The bell above the door chimed announcing their entry.
The café was not that big but the small size lent it a sense of homeliness. That sense was particularly enhanced by the décor inside the place that was fashionable and sensible. There was no garish chandelier or plush rugs, instead it had large windows that let the sun in, chairs complete with adorable cushions that looked like they were handcrafted.
There were not much guests, about 3 to 4 tables were occupied. The customers were laughing and chatting among themselves like old friends. The reigning atmosphere was one of comfort and homeliness.
While Jun Yang was admiring the place, a rather plump woman who looked to be in her thirties walked over and greeted them with a welcoming smile, “Welcome to Mist Café, how many of you will be joining us?”
The woman had on a black t-shirt and jeans. Hair long black hair was swept back into a ponytail. Her casual dress code and age suggested that she was not a hired help but the owner of the café.
It was Jun Yang who answered her, “A table of four please.”
“Of course, right this way.” The woman led them into the café. While they were walking to their table, Jun Yang noticed Pei Ling and the girls were busy looking around like they were trying to find someone.
Jun Yang also turned his head around to see what had aroused their curiosity thusly.
When Jun Yang’s eyes moved to the barista counter, his heart skipped a beat. He did not expect to see him there. ‘What is Feng Qi doing at this place?’ At the same time, Jun Yang realized the girls had spotted him as well. Pei Ling tapped the girls’ hands and they all turned towards the direction that she was stealthily pointing at. The bad omen that he felt before he entered the café grew and the question in Jun Yang’s mind turned to become, ‘No wait, what are we doing at this place?’
Before Jun Yang could ask for clarification from Pei Ling, they had already reached their table. Jun Yang took his seat with a nervous heart, he sensed a tragedy was coming and he felt so hopeless due to his inability to stop it.
After all of them took their seat, the woman took out a notebook from her jeans pocket, “What would you like to have today? I suggest the chef’s recommended…”
She started to introduce the menu when Pei Ling cut her off by saying, “I’m sorry, miss but do you mind if we have our order taken by the gentleman over there behind the counter?”
The woman frowned as she turned around to see who Pei Ling was talking about. Even though Jun Yang had no idea what the girls were up to, he prayed that the woman would say no. They would finish their order, get their meal and leave.
However, the woman turned back and said, “Of course, let me go get him.” Pei Ling’s request, though unusual, was not that out of line so the woman had no reason to deny her.
The woman went to the counter and leaned to talk to Feng Qi. She pointed at their table, probably relaying to him Pei Ling’s request. Feng Qi looked over at them before nodding.
The woman left to serve another group of customers and Feng Qi walked out from behind the counter to their table. Feng Qi was wearing the school uniform but he wore an apron over it so it was not obvious that he had the uniform underneath.
There was no acknowledgement from either party that they knew each other. The girls were impervious to his presence and Feng Qi did not act in any way that seemed to suggest that they were classmates. If anything, the only one who acted rather strangely at the table was Jun Yang.
The young man had his head fully lowered like he was trying to bury himself into the table. He really did not know how to act in this situation.
Then, that familiar voice asked, “Good afternoon, may I take your order?”
One of the girls tutted, “Is that how you serve your valuable customer? How am I supposed to order if you didn’t even give me the menu?”
With that, the girls’ plan was slowly falling into Jun Yang’s mind. Emotions started to form as a response, there was anger, sadness, and embarrassment.
“My apologies.” Feng Qi brushed the offense off with a disarming smile. He walked over to the next table and returned with four menus. “Here.”
The girls took their sweet time looking through the menu. They stopped for more than several minutes on each page, there was no way they would take that long to read the menu so there was only one explanation. They were doing this on purpose, they wanted to make Feng Qi stand there as punishment.
Jun Yang closed the menu and told Feng Qi, “Thank you but I’m not hungry.” Then, he flashed a smile at the young man. Many things were communicated in that brief smile.
Pei Ling caught that non-verbal exchange between the two and she slammed the menu close. Seconds later, the two other girls followed suit like this was all coordinated.
Without raising her head to even look at Feng Qi, Pei Ling rattled off her order, “I would like a crushed blackberry milkshake with added 2 ounces of strawberries, topped off with whipped cream and cookies shavings.”
Feng Qi raised the notebook in his hand but before he could start writing, the other girl continued without wasting a breath, “I’ll have the chocolate chip smoothies with added scoop of yoghurt, sliced banana as garnish and two straws.”
“In that case, I’ll take a chocolate mousse cake with 2 spoons because I want to share it with my friend. After that, I’ll have the milk tea with a small pot of honey on the side.”
The girls went over their order so rapidly that even Jun Yang, the top scorer, had trouble catching up. Out of concern for Feng Qi, he requested, “Do you mind repeating the order just in case Feng Qi is unable to…”
Pei Ling cut him off by saying, “I’m sure he has received the necessary training before he started his work here.” Then she turned to Feng Qi with a charming smile, “There’s no need for us to repeat, right?” There was a venomous force behind that smile as if daring him to tell them to repeat.
Feng Qi picked up the menus and responded with a brilliant smile of his own. “Of course, not. Your orders will be served shortly.” Then, he left with a notebook that was empty.
After he was out of earshot, Jun Yang sat silently at his seat, teetering between confronting the girls and walking out from the café directly. After some back and forth, Jun Yang turned to the rest of the group to ask softly but vehemently, “Why are you doing this?”
One of the girls turned to him and said innocently, “Jun Yang, what are you talking about? We’re just simply enjoying an afternoon tea.”
“No, you’re trying to…” Jun Yang was unable to finish the accusation because Feng Qi had returned with their orders. He placed the tray on the table but before he could even serve them, one of the girls exclaimed darkly, “How can you get a simple order like ours mistaken? We demand to see the manager! This is a fire-able offense!”