Home > Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(2)

Broken Loyalty (Jacky Leon #3)(2)
Author: Kristen Banet, K.N. Banet

He said a number that made me growl a little, and I went to find the cash for them. Oliver tried to say no, but I shoved the money at his chest.

“Next time my family sends you somewhere, tell them to arrange all of this ahead of time. I can’t believe them. They know better…” I sighed. They did know better. They just wanted me to fret and start taking care of my new employees. Sneaky motherfuckers.

“Are we going to get started tonight? If we’re going to be staying at the bar for a short while, we might as well get started.” Oliver was chatty. I was quickly beginning to realize I was never going to get a moment’s peace with him around. He was going to talk to all my customers, me, Dirk, and probably Heath, whenever he got the chance.

“Yeah, we can get started tonight,” I answered, defeated. “Once we open, I’m going to run upstairs and get all of my things out, so that you two can move in. There’s only one bedroom, so only one of you can stay there long-term, but for now, you two can flip for the bed or couch.” I rubbed my forehead, wondering how I ever thought this would be just another day. This was completely out of nowhere and totally out of bounds on the part of my werecat father. “You said you got here by taxi…did you just fly in?”

“We both slept on the plane!” Oliver explained brightly. “We’re ready to go!”

I wondered if the new manager had even asked the new bartender, but when I looked at Dirk, he was already getting behind the bar and looking through everything, familiarizing himself with my layout.

“Okay. Well, at open, go unlock the door, then…wait. I’ll start clearing out my clothing upstairs, so whoever is going to stay up there can use the dresser and closet…” I walked away, stomping up the back stairwell to the upstairs apartment. I looked at the door to the office and knew Oliver was going to need access as well if he wanted to do his job right.

That annoyed me further, so I decided to put it off until another day.

Storming into the apartment, I went into the bedroom, wondering if I had washed the sheets in the last week. I didn’t keep much clothing in the apartment, so throwing it all into a suitcase was easy.

I was even more annoyed with this new reality as I walked out the back of the building and started jogging home, encumbered by the suitcase I promptly tossed through my front door, baring my teeth.

I can’t fucking believe this. Hasan has backed me into a corner, and I know it’ll just piss everyone off if I send them back. Fucking hell. I can’t even yell at Oliver and Dirk. They don’t deserve that. My family pointed them to their new home, and they came.

One year. I only need to keep them here for one year.

My stomach sank as I realized what that meant.

In one year, they’re just going to replace Dirk and Oliver with two other new people.

I walked slowly back to the bar, needing to think. How was I going to get rid of them? I couldn’t keep them. Maybe I could let them stick around for a few months, then send them back, saying it just wasn’t working for me to have employees. I really liked working alone.

Without a solid plan, I walked back into the bar and checked the time. Two minutes before five. Without thinking, I walked out to the bar and went toward the door, passing one of my new employees. The moment it hit five, I unlocked it, flipped on the Open sign, and went back to the bar. Only to stop because Dirk, with his short brown hair and dark, narrow eyes was there, wiping down a glass.

“I looked in the back. You should get more glasses,” he said softly, looking up at me.

“I’ve never run out. Run the dishwasher after closing every night. Takes ten minutes.”

“Ah…” He sighed and put the glass down.

“I can put a stool back there for you.”

“No, thank you.”

Realizing I was going to get nowhere with him, I looked at Oliver and grumbled as I noticed something was different. Some of the tables had been moved.

“Oliver. Why did you rearrange?”

“Because there are specific patterns of tables and chairs used in bars like your own to optimize the customer’s or a waitress’ walk to and from the bar,” he answered, smiling.

I bit my tongue; moving the tables and chairs wasn’t the worst thing. How I never heard him doing it was beyond me. I should have stopped stewing in my annoyance and paid attention. I’d left two new people down here, unattended.

“Well, okay. Come upstairs, and I’ll show you where I keep the books. Can you manage inventory and budgets?”

“Well, I would work with Dirk on the alcohol inventory, but if you would like that to be only my duty, then yes.” He fell in step behind me as I walked to the back and up the stairs again.

“That’s the apartment. There’s some food in there and everything you need for cleaning. I left my towels for you two if you need them, and there’s a washer and dryer for your clothes.” I pointed to the second door. “That’s my office, but since you’ll be the manager for the next year, I guess it’s going to be your office…”

“You don’t seem very happy about this,” Oliver said carefully. “I was told you might be resistant and to work through it, but…”

“My family knew better than to do this,” I replied, taking a deep breath. “But don’t worry, I’m not going to make your life difficult.”

“Thank you. I was told you would at least know we were on our way, but…”

“Nope. They gave me no warning,” I said, staring at the office door. “Look, Oliver? This is just going to take some time for me to get used to. I’ve been running and working at Kick Shot alone for over seven years. Just go easy on me and don’t change things too fast or too often, and we should get along just fine.”

“I can do that.”

“Who the fuck are you?” someone exclaimed downstairs, making both Oliver and me jump. I knew the voice, so I raised a hand to stop my new manager.

“Let me handle this,” I said quickly. “Why don’t you go get acquainted with my office. Finances are sorted by month and year in the black filing cabinets. They should all have labels.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Oliver nodded, and I sighed.

“Just call me Jacky.” I started walking away before he could call me Miss Jacky or Madam Jacky or something like he called Zuri.

Chapter Two

I trotted down the stairs, ready to face my most consistent, if frustrating, patron.

“Joey, I know you aren’t yelling at my new bartender,” I snapped, walking into the bar and putting my hands on my hips. “His name is Dirk, and he’s starting today. You’ll be good for him. Before you ask, he’s human.”

Joey turned to me, then back at Dirk, his eyes narrowing with distrust.

“You could have asked me to help out around here. I would have taken the job,” he said simply.

“My business decisions are none of yours,” I said patiently then looked at Dirk. “He drinks Bud Light normally, but you might be able to get him to try a craft beer on occasion. He’s a regular and a bit of a drunk. Cut him off if you think he’s going too far, but other than that, he’s harmless.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Dirk said quietly, grabbing a glass.

“Call me Jacky,” I told him just like I had told Oliver. I turned back to Joey and raised my hands. “They’re here. Be nice to them. I know Dirk has loads of experience as a bartender.”

“Is there some other reason for this?” Joey asked, crossing his arms. “I like this bar because you’re the bartender. Are you into something—?”

“Don’t finish that. I wanted some help around the bar because I can’t keep doing it full time and not having a life,” I snapped. “Take your beer and go wait for your buddies, Joey.”

He did as I asked, grabbing the drink Dirk put in front of him. When he was out of ear shot, I looked at my new bartender.

“They might all do something similar. I’ve been behind that bar for over seven years.”

“They’ll get over it,” he said patiently. I wondered what was going through his mind. He wasn't very hospitable, and I was trying. “You lied to him.”

“I did,” I confirmed. “There’s no reason for any of my customers to know you just showed up because my family decided you needed to work for me. So, you worked for Niko?”

“Yes.”

“At a place in Berlin?” Now that I was thinking about it, he had an accent, though a very slight one. He was very good with English, but I figured it wasn’t his first language.

“Yes.”

“A restaurant? A club?”

“A night club. I’m used to more excitement than this,” he explained. “Niko believes I would do well handling a calmer location for a short time.”

“Any reason for that?”

“Ask him,” Dirk said plainly.

I sighed and, deciding I needed to know more about these two sooner rather than later, grabbed my phone off the bar and checked the messages. Most were them teasing me, a regular occurrence but without the meanness that used to be there. Since Washington and everything that happened around the deaths of Gaia and Titan, they had accepted me into the fold. I was now the youngest sister and maybe not the best sibling, but they treated me as one of them. Even Davor offered to help with any situation in the Americas I felt I wasn’t ready for.

I sat down on the wrong side of my bar, looking more like a customer than the owner as I sent out a few more texts, this time to different siblings specifically. Niko would have information on Dirk while I trusted either Davor or Zuri would give me the details on Oliver.

It didn’t surprise me that my family would have two people they could send my way without a second thought. They owned businesses, both for money and pleasure. A couple of fancy restaurants in London for Zuri and Davor? Made sense. A night club in Berlin for Niko? I could see it. They probably weren’t money making operations. I had a feeling Mischa owned places all over Russia, and I knew Hasan was neck deep in different businesses to maintain his extreme wealth.

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