Petunia's Tea and Cake Shop

Luke Meets a Few Old Friends

“A what?” Luke asked.

“A speakeasy. An illegal bar, per se. A place where people come to drink alcohol, because they can’t get it anywhere else.” Calum explained.

“Oh,” Luke thought for a minute. “So that’s what ‘prohibition’ means. Isn’t that kind of risky?”

Calum chuckled. “Well, yeah, it is illegal, but that’s why we have your tea shop as a front -no one would suspect an illegal bar resided under a quaint little shop like that!”

“But-” Luke took a deep breath and sat down at one of the dusty tables in the front of the store. “I don’t understand? I thought you worked in...shipping, or something?”

“Yeah, shipping bootlegged alcohol into the city from Canada for rich people to enjoy. One of our bars was shut down recently by that asshole,” Calum swore under his breath and said a name Luke didn’t catch, “so we need a new place to set up shop.”

“I don’t want to run a bar, though. You know I’ve always wanted a little tea shop that serves cakes and such, just like the one my mum used to run before she passed away.”

“No, the bar would be my thing. You could stay up here and have your tea and cakes, and I would be downstairs managing the bar.” Calum corrected, but Luke still didn’t like the idea. “Think about it,okay? I’m sure you’re tired after your trip, and a good night’s sleep will put some sense into your head. Let me show you up to your apartment.”

“Thanks,” Luke said and grabbed his suitcase before following Calum to the back room of the store. They climbed a narrow staircase up to the small apartment above the shop. Setting down his suitcase, Luke smiled and looked around the few rooms. “This is perfect, thank you.”

“No problem; you should have everything you need here. I’ll be over in the morning to see if you’ve changed your mind.” Calum nodded before he left.

Luke sat on the bed, and Petunia hopped up next to him. Looking around at their new abode, he smiled and sighed. “We’re home, Pets.”

* * *

Calum left the tea shop and headed back to the docks where he was meant to meet a shipment for the new bar, but unfortunately the boat he was waiting for turned up empty.

“Mikey, what happened?” Calum raised his arms in confusion as his friend left the boat shaking his head.

“They were on to us,” Michael shrugged. “It was that bastard -”

“Shh..” Calum held up his hand to silence his partner in crime. “You never know when they’re listening. I know exactly who you’re talking about. Walk with me.”

The pair set off away from the docks back toward the location of Luke’s tea shop. “We’re going to need a new supply sooner rather than later -probably within a week- so I think we’re going to have to do it the old fashioned way.”

“Old fashioned? Meaning…” Mikey’s eyes lit up when Calum’s implications hit him. “I’ll get the still fired up!”

“Do you have any other sources we could use in the meantime? Since it’ll take while before the old still can produce quality alcohol again.”

Michael thought for a minute. “I might know a few people. I could probably get some white lightning from the Appalachians here by then, but do you really want to serve moonshine at a speakeasy?”

Calum shrugged. “It’s alcohol, and that’s what they want, isn’t it?”

“What?” Michael laughed. “You should know better than I, that they want real alcohol, not hillbilly moonshine.”

Calum raised his eyebrows and smiled as if to say ‘exactly’. “And?”

“Okay, if that’s what they want,” Mikey shook his head.

“I want alcohol to serve in my bar, that’s all. I don’t care if it’s bootlegged gin from Canada, or white lightening made in some farmer’s barn in Tennessee - as long as my customers can get drunk on it.”

“Alright, I’ll make a few calls. I’m going to need some way to transport it, too, and where are we going to store it?”

Calum smiled confidently again, “Don’t worry, I have a place.”

* * *

Over the next few days, Luke spent his time painting his new shop, finding a local bakery to provide the cakes and pastries, and waiting for the boxes of tea he’d ordered to arrive. His dog Petunia was, of course, a huge help, as she slept on the window seat of the bay window, snoring louder than the passenger train that passed by somewhere behind their apartment twice an hour.

“You know, Petunia, I’m going to have to work on that window seat at some point,” he warned, but she merely lifted an ear lazily, taking no notice of his words. “Or I could just paint over you.” Luke laughed and started to paint closer and closer to her, until she randomly shot up and started barking. Luke spun around to look at whatever had caused her to bark, and saw Calum emerging from the secret stairway behind the counter with a friend.

“Woah there,” Calum held up his hands. “It’s just me, remember me?” He held his hand out for Petunia to sniff as he approached, but she still seemed on guard.

“Mikey!” Luke exclaimed at the sight of his old friend. How had he and Calum both changed so much over the past few years?

“Luke, nice to see you again. This is your shop?” Michael looked around at the light color he had painted the shop. “I like the color you’ve picked, it really hids the blood well.”

“The blood?!” Luke’s eyes shot open.

“He’s joking, right?” Calum turned to glare at Michael.

“Right,” Michael nodded unconvincingly, but smirked at Luke. “So, you sell tea?”

“Yes, and pastries. Tea and cake, like the sign says,” Luke smiled and nodded toward the name of the shop painted on the window.

“Sounds convincing,” Michael nodded and shared a look with Calum.

“Well,” Calum cocked his head to the side. “We haven’t fully come to terms with that yet.”

“Wait, you mean he hasn’t-”

“I haven’t what?” Luke asked and looked between the two. “Oh, is this about the bar? Because I’ve given it a lot of thought, and… I don’t know. It just seems too dangerous.”

“It’s not, I promise. We either make the alcohol ourselves, our import it from Canada -that’s the dangerous part. Once it’s here, it’s much safer.” Michael promised.

“You guys make alcohol yourselves?” Luke asked in disbelief.

“Where else are we supposed to get it from?” Michael asked, as if it were obvious.

“Mikey, it’s different back home.” Calum quietly reminded him.

“Well, he’s in America, now, where -for God knows why- alcohol is illegal, and the fucking Bureau of Prohibition will come after us for owning, transporting, or making alcohol!” He lamented with a huff.

“I get it, that’s awful, and really unfortunate, but I’m not sure I want to be involved with something illegal like that. I mean, I came here for a better life, not to end up in jail.” Luke explained.

“A better life?” Michael shook his head. “Then I think you made the trip for nothing.”

“Come on, it’s not that bad.” Calum interjected. “We have a good time.”

“Yeah, after a few drinks,” Michael pointed out, and he and Calum shared a laugh.

A knock at the door drew their attention, and Luke smiled. “My tea is here!” He smiled and cheerfully opened the door for the delivery man.

“I have a few more boxes for you in the truck, mind if I just leave them here?” The delivery man asked and set the boxes he carried beside the door.

“No problem,” Luke answered, bending over to open the crate and inspect his merchandise. It was like Christmas as he pulled tins of tea and china wrapped in paper out of the crates. He could already picture his customers sipping darjeeling out of these light blue, flower printed teacups. For a second, he completely forgot about Michael’s moonshine and Calum’s speakeasy - almost.

A set of black shoes appeared next to his crate of teacups and interrupted his daydream. The shoes were far too nice to belong to the delivery man, and for some reason, Luke found those big feet familiar.

“What do you want, Ashton,” Michael barked as he and Calum stood in the doorway behind Luke. Luke slowly stood up, teacup still in hand, and smiled confusedly at his old friend. He didn’t understand Michael’s tone, nor Ashton’s solemn, almost disgusted, visage.

“What’s the the boxes, boys?” He asked formally.

Luke held up the teacup. “More of these, and a lot of tea.”

Ashton raised his eyebrows in disbelief. “Oh, really, ‘tea’,” he said sarcastically. “You really think I’m going to believe that?”

“Well, I mean…” Luke turned to the others in confusion, and they both scornfully looked at Ashton.

“Alright, I’m going to have to inspect the contents.” Ashton said as he pulled a badge from the inner pocket of his jacket. He flashed it quickly, but Luke caught the words ‘Bureau of Prohibition’ before Ashton returned the badge to his jacket.

Luke was perplexed that somehow his three best friends had ended up on opposite sides of the law with obvious contempt for each other. What had happened in the last two years, and whose side was Luke supposed to take?
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I am having too much fun writing this. I’m so glad I can finally put my degree in modern American history to use!

I hope you’re enjoying this so far; thank you for reading and commenting! :D