Author: J. Rosemary Moss
Genre: Character Exploration
Summary: The Arkham Cafe is a place for all my characters--no matter what story, series or genre they're from--to hang out. (See this post.) In this part, Ross Edmund from my Roxbury stories runs into Zev Moscowitz from my upcoming NaNo novel, Not So Safe.
The Arkham Cafe by J. Rosemary Moss is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Ross unbuttoned his coat as he ducked into the café. He assumed it was new, as he had never laid eyes on it before--but nestled between the pharmacy and the Verizon store, it was easy to miss. Either way, though, he’d be able to sit down and figure out what the hell to do about his family.
He paused on the threshold and glanced around. It was an eclectic crowd; some people appeared to be in old fashioned, costume-like clothes, even though Halloween was another three weeks away. Others were wearing short sleeves and shorts, as if it were still summer.
Ross shrugged and looked around for a place to sit. There were no empty tables, so he walked up to a man who was sitting on his own. The guy looked safe enough: no costume, and his clothes were appropriate for the weather. As a bonus, he was about Ross’s age: late twenties or so.
“Are you saving this seat?” Ross asked.
The guy glanced up from his menu and smiled. “Not at all. Sit down.”
Ross took him up on the invitation, glancing at his new companion as he took a seat. The guy had a striking pair of blue eyes--and he was using them to study Ross. But not in an off-putting way. It might have been a flirty way, but Ross decided he was ok with that.
“I’m Zev,” the stranger said. “Zev Moscowitz.”
Zev nodded and opened his mouth to say something else, but a waitress interrupted him.
“Morning boys,” she said, looking down at them with pencil and paper in hand. “What can I get for you two?”
“A bagel with lox and schmear, an orange juice and a coffee, please,” Zev said, flashing her a smile.
A blush crept over her cheeks as she smiled back. “Sounds good,” she said. “And how about your friend?”
“I’ll have the same,” Ross told her, handing over his menu. Zev did likewise and the waitress left them in peace--after a sidelong glance at Zev, anyway.
“You look shot to hell,” Zev said without preamble. “I’m guessing that pale, gaunt look isn’t your usual?”
Ross grinned. The guy had a careless charm to him that robbed the question of any offense. “No, I usually look better than this.”
“So what’s wrong?”
“Everyone in my family is a bastard.”
Zev narrowed his eyes at him. “Hmm. It's not because you're bi, is it? I doubt you've shared that.”
Ross shook his head. “No, it's not because of that. And you’re right; that’s never come up. Impressive gaydar, by the way.”
“It’s frighteningly accurate,” Zev agreed. “So they don't care about that?”
“Then what makes them bastards?”
Ross considered his words. How could he describe their faults without mentioning their illegal activities? By revealing something that was no secret, he supposed.
“My father and brother are successful business men with a surprising amount of political clout. They didn’t get that way by being nice people.”
Zev shrugged. “So why is that your problem?"
"I've, ah, sort of followed the family career path."
"You see? That was your mistake. But you can choose a different career. Hell, why should you have to deal with your family at all? Apart from birthdays and holidays, I mean. You're a big boy.”
Ross sighed and slumped back in his chair. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I am. But I’m also ensconced in my family's affairs. Forging my own path won’t be so simple.”
“I’ll bet it will be simpler than you think,” Zev said, smiling again as he leaned forward on the table. “I assume you can cut loose without worrying about someone offing you. Your last name's not Soprano, after all.”
Ross managed a fake smile in return. “No,” he said. “It’s not. There is that.”
LINK TO PART TWO