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“Aww, are you worried about me?” he asked his sister.

Kelsey picked up a pillow and threw it at him.

“Do you two ever stop?” his father asked.

“Nope,” he said, reaching for the beer that his father put in a glass. “Thanks.”

“So tell me exactly what things Hadley will do for you,” his father said.

His father would always want to talk about business and how to expand. It was in his blood to keep investing in things. His father had even talked to him about co-owning Southside when the time came.

He hadn’t told the Breatons that because he hadn’t made up his mind. Duke’s was his alone and he was sure he’d do the same with Southside. He’d weigh his options when the time came though. It shouldn’t make a difference to Stan and Louisa either way.

“We set up all my social media accounts for Southside. Her parents didn’t have anything other than Facebook, which they gave Hadley access to manage. That was easy enough. She’s going to work on ads there since there is a following and going to go in and make sure she is drawing in as many of the family businesses as she can. I talked to a handful of my cousins today and sent out emails to get them on board to what was going on.”

“And you know everyone is always willing to do that. It benefits them as well as you,” his mother said from the kitchen. She’d always had big ears.

“It does,” he agreed. “Hadley is going to work on Duke’s website and get that up to date. I sent her a bunch of pictures I’ve taken in the last month. She showed me examples of posts she’s made from pictures of her cakes.”

“Cakes?” Kelsey asked.

“I told you she is a home baker. She had a side hustle of wedding and party cakes and designs back in Maine. She does beautiful work.”

“Do you have pictures?” his mother asked.

“I don’t, but she showed me what she has. She mentioned doing that here while she tries to figure out her life.”

“Figure what out?” his father asked, frowning.

“No clue. I just know she moved back here and it’s not my business why. She’s hardworking and looking for a job. She has a background in marketing and there isn’t a lot in this area for that. But in the meantime I’ve got her pretty much working full time at Southside between baking, working the pub and now doing the marketing and advertising for me.”

He remembered her shocked face when he’d told her he was paying her different rates. Then the comment he’d said about her being told before to stand up for herself. He could see where she might struggle there in her life.

Once they figured all the work out, she’d quoted him a price for her time weekly and he doubled it. Her jaw dropped. He’d already gotten estimates from Kelsey and knew what it should cost him. He wasn’t surprised Hadley was undervaluing herself once again.

She’d argued and said to wait to see if he liked her work and he’d laughed and said he saw samples of it. He knew she was a hard worker. He trusted that if she said she was going to be doing the work she would. Now that he was paying her more, he expected she’d work even harder to prove she was worth it.

He’d just have to let that go. It was better than having someone who took advantage of things, but he had no fear of that with Hadley.

Hell, at one point he’d caught her staring at his arms while he cooked. Then she asked if she could just watch him.

He knew it was all innocent enough, but there was part of his brain that felt like they might have been on a date and he was trying to impress her.

They could have met at Southside, but he understood her reasoning behind not doing that.

She’d even confessed that a few staff had asked why she wasn’t taking over the pub instead of an outside person. Change was hard for many, but Hadley had no interest in it. He didn’t need to have her say that multiple times to know it or believe it.

“Does she want to do the cakes here on the island?” Kelsey asked. “Is that a conflict working for you?”

“Yes, she wants to and I encouraged her to. Last week I had a customer I delivered the desserts out to check in and they were going nuts about the taste. They thought I’d made them and I told them it was their server that did.”

His father laughed. “What was their reaction?”

“They didn’t care about it. Hadley’s kind of quiet and shy. I wanted her to get credit for it and then mentioned she did cakes. The customers told her it would be great to have someone on the island that could. I agree. It’s not something I do or will offer.”

“And it will only help not hurt your business,” his father said. “People will come there for her desserts or they will find out about her cakes from you. It goes back and forth and island business is always better than going to the mainland.”

“That was my thought too.”

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