“I expect you and Jayce aren’t very close then,” Jerico murmurs. “I mean… he was only around you a few years. He would have been around five when your dad left, right?”
When I shake my head, the cute smile slides from my face and Jerico notices. “When I say my dad left, I mean he left. Left Jayce behind too. He stayed with my mom because he didn’t want to go back to his mom, and besides that, she couldn’t be found. My mom raised him with Danielle and me, and I can tell you it was no picnic trying to house, feed, and clothe three children on what she made as a waitress.”
Jerico’s eyes furrow again in confusion, but unless I’m crazy, I see a bit of hardness there too. Perhaps he finds it as distasteful as I do that a man leaves his children and never looks back.
But then his gaze softens, and he pulls me in close. He drops my hand, his arms going around my waist. Mine go up to loop around his shoulders. We sort of sway back and forth with our bodies pressed tight. Jerico’s green eyes focus on mine with an unusual warmth. Tilting his head down until his face is close to mine, he asks, “So how did a girl such as yourself wind up working in The Wicked Horse, letting me fuck you in front of others, and learning how to be sexually uninhibited like I bet you never thought you could ever be?”
His words slither through me, leaving tingles in their wake. If Jerico wanted to drop me to the floor right now and take me, I’d let him. But the man asked a legitimate question that needs answered.
“She ended up at The Wicked Horse because she needed help and didn’t have a choice,” I murmur as I thread my fingers through the back of his hair. His eyes flutter closed briefly and his head pushes against my hands like a cat demanding more. “But she ended up underneath you learning all kinds of wicked things because she wanted to. It’s as simple as that.”
Jerico’s eyes open. They’re dark and glittery at the same time.
His lips curve up and just before he kisses me, he says, “Good answer, Trista. Very good answer.”
“I don’t care if you’re having employee problems, Seth,” I growl into the phone. “My business is based on two things. First, that people like to explore their sexuality in a safe environment, and second, that if they’re a little anxious about doing so, they can have a couple of drinks to loosen up first. That can’t fucking happen when the liquor I ordered from you doesn’t show up.”
“I know, I know,” Seth hastily says in a soothing tone. “I’ve pinpointed the problems to the loaders. They’re not double checking. But I’m getting it fixed, I swear.”
“You better get it fixed and fast,” I warn him. “This is Vegas, Seth. You’re not the only distributor in town, you know?”
“I got it,” he says with relief in his voice that he hasn’t been fired. “I’m sending over the missing boxes that weren’t in the delivery and only charging you fifty percent for them.”
“I appreciate that,” I say as my frustration starts to seep away. It’s all these petty little problems of running a business that cause stress, and they can add up.
While it’s true Seth isn’t the only game in town, I don’t want to lose him as my distributor because he has a special service that the others don’t do. He carries drink condiments so I don’t have to order those from a separate distributor. Salt for margaritas, cherries for Manhattans, or limes for your vodka tonic, Seth carries all that shit, which cuts down on one extra thing I have to do.
“I’ll have my truck there midafternoon, will that work?” he asks.
“Sounds good. Thanks, Seth.”
I disconnect the call and look down at my written to-do list. It’s my habit every morning. I have a digital list on my computer which I look at but then I take the five most important things and write them down on paper. I have to accomplish the tasks before I can go to bed at night.
It’s a Sunday, but that doesn’t mean I don’t work. I run two businesses at this point, and while I have good help to manage both, I still have the lion’s share of the work. Which means I work pretty much every day.
Looking down at my list, I take my pen and cross through “Call Seth and chew his ass out.”
That was number six on the list—an add-on item after my head bartender called me freaked out after realizing half the delivery of liquor was missing. To put his mind at rest, I pick up the phone and buzz his station, giving him the good news that more alcohol was on its way. When that’s done, I look at my watch and realize that it’s only eleven and I have finished six of my top priorities.