Felicity had been a lot of things in her life: student, killer, spy… and friend. Friend was a new one. “Friend” was one that she liked. Felicity was born into a world of lies and half-truths. That was where she grew up and that was where she lived. In all honesty (a rather foreign concept), Felicity hadn’t realized there was another way to live… Until she had been expelled from that world forever.
Felicity had been outed. Her face was known to every major player in the shadowy place she lived in. In a world that relied on secrecy, it was a death sentence. Felicity had survived by doing the one thing no one expected, and maybe that was why no one had found her. Felicity had fled from the shadows into the light. She created a new identity, and then Felicity went from assassin to barista. She was in a fugue retirement; living a normal life, always on the look out for someone trying to kill her.
The man with hair going from gray to white nodded in appreciation as he took the first sip of coffee. “No one prepares caffeine quite the way you do.”
Felicity flashed him a cheery, utterly false smile. “Thank you, General.” She brushed her hands on her apron. “I aim to please.”
General Morris laughed and turned to one of his aides. “This girl makes the best coffee in ten blocks.”
“Yes sir.” The man intoned reflexively. It was clear to Felicity he wasn’t really listening. General Morris caught it too, because he laughed and threw Felicity a wink.
“Give him a few late nights and he’ll remember you as well as I do.” He assured her. Felicity had no idea why a military leader was so jovial. She was sure it was a façade, but she had no idea why it had to be maintained. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” General Morris called with a smile and a wave as he left the café, trailed by his aide. Felicity let her smile slacken slightly as she watched the general cross the street and move around to the front of the government building. The building wasn’t quite the Pentagon, but it was close.
Felicity had a good reason for choosing to work where she did. It offered a kind of umbrella of protection; dozens and dozens of safeguards right across the street. The possibility of a full investigation if a barista was killed a stone throw away would deter at least some potential assassins. Not that there had been any. A lot of people wanted her dead throughout most of her career. Either her hiding place was better than she thought, or they weren’t really looking. Felicity was mildly insulted by that second possibility.
Felicity glanced up as Teddy walked in from the backroom. “Leaving me with General Morris again?” She quirked an eyebrow at him.
“He would have just asked for you anyway.” Teddy waved his hand dismissively, an impish grin on his face.
Felicity’s phone beeped with a text. She didn’t even have to look at it. It was from Sally. “I’ve got Sally’s order. You handle the other costumers.” Felicity said. She set to work. Felicity always looked forward to Sally’s office run. The girl was working a paid internship for Senator Gabriella Winston. She was easily frazzled, earnest, and far too idealistic to consider a career in politics. Felicity found the entire effect to be utterly adorable. Sally was so far from what Felicity knew in her previous life that everything Sally did surprised the former assassin. It had initially unnerved Felicity. Now it amused her.
Felicity popped a lid on the last cup when Sally burst through he door. “Felicity! Please tell me it’s ready!” Sally was slightly out of breath.
“Everything except the hazelnut. We ran out.” Felicity began putting the cups into a cardboard carrier.
“The hazelnut?!” Sally cried, on the verge of a little mini meltdown. “That’s Mr. Greenwood’s order! He-” She stopped. “You’re teasing me.”
“You’re learning.” Felicity smiled, holding up the hazelnut coffee and fitting it into place. “I don’t know whether to be proud or disappointed.” Sally was very cute when flustered. She would have never survived in Felicity’s world, and perhaps that’s why Felicity was so fond of her.
“Why do you do these things to me?” Sally groaned.
“Well,” Felicity stacked a second carrier on top of the first one. “Are you as stressed now as when you came in?”
Sally opened her mouth and closed it again, thoughtful. “No.”
“That’s why I do it.” Felicity handed Sally the coffees with a smile.
“And it amuses her.” Teddy added. Felicity swatted at him. Sally giggled at them fondly. She took the coffees, carefully balanced by Felicity, and left the café, significantly calmer than when she’d arrived.
John Howle did not come in until the end of Felicity’s shift. If Sally was the embodiment of Felicity’s new world, Howle was a reminder of the old one. John Howle was the head of security at the government building. Felicity couldn’t be sure what he’d been before that. CIA was her best guess.
“Hello Felicity.” Howle stalked into to café. He was in indeterminate age between thirty and sixty. “Did anything interesting happen today?” Howle had pegged something off about her from the day she started working there. Maybe it was because they’d been in the same shadows for a while.
“Lots.” She smiled at him mysteriously. Howle knew that there was more to her than met the eye, but he could not figure out what. What’s more, Felicity knew that he knew, so instead of lying or dodging his questions, Felicity spoke with double means. Howle didn’t know what to make of that. What was the point of a spy who practically advertized herself? “But nothing of great… importance.” Howle continued to look at her curiously.
“Importance to who?” He asked.
Felicity laughed. “I guess that’s the important question, isn’t it.” She commented. Felicity took a sip from the cup before she popped the lid on and handed it to Howle. It was something she started doing after she noticed that he didn’t actually drink the coffee she served him. Howle began drinking his coffee after she developed that little habit. Howle stared at her. Trying to determine the truth behind her words, entirely unaware that there was no truth to discover. Felicity was a barista now: a bland and boring civilian. But Howle’s suspicions reminded her of her own world, and she clung to that. Felicity had to keep him interested so that he would keep guessing at what she was.
After a moment, Howle took his first sip of coffee. “Stay out of trouble.” He said, and left the café. Felicity watched him go before she began to clean up.
Felicity liked having friends. She liked the discovery that there was more to life than darkness and lies. This new world was nice. This new life was nice. The light was nice. But in all honesty? Felicity missed the lies and half-truths. She missed the danger. She missed the shadows. Felicity missed her home.
Welcome all! I hope that you enjoyed the first story in my personal challenge to write and post a story a day for a week! Consider it an October gift. This is the beginning of a new series I like to call Out of the Shadows! I hope that you like Felicity, because you will be seeing more of her.
Look forward to tomorrow's story, and comments are always welcomed!
Artist Trading Card: Long Shadow