Tap (Lovibond #1)

By: Georgia Cates

A Lovibond Novel



Lucas Broussard





This quarter’s sales are profitable. Damn profitable. Buying into Lovibond Brewery as a partner four years ago has proven to be a wise decision. Oliver Thorn, Porter Beckman, and I are becoming three increasingly wealthy men.

The opportunity to financially back this company during its infancy couldn’t have presented itself at a better time. My life had been in a shambles.

Miserable in my business.

A failed marriage.

My wife and my business partner in love . . . with each other.

My world was a complete clusterfuck.

A knock on my office door steals my attention from the numbers. And the past. “Hey, Tap. You got a minute?”

“Sure.”

Stout enters, shutting the door behind him. He never does that.

Oliver Thorn, aka Stout and my business partner, shrinks into the chair across from me. He’s hunched with his forearms resting on his thighs. His face is nearly hidden in his palms. This isn’t the typical carefree Stout who launches himself into the chair opposite me and kicks up his heels onto the edge of my desk to annoy the fuck out of me. The disheveled guy in front of me looks . . . defeated.

I’m silent as I wait for him to look up at me. But he doesn’t. This is weird. Stout never acts like this.

Maybe I should prompt him to say something. Anything. “I was just going over the numbers. They’re up again. This time by thirteen point nine percent. That’s almost two times what they were last quarter.” Unbelievable how quickly this company is growing.

It began with two college guys brewing beer in their apartment. They dreamed of turning their hobby into a multimillion-dollar company. I was taken aback when Porter approached me about buying in as a partner. I was his boss. Although I wasn’t much older, he and Stout had seemed like a pair of naïve college graduates with zero business experience. Dreamers. But then I sampled the product and knew these guys had something marketable on their hands.

That was four years and several million dollars ago.

The founding fathers of Lovibond Brewery have been called many things. Lords of the hops. Masters of the craft. Top hops. Brew brothers. Boot keggers. The list is endless. The pair know and understand the science and production behind manufacturing high-quality, good-tasting ale. Money-making beer. Interesting direction given their backgrounds in chemical engineering and graphic design. And that’s where I come in. I’m the business and finance guy. Supply and demand. Numbers. Dollars. Evaluation. Return. Those are the things I know and understand. They need me. And I need them.

I trust Stout and Porter to produce a top quality product. They have confidence in me to manage all business and financial aspects. Each of us does his part. That’s why we make a great trio.

Stout still isn’t talking. Guess I’ll have to probe. “I’m assuming you shut the door because you want to speak privately.”

“Yeah. I’ve been having a hard time since things ended with Eden.” No shit. He’s been on a three-month party streak. Booze and women.

“The last few months haven’t been your finest.” I’m pretty sure Stout has partied harder the last few months than his entire college career at Alabama.

“I have a problem.”

Stout turned to the party life to numb the pain of an ugly breakup. I guess most guys have done that at one time or another, but he took it beyond anything considered reasonable. Not the best way to deal when you have beer within your reach at any given time. “I’m glad to hear you’re taking charge before it spirals out of control.”

“Got a little out of control already. I spent the night in the slammer last weekend. Got a DUI.”

Oh, hell. A DUI conviction stays on your record for five years in the state of Alabama. “I can’t believe this shit, Stout. You’re a partner in a company advocating responsible drinking with a designated driver. Do you understand how that looks?”

“Trust me. I know.” He runs his hand through his hair and sighs. “I’m working with an attorney. He’s almost certain he’ll be able to get me out of it.”

“Avoiding a conviction only fixes part of the problem.” This could mean bad publicity for Lovibond if word gets out.

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