Driving Whiskey WildBy: Melissa Foster
THE DOORS TO Whiskey Bro’s blew open and Dixie Whiskey, Bullet’s youngest sibling, barreled toward him with that look on her face. Her long red hair hung loose and wild, and in her cutoff T-shirt, skinny jeans, and black boots, she looked like a force to be reckoned with. There were very few things the ex–Special Forces biker couldn’t handle, but today of all days he didn’t have the patience to deal with whatever had crawled up her ass and died. Not after the fucked-up, restless night he’d had.
Dixie crossed her arms, her fingers drumming annoyingly on her tatted-up forearm. The smirk she was wearing told Bullet this could go one of two ways. She needed him to do something he would not want to do, or she was about to give him shit.
He stopped wiping down the bar and tossed the rag on the counter behind him. “What’s up, Dix?”
“You look like hell.”
He poured himself a shot of bourbon.
“You’re drinking on the job?”
“You see any customers?” At six five and two hundred and forty pounds, it would take a hell of a lot more than one drink to affect him. He downed the shot, set the empty glass in front of him, and placed his hands flat on the bar, letting the burn soothe the demons of his past.
Locking eyes with Dixie, he said, “Did you come here to give me shit?”
Dixie held his gaze. “Nightmares, up all night fucking some girl you can’t remember, or was someone in trouble?”
He’d taught her never to back down when she was just a lanky redheaded pistol with a big mouth and not enough sense to know when to shut up. He’d had to teach her to be tough so she wouldn’t get herself in trouble. She hadn’t changed much, except now she wasn’t scared of anything. Including him.
He picked up the shot glass and turned to wash it out. “Whaddaya need?”
“I need you to behave when Finlay Wilson gets here.”
Bullet stifled a curse. “Finlay? The catering chick from Tru and Gemma’s wedding?” How many Finlay Wilsons were there in Peaceful Harbor, Maryland? It wouldn’t matter if there were a dozen. This Finlay had already gotten Bullet’s attention—and blown him off, which was probably a good thing. She was sweeter than sugar and had no business agreeing to help them expand their family-run bar to include lunches and dinners. She belonged in an ice cream shop like her sister, Penny, where she could flash that sparkling smile for friendly families. She’d be eaten alive in a place like Whiskey Bro’s.
“One and the same,” Dixie said.
“That tiny flick of a woman does not belong in a bar. Especially my bar. Don’t you have someone else to harass?”
“First of all, we’re all equal partners in this place. You, me, Bones, Bear, Mom, and Dad. So cut the bullshit about it being your bar.”
He gritted his teeth. Technically she was right. They were all equal partners on paper, but it didn’t quite work out that way in real life. Bear had run the bar after their father’s stroke and had also taken over their family auto shop across the street when they lost their uncle. Bullet had stepped in five years ago and had taken over the day-to-day responsibilities of the bar, so Bear could cut back to part-time. Dixie ran the books for both their family businesses, waitressed at the bar, and had recently taken charge of the expansion of Whiskey Bro’s kitchen. But his younger brother, Bones, a doctor, hadn’t ever gotten his hands dirty inside the bar. Not that Bullet cared about that. Bones would jump in if asked, but Bullet didn’t ask for help. Had never asked for it a day in his life.
With one fucking exception, but he wasn’t going there now.
He pushed the harsh memories aside and focused on Dixie’s narrowing green eyes. The bar might be as much theirs as it was his, but he was the one who was there every goddamn day.
“Don’t fuck this up, Bullet, or I swear I’ll make your life a living hell. She’s agreed to work with us for a month, and we need her if we’re going to pull this off. She knows about menus, hiring kitchen staff, and health regulations.”
“She doesn’t belong in a place like this, Dix. She’s not like us.” Finlay looked like a frigging angel with her silky blond hair and innocent blue eyes. It was that innocence that had flipped some switch inside Bullet and made him want to sin her up and protect her at the same time. Fucking Finlay Wilson. The wedding was four weeks ago, and he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her since. If she wasn’t starring in his X-rated fantasies, she was flitting about town in those frilly dresses she wore, spreading smiles like fairy dust.
“You didn’t seem to mind that when you hit on her at the wedding.” She arched a brow. “Or did you think I didn’t notice the way you were watching her every move when Bear and Crystal also decided to tie the knot? Sidling up to her every chance you got during the reception, like a puppy chasing a treat?”
Bullet scoffed. He’d been looking at her long before Crystal and Bear’s impromptu proposal and subsequent wedding the day Tru and Gemma got married. “She’s a hot chick. So what? I didn’t want to marry her—just have a little fun.”
“Then you shouldn’t mind seeing her in here for a few hours a day while we pull things together.”
“It’s a mistake, Dixie.” He moved around the bar and stood beside her. “A pretty little thing like her is just asking for trouble in a place like this. Why are you so hung up on hiring Finlay anyway? Did you even check with our club members to see if anyone needed a job?”
“You know, sometimes I forget that you have so much Dad in you, it’s like beating my head against a brick wall.”
“What the fuck does that mean?”
“That you’re as hesitant to hire outside the family as he is. That you think if someone’s not in the club or one of us, they can’t do shit.”
“Jed’s working here, isn’t he?”
Bear had recently given up bartending and was now designing motorcycles for the elite Silver-Stone Cycles. For the first time in the history of the bar, they’d been forced to hire outside the family and outside their motorcycle club, the Dark Knights, which was as solid as family. Although Jed Moon, who was not only their new part-time bartender but also worked as an auto mechanic for the shop, was Bear’s new brother-in-law. So technically, he was family. Finlay Wilson was not. Finlay Wilson was trouble waiting to happen.
“Give me a break.” He shook his head. “We always hire family first.”
“Yeah? Well, which of our club members do you think knows how to run a restaurant? Gutter, the home repair expert? Or maybe one of the Bando brothers, who pour concrete for a living? Do you realize Finlay went to one of the best culinary schools in Boston? She’s worked in a restaurant, and she’s run her own catering company for years, and soon she’ll be opening a catering company right here in town.”
He didn’t give a rat’s ass about her credentials. If anything, she was overqualified. But the thought of her flouncing around the bar with a bunch of horny, drunk guys going after her made Bullet’s blood boil. The fact that she was not his to worry about did not escape him. “We’re offering sandwiches and fries, not gourmet meals.”
“Which makes her the perfect person for this job. She knows how to keep costs down, and she’s from Peaceful Harbor. She’s putting down roots here, which means she’ll want to see the business do well—so it doesn’t reflect poorly on her. What do you have against Finlay, anyway?”
“Against her? Nothing.” Though he’d like to be buried deep inside her. “But she’ll get eaten alive in a place like this and she’ll go cowering out the door. Then we’ll be left trying to figure shit out anyway. Besides—”
The creak of the front door opening drew their attention. Bullet looked over his shoulder, meeting the innocent blue eyes of the angel peeking in at them.
FINLAY SMILED AND waved as she slipped into the dingy bar. “Hi. Am I interrupting?” From the scowl on Bullet’s face, she was not only interrupting, but she’d somehow pissed him off. Well, good for him. Let him be angry, the big, tattooed bully. What kind of man comes up to a woman at a wedding and says, Hey, sweetheart, whaddaya say I take you for a ride on the Bullet train?
She smoothed her sundress over her hips, trying to gather her wits about her. Bullet train. She had no doubt he had a train in his pants. The man was larger than life in too many ways to count, and when he set those cold, dark eyes on her, she swore they ignited right in front of her. Lordy, now my pulse is racing. She’d been thinking of that flash of heat ever since the wedding, and she couldn’t deny that it scared her and turned her on in equally frustrating measures. If she were honest with herself, she’d thought she was too damaged after losing Aaron to ever feel this type of spine-tingling excitement over a man again—and the fact that she felt it around a guy like Bullet scared the heck out of her. But this was not the time for honesty. She needed to pull herself together so she didn’t make a bad impression.
Dixie pushed past her massive brother to greet her. “Not at all! I’m glad you made it in.” She gave Finlay a quick hug and then glared at Bullet. “Right, Bull? Aren’t we glad she made it in?”