Pepper woke up like she usually did: 15 minutes before the alarm. Instead of rubbing her blue eyes and running her fingers through her midnight tresses while indulging in a long yawn, she avoided squandering those precious last moments of rest, flipped over and drew the covers up to her chin. She pressed her eyes closed, and tried to return to the scene she awoke from, but she was already reeling about the big day.

Throwing off the sheets and clicking off the alarm, she growled cutely under her breath.

Exercise; Shower; Dress. She was grateful she laid out her clothes last night. In the fog of awakening, it was impossible to find suitable garb. She was known to agonize for 30 minutes, pulling on this or that, swapping out this skirt for those pants. But, not today. The black slacks, bright yellow silk blouse, strappy (but sensible) heels, and new black and yellow rhinestone necklace was perfect. She added a red strawberry clip to her long swooped black bangs.

Pepper arrived at the happy structure at 4:33am. She had an hour to confirm everything was set just so, and to calm her nerves for the ribbon cutting.

It was a small, stand-alone irregular polygon. The roof was flat in the middle then struck outwards and down, and the street-facing walls were taller than the building was wide. Tall and narrow, and brand new. She kicked a stray nail off the sidewalk and into the rocky landscape, before unlocking her shop.

"First things first," Pepper announced to the barn wood-floored, and black velvet-walled room. She tossed her laptop bag behind the counter stepped confidently behind the machine. Hot water and ground beans, and soon she was officially pulling her first espresso shot on opening day.

She slumped down into a plush leather arm chair, and looked up at how the billowing black velvet that covered the ceiling contrast with the sparkling crystal chandler lights. Everything was dark and glamorous, just how she envisioned it. Just like she was.

She was studying the snow-capped Colorado peaks in distance out the sliding glass wall at the front of her coffee shop when the news van pulled into the parking lot.

She put her cup behind the counter, straightened the seat so it still looked fresh, and stepped outside to take her place in front of the camera and under her sign that read: The Friendly Coffin.

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