Lowlander Silverback(3)

By: T. S. Joyce


He slurped and nodded, then pulled a bowl of mixed nuts to his chest and began snacking while she searched for the remote. Freaking Jackson. Empty bottles, dirty rags, bottle caps, and used wine glasses littered the bar. She was a tidy person by nature, and cleaning up after Jackson’s shift was her least favorite chore. She turned to Barney who was staring at her tits with a gap-toothed grin. Well, it was one of her least favorite. Barney tipped her well, though, so he could stare all he wanted. This was part of the job. She’d known it the day she was hired a few years ago. Did she like being ogled by handsy strangers? No. But she had a steady job in a small town with a nice enough boss, and the tips kept food on the table. She was lucky to work here, a mantra she would probably repeat to herself a hundred times tonight.

Saturdays were busy thanks to the two men sauntering in through the front door right now. Denison and Brighton Beck, and she had a genuine smile for those boys. Denison waved as he set his guitar case up on the stage.

“Let me clean up, and I’ll get you two a drink,” she called across the bar.

“No rush. I know Jackson’s shite at cleaning up his mess,” Denison said through a grin.

He and his brother had been playing here on the weekends as long as she’d worked here. They were the reason she hadn’t felt frightened like some of the other people in town when the bear shifters of Saratoga had begun registering to the public. Denison and Brighton were always nice to her. Growly as hell if anyone pissed them off, and sure, they could rip someone’s esophagus through their mouth hole if they were ever so inclined, but the twins had a strong moral compass, and damn they could sing. Or, at least Denison could. His brother, Brighton, had no voice. Didn’t stop him from the raspy whisper he used in the microphone, but Brighton shredded guitar in the background while Denison sang lead. And shit could they play. If they’d had a mind to, they could be big. She’d asked them once why they hadn’t gone to Nashville and chased the big stage, but Denison said his inner animal wouldn’t let him, and he was happy to stay here where he knew the crowd.

The Becks tuned their guitars and did a sound check while she rushed to clean up the bar to shining. And every few minutes, her eyes lifted to the door to check for Kong. An irritating habit, but she couldn’t help herself and had stopped trying weeks ago when her crush had gotten bigger.

Bar cleaned and a few drink orders refilled, she strode to the stage with a couple of light beers in glass mugs. “Are Everly and Danielle coming tonight?” she asked.

Denison shook his head as he took the drinks from her hand and set them on stools beside him and Brighton’s chairs. “Not tonight.”

“Oh, man. I was looking forward to seeing them. It’s been a couple of weeks.”

“Everly isn’t feeling well,” Brighton said in that raspy whisper of his.

“She’s sick? Oh no! You want me to get Nate to whip up some of his noodle soup? He could have it done by the time y’all finish your last set, and you can take it home to Everly.”

“It ain’t that kind of sick,” Brighton whispered with an arch to his dark eyebrow.

Layla’s face went slack, and she stepped closer. “Is she pregnant?”

A grin busted up Brighton’s face, and he nodded.

Layla squeaked and hugged his neck. “You’re not joking. You wouldn’t do that to me. She’s pregnant? Holy shit!” Dang, she was getting all misty-eyed. Brighton and his mate had been trying for a baby for a while. “I’m so happy for you. She got any cravings? I’ll get Nate on it.”

Brighton laughed silently and released her from his hug. “Not yet.”

“She’s sick as all get out, barfing all the time,” Denison said. “I feel bad for her. Danielle’s been staying with her while we’re up on the landing, and she’s taking care of her tonight while we play.”

“Aw, poor Ev. Well, if there is anything I can do, you let me know. And Brighton,” she murmured, gripping his arm, “congratulations.”

“Thanks, Layla,” he whispered through a proud grin.

“You boys let me know when you need another drink. Are you eating here tonight?”

“Maybe after the set, before we hit the road.”

“Great, just give me a heads up on your second to last song. I’ll get Nate on your regular.”

“You got it,” Denison said distractedly as he threaded a cable from one of the amps to his guitar.

Beaming with happiness, she turned and ran into a solid wall of muscle. Her face smacked right into a big, steely torso. “Shoot,” she said in a rush. “I’m sorry. I should’ve watched where I was…” She arched her neck back and looked directly into the sexy face of Kong. “…walking.”

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