Weight against the half-dozen odd places Rosario had waited tables, La Mar was okay. It was the kind of neighbourhood diner that might've been called cheap and cheerful, about twenty years ago when the papier-mâché coral reef wall murals were freshly painted and not cracked and gathering dust. These days it settled more for cheap and complacent. The owner, Nesto, was a amiable old uncle-type, which might have been okay if Rosario had wanted an uncle, but she really didn't need to be asked again when she was gonna find a nice boy or advised with grating earnestness that she would get better tips if she smiled more. She would've preferred a boss who hauled up Julian the cook on his petty power plays, but that would require stern words and Nesto wanted to be everyone's buddy.
Beggars couldn't be choosers, though, and Nesto had been willing to throw her a few summer shifts (he'd greeted her like the prodigal daughter returning, which would have seriously wigged her out if she didn't know from experience that he gave everyone he hadn't seen for upwards of a few weeks the same treatment), so Rosario just nodded along with the advice and bit her tongue when Julian chastised her for his own dumbass mistakes. She got on with shit, like she always did.
One thing you could say about La Mar, they did cafecito right. Sweet and hot and strong as jet fuel, perfect for kicking the brain into gear for a study session, or another bout of research in the New York Public Library's microfilm room, which was where Rosario was headed now she'd clocked off. She took her coffee in a takeout cup, digging into her bag with her free hand as she walked. She found her phone, flicked it off silent and discovered a new message from Lyra waiting for her, only a few minutes old.