Dylan - Karla Sorensen
A Bachelors of the Ridge Novel
“He is such a creepazoid, Dylan. Can’t you do something about it?” Kayla whined to me for the fortieth time that week. I blew out a puff of air and stared out into the chaos of a Saturday late afternoon crowd at a sports bar during baseball season. I could barely breathe the whole day, it had been so busy, let alone instruct the owner of the bar I managed that he wasn’t actually allowed to call female employees things like sweet cheeks and sugar and sexy girl.
“I wish I could, Kayla. I’ve said as much as I dare, okay? Just ... avoid him if you can. Come to me with anything you need, and then I’ll have to be the one to deal with him. And if Jim calls me sweet cheeks, it’ll get ugly.” The way she smiled up at me with relief, the adoring look glittering in her big brown eyes gave me the freaking hives.
Another one bites the dust. It wasn’t cockiness or anything, I swear. It was just a sad fact of life that eighty-nine percent of the single female employees I managed eventually fancied themselves in love with me. Sometimes the bartenders started a pool on how quickly one of the newbies would start throwing lingering glances my way, accidentally brushing past me when I was helping get their orders ready in the window. Honestly, when I noticed the new ones with engagement rings or heard that they had girlfriends, I was so freaking relieved.
“Thank you, Dylan,” she said, laying a hand on my forearm and biting her lip in a way that she probably thought looked coy, but just looked painful to me. “You are the best.”
I gave her a polite smile and stepped back, lifting my chin toward one of her tables. “No problem. Looks like your six top needs a refill.”
While I stood with my back to the kitchen window, looking over the different tables and watching the servers in action, I didn’t hear Jim step up behind me. So when he clapped a hand over my shoulder, I actually jumped, like a little girl.
“Man, I’m going to make a lot of money today,” Jim said far too loudly to keep me comfortable, as a couple at the table closest to me looked over at us. I smiled at them and basically wanted to die inside.
“Looks like it. Rivalry games are good for business.”
“They are, they are.” He removed his hand from my shoulder and rubbed at his chin, staring over at where Kayla was chatting with her table. “You did great with that one, Dylan.”
I waved goodbye to one of the regulars and then glanced at Jim. “Yeah, she’s doing well. Customers like her.”
“And that ass.” He whistled. I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. “Makes me pretty glad to be alive.”
“Jim,” I said on an exhale. “Somebody is gonna sue your ass if you say stuff like that. Especially out loud.”
With an unconcerned laugh, he elbowed me. “It’s not gonna be you, Steadman, I do know that.”
The same couple next to us looked at each other for a moment and went back to eating. Just standing next to Jim made me feel guilty by association, let alone being employed by him.
“Well, I may not sue you. But I have a little sister,” I gripped him on the shoulder like he had done to me, “and if I heard someone talk about her the way you just talked about Kayla, I’d rip his nutsack off. Boss or not. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to keep your customers happy.”
Without a second glance at him to tell me whether I’d just gotten myself fired, because I didn’t really even care at that moment, I approached the table with the middle-aged couple.
“You folks enjoying your meals so far?” The man smiled at me while I picked up some stray straw wrappers and a crumpled napkin off their table.
“Food is great,” he said, leaning back in his chair and patting his stomach.
“That’s what we like to hear. Can I get you two another beer? On the house.”
His wife’s brows raised in surprise. “Do you normally hand out free drinks to patrons who haven’t complained yet?”
I laughed, crossing my arms over my chest. “No. But we appreciate your business, and I’d also like to apologize for what you overheard. That’s not how things are typically done here.”
The crowd roared when someone on the game