Well, you’ll be missed around here.” Vicki sighed as she put a lid on the mocha. “Not to mention we’ll be shorthanded during the holidays.”

“Sorry about that, but I warned Lance several weeks ago.” She tugged on her gloves. “You know how your husband lives in denial.”

“Yeah, but you’ve given notice before without quitting. Good grief, Addie, you’ve been here longer than our espresso machine.”

Adelaide laughed as she picked up the to-go cups. “One more good reason it’s time for me to move on. See ya tomorrow, Vicks.”

Barely out the door, Adelaide was greeted by Maya. “I’ll take that.” Maya retrieved the mocha before they both piled into Maya’s pint-size car.

“Sorry to be so late.” Adelaide sniffed her tea, wishing she’d gotten her usual latte instead. “Guess I was distracted.” She explained about the last two crazy-making orders, and they both laughed. “I still can’t believe Monday will be my last day there.”

“We should do something to celebrate.”

“I guess.” Adelaide released a long sigh.

“Don’t tell me you’re sad about leaving.”

“A little. The owners have been like a second family to me. Especially after Mom died. It’s hard to let relationships like that go.”

“You’ll still be friends with Vicki and Lance.” Maya pulled out into the slow-moving traffic.

“I suppose, but it’s like the end of an era.”

“Who knows, maybe you’ll be representing them a year from now.”

Adelaide stared at her friend with wide eyes. “Legally? What do you mean? You think they’re getting sued?”

“No, of course not. But businesses need lawyers, don’t they?”

“Yes, but I’m not going into corporate law.” Adelaide sipped her tea, then grimaced. “Ugh.”


“This tea. Don’t know what I was thinking.” Adelaide let down the window and tossed out the hot fluid, careful not to hit Maya’s car.

“That does it, Addie! I’m taking you out for dinner to celebrate the end of your coffee career. I’d suggest we wait for your last day, but I have PTA Monday night. Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know. I don’t really feel like celebrating. Besides, it’s Saturday. Any place good will be full.”

Maya shook her head. “Why this Eeyore act? Is this about parting with Common Grounds or is something else going on? You’re not usually such a buzzkill.”

“I know. It’s probably this time of year.”

“Oh, yeah, I totally forgot your mom died in late November. I’m sorry.”

“Thanks. It’s probably more than just that. Forgive my little pity party, but I’m feeling bummed over how long it’s taking to get through law school. I know younger attorneys with well-established practices, and here I am still slinging coffee and—”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. You got this far on your own. When you start practicing law, you can be super proud of your achievements. Nobody handed it to you on a silver platter.”

“And I can say the same about you. You put yourself through college too. But unlike me, your tuition is paid off. I still have a pile of college debt and—”

“Yeah, but it’s taken seven years, and I’ll never make as much as you. I’m only a teacher and—”

“Only? You know how important teachers are, Maya! Haven’t I told you how proud I am of you?”

Maya laughed. “Like a million times.”

While bantering over which was better—to be loved by little children and get paid less or earn the big bucks and be despised by many—they drove around looking for a good dinner spot that wasn’t overly packed until Maya finally admitted her car’s battery was running low.

Adelaide pulled out her phone. “There’s Robie’s Barbecue down the street. I’ll call in takeout and we can pig out on ribs in privacy. They just put in a new charging station down the street from my house. We can eat there while your car juices up.”

“Now that sounds like a sensible plan.”

“Just promise not to criticize the housekeeping or”—Adelaide paused to place their order.

“I never criticize your housekeeping,” Maya said after Adelaide hung up. “I just criticize your house.”

“It’s not my house,” Adelaide defended herself. “Only the second floor. And Mrs. Crabtree could charge me twice as much if she liked. Probably three times.”

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