Home > Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(5)

Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(5)
Author: J. Kenner


"Sorry, sorry!" She held up her hands in apology, then aimed a thin smile at Megan. "I was teasing. Reece would never do anything like that. Certainly not with me—I mean, he thinks of me like a sister—but not with anyone, either. He's one of the good ones."

"I believe you," Megan said, her tender expression reminding him of why taking her home tonight had seemed like a good idea.

He gently pushed Jenna's foot down, then stood up. "I think it's time to get back on track. Cam, Tyree took you through the closing procedure, right?"

"Um, not really. I told you. He just kind of left."

Reece's concern, which had begun to dwindle during the banter with Jenna and Megan, ramped up again. "You're telling me that Tyree—the owner of this bar and the only manager on the premises then—just walked out, leaving a bartender who's never closed before without any instructions on what to do?"

Cam hunched his shoulders, looking younger than his twenty-four years. "Um, pretty much."

Reece told himself to stay chill. This wasn't a crisis yet. "Where did you say Aly and Tiffany were?" he asked, referring to two of the wait staff.

"They're in the back doing prep," Jenna said. "I was talking with them when I heard you come in."

"Brent's back there, too?" Reece couldn't believe he hadn't asked earlier. But he'd been so thrilled to see Jenna—and so concerned about Tyree—that he hadn't wondered where the hell Brent had got off to.

"Brent went into the office to check on something right after he and Jen got here," Cam said as he started to wipe down the bar. He looked calmer now that he had a solid answer to a question. "Then about half an hour ago he rushed out. Didn't say where he was going. Just that he had to check on something, but..." He trailed off with a shrug. "Jenna says he's her ride, so I figure he'll be back soon. He knows we're closing."

The alarm bells that had been softly tolling in Reece's head started to clang. First Tyree, then Brent. And considering Brent was in charge of the bar's security, if he was seeing trouble, then Reece felt justified in worrying.

Not that he could do anything about it at the moment. Best to just slide into his job and make sure everything outstanding was taken care off. "Right, then. Cam, you go ahead and start going through your usual end-of-shift checklist. Griffin, are you heading out, or are you going to stay and finish up?"

Griff tapped his notebook with his pen. "Just a little longer if that's okay, then I'll get out of your hair."

"No rush," Reece assured him, then turned to Jenna. "Will you go let Aly and Tiffany know that I'll be back. But they should finish up their prep, let Cam know when they're done, then clock out. If I'm not back, I'll see them both on their next shift."

"Sure, but what do you mean back? Where are you going?"

"I'm going to take Megan home. Sorry tonight turned crazy," he continued, shifting his attention to Megan. "I only thought we'd grab a drink and check in on my cousin. I didn't expect ... well, any of this."

"Not a problem." She leaned forward and kissed his cheek. "Really."

He swallowed, then noticed Jenna watching him. Not with her usual effervescent expression. Now she seemed pensive—and he couldn't help but wonder what question she was trying to work out.

"Right." He cleared his throat. "Back in a bit," he said to Cam and Jenna. "Ready?" he added, turning to Megan.

"Sure, but I live at the Railyard," she said, referring to a condominium complex just a few blocks over on Fourth Street. "If you need to work, I can get there on my own."

"At two in the morning? Screw that. I'll drive you."

He thought she might argue, but all she did was offer him her arm. They'd just taken a step toward the exit when the door flew open, and Brent burst inside, his expression tight, his hands clenched, and his brown eyes blazing with restrained fury.

"What's the matt—" Reece began, but Brent cut him off with a curt, "We need to talk."

"I'll just walk home," Megan said, pulling her arm free and smiling gently. "Honestly, I'll be fine. I do it all the time."

"No." Reece held up a finger, signaling Brent to wait for one second as he focused on Megan. "Why don't you—"

"I'll see her home," Griff said firmly. He stood up and crossed to Megan, close enough so that she couldn't miss the scars hidden in the shadow of his hood. "My car's parked over by the Railyard, and it's time for me to get going anyway." He lifted one shoulder in a casual shrug. "Assuming that's okay with you?"

"Yeah, fine by me," she said, without the slightest hesitation. She glanced at Reece. "He's your friend, right? Because my mother warned me against talking to strangers."

"Griffin Draper," Griff said. "And yeah, Reece claims me." He thrust out his right hand, also covered with scars, and Reece couldn't help but think he was testing her. Since she shook it, he assumed that she'd passed.

"Thanks, Griff." Reece patted his friend on the back. "Appreciate it."

"Tonight was fun," Megan said to Reece, rising up on her tiptoes to brush a kiss across his cheek. "We'll have another drink soon?"

"Hell, yeah," he said, forcing himself not to look at Jenna. And at the same time reminding himself that this was good. This was what he needed. A woman in his life for a little fun, a little sex. A woman who was good in bed and easy-going in the world.

A woman who held no expectations and had no agenda and no interest in getting involved.

Most important, a woman who wasn't Jenna.

"Cam, lock the door and finish up," Brent ordered, the moment they disappeared around the corner. He pointed to Reece. "And you meet me in the office. We need to talk."

"This is about Tyree, I assume?" Reece said, as soon as Jenna shut the door behind them. Brent hadn't invited her specifically, but they'd fallen back into old habits, and the three of them were a team. "What the hell's going on?"

"Is it Elijah?" Jenna asked, referring to Tyree's sixteen-year-old son. His mom—Tyree's wife—had been killed in a car wreck seven years before, and they'd both had a hard time of it for a while. But as far as Reece knew, they were both doing better, and Eli was thriving in school.

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