Better Latte Than Never

Better Latte Than Never

by Catherine Clark

There's nothing more annoying than working in a coffee shop inside a gas station—and not being able to drive. And having to deliver coffee to your bus driver.

Kamikaze Bus Driver sips his coffee, then charges back into traffic before I can even take a seat. I reach out for a seat back to hold on to, but the bus swerves and I fall onto the end of a seat


There's nothing more annoying than working in a coffee shop inside a gas station—and not being able to drive. And having to deliver coffee to your bus driver.

Kamikaze Bus Driver sips his coffee, then charges back into traffic before I can even take a seat. I reach out for a seat back to hold on to, but the bus swerves and I fall onto the end of a seat that's already taken, right into the lap of none other than Mike Kyle.

I'm shocked. Mike's never been on this bus before. This runs against the laws of nature. I'm just so stunned I can't help blurting, "What are you doing here?" completely impolitely. Then I realize I'm still sitting on his lap.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Karen Galenis
What could be worse for a sixteen-year-old girl then to spend her summer serving coffee at a convenience store, cruising around town on roller blades, and being named after a famous ice skater? Not much if you are Peggy Fleming Farrell. Fleming, as she prefers to be called, wants nothing more than a one way ticket away from Lindville with her true love, Steve Gropher. Instead, she is stuck serving coffee, babysitting her three siblings, attending Lamaze classes with her mother, and watching Steve kiss his IHOP co-worker. Enter an AWOL French teacher, a new friend named Charlotte, Steve's best friend Matt, and Fleming's summer just gets more interesting. While a quick read and a sometimes humorous plotline, this romance novel does not rank high on reader appeal. Reviewer: Karen Galenis

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
14 - 17 Years

Read an Excerpt

Better Latte Than Never

Chapter One

Coffee Wench

It's my fifth day of summer vacation and I'm about to be killed by a Doberman.

This isn't the way I would have chosen to go. Having my legs gnawed off, just because I have to skate to work at Gas 'n Git. No one else is out here at 5:30 in the morning; no one will find me until after 6:00. I'll bleed to death from multiple puncture wounds. I'll come down with rabies and froth at the mouth, like a human cappuccino machine.

The dog charges out of his yard, high jumping the fence, when he sees me coming down the street. Then he races behind me, trying to nip at my heels. I don't know why he'd want to do that, unless he's not fond of his teeth. These heels are dangerously large; there are wheels attached to them.

Where is this dog's owner? Where are the dog police?

I try to decide whether I should brake and scare him with the loud noise of my screeching worn-out rubber heel, or whether I should speed skate to the end of the block, but that's probably impossible because there are so many large cracks in the sidewalk that I'd end up flat on my face. All I know is that this dog wants to kill me. Or just maim me, maybe. This is the third day in a row he's pursued me like I'm breakfast.

I can't skate down the other side of the street, because there's no sidewalk over there. I'd take another route, but there are no other routes—unless I go about five miles out of my way, which I'm not doing at 5:30 A.M. I probably shouldn't even be out here this early by myself, but it's the only way I can get to work and I have to work morningsbecause this is the only shift I can get at the only job I can get.

The phrase running out of options comes to mind.

The phrase pepper spray also comes to mind.

There must be a town ordinance against this. Even Lindville has standards for keeping dogs from killing innocent girls on in-line skates.

Suddenly the Doberman loses interest in me and runs back toward his yard, jumping back over the fence.

I adjust my courier bag and helmet and focus on the street again. Another day, another near death by Doberman. This is the type of summer I've always dreamed of.

Later that morning, I'm standing behind the counter at Espress-Oh-Yes when the world's worst coffee breath walks in.

I've only been working here for three days and already I recognize him, a guy in a pinstriped suit who is as jittery as a hummingbird. He is tense, he drives a silver Lexus and parks next to the side door in a No Parking area, and he orders the Premium Morning Blend, Tanker size, at about 6:50 A.M. Then he comes back later, intermittently, throughout the day, the way headaches do sometimes.

I work at a mini coffee shop that's inside a gas station, so all of the sizes are linked to the automotive world: Coupe, Sedan, SUV, Tanker. The coffee machines are shaped like gas tanks. They have pumps and little black rubber hoses that dispense hot beverages instead of flammable liquids. I wear an apron that has a black-and-white checkered-flag pattern, and a red plastic name tag that's shaped like a sports car.

It's just one more reminder that I'm not allowed to drive. My parents confiscated my license a few months ago, because I had two accidents and totaled the station wagon that they gave me when they bought a new sedan for my father's realty business. I'm spending my summer paying them back for all the auto body work over the past year. My parents say they don't trust me, and their insurance rates are through the roof, and would be even higher if they kept me on the policy. "You've become too much of a liability," my father told me as he stashed my license somewhere in his desk.

Let me tell you. There's nothing more annoying than working at a coffee shop inside a gas station—and not being able to drive. Especially when you want to drive far, far away from here.

I pour the guy's coffee and shuffle him down to the cash register, inhaling deeply and then holding my breath, which is hard to do when you're supposed to greet the customer and tell him how much he owes. Good thing I have a lot of practice at holding my breath, because our town smells pretty bad sometimes, due to having some extremely large cattle feedlots nearby. We actually have an "odor hotline" here in Lindville, and some days the phone has to be ringing off the hook. The combination of manure and slaughterhouse aromas makes this a very fragrant place to live.

"One forty-nine," I say, then I stop breathing again, close off all intake valves: nose, mouth, even skin. Close the pores! Like it's a ship or a sub going down. Batten down the hatches. Whatever batten means. It sounds like a mistake I'd make on a vocabulary test; the past tense of to bat.

"What do you think of the nice bright sunshine this morning!" Coffee Breath says.

"Mm," I say as I hand him his change and he drops two quarters in the tip cup. "It's, um, nice. And bright." Exactly. Do not inhale, do not inhale, I tell myself.

"You know what? I think we're in for a long, hot summer. I guess we'll be switching to iced coffee pretty soon, right?" He laughs as he puts the top on his Tanker.

Either iced coffee or an oxygen mask, I think. His laughing expels a lot of breath, proving once again that he drinks coffee at home before he comes here. I take a huge step back and nearly trip on the black rubber floor mat.

Better Latte Than Never. Copyright � by Catherine Clark. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Meet the Author

Catherine Clark is the author of Picture Perfect, Wish You Were Here, So Inn Love, The Alison Rules, and many others. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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