Dragon's Fire:A Reverse Harem Romance(6)

By: Lili Zander & Rory Reynolds

Once again, I question if giving up the trade is worth it.

You promised Silas.

Brooke’s keys jangle as she makes her way to the front doors. “You’ll want to make sure those displays shine before you leave. I’d hate to have to write you up again.”


She wouldn’t hate it one bit. In the last six months, she’s managed to write me up five times, all for made up reasons. The first time I refused to stay late because I had to take Silas to the doctor, she decided I was insubordinate and combative. Then, there was the ‘clocking in early’ write-up. Apparently, her boss got angry at the overtime I had been clocking. She got an earful, and I got written up. From there on out, no more overtime even if I earned it.

With a resigned sigh, I pull out my cell phone and type out a quick message to Beatrice.

Not going to make drinks tonight.

My phone vibrates almost instantly. Bullshit. Get your ass down here, it’s your birthday!

My birthday’s actually next Tuesday, but Bea loves parties, and she’s always eager for an opportunity to celebrate. Can’t. Have to work.

Her response is a slew of emojis, and I have a feeling that the eggplant she’s texting me isn’t a sign she’s hungry for eggplant parmesan. My lips twitch at my best friend’s antics. I met Bea in high school. I was the new student who’d been drastically behind in my coursework, and Bea was the only person in my class who’d been nice to me.

She got me this job. I can almost forgive her for the hell this place puts me through daily.

I’m kidding. I need every penny I earn to cover Silas’ medical bills.

At nine-thirty, I’m about halfway through the boxes when there’s a tapping on the display window. Bea is standing there holding up a bottle of wine. Shaking my head, I let her in.

“What are you doing here?”

“There’s no way I was letting you spend your birthday alone.”

“My birthday is next week, Bea,” I say, not for the first time.

She pays no attention. With a grin, she cracks open the wine, takes a swig straight from the bottle, and passes it to me.

I do my level best to resist the temptation. “You know I could get fired for this?”

She snorts. “That bitch wouldn’t dare. If she did, she’d be here putting all this shit away instead of you.”

She’s right about that. Brooke might write me up for every minor infraction, and she might try to dock my pay for the pettiest of reasons, but she’s not going to fire me. What the hell… When in Rome—or Trendz Jewelry and Accessories—do as the Romans do. Whatever that means. I take a deep drink from the bottle and try to hand it back to Bea, but she’s already rummaging through the boxes of merchandise.

“Let’s get this crap put away so we can hit the club!”

“You mean, go to Cellar and flirt with Jesse?” I smirk.

“Don’t judge me,” she replies with a wink. “My lady-cave needs a little love, and that man is fine.”

Jesse’s not my type, but Bea’s been mooning over him for months. She really likes him. I hold my hands up. “You know me. No judging. Just calling it like I see it.”

Beatrice has got the attention span of a gnat. She’s already moving to a display case. “Who buys this shit?” she asks, holding up a gaudy orange and hot pink necklace.

I point back to the large Clearance sign hanging over the display, which is overflowing with more ugly jewelry. “Nobody.”

We work in silence for a while, passing the wine back and forth. As I drink the cheap cabernet, I allow myself to forget about everything hanging over my head. Silas wasn’t well enough to get out of bed this morning. When I’d gone into his room to check on him, he’d waved me away. “I’m going to be lazy today,” he’d said, smiling weakly. “Take a leaf out of Madam Buttface’s book.”

I promised him I wouldn’t do any more jobs.

It’s the only way to save him. You’re not going to scrape up money for his treatments working this minimum wage gig.

I promised.

My thoughts ping-pong around in my head. Silas isn’t a fool. He knows I’m tempted. Even this morning, he’d grabbed my hand before I could leave, and he’d given me a meaningful look. “You promised, Aria,” he’d said.

“Oh my God!” Bea shouts into the quiet room, startling me out of my bleak mood and scaring the ever-loving crap out of me.

“Jesus, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

“Remember that sexy red dress?” she asks excitedly.

“The one you forced me to try on last month, even though it’s completely out of either of our price ranges?”