Kennick:A Volanis Brothers NovelBy: Meg Jackson
She saw, now, that the man nearest her was holding a bundle of papers in manilla envelopes, somewhat haphazardly organized. Up close, he was even more impressive. The short beard covering his chin was red, surprisingly, and he wore a tight-fitting flannel button-up, unbuttoned, over a white V-neck t-shirt that gave a hint of the tanned skin and curly hair underneath, as well as some intriguing swirls of ink. He smiled at her, a small smile, but one which made her heart flip over and take a bow.
Whoo, was all she could think.
“We were trying to find out where we could drop off these business license applications and permits and sh- uh, stuff,” he said, his voice a deep tenor with a fine gravel that exuded masculinity. Kim’s eyes darted down. Those were all business licenses? Her eyes widened as she looked back up at him.
“Oh,” she said. “Well, they’d go to the Town Clerk, actually, but that office is closed, too. Won’t be open again until Monday.”
“Ah,” he said, and turning around flashed an annoyed look at the blonde, who shrugged. “I told you we didn’t have time to stop for burgers.”
“I’m a slave to my stomach, not time,” the blonde said, a grin on his face. The black-haired man’s lips lifted slightly, but his face remained largely impassive. Turning back to Kim, the man holding the folders shifted.
“Well, it’ll have to wait ‘til Monday, then,” he said. His eyes travelled downwards quickly, and Kim felt them reach across her body. It suddenly got very cold in the room. At least, that’s why her nipples were hardening slightly, she told herself. Flicking his eyes back up to hers, he gave a sort of half-bow and turned as if to leave.
“Wait,” Kim said, stepping out of the office slightly, holding the door open so it wouldn’t slam shut behind her. “If you want to give them to me, I’ll make sure they get to the office first thing Monday morning.”
He turned back to her, a wider smile on his face now, revealing a row of perfectly straight, white teeth.
Woah, boy, she thought.
“That’d be fantastic,” he said, gathering the papers and folders together in a slightly more reasonable pile before handing them over to her. She looked down, eyes sparking with interest. She was excited to delay her gym trip even more, looking through the applications to see what sort of businesses these men were planning to open. By the size of the stack, Kim wondered if a trio of guardian angels had just descended on Kingdom. Her eyes returned to his, a smile spreading over her own face, giddy with the thought that all the town’s prayers may have just been answered.
“I’m Kim, by the way,” she said, feeling that old anxiety start to kick and whir in her stomach, but tamping it down, hard. “I’m Mayor Gunderson’s assistant. If you ever need anything, drop by here. We have a very open door policy here at the Mayor’s office. We’re happy to serve our citizens any way they need.”
When the long-haired man’s eyebrows rose slightly and the blonde behind him sniggered, Kim’s smile drooped. Had she said something strange or funny? The black haired man pushed against the blonde, and from the stare they exchanged, Kim was momentarily afraid a fight was about to break out in the hallway. But, the tension was gone as soon as it had risen.
“I’m Kennick,” the long-haired man said, holding his hand out. Kim shuffled the folders until she managed to free one hand. His palm was rough, fingers calloused, and she couldn’t help but notice that his knuckles looked battle-scarred. She also couldn’t help but notice the swift warmth that travelled up her arm as they made contact. “Kennick Volanis. And these are my brothers.”
“Cristov,” said the blonde with a wave. “And Damon.”
Cristov pointed with his thumb to the black-haired man, who nodded, his lips offering just the ghost of a smile.
“Are you new to town? I haven’t seen you before,” Kim said, for some reason wanting to prolong the conversation. Maybe it was genuine curiosity. It did seem strange, these men arriving after hours with enough paperwork to open five businesses in town. But maybe it was just because, somehow, standing under Kennick’s sea-green gaze, she felt that constant anxiety in her gut abating slightly, making room for something else. Something she liked quite a bit.
“Ah,” Kennick said, eyes flicking away for a moment. “Yes. Yeah, we – we arrived just yesterday morning. All thirty of us.”
That smile again. It was almost enough to cover up what he’d just said. Almost. Kim’s brows furrowed.
“Thirty?” she asked, “What…”
“We have a lot of family and friends,” Cristov piped up behind Kennick, eyes flashing devilishly. “We’re moved into that trailer park out on Cunningham Avenue.”
“Oh,” Kim said. Now, it was her turn to raise her eyebrows. That trailer park had been largely abandoned for years. Except for the few transients and drug addicts who would set down stakes for a year or two and then disappear, she wasn’t aware of anyone actually residing there in the entire time she’d lived in Kingdom. In fact, the last she heard of the place being an actual community was thirty years ago, when…