Her Twin Surprise (Forsaken Sons #2) by Elizabeth Lennox

He took a sip of his whiskey. “Their names as well as their preferred drinks, right?’

Stevie shrugged, suddenly feeling self-conscious. Maybe it was the look of admiration in those silver eyes. “Well, it isn’t hard. It’s not like I have a huge crowd of customers every night. And this isn’t really a place that the tourists would easily discover. So, the ones that show up every weekend are easy to remember.”

“That’s good customer service,” he said. “I bought another restaurant the other day.”

Stevie’s mouth fell open. “That’s the second place you’ve bought in the few weeks that I’ve known you, Janus.”

He shrugged one of those amazing shoulders. “This one was a mess,” he explained. “Awful customer service and the food was barely edible. I love taking over a place and turning it around,” he continued, smiling. “The worse that the food and service are, the bigger the challenge.”

“What’s the name of your latest acquisition? What’s it like?” she asked, bracing her arms wide on the bar top.

“It’s a place called Jimmy Joe’s over on Ninth Street.”

Stevie knew the place. She’d heard that several people had gotten sick after eating there. “By the stadium?” she asked, noticing a pattern. “Isn’t your other bar over by the stadium as well?”

He nodded. “It’s all about location. The restaurants are also located close to several businesses. So, they get a good deal of traffic during the week. Plus they’re convenient to the stadium, so they get slammed after any kind of game or concert.”

“I’m not denying it makes good business sense,” she replied, smiling. “But I guess you have ‘a type’. Or maybe you just like the huge crowds?”

Janus grunted, looking down at his drink for a moment. “I’m not a fan of crowds. Which is why I come here.” He lifted his glass of scotch in salute. “What were you doing with the toothpicks when I came in, anyway?”

She glanced over at the garbage. “Oh, I was thinking of a new game for my kids,” she said. “A way to teach them to count.”

His head tilted slightly. “Kindergartners don’t know how to count?”

She smiled, feeling special that he remembered that she was a kindergarten teacher during the day. Stevie only tended bar on the weekends for extra money. Teachers didn’t earn much and living in Seattle wasn’t cheap. Most teachers needed to supplement their salaries with a second, sometimes even a third job.

“They are starting to understand counting and math concepts. Some of them know how to count, but others haven’t started yet.”

“And the toothpicks?”

She grinned. “I have a bunch of straws in my classroom. I was thinking one student could make a tower while another student does jumping jacks until the tower gets too tall and tumbles.”

He laughed. “That way two kids are counting. One of them is active and the other…”

“Is working on their fine motor skills.” Her smile turned shy as she basked in his obvious approval. “Well, it’s an idea, anyway. I’ll work on the details tomorrow.”

His glass froze halfway to his lips. “Isn’t tomorrow Saturday?”

She shrugged. “Yes. Why?”

“Don’t you take any time off?”

Stevie chuckled. “The more experienced teachers have their lesson plans for the year all worked out and only need to tweak them slightly, maybe adding new information or adjusting the focus. But I’m a new teacher. I’m only in my third year of teaching. So, I have my lesson plans worked out, but there are details that I need to add still.”

He nodded and took a sip. “Is teaching hard work?”

Stevie nodded emphatically. “Yes. But it’s amazingly rewarding. Especially at this age. The kids are small and haven’t learned to hate school yet. Plus, we get to do fun stuff mixed into the learning and that makes a huge difference. Seeing a small child light up when they learn something new, or accomplish a task is…it’s amazing,” she whispered, her hand over her heart as she thought about the small faces she’d been teaching only a few hours earlier today. “Some of the kids even miss me over the weekend.”

He laughed and her heart flipped over with the re-emergence of that dimple. She doubted many people got to see that dimple, so it was extra special when it came out.