“Isn’t he yummy?” Lindsay asked, coming up behind Eloise.
“Very, not often I feel comfortable around a male shifter these days,” she remarked, looking up at Lindsay. She was a lion shifter with golden blond hair and bright grey eyes. Eloise loved working with her because she was no nonsense, and would cut someone off if she felt they were hammered.
“Marcus is a steady person, not prone to outbursts.” Lindsay gave him a thoughtful look.
“You know him?” She looked up at her tall friend. She was extremely curious about the man who captured her attention so thoroughly.
“More his reputation. He is well respected among the shifter community.”
“What kind of shifter is he?”
“That explains his build then, he seems very nice.”
“He is to you anyway,” Lindsay remarked and walked to her end of the bar. Before Eloise could chase her down and ask what she meant, she was slammed with drink orders. She looked around and realized the Mate Me event was almost full. She recognized quite a few people including Evelyn and her new roommate Elizabeth Jones.
“Hi Ellie, how are you?” Evelyn asked, walking up to the bar. She wore her hair up in a sparkling clip and her makeup subtle. Her clothing was anything but, tonight she wore a bright red halter top dress that did nothing to hide her bust. Elizabeth was more conservatively dressed, in a navy blue swing dress. She had the same blond hair and blue eyes as her sister Roxie. She was not as big as Roxie and had moved back to work at the hospital in the maternity ward.
“I’m good, you look amazing tonight. Anyone catch your eye?” Eloise asked, mixing a cocktail, watching the people coming up to the bar. She immediately spotted Marcus propped against a wall, arms crossed over his chest keeping an eye on the dance floor.
“Actually, the bouncer at the door with the blond hair. Unfortunately, he isn’t part of the event,” Evelyn sighed, taking a sip of her wine.
“That’s Peter. He comes in here often. What happened to Anderson? Want me to introduce you?” she asked, watching Marcus move around the floor. He looked so handsome with his hair pushed out of his face by his fingers.
“No, I’ll let him work. Anderson decided his work was more important than me, so I dumped him. Who do you keep looking at?” Evelyn turned around to survey the crowd.
“No one.” She blushed and deliberately forced her eyes to look at someone else.
“Nice try who is it?” Evelyn pinned her with a knowing look. Eloise shook her head refusing to acknowledge her interest in a shifter.
“Its Marcus Zephyr, Rhett told me you two got along well.” Josie ratted her out and she groaned.
“Which one is he?” Evelyn swiveled in her seat, along with Elizabeth.
“Big redhead bear shifter. He owns Zephyr Protection and has supplied us with some extra help tonight.” Josie pointed him out and Eloise wanted to melt into the floor in embarrassment. Evelyn gave a low whistle of appreciation and smiled at Eloise.
“He is intense looking,” Elizabeth added.
“Four more twisted shifters.” Tracy one of the waitresses, slapped her order onto the bar.
“Is it in the system?” Eloise asked, looking for a print out of the order.
“What does it matter? I’m telling you, so you can start it and my table will get their drinks quickly,” Tracy huffed. Eloise took a calming breath. At nineteen, Tracy didn’t always want to follow protocol.
“I’m already filling four orders. Put it in the system please,” Eloise said, pouring four glasses of wine for Mike’s order.
“No fair,” Tracy whined and Eloise rolled her eyes.
“Put it in the system Tracy,” Eloise ordered. Tracy flounced her badly dyed hair and stalked off.
“Jeez she must be fun to work with,” Roxie remarked, finding a seat at the bar with Evelyn and Josie.
“She’s just young,” Eloise waved off the comment and went to work on another drink order.
“And you are so old at thirty?” Josie joked; she raised an eyebrow to show her disbelief.
“I’m eleven years older than her. So yes, that gives me a little bit of an advantage.” Eloise smirked, quickly pouring two gin and tonics and three whiskey sours.
“True, so tell us more about Marcus. What did you two talk about?” Josie asked, sipping her mineral water.
“Nothing to tell, I took him around the club to show him the areas I felt needed extra protection and then he spoke with Rhett.” Eloise shrugged and pushed a heavy tray toward Mike as he came over to pick it up.
“Thanks Ellie, you are always the fastest.” Mike blew her a kiss and marched off to deliver his drink orders.
“Not what it looked like when I came in with Xander. You were leaning on the bar like your conversation was stimulating,” Roxie commented with a smirk. Eloise rolled her eyes, leave it to the mated women to interrogate her.
“He was asking me about my teaching and work schedule. He seemed surprised when I mentioned how many hours I put in for both jobs.”
“You do work crazy hours, I think you need to slow down or you are going to have a meltdown one of these days. I remember being exhausted all the time as a teacher,” Josie remarked with a shrug.
“It is tiring, but that is because I need this job just to pay the bills. I love teaching and wouldn’t give it up for anything,” Eloise pointed out, and stiffened when Henry Duggen walked over to the bar. The four women sitting there all frowned at his pungent smell. Eloise assumed her emotionless facade as he leaned over the bar between Evelyn and Josie.
“Ellie, just the bartender I wanted. I’d like three beers, it would be four but you made it so Jimmy can’t be here,” Henry sneered. Eloise ignored the last part of his comment and rung up three beers. She began to pull the beers, knowing they preferred the cheapest ones.
“Henry have you ever heard of taking a shower?” Josie remarked, holding her nose. Eloise bet with her pregnancy nose the smell had to be ten times worse.
“Don’t like the smell of a hard working man?” Henry smirked, leaning close enough Josie visibly gagged.
“Is there a problem here?” Marcus asked, having walked up quietly behind Henry.
“None, right ladies?” Henry tried to use his large body to intimidate Josie.
“Yes there is Marcus, this man is much too close to me and he is making me gag with his smell. Kindly remove him from my club,” Josie demanded. Eloise watched laughing, as Henry realized who he had been trying to intimidate.
“Yes, ma’am Josie Austin,” Marcus used her last name to drive home the point and motioned for Henry to follow him out.
“Damn women, I’ll be back,” Henry grumbled, and willingly left the club.
“That whole family is awful.” Evelyn shuddered watching Henry walk away.
“I think their father had something to do with that, their mom ran off as soon as Joshua was born,” Roxie shared. Eloise hadn’t grown up in Green Falls like Roxie. She did have a family back home who was a lot like the Duggens and everyone stayed far away.
“It is sad, there always seems to be a family like that in every town. Maybe if we spent more time trying to help the family when the children were young, we can avoid Henry and Jimmy repeats,” Eloise offered. The other women nodded and looked over where Joshua and Lex were sitting.
“He is gone for the night Josie.” Marcus came over to report and Eloise took a moment to admire his straight nose, chiseled chin and cheekbones. It was not fair how good Marcus looked, he should be in a magazine as a model not a dark club as a bouncer.
“You okay Eloise?” Marcus asked. She blinked up at him, she hadn’t had anyone call her by her full name since she was very young.
“Just fine, I need to take these two beers over to the other two Duggen boys,” she explained. Picking up the two beers, she headed around the bar to their table. She could feel Marcus following her to make sure neither of the other Duggen boys bothered her.
“Here are your beers, Henry was asked to leave by Josie,” Eloise explained, setting down two tall drafts.
“No surprise, he has been spoiling for a fight and we told him tonight’s event would be a bad place to try and do just that. Who did he bother?” Lex asked, he was the oldest of the four and had gone into the military for ten years before coming back to help with the family plumbing business. Eloise didn’t dislike him as much as Henry and Jimmy.
“Josie,” Marcus rumbled his response behind her and watched both men shake their heads.
“He is an idiot, but he is family.” Lex shrugged and made no move to apologize for his brother’s actions. Eloise turned and walked back to the bar conscious of Marcus’ large form following behind.
“Were Lex and Joshua civil? Give me a reason to make this club a Duggen free zone,” Josie demanded, once Eloise was behind the bar again.
“No, they were both fine, Lex knew Henry was in a mood for a fight but did nothing to try and stop him,” she explained, starting to work on several other drink orders.