The Sweet Spot.
From the sidewalk, Sienna stared up at the sign, lips twitching in grudging amusement. Well, this place was only a few blocks from the bookstore where she worked. It’d be nice to pop in when she’d forgotten to eat breakfast. Like today.
For a moment, Sienna stayed on the sidewalk, observing the business of the bakery. Initially, it didn’t seem quite so busy, until she realized most patrons were flitting to the register and running out the door upon receiving their goodies. The few that lingered sat in various nooks and booths, suited for a variety of body types from tiny doll-sized tables and chairs in the front window pane to larger Orc-sized booths to even larger, stall-like, areas for any sort of ‘Taur. Bookcases were scattered at intervals containing novels, magazines, and an array of knickknacks.
Another person shoved past her, making their way through the bakery’s doorway. A bell tingled from the door and someone shouted an illegally chipper, “Good morning, Ms. Lawlor!”
When Sienna finally walked into the bakery, she assumed the cute tree nymph barista - a waif-like creature with pink blooms in their vine-like hair - would wait on her. The nymph seemed engrossed in a coffee machine, however, while an exhausted owlish Avian waited patiently.
Glancing up at the hanging menu board, Sienna took this chance to settle on and continually recite her order to herself. Again, there were a plethora of options for a variety of consumers. Sweet and savory pastries were listed beneath a ‘Popular Breakfast’ header. As Sienna’s eye traced down the items, she found plenty of unfamiliar ingredients in the sub-columns of familiar treats. Venusian berry tart, ambrosia-drizzled coffee cake, and fire peach muffin made it to Sienna’s short list.
Then, they came slithering over after serving a rather dapper customer. Sienna started, having completely overlooked them earlier.
They were the first Serpentine she’d ever seen. Not a surprise, given how few in number and how shy they were. To find one working in the middle of the city, especially such a person-oriented job, seemed highly improbable. Yet, there they were. They loomed over Sienna with their additional gods’ knows how many feet of tail.
And they were stunning. Not spotting them sooner was like rolling a -20 in perception.
Golden-brown skin, leaning more toward the yellow spectrum, and brilliant green eyes with slitted pupils were just the start. Their long hair, pulled back into a sloppy bun, streaked in lemon yellow, fire-engine red, and a singular strip of bright, bright blue. Orange and dark blue scales speckled about their face and peeked out from the collar of their shirt, trailing up both sides of their neck to pointed ears.
Then there was their bottom half. Even obscured by the pastry cases, the vibrant scales drew the eye. Sienna had seen pictures of Serpentine people before. From Nagas to Melusines to Lamias, she wasn’t completely unaware of their colorful patterns. But, nothing prepared her for the pure saturation this person’s scales. A jaw-toothed pattern of yellow and orange bit into the deep blue along their sides, a lovely contrast contrast clashing together. Their belly scales - that same bright blue as the stripe in their hair - caught the fluorescent lighting of the pasty cases and gleamed.
In comparison, their grey collared button-up shirt and brown apron look agonizingly drab.
“First time?” They smirked, a knowing look in their eye.
A wave of heat flared up Sienna’s body, caught in her leering fascination. She coughed, looking down into the pastry cases to hide her embarrassment. She could feel their eyes still burning into her as she perused the offerings.
Under the scrutiny, Sienna couldn’t focus on the food, the printed names, or the prices. She could only feel their gaze, the unbearable heat clawing up her face, and her heart pounding away. Overwhelmed, she stepped back, prepared to go without breakfast for the day and never ever rear her face in the store again.
“Are you full-blooded human?” They leaned their elbows on the counter and peered closely at Sienna. That easy smile still retained an aura of amusement.
“Yes?” Sienna’s answer came out questioning, wondering if her ancestry could be a problem. It wouldn’t have been the first time. Humans had been plenty awful to basically everyone, including themselves, over the centuries.
“Always have to ask, what with multi-ancestries becoming more common.” They winked at her, before grabbing a bag and sliding gracefully over to a case. “Some of this stuff can kill you, so I’ll pick out some things suited for you. Sound good?”
They paused while reaching for a muffin - a marvelous purple thing with bright blue, sparkling berries - catching Sienna’s eye to confirm her consent.
She glanced from them, to the muffin, curiosity outweighing her mortification and sense to flee.
“Yeah,” she nodded, voice soft and somehow hard to get passed her throat. Her brain felt so frazzled, she could only mirror their words. “That sounds good.”
She left The Sweet Spot with a bag of pastries clutched in one hand, an almond milk in the other, and a receipt that - thankfully - had a name and pronouns printed on it.