“You didn’t deny the girlfriend thing,” Sean noted.
Finn didn’t take the bait and Sean sighed. “Yeah, yeah, you’re still pissed off at me. Newsflash, I’m pissed off too.”
“I didn’t do shit to you.”
“I know,” Sean said. “I meant I was pissed off at me. For disappointing you.”
Finn stilled and then shook his head. “I know you didn’t mean to disappoint me.”
“But I did. And not only that, I let you down. I let us down.” Sean paused. “Earlier today, I handled the liquor license problem with Pru’s help.”
And then Sean told him the entire story of how Pru had been waiting for him and had smoothed the way with ease.
While Finn was still processing that, marveling over the lengths that she’d gone to help without mentioning it or wanting any credit for it, Sean went on.
“After that I went to pay the property taxes. I was there at their offices when they opened at ten.”
“Wow,” Finn said. “I didn’t know you’ve even seen ten a.m.”
Sean shoved his hands into his pocket and looked a little sheepish. “Yeah, I know. It was a first, and believe me it wasn’t pretty. And it was worse than having to go to the damn DMV office, too. Got there right on time and had to take a number. Sixty-nine.” He flashed a small smile. “I held up my ticket but no one else in the place was amused. The old lady who had number seventy flipped me the bird. She looked like this sweet little old granny and there she was, telling me I’m number one, can you believe it?”
In spite of himself, Finn laughed. “It’s true. You are number one.”
Sean’s smile faded. “I know.”
Regret slashed through Finn. “I didn’t mean it like that.”
“Yeah, you did,” Sean said. “And I deserve it. I’m a fuckup, right?”
“Okay, I’m officially taking that back.”
For a beat, Sean’s expression went unguarded and filled with relief, making Finn feel even worse. There were times, lots of them, when he wanted nothing more than to wrap his hands around Sean’s neck and squeeze.
But more than that, he wanted to never be like his dad. Ever. “So . . . how much were the late fees and penalties on the tax bill?”
Sean grimaced. “You remember Jacklyn?”
“The stripper you dated for a whole weekend last year?” Finn asked.
“Exotic dancer. And she doesn’t do that anymore.”
Oh shit. “Sean, tell me she doesn’t now work at the property tax office.”
Another grimace. “Well I could tell you that, but it’d be a lie.”
Sean had done his charm-the-panties-off-the-girl and then pulled his also usual I’m-moving-to-Iceland. Or maybe it’d been it’s-not-you-it’s-me. Either way, he’d dumped her. The only reason Finn even remembered was because Jacklyn had then pulled the crazy card.
She’d stalked Sean. It hadn’t been all that hard either, Sean had no sense of secret and always put himself out there, one hundred percent. It probably hadn’t taken any effort at all for her to find out about the pub.
She’d come in and had climbed on top of one of the tables, stripping and crying at the same time, telling everyone what a scumbag Sean was.
It’d been a spectacle of massive proportions.
“What happened?” Finn asked. “She refused to let you pay up?”
“Not exactly,” Sean said.
“Then what exactly?”
Sean looked . . . embarrassed? Impossible, he never got embarrassed. “She said I could renew on one condition,” he said. “If I got up on her counter and did a striptease like she’d done at my place of work.”
“Well, you gotta hand it to her,” Finn said. “It’s ingenious.”
“Diabolical, you mean,” Sean said.
“Whatever, but your next sentence better be ‘so I totally got up on that counter and did a striptease for her.’”
“Did I mention the place was full?” Sean asked. “And that there were old ladies in there? Old ladies, Finn. I took one look at them and things . . . shriveled.”
“And?” Finn asked.
“And . . . I didn’t want to take my clothes off with shrinkage going on!”
Finn pressed the heels of his hands into his eye sockets, but it didn’t work. His brain was still leaking out. Slowly and painfully. “Fine, I’ll go down there and talk to her and straighten things out.”