Not Falling For It
Devin was in his office checking off production schedules when there was a knock at the door. “Hey, Mason,” he said to his cousin, one of the five owners of Fierce-The Brewery. He looked at the clock and saw it was seven. “You’re in early.”
“Couldn’t sleep,” he said. “I’ve got an idea for a new beer and wanted to talk with Ben about it before he got knee deep in other things.”
Ben was one of the brewmasters that worked the closest to Mason. There were plenty of them with the size of the brewery, but Mason seemed to go to Ben the most.
“Checking in on inventory control?” Mason asked. Devin oversaw production and distribution. Not a desk job completely, but a hands-on one too. He liked splitting his time. He worked four twelve-hours shifts and rotated his nights as he saw fit with Mason’s approval to assure everything was working properly on the night shift when the big guys weren’t around.
One could say he was the big guy at night, though he never felt that way. He might be a first cousin to the Fierce Five, but his last name was Andrews.
“How did it turn out?” Mason asked.
“Good. No issues or shortages. I’ll sit down with you at some point about storage and maybe rearranging things, but for now we are good.”
“Glad to know,” Mason said. “It’s one less headache I’ve got knowing everything is under control. I still can’t thank you enough for wanting to work here.”
“I should be thanking you for offering me the job,” he said.
A year ago Devin was living in Georgia working as a distribution manager for a large manufacturing company. He was the middleman getting shit on by those above and below him and he’d had enough. When Mason called and offered him a position he was creating, he’d jumped on it knowing he needed the out. Things were heating up and he was already in the crossfire. Not a good place to be in his position. Union workers weren’t happy and he wasn’t one of them even though they reported to him.
“It’s working out for both of us, and it takes the pressure off of me. Sometimes I look around here and can’t believe how big it’s gotten and I know it’s going to continue to expand. Which we need to talk about.”
Devin started to laugh. “You’re getting more requests from out of state?”
“I am. I’m ready to move into a few more, but we need to work out drivers and shipments and get vendors, figure the trucks out and the list goes on and on.”
“You get me the vendors, I’ll figure out shipping and the drivers, those schedules, you know that.”
“Good. Hope has been getting a lot of calls and putting things together. Maybe I’ll have you meet with her soon and it will give you an idea.”
“Sounds good,” he said. Hope Hall took care of all the orders for the brewery. She was a one-woman show taking calls, tracking down shipments, and dealing with any customer or vendor complaints. He suspected Mason might have to add some more staff on soon, but since that was her only job from a created position not that long ago, he’d already seen the writing on the wall for more expansion.
He went back to work when Mason walked out, would finish up his paperwork, then go down and talk to the guys on first shift once they were settled.
Coming in at ten at night and working until ten in the morning allowed him to communicate with staff on all three shifts. But since Mason and many others were here during the day, he wasn’t needed as much as someone to watch out at night.
When ten rolled around, he’d already had his office locked up and was heading up to remind Mason he’d be off tonight. His four-night weeks were normally Sunday through Wednesday, but he was closing on the house he was buying tomorrow morning and would need the night off to sleep and deal with his move.
“Heading out?” Mason asked him when he popped his head in. Talk about the prime office location. Mason got to look out over the floor of the brewery on a daily basis.
“I am. Just remember, I won’t be in until Wednesday night, so I’ll see you Thursday morning.”
“Oh yeah. Your house closing. Congrats again on that.”
“Thanks. Apartment living was getting to me, though I’m not sure I’m ready to be a homeowner and handle all the work that comes with it.”
“It’s not so bad and well worth the privacy.”
“Living in a development isn’t as private as I would have liked, but since it’s gated and they take care of the lawn maintenance, that was a major selling point.”
Mason laughed. “I enjoy riding the lawnmower on the weekend. It’s my quiet time.”
Devin turned to see Jacob and Jeremy come running into the office, followed by Jessica, Mason’s wife. “Mason doesn’t let me mow the lawn,” Jessica said. “I’ve begged him, but he says it’s his first baby and no one touches the tractor.”
“You just want to leave me with these two monkeys,” Mason said, as his twins were climbing in his lap with one reaching for the mouse on the computer, the other pulling at papers. They were a few months shy of three and quite the handful.
“I should have brought some bananas in with me,” Devin said.
“I don’t like bananas,” Jeremy said, jumping down and running toward him for a high five. Not to be outdone, Jacob did the same.
“Are they going to be here all day with you or are you getting stuff to work from home?” Mason asked his wife.
“Your mom is on her way to get them here. She had something to do this morning. I would have come in earlier, but they are wound for sound and I’m not sure I could handle them. She’d said ten.”
“Run,” Mason said to his cousin.
He was ready to turn and leave, but his Aunt Jolene was one foot in the doorway. “Devin,” she said. “How is my favorite nephew? My sister tells me every day how happy she is you are back in town.”
“I’m doing good, Aunt Jolene. Just telling Mason I’d see him Thursday.”
“Your house closing is tomorrow, right?” Aunt Jolene asked.
“It is. I need to sleep tonight and make sure I’m not half awake and signing the wrong papers.”
She laughed at him and then started to dance around in a circle with her grandsons. His aunt never sat still and was always moving fast. Which was why he needed to get out of here before she started to bring up another topic he hadn’t been able to outrun.
“We wouldn’t want that. Maybe once you’re settled, you wouldn’t mind me introducing you to a friend’s daughter. Kaylee is a sweetheart. I know you two would hit it right off.”
He looked at Mason and caught the smirk. “I’m good, Aunt Jolene. I can find my own woman.”
“All my boys said the same thing,” she said, “but we know how that turned out.”
“I’m thankful for Jolene’s interference every day,” Jessica said. “But I’m more thankful when she takes my wild children off my hands so I can get some work done.”
Mason moved toward Jessica and pulled her into his arms, then gave her a kiss. “Work? I was hoping we could play hooky for an hour or so.”
“See how well I did?” his aunt said.
“Yep, you did,” Devin said. “But I’m a big boy.”
“I told you to run,” Mason said. “You’re not fast enough.”
“No one is as fast as me,” Aunt Jolene said. “Just remember that.”
“I don’t need to be fast,” he said. “I need to be aware. And I am. Sorry, but I’m not falling for it.”
She pursed her lips and shook her head. “Ella said that too.”
“And we all know Uncle Gavin was responsible for her.”
“Oh, you better start moving,” Mason said. “Mom hates to be reminded that she didn’t have a hand in Ella’s. That’s why she set Jade up first because she couldn’t not have her finger on the pulse of a girl setup.”
Jade Fierce was Jolene’s niece on the Fierce side of the family. The daughter of one of Gavin’s brothers.
Devin and his brother Ivan and his cousins Liam and Faith O’Malley were Jolene’s kin. And they were all fully aware their parents were now trying to seek the help of Jolene in getting them to settle down.
When his time came, it was going to be of his own choosing. If he wanted it. Because he still wasn’t sure he was hardwired for love. If he was, then why was he almost thirty-five and had never fallen once?
He’d told his mother plenty of times he could find his own woman. He’d told his Aunt Jolene the same.
What he didn’t understand was why no one believed him or would leave him alone.
He decided it was time to escape while he still had some skin on his back after that burn for his aunt. He started to walk down the stairs and toward the offices in the back when he heard his name called.
“Sorry to bother you,” she said. “I know you’re on your way out. Mason mentioned that he’d like the two of us to meet at some point to go over expansion into other states.”
“No bother. He talked to me about it this morning. I’m off tonight and will be back Wednesday night, so maybe we can talk Thursday morning? Send me an email of who and where he’s looking to ship to if you can.”
“I will. Thanks. See you in a few days. And congrats on your house closing.”
“Thanks,” he said, not aware she knew. As much as he liked to stop in and talk to her, she always kept it short and sweet no matter how much he lingered.
She turned and he watched her walk away. Her petite frame that barely came up to his shoulders with her brown hair resting against the middle of her back. He figured her to be about five foot two. He was six foot even and fine with it. He wasn’t as tall as his four male Fierce cousins, but being a few inches shorter wasn’t a big deal. Nor was he as big as Brody or Mason. He was built more like Cade, even though he didn’t sit behind a desk full time like Cade did. And he wasn’t as pretty or high fashion as Cade and that was fine with him too.
He was a regular old blue collar worker that put a lot of time in to get where he was.
He’d never be able to compete with his cousins and didn’t want to. Not like so many thought.
He wouldn’t begrudge them all their wealth and success. He wasn’t a jealous person.
He was happy with what he had in life and reminded himself daily.
If he was wishing he wasn’t going home alone at times, he wasn’t admitting it to anyone, least of all his Aunt Jolene.
He said he could get his own woman and he planned on it when he was ready.
Too bad the woman he wanted to get to know better just walked away from him and didn’t seem to be interested in anything other than a work meeting.