House Calls:Callaghan Brothers, Book 3(4)

By: Abbie Zanders


“You’re not Crystal.”

Maggie couldn’t have spoken if she wanted to. Clearly this was one of the infamous Callaghans. Sherri hadn’t been exaggerating when she described them as forces of nature. If anything, she hadn’t done them justice. Thankfully, Sherri was not quite as stricken and managed a coherent, even amused, response.

“Crystal broke her leg. This is my friend Maggie, and she’s filling in tonight.”

The man’s eyes were hypnotic as they regarded her. Maggie had never seen that color blue before. His devastating smile returned, slowly. The wider his grin, the faster her heart beat in her chest. What the hell had she been thinking, believing she had the courage to go through with something like this?

“Nice to meet you, Maggie,” he said smoothly. “My name is Jake, and this is my place. You need anything, you let one of us know, okay?”

Maggie somehow managed a nod. It only made his grin wider. “I like her,” he said to Sherri with a wink. “She’s less verbally abusive than Crystal.”

Sherri laughed. “That she is. But this is her first time, so go easy on her, ‘k?”

“Mmm. A sacrificial virgin. Been a while since we’ve had one of those.” His blue eyes glittered like finely cut sapphires. Or aquamarines. Or both.

“Play nice, Jake. I promised her you’d behave.”

He chuckled. “Sorry, Maggie, couldn’t resist.” He winked and turned back to Sherri. “We’ll be good, Sher. Taryn will totally kick my ass otherwise.”

Maggie had a hard time imagining anyone kicking his ass. Even under the blue button down and jeans – the standard uniform of the Pub staff – he looked like he might have been carved from solid marble.

“I’ll be out in just a sec, Jake,” Sherri said, handing him a CD. “Get this loaded, will you?”

“You got it.” Then he was gone, and Maggie released the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.

“Relax, girlfriend,” Sherri laughed. “Jake’s married and a daddy. And insanely in love with his wife, by the way. Lucky bitch.”

“Are they all like that?”

“Yep, pretty much.”

“Shit.”

Sherri laughed. “Yeah. Come on. Sit at the bar and have a drink. It’ll loosen you up. I’ll go on first.”

Minutes later, Maggie found herself in the shadows of the bar as the lights dimmed and the music began. Sherri appeared on the small raised platform, looking dazzling as always. Maggie fidgeted nervously, fighting the sudden urge to throw up, or pass out, or both.

“A little nervous?” the bartender asked, startling her enough that her rear-end left the bar stool entirely for a moment or two. He was huge, just like the other guy, but a bit leaner maybe. And gorgeous. All hard, masculine features over a clean-shaven face. Sinfully long, dark lashes that had no business on a face that stunningly male. Dark hair that captured the lights and made them dance in it. Blue eyes deeper than the ocean. Maggie could only nod, afraid that anything that came out of her mouth at this point would be utter nonsense.

“Don’t worry, we don’t bite. Sherri thought you might like one of these.” He placed a drink in front of her, his eyes dancing with amusement.

Maggie eyed the glass uncertainly. She’d already had a few shots of what remained of her grandfather’s Irish whiskey before she left the house, just to get herself out the door and into Sherri’s car. Not being much of a drinker, she was not particularly adept at holding her liquor, but she figured her supercharged case of the jitters was probably burning off the alcohol before it could fully absorb into her bloodstream. She glanced back to the stage where Sherri was seductively removing the ankle-length trench coat she wore, and decided that she definitely needed more alcohol if she was going to pull this off.

With trembling fingers, she lifted the glass and tipped it into her mouth as she’d seen her grandfather do. Whatever it was, it burned like crazy but went down smooth. Much more so than the cheap stuff she had at home. She coughed a bit as her eyes started watering.

“Thanks,” she rasped out in a choked voice.

The bartender laughed. It was a rich, deep sound that made her feel all warm inside. Or maybe that was the bourbon. She curved her index and middle fingers toward her, indicating that she wanted another. He smiled, and she couldn’t help thinking how beautiful that smile was.

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