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Defiant Queen

Defiant Queen

Page 39

“Enjoy your tour. I’ll be waiting for your summons whenever you’re ready,” Padraig says as he closes the car door.

His words remind me that this distillery does exactly what Temperance and Jeff Doon want Seven Sinners to do—open its doors to the public for daily tours.

When we walk inside, the interior reminds me of my Seven Sinners remodel, and I’m making mental notes as Mount gives the woman behind the front counter my name.

“Of course. I’ll let your guide know you’ve arrived. Shall I take your coats? It will be quite warm inside.”

I hand mine off to her, as does Mount. He traded in his suit today for dark jeans, but I haven’t seen what is under his jacket until this moment—a worn gray T-shirt with a Seven Sinners logo. It’s been years since that T-shirt was made. My father was still running the company, and I was climbing my way up from the bottom rung of the ladder. The logo wear experiment lasted all of one year before Dad considered it a failure.

“Where did you get that?”

Mount gives me a sideways look. “Does it matter?”

“Yes.”

He shrugs. “I’ve known about Seven Sinners a long time. Even before I knew about you.”

My brain slips into overdrive as I try to figure out what that means, but our tour guide meets us at the entrance. It’s none other than the CEO himself.

“Ms. Kilgore, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’ve heard we have some fierce competition coming out of New Orleans thanks to you and Seven Sinners.” He shakes my hand with respect, and I remember what Mount told me.

Don’t, for a single second, put yourself in a category beneath anyone here.

I guess this is where I employ the fake it till you make it approach.

“Mr. Sullivan, it’s an honor. This is—” I turn to introduce Mount, but the CEO of Sullivan Distillery beats me to it.

“A man who needs no introduction.” Deegan Sullivan holds out a hand to Mount, and the man beside me shakes it. “It’s been a while, Mount. I’m assuming you got my case of whiskey as a thank-you?”

Mount nods, and my gaze darts between the two men like they’re playing table tennis.

Mount knows Deegan Sullivan? Why am I even surprised?

“I did.”

Deegan looks down at Mount’s T-shirt. “But it seems your whiskey tastes have changed. I’m not sure you’ll be impressed by what we have to offer at our tasting today.”

Mount holds both hands palms up at his sides with a twitch of a grin. “I’m NOLA born and bred. It isn’t a stretch to figure where my loyalties lie. Either way, this visit isn’t about me. Ms. Kilgore is ready for her tour, so I hope you’re on your game, Deegan.”

“Of course. It’s Keira, right? I insist we dispense with the formalities.”

“Yes, Keira. And that’s fine. I have to admit I’ve been following your progress for a few years.”

“And I yours. Making whiskey in the Irish tradition in New Orleans is certainly a way to catch people’s attention.”

“Some people’s, I suppose.”

“Would you like to see the distillery? We don’t have any other tours for several hours, so we’ve got the place to ourselves.”

“Absolutely,” I reply as excitement bubbles up inside me.

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