The Right Price

Chapter 11

Collins

After Evander had left me to decide how badly I wanted ten-thousand dollars, I had immediately let Carver know that I was okay, and I had even told him about Evander’s proposition. Carver had surprised me by letting me know that he’d already known because Evander had asked him for permission to make the offer.

I had immediately become embarrassed, so Carver had taken me aside to tell me that my choices were my own, and not to ever let someone else make me feel ashamed over them. We all had our own lives to live, and no one was getting out of this life with their hands squeaky clean. He had advised me to do what was in my heart; nothing more, nothing less.

Well, what was in my heart was my Nan. Most of my every day decisions revolved around what was best for her, and I was okay with that. I owed her so much, even if I was the only one keeping score. While I’d never quit my jobs, ten-thousand dollars would be an incredible safety net for our finances. The two-thousand dollars had already given me some breathing room, so I couldn’t imagine how much easier my life would be with ten-thousand dollars cushioning it.

The problem was that I had told Evander that I wasn’t a whore, but if I slept with him for a ten-thousand-dollar payday, then that’s exactly what I would be. The definition of a whore was rather simple, and no amount of rationalizing it would change the facts. Everyone had their own reasons for selling their soul to the devil, some reasons were just more noble than others. Still, the end result was the same; we’d sold our conscience for a price.

The right price.

So, was ten-thousand dollars the right price for my conscience? Was ten-thousand dollars enough to shift my moral limits a bit? The more that I thought about it, the more that I realized that I was asking myself the wrong question. The real question was whether or not I thought that Nan was worth shifting my moral limits for, and that answer was easy.

Yes.

Doing my best not to let the significance of Evander’s offer distract me, I had concentrated on working my shift to the best of my ability, and I had waited until my lunch break to go knocking on Carver’s office door. After a few seconds, he opened it, and his face gave nothing away as he stepped back to give me some room to enter his office.

Shutting the door behind him, he asked, “Would you like something to drink?” I turned my head and watched as he made his way to the bar. “Because I think I’m going to need one for this conversation.”

That made me smile. “It’s not all bad, Carver.”

He snorted. “Yeah, right.”

I sat down as Carver poured himself a drink. “There are worse things in the world than sleeping with a man for money,” I told him.

Carver didn’t say anything as he made his way back to his desk. He took a sip of his drink as he sat down in his chair. Once he was comfortable, he asked, “Is that why you’re going to sleep with him, Collins? For the money?”

I shook my head. “In all honesty, I would want to sleep with him without the money,” I admitted. “I’m attracted to him, Carver. I…well, if we’d met under different circumstances, I could see myself going to dinner with him or something normal like that.” I shrugged. “I could see a date night that would have led to sex on the first night anyway. Evander’s offer of money is just…extra, I guess.”

“Does he know that?”

I shook my head again. “No,” I answered. “We didn’t talk in detail. I’d been so caught off guard by his offer that I had just…no, he doesn’t know that.”

“And you’re not offended by his offer?” he asked seriously. “I mean, why couldn’t he have asked you to dinner?”

“Honestly, I don’t know.” Carver just stared at me blankly. “Evander had suggested that I worked here because I needed the money, so this might be his weird way of helping me out financially, maybe. I really can’t say.”

“He could simply hand you a check if he cares so much about a virtual stranger’s finances,” he responded. “The man has more money than he knows what to do with, so writing a check for ten-thousand dollars as a good deed wouldn’t matter for a man like that.”

I could feel my shoulders sag. “He’s really that rich?”

“Look up Kendrick Advancements,” he suggested. “His father is Evander Kendrick II, and he owns Kendrick Marketing, so don’t confuse the two. Your Evander’s bio is on their website, and while he’s the Owner and CEO, his younger brother is the CFO.”

“He has a younger brother?”

Carver’s face softened. “His name is Holden, and the last that I checked, Holden was engaged to his girlfriend, Maxine Willis.” He let out a deep sigh. “I know that money can make people seem…unreal, but Evander is very real, Collins. He has a family, he gets stressed-out, works for a living, all of it the same as you and me. All the stuff that makes us present in life, Evander deals with it, too.”

“You seem to know him well,” I remarked. “Why do you think he’s offering me money for sex?” I shrugged. “I mean, if he’s that rich, plus looks the way that he does, he can probably get any woman that he wants.”

“He probably can,” Carver agreed. “And it looks like the woman that he wants is you, Collins.” He adjusted himself a bit, setting his arms on his desk. “Look, Evander Kendrick has been coming to my club for three years, Collins. He’s been bringing those same clients here about twice a year, and I’ve never seen Evander interact with any of the girls. I’ve also never seen him here outside those business meetings.” He tilted his head a bit. “And though you may be very beautiful, I’ve got a lot of beautiful women working here. Evander’s never shown any interest in any of them until you.”

“Are you trying to make me feel better about what I’m about to do?” I asked.

“No,” he replied bluntly. “You made the comment that he could probably get any woman that he wants, and I agree. I’m just pointing out that it’s you that he wants, Collins.”

“Can…will you call him for me?” I finally asked. “Let him know that I’ll meet him tonight?”

Carver nodded his head, then pulled out his phone. Staring at me, he said, “She said that she’ll meet you.”

No greeting

No work up.

No anything.

A simple statement for a simple transaction.

“Of course,” Carver said, snapping me out of my thoughts.

Carver hung up, and like a teenager talking about her biggest crush, I asked, “What did he say?”

“He asked me to give you his number,” he replied. “He wants you to text him once you’re off shift, then he’ll text you the address.”

“This is crazy,” I muttered to myself, but Carver still heard me.

“You can still change your mind, Collins,” Carver pointed out. “You could be naked in his bed and still change your mind.”

“I just…I’m attracted to him, and…and I’m a red-blooded woman with needs, so I’m not opposed to sleeping with him.” Sighing, I added, “I just…do you have any idea how much that money would help me out, Carver? My Nan’s medications wouldn’t stress me out so much with that kind of help. I mean-”

Carver threw his hand up. “Collins?” I shut up and just looked at him. “I’ve already told you to do what’s in your heart. Do not ever feel guilty about doing whatever you have to in order to take care of your family. At the end of the day, that’s all that anyone is trying to do. You’re no different, and fuck anyone who wants to judge you.”

Even though I knew that Carver was very private, I overstepped anyway. “Is that what you’re doing? Doing your best to take care of you and your family?”

“My only goal in life is to be able to sleep at night, Collins,” he answered, not telling me a damn thing. “While I might not be a saint, I’m not the worst sinner out there, and that’s all that I’m trying to maintain at the moment. An even balance that allows me to live with myself.”

“Are you married, Carver?” I asked rudely. “I mean…it’s no one’s business, but…how can you take such good care of us, yet none of us know anything about you?”

He gave me a sweet twitch of his lips. “Believe it or not, I understand your curiosity,” he said. “However, my private life is private for a reason, Collins.”

I nodded in understanding. “Sorry for overstepping,” I replied. “Also, thank you for your help with Evander.”

“Just be careful, Collins,” he said. “I’d hate to see you slide off track for dick.”

I choked out a laugh. “Uh…okay…thanks.”

He winked at me, and it really was a shame that Carver Sullivan was so untouchable.

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