One Week Earlier
“The boss wants to see you.”
Shark glanced over his shoulder as he finished wiping down the countertop of the upstairs bar. A manager did a little bit of everything, he learned in his short time working at the Sanguine Sanctuary, especially cleaning up messes. He smiled. His girlfriend liked to call him ‘Boss.’ It was a bit strange seeing as she was the more dominant one in the relationship, but he appreciated it. He knew she respected him, something he couldn’t say about all his previous girlfriends. Not that he remembered much in that department. He was pretty stoned out of his mind for about a year, so the sex and ladies were a bit fuzzy for him.
As Dianna approached, he knew he would never need to worry about that again. She was his angel and for some unknown reason, she loved him. He couldn’t imagine going back to the time where he did unspeakable things, and couldn’t recall his own name. Rehab was a rebirth for him. Sure, he still dabbled in illegal activities from time to time, but never again would he do drugs or sell drugs, conceal weapons shipments, or push girls or guys on clients of all ages, shapes, and sizes. In fact, the very thought disgusted him.
Five years ago, if anyone had told him he would be a successful night club manager with a beautiful girlfriend, a steady paycheck, and a modestly happy life, Shark probably would’ve scoffed and called the person a moron. Now he really did have a peace that he never had before. That didn’t mean he didn’t still cause trouble, but mostly for the local gangs that roughed up women in town. On their off hours, Dianna and Shark put together care packages for the sex workers because even a beautiful rich town like Hidden Springs had a seedy element. It was hard to make it on the average paycheck in a resort town, and sometimes women liked to pick up a little extra work now and again to make ends meet. That’s why Shark was appreciative that his boss paid everyone enough that they could afford to live a normal life, free from taint. Dianna always added little niceties to the care packages like tampons and shampoo and chocolates. Every woman needed chocolate every now and again, she would say.
While Dianna would approach the workers, Shark would set ‘traps’ for the pimps and johns, attempting to blackmail the men, usually men, into reason and scaring them straight. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. It wasn’t an exact science, and if anyone knew how hard it was to walk away from a pile of Simos, he did, even if it meant it was coming from a prostitute on her backside. Yet Shark couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else having to do what he previously made people do. That’s why the vigilantism. In a way, it was his penance.
So when his dad showed up last night after one year, eleven months, and thirteen days and said he was there to help him, Shark was in shock. Dennis was supposed to be dead. He died in prison. The coroner had told him suicide. Frankly, Shark had never believed it. His father hanging himself in a cell didn’t seem right. Dennis had even left a note saying he thought this was the only way he could ensure his family’s safety. Dennis said he wanted to make amends, and be the father he always should have been. Shark couldn’t deal. Instead, he angrily threw Dennis Racket out of his club. It was then he discovered Dennis used Kass’s name to get in. Apparently, Kass had vouched for the man… Deon Merton… the name his father was going by now. Kass. His newest hire.
When he had confronted her last night, he was pissed. Apparently, she was the girlfriend of Billy Caspian, a sup who had been banned from the Sanctuary. The man was Verbannte, an exile, and for good reason. Shark had done his homework. He had run from his chosen life mate. He not only ran from her, he also ruined her, because she could never be with another man. And to add insult to injury, the man was a player. He probably had a woman in every town he had ever stepped foot in. Now Shark was no saint but he understood the rules of the pack dictated a man like Billy Caspian be exiled. Then the cretin had the nerve to try and sneak his girlfriend into an advantageous position in the club, most likely as a spy. Yet now he knew the truth. Billy was aiding his father in a reunion… a reunion Shark explicitly did not want.
“I’m surprised you showed your face again,” he remarked coolly as she approached.
“Ty, I think there’s been some kind of mistake,” she replied. “It’s true I am Billy’s girlfriend. And yes, Deon requested I put him on the guest list, and I did because he said he had to see you. You’re his son, aren’t you?”
“That is none of your business,” Shark huffed. “And you know the rules, Kass? No personal favors or guests. It’s for the protection of our patrons.”
“I understand. That’s why I came to tender my resignation,” she replied.
Shark arched a brow and motioned for them to sit. It was still an hour before opening so there weren’t many people in the club, save a few bartenders, the coat check lady, and his servers. However, he was surprised by his newest employee’s reaction. He expected tears and protests and denials when he threatened to fire her last night. Instead, she had been calm and dignified and said she would gather her things and would be back the following day for her paycheck to give him time to think.
“Look Mr. Bordeaux,” she began. “I understand that I jeopardized our high-paying clients who prefer their privacy. I know that this is a supernatural only club and I know that you only hired me because I talked my way into a job, but I also know what it’s like to be separated from family for years without contact. I did not mean to disrespect you. I just know the pain of not knowing my dad because I refused to see him. From what I know about your dad, he seems like an okay guy, and he just wanted a moment with you.”
“What? You had a breakfast with him and now you know him?” Shark snipped.
He still felt the pain of being abandoned at the rehabilitation center in Appaloosa Plains, a place where he didn’t know anyone. He felt the pain of exile from his family, as terrible as most of them were. Not even his kid sister had come to see him. And to make matters worse, he had to hear about his father’s alleged escape from prison and death from two plainclothes officers six days after the incident. And he wasn’t even allowed to attend the funeral.
“Yes, I know about the breakfast at the Redwood Heights Lodge,” he added. “I found out everything I could about his moves since our encounter yesterday.”
“Did you know he’s sorry? He’s more sorry than he’s ever been in his whole life,” Kass said. “He told me that. I know I have no right to barge into family affairs…”
“You’re right. You don’t,” Shark said bitterly. “Your dad didn’t go to jail for murdering his father.”
Kass gasped, and bit her lower lip. Shark knew he caught her by surprise. She probably didn’t realize whose company she had been entertaining. He was almost refreshed by her naivete. In her time under his employ, she had been an excellent bartender, good with drinks and generous with the advice, and kind to every person who walked through the door, whether they were a vampire, a werewolf, or a PlantSim. She had even been kind to his undeserving father. Truth was, he didn’t really care that Max was dead. The man was a master at manipulating. His mother had been too. And yet Dennis going to jail and supposedly killing himself was a little too much for the fragile boy in rehab to handle. Now that he was his own man, he didn’t need his father swooping in and ruining things for him.
“Look Kass… I know your heart is in the right place. I know he’s great at getting what he wants. It’s not your fault, but I can’t have you breaking the rules here… even if it’s out of some misplaced concern for my family,” Shark continued. “And I definitely can’t have it getting around who you’re with…half the weres in the tribe want to kill him and the other half want to maim him for what he did to his mate.” He shrugged. “It was before my time, but rules are rules. I know it doesn’t seem fair…”
“No, it doesn’t,” she said quietly, shaking her head as she dropped her hands into her lap. “But I understand you have a business to run…” she offered a forced smile. “I don’t want anyone to be hurt because of my actions. Thank you for this opportunity.”
“You’re welcome, Kass,” Shark stood up and shook her hand, almost feeling bad he had to let her go.
She was an asset to his team, even if she wasn’t fully supernatural.
“I’d be happy to write you a reference,” he added kindly.
“You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to. You’re a good worker. I’ll leave out the part about last night in my recommendation,” he winked.
“Thank you, I appreciate it.”
Author Note: Thanks for reading.