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

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

Niko messaged me back first.

Niko: How’s he settling in?

Jacky: I don’t know. He barely talks to me.

Niko: There was a fight at my club recently. One of my waitresses had a problem with some of the patrons. He stepped in, and it became a brawl that poured out onto the streets. He didn’t want to go down there, but I wanted him to take a deep breath and release some stress. An easy job he knows should help him settle. He’s been edgy with all of my male customers since the fight and jumpy about stuff.

I frowned and looked at my bartender, deciding not to dig further. Niko didn’t seem to point to the human bartender as being in any trouble, but there was a fight on his record, which meant I needed to be careful. I didn’t want to give the young man a reason to get into another. It would defeat why Niko chose him to come down to Texas. He looked like the kind of guy who could really get into it. He had broad shoulders and definitely hit the gym to keep up a beefy figure to look intimidating. He screamed with an aura of ‘fuck with me, and I’ll fuck you up.’ It didn’t intimidate me because I knew I would win, but I could see him scaring half my clientele.

I texted back with a quick thank you, adding a promise to keep Dirk out of trouble.

As the night really kicked off, more of my customers gave Dirk a terrified expression or were generally surprised by his presence behind the bar. I quickly realized it was a smart move to stay at the bar and keep an eye on things as many of them tried to test Dirk into leaving from behind the bar and walking their drinks over to them.

“He’s not a waiter,” I called out. “Get off your asses and get your own drinks.”

“You hired a new bartender but not a new waitress, the one thing we’ve all been begging for,” John, one of Joey’s friends, said as he walked up and grabbed his beer. “Why don’t you run drinks around?”

“Because I’m the owner and not a waitress,” I reminded him plainly, raising an eyebrow. “Are we really going to get into this?”

“No.” He strolled away. It was a common complaint, had been for years, and I had no intention of fixing it now. I was already being forced to have the two new guys.

By eight, Oliver still hadn’t come back down, and I began to worry he was lost in paperwork. Knowing I should have checked on him sooner, I stood up but didn’t move as something caught my interest. A wolf was moving around in my territory. Tilting my head and staring at my phone with feigned interest, I paid attention to the movement of one of my two werewolves through my territory magic. I was beginning to notice subtle differences in them. Heath was easier to identify, for whatever reason. It was definitely Heath moving around, probably in his car and on his way to my bar.

It’s Saturday night. Of course, he’s on his way here. He hasn’t missed a Saturday since Jabari was in town.

The normalcy of it made me excited, pushing away some of the annoyance I felt at how the day had gone so far. As long as there were no new surprises, I would make it through another work week.

I jogged up the stairs, determined to check on one of the surprises before the wolf showed up. I opened the office door to find Oliver shuffling through papers with a pair of glasses on, making notes as he went.

“Are you doing okay up here? Want anything to drink?” I wasn’t really sure what the protocol of having employees was, but he obviously wanted to do the job, so I wasn’t going to stop him. At the same time, I didn’t want to overwork him. It was his first damn day at Kick Shot, probably his first day in the country.

He looked up slowly, pushing his glasses up.

“No, ma’am, I’m fine. Thank you.”

“Jacky,” I reminded him.

“Yes…Jacky. Thank you, but no. I don’t drink.”

“I have soda or water.”

“No, thank you.”

“Okay.” I closed the door again, leaving the young man inside the office. When I made it back downstairs, Heath was close. I slid behind the bar and prepared his drink, so I could give it to him when he walked in.

Dirk didn’t appreciate it, looking down at me with a considerable amount of annoyance as I prepared a second drink for myself. Ignoring the apparent irritation in his dark brown eyes, I continued with what I was doing, knowing he should have an explanation.

“A…friend is on his way,” I explained softly. “I always have his drink ready for him when he walks in since I know when he’s coming here.”

“The werewolf?” he asked just as softly.

“So, you were briefed on that?” I raised an eyebrow at my new bartender.

“Yes. Oliver and I were both given the details of how you have two supernaturals living in your territory. A werewolf Alpha and his adult son. We were told to not get into any trouble with them, but that’s a normal rule for supernatural customers.”

“Heath is no longer an official pack Alpha since it’s just him and Landon, but he is the official werewolf representative to our family.” I kept my voice low, letting the music drown it out so my patrons wouldn’t hear. On a dark winter evening, I was lucky to see a couple of dozen on any night, and tonight was no different. Only about twenty people were in the bar, and none seated nearby. “I’m also the official werecat representative to the werewolves since their largest Council is in the US now, and I’m friends with Heath. Playing nice with him and Landon will make everything about your next year here smoother.”

“Of course.” He seemed professional enough, and I hoped he would maintain it when the werewolf was in the building.

As Heath walked in, I left the bar and held out the drink to him. He immediately knew something was off, and curious confusion filled his grey-blue eyes.

“Meet one of my two new employees, Dirk,” I said, smiling tightly, letting him know we needed to talk.

“Good to meet you, Dirk. Welcome to Kick Shot.” Heath put the beer down on the bar and held out a hand. I breathed a little easier when Dirk took it. “I’m in every Saturday unless any of Jacky’s family is. You’ll probably be seeing both my kids run through here at some point or another as well.”

“Both?” Dirk frowned at me.

“He has a human daughter, Carey. She’s twelve, nearly thirteen, very sweet, and you’ll put your life on the line for her,” I said with the same tight smile I gave Heath.

“Sure.” Dirk nodded slowly.

I motioned for Heath to follow me, heading toward the back of the building. There was no way I was going to sit in the bar and try to talk to him with a new bartender hovering. Slipping out the back door, we stood quietly for a moment, staring at the woods.

“You shouldn’t talk about Landon like he’s a young boy causing trouble,” I said after a moment. “He’s older than me.”

Heath chuckled. I still both loved and hated the noise. I finally figured out why I hated it. It was a lethal weapon Heath wasn’t careful enough with. In the year and few months I had known the wolf, it was becoming apparent that my attraction was growing, not dimming.

I just really enjoy spending Saturday nights with him at Kick Shot.

“I know, but he’s not here to glower at me.”

“That’s a good way of putting it. Glowering. He glowers at everything. You know, I think he’s said all of fifteen words to me since I met him.”

“That’s not true. You two had a hot debate over the holidays about what was appropriate for a twelve-year-old girl to do about boys in school,” he reminded me. “And you both somehow forgot that she’s my daughter. You’re just her pet kitty, and he’s just her older brother.”

“Pet kitty?” I crossed my arms, leaning against the wall as I stared him down.

“Mmm. Yup. She has you wrapped around her little finger.”

“She has you and Landon, too,” I retorted.

“Very true.” He sagged in defeat, leaning on the wall next to him. “Want to explain what’s going on in there? You didn’t really hire two new employees without telling me, right?”

“Why would I tell you?”

“I don’t know. You tell me everything?”

That’s true.

“I didn’t know until a little earlier today that I was getting two new employees,” I finally explained, looking away from him to stare into the woods behind the bar. “You have three guesses who sent them.”

“Your family.”

“Be more specific.”

“Hasan.”

I nodded, sighing heavily. “Yup. With a couple of dumb reasons why. He thinks I need to be less hands-on with the bar now that I’m the face of the family for the region and all of that. Apparently, they’re a gift from him for the holidays.”

“They’re humans, not chattel.” Heath laughed then coughed in shock and exasperation with my werecat father.

“Damn. I should have used that line,” I muttered, a little upset.

“Yeah, you should have,” he said, the exasperation still there. He sipped his beer and looked out at the forest. “So, two new employees and we’re relegated to talk out back? Should we get some patio furniture or something?”

I groaned. “I just…I didn’t want Dirk listening in. I don’t know these guys. The manager is a twenty-two-year-old boy named Oliver Price. His parents work for Zuri and Davor in London. Like…I don’t know if I can trust them to…”

“To keep this secret?” he asked softly.

“There’s nothing to keep secret,” I said quickly, trying not to think about the way his voice, when soft, always turned a little husky. “We have no secrets, Heath.”

“Sure. Then finish that thought about why you don’t want your new employees listening to our conversation.” He was being sly and pointing out the obvious. “We don’t talk about anything that could come back on us. We vent, but nothing either of our kinds would consider a betrayal.”

“I know,” I mumbled. “I don’t know them; therefore, I don’t trust them. Dirk already knew you were a werewolf, by the way. Apparently, it was explained to both of them that you live in my territory. And there’s another thing. They know other people in my family, and they know about us. Our kinds, supernaturals. I never really put myself in charge of humans who were integrated into our world. Hasan has his staff, and I lived around them, and they…changed my sheets, but…”

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