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Gingerbread Houses

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Chapter One

Grounders wasn't a bad place to work, though the boss could be a bitch, Lexa mused to herself. She was said boss, and knew that the underlings occasionally made fun of her using the name, The Commander, but hell she deserved it. Grounders was her place and it was her money on the line. She was good to them - considerate of their shift requests, generous with pay - there was no keeping ten percent of tips from staff at Grounders, one hundred percent went to the staff and none to her even if she'd been working alongside them. The coffee shop was clean and had an awesome atmosphere with it's wooden coffee bar, comfy couches, hidden niches, fireplace and the spiral stair case to the mezzanine. There was free wifi and tons of space and Friday nights she even brought in bands. People wanted to work for her and when they got a job they were loyal. If they weren't loyal they were fucked because Lexa had a reputation and if she banished you, it didn't speak well for you.

'Hey boss,' Anya, her shift supervisor and her senior by at least six years, sauntered in and paused before heading out the back.

'Can you stay for an hour after we close? I'll pay double.'

'Sure. Why?' Anya frowned.

'It's that time of year,' Lexa admitted with a frown of her own.

'Christmas decorations,' Anya grunted and nodded before disappearing. Lexa wasn't a big Christmas person. She didn't love the whole eggnog latte and peppermint hot chocolate and all that, but the patrons did and Lexa was smart. She'd bought Grounders four years earlier when she was eighteen, against the advice of everyone. But it was her money, her inheritance, and she wanted the coffee shop. She had a vision for the coffee shop, and she'd shown everyone what she could achieve. She now had a chain of twelve, but this one, this was her baby, the original one in the Trikru area of D.C. People talked about her place and she'd even been in the newspaper, the article touting her entrepreneurial genius. Of course entrepreneurial genius did not equate to romance success, not at all. She sighed and her eyes yet again flitted over to the girl in the corner.

She was beautiful, like a stupid fricking Christmas angel, and sometimes her perfection angered Lexa, because desiring the unattainable just wasn't fun. This goddess, this princess of perfection, she'd come in pretty much every day without fail. She'd order a plain coffee, just straight from the pot (Lexa loved her for this) and a white chocolate and raspberry scone (these were the best scones Lexa made). They'd chat and banter a little and then she would sit at the same table, a low one which she'd cover with paper work, notes as far as Lexa could tell, written in tiny, scrawling writing. She always chose the chair that faced the coffee bar but she never seemed to look up. Her earphones would go in and she'd pull out a computer and tap away. She was some kind of writer from what Lexa could tell, but that was just from snooping. Lexa prided herself on being observant and she'd made several conclusions from her observations of this girl.

The first was that whatever she did, she was pretty good at it. This girl was wealthy in a way that Lexa never had been growing up. Her clothes were nice, and probably had labels. She wasn't fancy though, because her style was casual - skinny jeans, boots, little tops that only ever drew Lexa's attention to perfect, perfect boobs, and cute little jackets, with big wooly scarfs, hats and gloves. Also her coffee order - fancy girls just didn't go for the plain brewed coffee, their coffee always had a flavour and steamed milk and usually something drizzled on top. Lexa assumed she was a writer from the notes that lay strewn on the table, all historical facts, language translations, timelines and that sort of thing. The girl seemed to have a bunch of friends. She'd be tapping away and then her phone would light up and she'd smile and have a texting session, only to put her phone back down five minutes later and refocus on her work. Her name was Clarke. This was a fairly easy deduction because she said her name every day when Lexa asked her. Of course she'd stopped asking after the first one hundred or so times and now just smiled, or tried to. The thing was Lexa didn't find it easy to smile at a girl she was wildly attracted to. Well she did, but not when the girl was straight. How did she know the girl was straight? Lexa was extremely trusting of her infallible gaydar. Never had she ever made a mistake and this beautiful girl with hair like the sun and eyes like the sky, well she was straight - and it sucked.

Of course being straight didn't stop the husky quality of her voice turning Lexa on. Nor did it seem to stop Clarke throwing her the occasional wink, or stop her from chatting about coffee in the funny way she had. It didn't stop her from making Lexa's heart race and her mind to become filled with very, very naughty thoughts.

'You're staring boss,' Anya stated and Lexa glared at her.

'I am not and if you...'

'Keep saying such things you'll fire me?' Anya finished off with a grin.

'If you insist,' Lexa told her coldly.

'You're not going to fire me. I'm the only one that can hang the lights the way you like. I am your second, commander.'

'Don't call me that,' Lexa grumped.

'Bet you wouldn't mind if she called you that,' Anya smirked. Anya was the only one allowed to tease Lexa. She was called the Commander for a reason. She was a fair boss but she held the staff to high standards and if you let her down, you were out.

'The chances of that are slim,' Lexa responded curtly and Anya sighed.

'You don't know that. You could try talking to her.'

'I talk to her everyday,' Lexa defended.

'Sure you do. "Hi Clarke, the usual?"' Anya mimicked and Lexa practically snarled.

'Sometimes we discuss the weather or you know, traffic, the news...' she growled.

'Ooh, the weather, how thrilling,' Anya mocked and Lexa, out of spite, grabbed a mug and filled it with a freshly brewed coffee, adding cream the way she watched Clarke do every morning and narrowing her eyes at Anya, stalked from behind the counter and headed to Clarke.

'A fresh coffee on the house,' she stated bluntly and watched the girl blink those goddamn beautiful eyes and look up at her, her pen dangling from between those kissable pink lips. She smiled then and the pen fell to her lap. When she smiled Lexa felt it was all for her and a small smile graced her own lips.

'Thank you. I was just about to come get another.'

'I know,' Lexa admitted, 'you always do around eleven.'

'I am predictable,' Clarke gave a little concessionary nod.

'You seem engrossed today?' Lexa ventured, not quite willing to have their conversation be done.

'My heads so full and I just can't get the words down fast enough,' Clarke smiled. 'Then I reach this point where I'm just sat here with my hands hovering over the keyboard and my mind is going but my fingers aren't. I really needed this coffee,' she leaned forward to scoop up the coffee, the movement causing her breasts to scrunch together and a tantalizing amount of cleavage to show. Lexa swallowed, her tongue sneaking out to lick her lips.

'Are you a writer?'

'I suppose,' Clarke answered leaning back in her chair and curling her legs up. 'I mean I have books published and all that so yes, technically, I just don't feel much like one when the ideas in my head are awesome and yet I can't make them sound awesome on paper...or computer,' she pouted and Lexa clenched her hands into fists because she really wanted to touch that bottom lip. She stood a little awkwardly, kind of uncertain whether she was in the way or not.

'I'm sure you'll manage it,' she said at length which sounded lame even to her ears.

'Oh I'm sure I will,' Clarke seemed amused. 'I probably should just go back and look at my structure and see if that helps, I'm just not very good at doing that.'

'Maybe,' Lexa croaked and took a step back, 'uh, good luck,' she mumbled and turned to walk away.

'Hey,' Clarke called, so she turned back.


'What's your name?'

'Lexa,' she answered.

'Thanks for the coffee Lexa.'

'You're welcome,' she scurried back behind the counter ignoring Anya who was laughing into the coffee grinder. 'Shut up.'

'What happened? You're normally such a smooth flirter?'

'I wasn't flirting,' Lexa responded tightly.

'Why not?'

'Because she's straight,' Lexa hissed.

'Oh come on, you don't know that for sure.'

'I do.'

'Next time flirt with her, then you'll know for sure.'