Home > Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(10)

Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(10)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

“Don’t make assumptions, and I do have a twin brother,” she retorted. “I know young men. Pains, all of them.”

“While I’m glad for more information about Dirk, I really want to talk about Oliver,” I said, trying to get us back on track. “I know why Dirk is here. Niko already told me.” And now I had even more of a reason to understand why he was seemed upset.

Niko didn’t mention that he had raised Dirk, though. That was rude. The human is practically family. Hell, he’s been family longer than I have.

“Oliver’s enthusiastic and bright, but things happen,” she said enigmatically. “And he’s there to rebuild the confidence I know he has. Running a small bar with a stubborn owner is a good place for him. Not many employees to deal with and no overbearing father.”

That gave me a clue.

“His father? He said he worked with his father.”

“He did, but again, this is his story,” Zuri repeated. “Take good care of him. He’s a wonderful boy, and he’ll do great things for your little bar if you let him. Now, you have a second problem you wanted to speak about? Something to do with losing your territory? Is there something wrong?”

“Like I said, a werecat drifted into my territory earlier today. What am I supposed to do if I lose a fight, and they’re here?”

“You put in place in a protocol, a group text, or a code word. If an intruder comes into the territory, you send it to them before you deal with the intruder. It will initiate an escape plan. They’ll pack up and drive out of the territory until you give them the all clear or find them at the meeting location. If you are chased out, I would expect you to have them both meet you close to Dallas, so you can put them back on planes to us, where we can protect them while you find a new home or just stay rogue, like Mischa. I would assume Dirk knows all about it. Oliver’s family has never had a reason to learn since they’re outside employees, away from our homes.”

“That all sounds much less complicated than it probably is,” I said, leaning over. “This is why I didn’t want employees, Zuri.”

“Talk to Father about that. He made the decision. I only used it as a chance to help a young man who has spent his entire life hoping to work for one of us. He’s new, you’re new. It seemed like a good fit.”

“Are you worried about me losing my territory?”

“Does Carey still live there?”

I wondered for a moment how much Jabari had told Zuri about my little charge, my only real friend. If Heath and Landon weren’t around, I wondered if I would be in a similar position as Niko. Maybe that was why Zuri made it a point to remember Carey’s name.

“Yes.”

“Then no, I’m not overly worried. A werecat with a charge will fight more viciously than a werecat without anything relying on it keeping the territory. It’s actually not common for a young werecat to get overly attached to their home for the first century or so. Sometimes, older werecats will take the territory just to prove a point.”

Haha. Great. A big male werecat might want to upset my life by forcing me out, just to annoy me. That would be some fucking bullshit.

“I think that’s everything,” I said, ready to get off the phone. “Thank you for talking to me.”

“I would have gotten back to you sooner, but I was handling something with my territory in Cameroon. A rogue wandered through and thought she could freeload for a time. One of my staff saw the tracks, and I had to go in and chase her off.”

“It’s almost comforting to know you still deal with rogues like a normal werecat,” I said, snorting.

“Yes. There’s always one, maybe coming in from a different part of the world or too young to really understand we’re in charge and why, so we have to put them back in their place.” She sounded amused. “Now, I am going to sleep, little sister. Good night.”

“Good night,” I barely said before she hung up.

Chapter Six

Jacky: You couldn’t tell me he was your kid?

Niko: He asked me not to. Did he tell you?

Jacky: No, Zuri had to tell me. Why didn’t I know you raised a kid?

Niko: You weren’t speaking to us, and I’m very private about Dirk. Hasan let our siblings know, but I don’t parade him around for the family. Don’t call him nephew, he’d hate it.

Jacky: Has he ever met any of the family?

Niko: You’re the first. I think it’s best since you’re a similar age.

I sighed and looked across the bar at my new bartender. Only someone in the supernatural world would think thirty-seven and twenty-four were similar ages. Humans would see two people from different generations with very little in common due to being at different stages in their lives.

And Dirk, even raised by Niko, was a human. Which struck me as odd as I watched him do inventory before we opened for the week. He was already twenty-four. The time to Change him in his prime was right now. Sometime between twenty and thirty was the choice of most to Change.

Dirk caught me staring, and his eyes narrowed.

“Yes?”

“Nothing,” I said, looking back down at my phone, then remembered. “I don’t have your number. Or Oliver’s. We need to set in place some safety protocols. Should have done them Sunday, but I’m new to this.”

“Niko said you were,” he said patiently. “Let me get Oliver.”

“Thank you.” I played with my phone as I waited, and when they sat down in front of me, I slid the phone to them. “Were each of you given U.S. cell phones, or am I responsible for those?”

“We called the car ride company to take us out yesterday to pick some up,” Oliver answered. “While you were with Miss Everson.”

“That’s good. I need your numbers. If there’s an emergency, I want to be able to let you know.”

“What’s our meet up location?” Dirk asked.

“Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport,” I answered, looking up at him. “If it’s necessary, I want to be able to put you both on planes out of the country. If it’s not, you can just drive the two or so hours home.”

“What are we talking about?” Oliver looked between Dirk and me, obviously lost.

“We live in a werecat’s territory. If she’s challenged, she could lose the entire region, and we wouldn’t be safe. So, she’s going to let us know if someone shows up, and we’ll leave, so we’re not caught in the crossfire,” Dirk explained before I could. “It’ll be fine. She’s one of the Family. I don’t think any of them have ever lost.”

“Don’t have too much faith in me. I’m not that old,” I said, trying to keep it light with a smile. “I’m closer to you two in age than I am to any of my siblings. It’s good to have this in place because only yesterday, I had a werecat step in my territory. Nothing happened, and they left without incident, but it makes the point clear. We need a safety plan for the two of you.”

“I’ll make sure Oliver gets out with me,” Dirk said, handing my phone to the young manager. “I plan on buying a car this coming weekend.”

“Great. Oliver?”

“I don’t know how to drive. If Dirk is fine coming to get me, I’ll go whenever and wherever you need me to,” he said, looking up from my screen. He looked back down and punched in his information, then held it out. “Here you are. I didn’t know this was a concern. I feel a bit foolish.”

“Zuri said you’ve never worked in werecat territory. Consider this a bigger learning experience than you thought it would be. It’s one for me, too,” I said, trying to ease the nerves at the table. What Dirk and I talked about was scaring Oliver. I could smell it in the air, even if he covered it up well. “We’ll be fine. I don’t keep prime territory with great resources.”

“That’s good,” Oliver said, a wobbling smile forming. “Thank you for looking out for us.”

“You’re here. You’re my responsibility. Now, let’s get this bar open and get the week started.” I thumped my hand on the booth table which I had claimed to work. Oliver took the finance books from me and ran up the back stairs, and Dirk went back behind the bar and continued his daily inventory. I unlocked the door and looked for a place to go.

“You can head out. Kick Shot doesn’t need you hanging around,” Dirk said, watching me wander. “We’ve got it covered.”

“Yeah…” I hated that. I’d started working at Kick Shot to fight boredom and have my own meager income away from the millions Hasan had gifted me.

Now, it seemed I was back to twiddling my thumbs. I flipped my phone around in my hands, wondering if there was a good movie playing, or if I could go out to dinner. I almost considered calling Heath or texting Carey to see if they wanted to do something, but I felt like I was intruding even considering it. It wasn’t my schedule to see them on a Tuesday.

I admitted defeat and walked out the back, heading for my house. I went to my home office and sat down at my gaming computer, booting it up to kill some time—a lot of time since I had nothing to do unless they called me. I didn’t want to stay and hover when they were both capable, especially Dirk, who would be handling the customers all night.

Hopefully, there wouldn’t be any fights.

I still thought it was interesting that Niko had raised the young man, but it wasn’t my place to get involved. It was the same in reverse. Outside of what I told any one of them, they wouldn’t get involved in my friendship with Carey.

I played around on my computer for thirty minutes before I gave up and sent a text to Heath, asking if I could come over or take everyone to the movies.

Heath: Let me guess. You’re letting them manage Kick Shot and have nothing to do. I thought cats were good at being lazy?

Jacky: You’re a very intelligent man, Heath Everson. Don’t push your luck.

Heath: We’re sitting down for dinner in thirty minutes. I’ll have Carey put a plate out for you.

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