Story of Us (Love Unexpected)(9)

By: Jody Holford


“What are you two doing here?” He set napkins in front of them when they settled on bar stools.

“Charlie stayed with Stella and Zach last night. So, we…slept in and thought we’d have your yummy breakfast special before heading to get him,” Megan said.

She glanced at Adam, her husband of exactly one year yesterday, and Declan felt it again—that bone-deep longing that had sprung up out of nowhere. The sensation had been choking him lately, and he didn’t quite know what to do with it.

“Slept in, huh?” He winked at Megan and smiled at Adam.

“Yup. Adam made it past seven thirty, so it was like a new record,” Megan teased.

Adam stroked a hand down her hair with an affectionate gaze. Then he looked at Declan, and his gaze lost any traces of softness. “You two are very funny. Maybe you should have comedy night here at the pub and perform as a duo.”

“What do you guys want besides breakfast?” Declan glanced at the drink order that printed in front of him from the waitress station but waited for his friends to answer.

“Orange juice, please,” Megan said.

“Same.” Adam took Megan’s jacket and his own and laid them over a stool before sitting down.

“Be right back,” Declan said. He filled Cora’s order first, plugged in Megan and Adam’s breakfast orders—which he knew by heart—and then grabbed two orange juices and brought them over.

“How was last night?” Adam asked after taking a long swallow of juice.

Declan shrugged and rested his forearms on the bar. “Probably not as good as yours. We were busy, but I’m wondering if next year I should try one of those package deals. I’ll have to run it by my new manager.”

Both Adam and Megan started and then waited for him to fill in the blanks. He leaned a little closer and spoke to Adam. “You remember little Sophia Strombi? Marcus’s sister?”

Adam nodded and looked at Meg. “Of course. Youngest of the Strombi kids. She left about ten years ago.”

“Left for where?” Megan looked back and forth between them.

Declan glanced over his shoulder to make sure Sophia wasn’t coming out from the back. He wasn’t sharing state secrets, but he didn’t want her to walk in on pieces of a conversation and think he was telling them something he shouldn’t.

“The other three kids work for their dad, but Sophia never wanted to. She went west. I think she traveled a bit and put herself through school. Marcus stays in touch with her more than anyone else, and I guess he mentioned I was looking for a manager. She showed up on my doorstep. She hasn’t told them she’s home yet.”

“Hmm. You talk to Marcus?”

Declan shook his head. That question was roiling around in his gut. It wasn’t his place, but on the other hand, he knew his friend would be pissed. “I’m hoping she’ll handle it pretty soon.”

“So, you just hired her?” Adam asked, arching his eyebrows.

Declan grinned, still not sure if he’d solved all his professional problems or just loaded himself down with personal ones. “She wanted a job. Knew I had one. So yeah, I hired her this morning. I have a really good feeling that she’s going to be a great manager.” She was going to be a hell of a lot more than that. Her marketing and promotional background was going to help him take his bar, and hopefully his beer, to the next level.

“Are you nuts?” Adam asked loudly enough to have heads turn.

Megan leaned forward. “Is this a bad thing?”

Running a hand over his clean-shaven jaw, Adam frowned. “I don’t think the Strombi family will be very happy with their youngest daughter working in a bar. They’ve always been a little conservative.”

Declan shoved his hands in his pockets. It wasn’t like he hadn’t had the same concern, but she was an adult. He jutted his chin toward Adam, but spoke to Megan. “Not stick-up-their-ass conservative like Adam here, but yeah, they’re pretty set in their ways.”

Adam flipped up his middle finger, and Megan laughed, leaning into her husband.

“She’s a grown woman now. I’m sure they’ll respect her decisions. It’s not like she’s working at a dive bar in a sketchy area of town,” Megan said.

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