Speakeasy (True North #5)(5)

“Shitty?” I supply.

“Y-yeah,” she breathes. “Jesus. I am a huge idiot. I should have figured this out ages ago.”

“Um…” She’s definitely not an idiot. This girl is fierce. But now I’m not sure how to help her. “Can I walk you upstairs and get you drunk? Owning a bar comes in handy sometimes.”

“Jesus.” May swallows. “That sounds way too appealing right now. But I’m afraid my AA sponsor wouldn’t approve.”

AA? “Fuckity-fuck,” I stammer. I’ve just offered to get a recovering alcoholic drunk? “I’m sorry. Shit. I…”

She holds up a hand. “No need to panic. People offer me drinks all the time. But these days I say no.”

“I’m sorry,” I stammer again anyway. Jesus. I’m such an asshole.

“For most people, it wouldn’t be such a life-changing suggestion.” She meets my eyes with her light brown ones. “But for me, it’s bad news.”

“Okay.” I’m trying to regroup. “Can I drive you somewhere, then?”

May closes her eyes and leans her head against the brick wall of my building. “I never want to see her again.”

“I’ll bet. That woman was a bitch on wheels.”

“I mean Daniela,” May says, opening her eyes.

I’d meant Daniela, too. But I’m smart enough not to say that right now. “You two live together, right? You need somewhere to go?”

May sighs. “I have somewhere to go. My family will throw a parade if I leave Daniela and move back home. They’re going to be giddy.” Then her eyes get shiny with tears. “Shit.”

“Aw.” Mayday! Crying women are my weakness. So I pull May into a hug. “Tell me how I can help.”

She takes a deep breath. “You have a pickup truck, right? I need to move out. Can I borrow your wheels?”

“Sure,” I say immediately. But I can’t let a teary woman move out of her place alone. Even if she is a Shipley. “I’ll go with you. It’ll be faster that way. Is there much furniture?”

“No.” She steps back. “All the furniture is hers. I just have clothes and books.”

“Okay. So this will be a snap.” She smells like lemons. I mentally slap myself for noticing. Now is not the moment to mack on May Shipley. “Let’s go. I’ll drive.”

“Alec, you really don’t have to. I’m sure you’re supposed to be behind that bar. And I could call my brothers.” She looks, if possible, even more glum saying that. “They won’t be able to hold back their glee.”

“Don’t bother them,” I say quickly. “Come on.” Taking her hand, I tug her away from the wall. “You’re not in any shape to drive.”

She’s right, of course. I’m supposed to be tending bar with Smitty. He’s probably getting crushed in there. I pull out my phone as May follows me toward the truck, and sure enough there’s a text from Smitty already. WTF? Where’d you go?

I bleep the locks and try to think. “Hop in. I just have to make one quick phone call.”

As May buckles her seatbelt, I look up at the lit windows of my brother Benito’s apartment. Since he’s home, I pull up his phone number and tap it. “Hey,” I say when he answers. “I’m supposed to be tending bar tonight, but now I have to help out a friend with some urgent business.” I’d explain, but it would take too long. Besides, I don’t even know why I’m bailing out May Shipley. “Could you check on Smitty in a few minutes? See if he’s slammed?”

“Sure?” Benito says. “After I finish my dinner.”

“Thanks. I owe you.”

We hang up and I shoot off a text to another of my bartenders, asking if he’d like to pick up an extra shift tonight. Then I start the truck and turn out onto the two-lane highway, heading south. “Your place is in Randolph, right?”

May snaps out of the daze she’s in. “It is. No… It was. I can’t believe it’s going to end like this.” Fresh tears spring into her eyes.

“I sure am sorry. Cheaters are the worst.” My father was the king of cheaters. I watched him slowly destroy my mother’s self-esteem until he disappeared for good when I was fifteen.

“Alec, I don’t know why you’re helping me like this.” She wipes her eyes.

I just shrug, because I don’t really, either. “That’s what friends are for, right?” Although May and I aren’t really friends. She’s four or five years younger than I am. We didn’t overlap at the high school, although I saw more than enough of her brother.

May reaches over and puts a hand on my forearm. “Well…I really appreciate it. When I straighten my head out a little bit, I’ll make you an apple pie as a thank-you note.”

“See? I knew I was helping the right person.”

She smiles, but it doesn’t reach her eyes.

Chapter Two


Sitting here on the passenger seat of Alec Rossi’s truck, I’m struggling to make sense of what just happened. Watching Daniela kiss someone else? That hurt so much.

I feel like someone took a bucket of very cold mud and threw it over my whole life. It’s both sobering and messy. And there’s no chance that tonight was some kind of strange aberration. Daniela has been distant for weeks. I suspected she was keeping something from me but I just didn’t know what.

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