Home > Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(14)

Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(14)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

“Wow. I thought you told him I wouldn’t like it, but it sounds like you agree with his decision.”

“I never said I disagreed with him. Who else have you talked to about this?”

“Heath and Landon.”

Jabari growled a little.

“Really, big brother? You nearly died with Heath, who helped me protect you while you choked on your own blood.”

“I was even beginning to like him. Then I met his son,” my brother snapped.

“Ah.” Landon had been incredibly distrusting of Jabari. He followed his father around during the trip my brother had made through my territory, watching his father’s back to make sure Jabari didn’t attack. He also never let Jabari be with Carey alone. I had noticed it but never brought it up. Landon just thought he was protecting his family, and I had no problem with him doing it. It wasn’t like he’d attacked anyone, but Jabari had been massively offended.

“Moving back to the topic. Have you considered doing anything with that nice piece of land up north?”

“No,” I answered, not wanting to think about the place where a nest of vampires had tried to kill me. As far as I knew, there still wasn’t a new nest in Washington after the previous nest was decimated. The entire thing had been messy, convoluted, and incredibly brutal. A lot of people had died because one nest master had decided to try to hide his crimes instead of cleaning up his mistakes. It shouldn’t have even been a werecat problem, but two werecats ended up dead and became one. “I don’t want to go back there yet. Not after what happened. Maybe I’ll be more comfortable in another year or so.”

“What about something local?”

“Heath brought up volunteering. I don’t know what I would volunteer for, though.”

“You don’t need to really volunteer. Go to the city government and ask if you can fund a project for them, like a new park or something. Or you can go further up and work with the state,” he said casually.

“Is there anything that doesn’t require more people? I came out here and opened Kick Shot for a quiet life, Jabari.”

“Expand Kick Shot. With those two working there, you can focus on different areas.”

“That would make my new manager very happy,” I muttered. “It’ll keep me here, and it would be nice to see my little dive bar get bigger.”

“I know change is terrible,” he said with compassion. “I have yet to meet a werecat who enjoys it. I know I don’t. Father is better than most, but he’s always ready for it, almost looking forward to it. The rest of us would be just fine if nothing changed ever again. As it is, it’s getting harder and harder to hide from humanity. The wolves didn’t make it any easier by going public. The fae being sloppy makes humans look over their shoulders for more and the witches are slowly getting outed. It’s only a matter of time before we’re revealed.”

“I know, and you met Joey. He’s…”

“Sensitive to supernaturals. He must have a drop of witch blood in him. That’s what most people think about humans who are sensitive to us. He might even have enough strength to do a few spells if he ever wanted to try. I didn’t like him much.”

“I like him less every passing day. He’s nosy and watchful. He used to be friendlier, but he’s always suspected I’m something, werewolf being his best guess.”

“Only because he doesn’t know werecats are real.”

“Exactly.” I sighed. “Well, thanks for talking to me. My food is almost done, then I’m going to head back to the bar. I think I’m going to build this patio Oliver keeps mentioning.”

“Oliver? Zuri sent Oliver?”

“Yes. Why?”

“No reason. He’s a good kid. I know she’s been wanting to use him but felt he needed more training away from home. It’s good she sent him down there. Who else did they send you?”

“Dirk.”

“Ah…I don’t want to gossip about our brother, so I’ll let you go.”

“Good idea. Zuri gossiped a lot, and I’m still trying to figure out what to do with the information.”

Jabari laughed and said goodbye, and I hung up once I said it in return. I grabbed my food from the microwave- Chinese takeout leftovers- and went to eat at my dining table.

I’m going to build a fucking patio. I can’t believe this.

Chapter Nine

I was waiting at the bar when Heath arrived. He strolled in like it was a normal Saturday, this time unsurprised by the presence of my new employees, looked at me with a small smile, then stopped at the bar.

“Whiskey on the rocks, please.”

“Yes, sir,” Dirk answered. Heath, before even getting his drink, pulled out his wallet, took out a large bill, and dropped it in the jar. The wallet was put away right before the drink was placed in front of him. He gave Dirk a friendly nod and brought the drink toward me.

“Good evening.”

“Hello, Heath. We’re going to work tonight,” I said, smiling at him.

“Are we?” He seemed only a little surprised.

“Yup. We’re going to expand Kick Shot.”

“And this is because…?”

“I need something to do,” I reminded him, making him laugh. “So, we’re going to expand Kick Shot. I know Oliver already has some sketch ideas upstairs, and I told these two you’re the man I want to hire. If you’re willing, this is what we’re going to do tonight.”

“Let’s get started. We can chat while we work.”

“Is there anything to chat about?”

“I haven’t failed to think of something yet,” he said, leaning over to say it in my ear as he passed.

You know, ignoring what’s going on between us would be a lot fucking easier if he didn’t do that.

I followed him up the back staircase and let him open the office door to reveal Oliver flipping through papers. I stepped around Heath before Oliver even realized we were there. I tapped the desk and spooked the young man, who sent papers flying. Grabbing a few as they fluttered around, I tried not to chuckle.

“Miss Jacky, Mister Everson. Are you here to look over my sketch ideas?”

“We are,” I said, smiling at him. “Tonight, we’re going to really look at this and see if it’s plausible. Expanding Kick Shot is going to happen one way or another.”

“Oh, that’s wonderful, ma’am. I have all sorts of ideas we can try. The building has such potential, and the location—”

“Let’s stick to the patio for tonight,” I said, holding up a hand. “And please, it’s Jacky.”

“Of course, Miss Jacky.”

Heath looked at me and mouthed it, grinning wildly. Miss Jacky. It wasn’t the worst thing to be called, but it still killed me a little inside.

“Let’s see those sketches,” Heath said, his grin matching the one his daughter often gave me.

Oliver pulled out a sketchbook and began flipping through it. I went around the back of the desk and sat in my chair, letting them claim the other half of the desk for their discussion. I kept my eyes on them, though, and listened in, ready to stop them from knocking down too many walls.

“We could wrap the patio around like so,” Oliver pointed out.

“That is a strange ratio of patio to indoor bar. I would say expand the bar out by several hundred square feet, then do the patio,” Heath said, grabbing a pen to make the revisions.

“We’re not knocking down entire walls,” I said before that went any further. I knew one of them would think about it.

“Hear me out,” Heath said, shifting the sketch for me to see. “If you don’t do it now, you’ll have to demolish the patio we build to do it later. If you do it now, we can fold all the construction into one event. If it still needs to grow, you can build out from other directions after.”

“We can build out the other sides without building out this side,” I pointed out, grabbing the pen and making my own notes.

“But we could use that space later for a kitchen behind the main bar,” Oliver said in a small voice, frowning. “We could also repurpose the upstairs—”

“Absolutely not. I don’t want to deal with multiple levels. This isn’t a club. It’s a bar. There is a difference.” I eyed him. “Plus, you would be homeless, and we would need to find a new place for this office.”

“Good point. That would require even more major construction.”

They continued to ramble on. In the end, I convinced them we didn’t need to expand the bar right now, and all the patio needed was space for a wet bar and a few tables. It didn’t need to be anything special.

“Are you okay with this?” Heath asked as we walked out of the office together.

“I need something to do. Jabari asked me if I wanted to do anything with that piece of land I have in Washington. I said no, not yet. I don’t know what I would volunteer for, and I don’t have much for hobbies except video games and the occasional book I always read too fast. Might as well expand Kick Shot.”

“None of that answered the question,” he pointed out as we went out the back door. I chuckled to see a table and two chairs placed behind the building. They hadn’t been there when I came in to meet Heath, meaning Dirk had brought them out while we were upstairs. I sat down and waved a hand to let him know he could sit down. A moment later, Dirk came out with another whiskey for Heath and a water for me.

“You aren’t manning the bar if you’re running drinks, Dirk,” I said softly. “But thank you for them.”

“Hire more staff,” he said before turning to go inside.

I sighed heavily as Heath started to laugh.

“Oh, these two are going to change everything, and you won’t be able to bring yourself to say no,” he teased.

“Why not? I’m very good at saying no.”

“No, you really aren’t. Carey—”

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