Danger, Sweetheart

Free Danger, Sweetheart by MaryJanice Davidson

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Authors: MaryJanice Davidson
securing them on the other side with … what? Gel? Superglue? Saliva? A bad business, regardless.
    (He recalled Rake explaining his position while they were in their teens. “If I start shedding like a husky in spring, I’m just getting rid of all of it. Fuck all that clinging to scraps garbage. It’s all going down. I will totally rock the Patrick Stewart look. And the Dwayne Johnson. And the LL Cool J. And the Taye Diggs.”
    â€œAnd the Pablo Picasso,” he suggested.
    â€œDammit, Blake, do you have to suck the cool out of everything?”)
    â€œYou can’t do that, Bill,” Blake’s mother was saying, sliding out of the booth and getting to her feet.
    â€œSure can, Shannah.” The manager was coolly polite, obviously known to Blake’s mother but not a friend. “We keep some in the pot for the holiday party at the end of the year and I divide up the rest so we all get a share. It’s called teamwork, like when people in this town stick together to stick it out? Maybe you’ve heard of it?”
    Warm delight curled through Blake’s midsection. Oh. Oh, this is going to be wonderful. His phone started buzzing ( Caroline? Sharon? Barb? Vanessa? ); he ignored it.
    â€œIt’s called tip pooling!” she snapped. “And it’s illegal. Tips by definition belong to the employ ees, not the employ er. Do you know why, Bill? It’s because you aren’t paid subminimum wage. So you don’t get a share of their tips. Nor can you share them out with nontipped employees like dishwashers.”
    â€œI know the law!” Bill! snapped back.
    â€œIt seems,” Blake said in a low, soothing tone, “you don’t.”
    Like all bullies, Bill! ignored the larger threat and went back to trying to dominate the shorter, lighter threat. “This is none of your damned business, Shannah, again .”
    â€œYou’re wrong, Bill, again . You can sue him, you know,” she said, turning to the waitress, who had frozen in place with a replacement fork clutched in one fist. “He’s not legally entitled to any of your tips.”
    â€œSue?” she echoed, and then laughed. Looked around the almost-deserted restaurant, the dusty corners, the quiet kitchen, and laughed harder. “Sue! Right! Because I want a percentage of whatever all this is.”
    Sensible creature.
    â€œYou, get back to work.” Bill! pointed in one direction, then the other. “You, get the fuck out of my restaurant.”
    Blake stepped up, forcing Bill! to stand his ground or take a step back. He stepped back with such speed he nearly fell into the booth with the forkless child. “Sir, I have terrible news for you. More terrible than the fact that a visit from the North Dakota Department of Labor seems to be in your future.”
    â€œYou don’t—”
    â€œMy terrible news is this: I don’t mind that you’re crowding my mother and using foul language, because I have endured a very odd day where almost everything has been out of my control. That’s bad for me, because I dislike change, and being out of control, but it’s worse for you. Because I am in a foul enough mood that I’m hoping you’ll be suicidal enough to raise a hand to my mother. Federal assault is against the law, of course, but sometimes unacceptable actions are met with unacceptable nosebleeds.”
    â€œJesus. You people. All right .” With a snarl, Bill! threw the sixty dollars at the waitress, who watched with an amazed expression as the twenties fluttered to the floor, then stooped to pick them up. “Now get the fuck out. I’m serious, now.”
    â€œDid you know that over forty percent of facial injuries result in broken noses? Your nose is always in danger, as it protrudes from the middle of your face. Yours more than others. And it’s not just cartilage; it’s bone, too, which is why it often requires surgical

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