"Did you get a job?"
It was a strange way of saying good morning to someone, even if that person was not your favorite. But Riley had gotten used to her sister angry manners, so she pretended to be calm. Either way, she stopped chewing the cereal in her mouth, frowned and lifted her head enough to look at Lydia; arms crossed against her chest, an exasperated expression adorning her face.
"Well, good morning to you too sis" Riley replied
"You haven't answered my question," Lydia asked again. Riley suddenly lost her appetite.
"Does it look to you like I've got a job?"
"No, it also looks to me like you're not trying hard enough. If I were you I would have left my feet on the ground looking for something that provided, instead of seating in my house all day long. But I knew it, I knew you were still the same old Riley, the one that never did anything to succeed in life, the one who just found comfort in working God knows what all these years" Lydia ranted. Riley listened, just halfway through and just because she was interested in her sister's righteous speech.
"Are you done? I'm sure you have better things to do than giving me a sermon I don't give a shit about" Riley snapped back. Lydia, red-faced with anger, (slapped) her hand against the wooden table. She glared at her with venom in her eyes. It was like any other argument they had had but something in the air was different. Perhaps because Riley was not a kid anymore, and she will not be quiet.
"This is not a joke, Riley. I'm not the one to play around. Get a fucking job or get the fuck out of my house" Lydia angrily said "You have 24 hours".
She turned around towards the door, closing it as hard as she could, like showing Riley how upset she was. Not that she actually cared.
She wasn't used to any type of warnings, from anyone. In fact, she was the one giving them and people reacted the way they were supposed to; with fear. They even do what she asked them to. She didn't feel intimidated by anyone, she had learned not to. Especially Lydia. But at the moment, seeing there wasn't much left to do, she had to 'leave her feet on the ground' like she had said, look for a job because she wouldn't see the light of day if she didn't and the last thing she wanted was to hear her complaint every single moment.
The mornings at Linhill were so much different from what Riley remembered. When she was younger she used to go outside and play at the park with her fry until mom called her for lunch. Now that said park was nowhere to be found. Instead, the whole playground had been replaced by a very much dry fancy fountain and half-constructed benches. The whole place was dirty, uncared for and altogether abandoned. Nothing like the old vivacious, cheerful place if used to be.
Everything was not like it used to be.
Except for Lydia. She was still the same old, bitter, nasty close minded woman she remembered.
Riley begun jogging around the old square when walking had turned out to be boring. At least she could take the opportunity to exercise a bit, enjoying the solitude.
Until that solitude was abruptly taken away by the bubbly bad girl she had seen before, standing right in front of her sweaty self, wearing the same wide grin Riley had seen.
"Hi, I'm sorry I didn't mean to scare you. I saw you from across the street and I thought 'this must be my lucky day' Cause I wanted to find you and didn't know how" the girl rambled. Riley admired her energy.
"Why were you looking for me?"
"Lily quit. Yesterday. She said she couldn't take it anymore and left, just like that. Can you believe it?"
Riley stared at her for a second as she spoke before asking.
"Who the hell is Lily?"
The girl, whose name Riley still didn't know, slapped herself on the forehead and gave her a lopsided goofy grin.
"Oh right, I'm sorry. I should have explained myself better. Lily, the waitress you stood up for, that one"
"Well, in that case, I can't blame her. That is the worst place for a girl like her. Actually is not a place for you either" Riley stated. The girl merely shrugged.
"I don't have a choice, my dad owns the place. I grew up there. Lily on the other hand…"
"Was smart enough to walk away, good for her. Bad for you" Riley said and started walking slowly back towards her house, clearly not in the mood for job haunting anymore. The girl walked next to her, uninvited but not unwelcome. She appreciated the company, especially since it was the first time in a long while she had walked next to someone and didn't feel exposed or fearful.
"That's why I wanted to talk to you. Would you like to work with us? With me? At the bar" The girl asked. Riley stared at her again for a good solid second before shaking her head vigorously.
"Why am I crazy? I think you'd be a good addition to our crew-"
"Do I need to remind you that I got into a fight and your father kicked me out?"
"Yeah, don't worry about the kicking out part. I talked to him and he's cool"
"Cool, alright. But please do worry about the man you hit, right?"
"Are you scared?" The girl asked. Riley stopped on her tracks and frowned. There was nothing in the world that scared her, not even death.
"No" Riley replied shortly.
"Then you're perfect for this job-"
"You don't even know my name and I don't even know yours!" Riley shouted.
"Okay, alright. Yes. I haven't introduced myself; I'm Alexandra, Alex for short. Now tell me yours" the girl, Alex asked. She didn't know why, didn't know the reasons why she would even befriend a young girl like that, but there she was.
"Riley. My name is Riley".
"Great, now we are acquaintances. So, would you work with me?"
"Again, you only know my name. I can be a serial killer, you know? Would you hire a serial killer?"
"You're not a serial killer" Alex stated.
"How do you know?"
"For starters, you don't look like one-"
"And how does, according to you, a serial killer looks like?"
"Ugly. And you're not ugly".
"Okay, so since I stated that you're NOT a serial killer, cause you aren't right?" Alex asked. Riley shook her head "Would you work with me now? Please. We could use someone like you, someone who's not afraid. Like the rest of us".
Riley considered for a moment; they could do a favor to each other. She needed a job and money, Alex desperately needed help. The mutual support could turn out better than she could expect.
On the other hand, there was something about those guys that terrified many, that called her attention and if she were to figure out who they were, that better than from a close look.
"Fine, I'll work with you" Riley replied. She didn't expect the reaction from her though; a tight bear hug with a kiss on the cheek included.
"This is gonna be so awesome. We're gonna feel so protected now that you're with us"
"Protected? What, do you think I'll fight everyone there?" Riley asked her.
"No, but if they come back-you would, right? Defend us, I mean"
"Listen, Alex. I didn't come here to start a quarrel with anyone. Except one but that's a different story. I don't wanna fight, it's not my thing" Riley replied.
That was a lie. It was her thing, it had been for a while, but no one was supposed to know that.
"But it's their thing. They-" Alex stopped mid sentence, just to get a bit closer to Riley and whisper in her ear "They're not good people".
"Why are you whispering?" Riley asked. She moved away, an uncomfortable look on her face.
"This place has ears, you know? Everywhere. One has to be mindful of the words"
"Alright, mindful. Got it. So, if they come I have to fight them?"
"Only if necessary, thank you"
"What you want me to work as, a bouncer?"
"No! Of course not. A waitress-but if someone misbehaves-"
"I kick his ass" Riley replied. It wasn't something she wasn't used to. She had gotten into a few bar fights growing up, nothing too big, nothing too important. She had learned to use force only when necessary, fight if there wasn't much choice. Riley hoped it wouldn't be needed anymore.
"Alright so, I'll see you tomorrow. This is gonna be so much fun!"
"Don't you need my resume or something?. Think about the serial killer thing, and remember that girls with my hair used to be called witches" Riley said pointing at her light auburn hair.
"Don't need to. I trust you!" Alex said, waved a quick goodbye and bounced across the street.
Riley watched as the young girl disappeared amongst the growing crowd. At least something good came up from walking around town. Hopefully something she might never regret.