Home > Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(6)

Down on Me (Man of the Month #1)(6)
Author: J. Kenner


Brent pinched the bridge of his nose. "It's the bar," he said, his voice heavy with emotion. "He's on the verge of losing this entire damn place."

 

 

Chapter Three

 

 

"What the hell?" Jenna lowered herself into one of the two guest chairs, because her knees had just been knocked out from under her. "Losing The Fix? How is that even possible?"

Beside her, Reece ran his hand over his shaved head, his mouth curving down into a frown. He'd decided to shave his thick black hair right before she'd moved from Austin to LA eight months ago. In fact, one of the last things Jenna remembered from the drunken night before she'd left for LA was rubbing her hand over his scalp, then telling him she had to kiss it for luck.

To him, she was sure, the caress was innocent.

To her, it delved into decadent fantasies about what might happen if he tilted his face up so that her kiss fell on his lips instead of his head. And her imagination had generated some serious heat.

Not that she'd ever get close enough to that fire to truly feel the burn. That was a fire that had to stay locked away tight in the realm of fantasy.

Reece and Brent were her best friends, after all. Her pillars, her anchors. And there was no way she'd ever, ever, do something to screw that up. She never even thought about Reece like that.

Except apparently, she did. Especially after that night.

The night before she'd left for LA, when they'd gone out drinking and dancing with friends, with extra emphasis on the drinking part. Brent had to bow out because of a minor crisis, and Reece had taken her home, then carried her up the stairs to her apartment since she'd been too far gone to manage on her own.

He'd held her—taken care of her—and when she'd fallen headlong into sleep, the little demons that lived in the liquor had plucked hidden strands of lust from her innocent thoughts, then weaved them into a tapestry of prurient decadence that had infiltrated her dreams, leaving her to wake up the following morning needy, frustrated, and more than a little embarrassed.

That was eight long months ago. Even so, she felt her cheeks burn with the memory right now. She squirmed in Tyree's guest chair, crossing and uncrossing her legs, the inopportune memory teasing her. In the process, she glanced sideways—and was brought up short when she saw Reece frowning at her as if she was a puzzle. Or worse, as if he could see right through her pink cheeks and into her lust-red thoughts.

"I'm not—" She cut herself off, unsure what she'd planned to say. It didn't matter. He didn't even hear her, and she realized that his expression was because of Tyree's predicament and not because her cheeks were flaming under her freckles.

Duh.

"Is it foreclosure?" Reece aimed the question at Brent, then leaned against the battered bookshelf, his arms crossed over his chest. "I know receipts are down—the competition downtown has gotten crazy—but I didn't think it was so bad that he couldn't make the mortgage."

"It shouldn't be," Brent said. "But apparently he's got until the end of the year to pay off the mortgage in full—and that can’t be a small chunk of change. If he can't manage, it's adios to all of this."

"That's crazy." Jenna looked from one guy to the other. "Are you sure?"

"I came in here to reboot the security cameras, and I accidentally bumped his mouse." An ex-cop, Brent was in charge of all aspects of security at the bar. Everything from escorting out rowdy patrons to examining questionable IDs to checking employee references. And, of course, he ensured that the video security was always up and running. "The demand letter was on the screen. I shouldn't have read it, but..."

"The hell you shouldn't," Jenna said. "How else would we know he needs help?" She twisted in her seat, positioning herself to make eye contact with both guys. "We are helping, right?"

"Hell, yeah," they said in unison, making her smile. "The question is how," Reece added.

"And why he needs help in the first place," Brent added.

Reece took a step toward him. "Show me the letter. Maybe there's something relevant in the text that you missed."

"Can't," Brent said, lowering himself into Tyree's desk chair with a sigh. "The hard drive went to sleep when I went out to meet you two, and now I can't log in without his password. No idea why it wasn't locked down before, but we all know this computer is a piece of shit."

Jenna bit back a laugh. That was true. She'd waited tables for The Fix when she was finishing grad school, and Tyree used to let her work on class papers during her breaks. The computer was an ancient beast, but he refused to replace it, always saying that any spare cash needed to either go into the bar or toward Elijah's college fund. So long as the computer was computing, then he didn't need some fancy upgrade.

"Maybe he got behind on his payments?" Reece suggested, but Jenna heard the incredulity in his voice, and she agreed with it. She didn't know Tyree as well as Reece or Brent did, but she was certain that the efficient ex-military officer wouldn't let that happen.

"Well, something's up," Brent said. "But honestly, it's getting on toward three, and I've got a babysitter to pay." He rose, then scrubbed a hand over his jaw and close-trimmed beard. "Why don't we talk over breakfast tomorrow? I'll drop Faith at kindergarten, go for a jog, and be back by nine, easy."

Reece nodded. "Sounds good. I'm going to hang here for a bit—make sure everything's set for the morning."

Brent clapped him on the shoulder. "The sacred duty of the bar manager." He pointed a finger at Reece. "Don't forget to set the alarm. And you," he added, gesturing for Jenna to follow, "are with me."

"Right," she said, rising and moving toward the door. Reece was doing the same, and they caused a minor logjam. She shifted, brushing against him, then shivered from the unexpected shock of electricity that rushed through her from nothing more than that innocent contact.

"You okay?" Reece put his hand on her shoulder, and when she looked up, she thought for a moment that she'd get lost inside the smoky quartz of his eyes. "Jenna?"

"Huh?" She blinked. "Oh, yeah. I'm just—you know. I'm not used to bar hours. And with the flying and getting up early and the travel and the drinking—"

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