“Watch it,” Jas hisses, nearly knocking a tray of empty bottles and glasses out of my hands.
“Sorry,” I mutter.
My entire body aches. I’ve served more bottles of beer than I can count and thrown away just as many empties. And Jas keep mysteriously disappearing, leaving me to do the majority of the work. Pulling my phone from my pocket, I see that it’s nearly two in the morning. Thank god. That means it’s almost closing time.
But two o’clock comes and goes. If anything, the club gets busier. The men who have been drinking for a while are getting rowdy, making me uneasy. I don’t trust drunk fuckers. I’ve seen firsthand what they can do when they think they’re being cute and try to avoid them at all costs. When I pass out another round, one of the guys breathes heavily in my face as he thanks me. Panic riots deep inside of me and I go back to the bar, putting the tray down.
“Jas, do you mind if I take a quick break?”
My pulse is pounding, blood roaring through my ears. I barely hear her response and take off down the hallway, where it’s quieter. There’s a doorway marked exit, so I go outside, exhaling deeply. A few guys are out here, but they don’t pay me any attention.
My therapist gave me some exercises for moments like this. Breathe in deeply. Hold. Exhale. I do this ten times and don’t feel any relief. Pacing, I fight back the tears that are building. Why is this happening now? I haven’t had a panic attack in almost a year now.
A scream works its way up my throat and I feel dizzy. Strong hands steady me, and I look up, finding Saint looking down at me.
“Did someone hurt you?” When I don’t answer he gives me a little shake. “Olivia, did someone hurt you?”
I shake my head and manage to stutter out, “Panic attack.”
Understanding crosses his face.
He takes me by the hand to the side of the building where we’re alone.
“Put both of your palms flush against the brick and push as hard as you can.”
Terror fights to take over. I want to run until nothing can ever hurt me ever again. I need to-
“Olivia. Fucking listen to me.” Something in his tone makes me look up. “Put your hands on the brick and push.”
My entire body shakes, but I do as he says. The beige brick is rough under my palms, but isn’t too painful. I push against it.
“That’s right. Push harder. Lean into it.”
I lean, pushing with all of my might. The panic inside lets up, and I’m able to inhale deeply, filling my lungs for the first time in several minutes. I stay like this until I’m in control of my emotions. And Saint stands there, too, never saying a word.
Finally, I feel grounded and in control.
“Sorry,” I say, as I move from the wall.
“There’s no need to apologize, Olivia.”
I like it when he says my name. The O rolls off his tongue and does something to my insides. But then I remember he’s off limits.
“I better get back in there. I don’t want Jas to get mad.”
He snorts at that. “She’s not normally such a bitch. If she keeps it up tomorrow, let me know and I’ll talk to her.”
“Does that mean I got the job?”
“Yeah, that’s what that means.” He puts his hands in his pockets. “I can only pay eight hundred a week. I’ll need you Thursdays to Sundays, from eight until three, or until the guys pass out. Will that work?”
I nod. “Yes. Thank you!”
“No need to thank me.” He smiles, taking my breath away. “And, if that happens again, just come out here and do the trick I showed you. It helps.”
The side door opens and Jas pops her head out. “Oh, there you are. I’m drowning in here and could use a hand.”
I give Saint another smile before going back inside. Jas wasn’t kidding. The bar is packed and several people stand at the bar, waiting to be served. But I feel lighter as I work. All thanks to Saint.
I go over the security footage again to make sure Olivia told me the truth. She was at a table when one of the guys said something to her. Her eyes got wide and she went back to the bar, dropping off her tray, before running outside as fast as she could. I’m not even sure she realizes how fast she got out of there. Obviously, something was wrong with her. Which is why I followed.
My brothers are good men, but a few of them don’t know how to handle their liquor, and I worried someone got out of line with her.
There’s a tap on the door and Bash comes in.
“Man, it’s fucking nuts out there. Didn’t think so many would show up for Church.”
“I’m glad. We’re going to need everyone to bring in the next shipment.”
Bash nods and is about to leave when I stop him.
“Bring Big E in here. He said something that upset the new girl, and I want to know what it was.”
I go back to my paperwork, occasionally glancing at the monitors. Olivia stays behind the bar and Jas works the room. She smiles as she serves beer after beer, never looking cross once. Hell, I might have to invite Rabbit to the clubhouse for this find. Been a while since we’ve someone like her around here.
There’s a knock and Bash comes in with Big E.
Big E nods his head, swaying on his feet. “Prez.”
“Big E. Care to tell me what you said to the new girl out there?”
His forehead creases. “New girl? Oh. I told her thanks for the beer.”
Big E is one of the older members of the club and has never lied to me.
“Yup.” He sways, letting out a long belch. “We good?”
“Yeah. Go easy out there. I don’t want to have to haul your ass out of here.”
He grins and leaves.
Bash asks, “Think he’s telling the truth?”
“I do. Not sure why that upset her.”
Bash replies, “I can keep an eye on her, if you’d like?”
Something that feels a lot like jealousy courses through my veins.
Bash grins. “Or not.”
He leaves me sitting there, feeling like a big fucking tool.
I turn back to the monitors. Bash goes to the bar, snagging a seat near Olivia. Fucker looks right at the camera and smiles.
But, I’m smiling, too.