2: Stuck in the Past

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I catch Reese glance at Della curiously and go back to sipping her taster. But by the tilt of her head I can tell she's listening in.

"What now, Della?" I turn my attention, annoyed by her presence.

She snaps back. "Don't take that tone with me. Carter texted me and said you're letting this asshat bully him."

"Did you ask him if maybe he deserved it, ice queen?" Mick retorts.

"Fuck off, Mick. This is between me and Ash." She shuts him off, even though her true beef is with him.

"It seems like it should be between me and Carter. He's not going to grow up if his sister keeps fighting his battles." I argue.

Della narrows her eyes. "Maybe I wouldn't have to step in if you would stop targeting him as a way to get back at me!"

I roll my eyes. She's delusional. "Della we've been through this."

"Yeah from where I'm standing you don't look much like a victim, what with a house and a car out of the deal." Mick mutters.

"Butt the fuck out, Mick."

"Dude, seriously?"

We both yell at Mick for interjecting. He holds his hands up in defense and turns his attention to Reese. She laughs at something he says under his breath, which only encourages him to linger. "Anyway, how do you like that taster? Does that hit you in all the right places?"

I miss her answer because Della commands my attention with a snap of her fingers in front of my face. "Ash, we're talking here. You're still mad I gave you an ultimatum and now you're taking it out on Carter."

"How do you figure that? I hired the guy and have bent over backwards to keep him despite his repeated fuck-ups." I point out.

"I don't like fighting with you, you know? Could you just try to be gentler with him? He's trying. He said he's learning a lot and when he's not being yelled at, he likes it." She touches my hand on the bar to match her softer approach.

I feel that familiar heat that has refused to die despite the fact that I resent the woman I used to love for trying to come between me and my dream of opening my own brewery. I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I was going to marry her and she's still smoking hot.

I hear a glass thud down heavily on the bar and snap my eyes up to meet Reese's. She looks away quickly, but I saw the questions there. I shake off Della. "I'll work with him and try to get the other guys to lay off a bit."

"Thanks, Ash. Now while I'm here, why don't you take me out back and show me what you've got that's new?" She suggests. That's her code for "take me out back and fuck me" because she sure as hell doesn't drink beer.

No, Della prefers the hard stuff, in her drinks and in her men. I could sure use the quick screw to release the tension I'm feeling over Reese, but I'm really trying to keep my dick out of Della. It's not helping either of us to move on and it's just one of the many reasons she still has a hold on me.

"Nothing new, sorry Della. How's Lupa?" I don't look her in the eye because I don't want her to mistake anything in my gaze as lust. I figure asking about the dog will take at least my mind off fucking for a minute.

Della huffs and answers impatiently. "She's fine, I guess. Still a big ball of fur that thinks she's a puppy. Maybe you should come over and see her?" She tries a different solicitation angle.

Out of my periphery I see Reese throw back her head and laugh loudly at whatever shit Mick is whispering to her. God how I'd love to kiss my way down that throat of hers, down to her belly button, and the presumably wet folds of her...

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