The McKenzie Brothers series by Kimberly Nee (#1- 4)
Katherine Bainbridge sighed, resisting the urge to draw the back of her hand across her forehead. It wouldn’t ease the discomfort brought on by three days of relentless heat and sticky air. It was hard to believe it was still spring; it felt more like the dead of summer in the crowded tavern. If the bloody heat wasn’t bad enough, the thick blue-gray clouds of cigar smoke only added to the fact that air was hardly fit to breathe.
Brunswick was perfect for her. It was a harbor town, with plenty bustling crowds from all walks of life. There were three boarding houses, all with available rooms to let. Most importantly, there were four taverns scattered about the waterfront, each in need of barmaids. And the Bayside Tavern was by far the most preferable of them all. Although she was a novice, Miller took pity on her and gave her a job. It was working out rather well and Katherine was beginning to feel at home. Thoughts of London grew farther from her mind with each sunrise.
She jumped, spinning around. Agatha gestured wildly at her.
Katherine wove around tables of men involved in heated games of whist or lively discussions to join Agatha at the bar.
Before she could say anything, Agatha thrust a tray towards her. “Miller says you’re to get this round of drinks over to them gents in the far corner.”
Katherine nodded as she eyed the tray laden with glasses of amber liquor and pints of golden ale. Miller knew she was still a bit clumsy but he took perverse joy in giving her the worst of the worst to serve.
Glancing over at the corner, she groaned at the raucous cluster of men. “But that isn’t even my table. It’s Maggie’s.”
“I know but Maggie’s a bit busy at the moment. So for now, it is all yours.”
Heat crept into her cheeks. A bit busy meant only one thing at Bayside. Maggie was upstairs and she wasn’t alone. Miller didn’t mind if his barmaids did a little whoring on the side. His only rule was that he received a portion of the profits.
Not that I have to worry about that. She accepted the tray from Agatha. I would rather starve in the gutter than be reduced to selling myself.
Still, who was she to judge? A verse learned in her childhood came roaring through her brain:
Let he who is without sin
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