Finn stared at him, and some of his genuine temper and absolutely zero humor of the situation must have finally gotten through to Sean because he lifted his hands. “Look, you got back here faster than I thought you would, all right? And Ashley just happened to stop by and . . . well, one thing led to another.”
Finn tossed back the smoothest Scotch in the place and barely felt the burn. “You told me there was an emergency. That you needed me. Exactly how long did you expect me to take getting here?”
“Longer than sixty seconds,” Sean said. “I mean I’m good, but even I need at least five minutes.” He flashed a grin.
Finn resisted the urge to strangle him. Barely. “Emergency implies death and destruction and mayhem,” he said. “Like, say, our last emergency. When dad died.”
The easy smile fell from Sean’s face, replaced by surprise and then guilt, followed by shame. “Oh shit,” he said. “Shit, I didn’t think—”
“And there’s our problem, Sean,” Finn said. “You never do.”
Sean’s mouth tightened. “No, actually, that’s not the real problem. Let’s hear it again, shall we? You’re the grown-up. I’m just the stupid problem child.”
“You’re hardly a child.”
“But I’m still a problem,” Sean said. “Always have been to you.”
“Bullshit,” Finn said. “Get your head out of your own ass and stop feeling sorry for yourself. Now what the hell’s the emergency?”
Sean paused. “It was more of a pub thing,” he said vaguely, no longer meeting Finn’s gaze.
And a very bad feeling crept into Finn’s gut. “What did you do?”
“It’s more what I didn’t do . . .”
“Spit it out, Sean.”
“Okay, okay. But before you blow a gasket, you should know. It’s not as bad as the time I nearly burnt the place down by accident. Let’s keep it in perspective, all right?”
“Accident?” Finn asked. “You opened the place after hours to have a party with your idiot friends and were lighting Jell-O shots when you managed to catch the kitchen on fire. How exactly is that an accident?”
“Well, who knew that Jell-O was so flammable?”
Finn stared at him, at an utter loss. “This is a fucking joke to you, all of it.”
“No, it’s not.”
“Yes, it is. You think I’m just the asshole making you toe the line. I’m trying to give you a life here, Sean, a way to make a living and take care of yourself in case something happens to me.”
Sean laughed. Laughed. The sound harsh in the quiet room. “You’re not dad, Finn. I don’t need you to give me a life. I can do that for myself. Contrary to popular belief, I can take care of myself.”
“Because you’ve done a great job of it so far?” Finn asked.
“Fuck you,” Sean said and walked out.
“What’s the damn emergency?” Finn yelled after him.
But Sean was gone.
This left Finn in charge of the place for the night instead of getting to go back up to 3B where he’d left his mind, and maybe a good chunk of his heart as well.
The next morning was Sunday and despite it being a weekend, Finn was back at the pub. He was working his way through some of the never-ending paperwork that seemed to multiply daily when Sean appeared.
“Where have you been?” Finn asked, hating himself for sounding like a nagging grandma.
Sean ran his hand over his bedhead hair. “Slept on the roof.”
Finn shook his head. “Bet you froze your nuts off.”
“Just about.” Sean paused. “I shouldn’t have walked away last night. I’m sorry for that.”
“Just tell me the damn emergency already,” Finn said.
Sean’s jaw went tight, a muscle ticking. A very unusual sight, and a tell that he was actually feeling stressed, something Finn hadn’t known his brother could even feel.
Sean pulled two envelopes from his back pocket. “You know how I said I wanted to help you with the business side of things and you said I had to start at the bottom, and I said like the mail room? And you said we don’t have a mail room, but yes a little bit like that?”
“It was a joke,” Finn said. “Because you think you just jump in but there’s a learning curve. So I suggested you start by handling our mail and our accounts payable. And you agreed as long as I didn’t come along behind you to check up on you.”