The Right Price

Chapter 14

Evander

It was Wednesday, and you’d think that I wouldn’t still be this pissed off and confused, but I was. I was so fucking confused, but anger was riding right alongside that bitch.

I had taken Collins three times Saturday night, or…rather, Sunday morning, and every single fucking time had been mind-blowing. Or, at least, it had been for me. Everything about being inside her had felt like a fucking revelation, and the plan had been to never let her go. Sure, I’d plan on allowing her to go to work, but not before we’d had a talk about what was next for us.

That’s not what had happened though.

I had woken up to an empty hotel room, and it had taken me a second to be rational about it. We hadn’t fallen asleep until around five, and Collins had told me that she’d had to be at work at eight. With only a manageable two-hour nap to get her by, I had tried not to take her dipping out personally.

I had tried.

Like a love-sick idiot, I had even looked for a note, searching for proof that our time together had mattered. Instead, what I’d found was the envelope of cash still sitting on the end table near the couch. When I had grabbed it, it’d been to see that all the cash had still been in it. Curious as fuck, I had even counted it, thinking that maybe Collins had taken only a few hundred, but she hadn’t. The entire ten-grand had been untouched in the envelope.

While a part of me had wanted to rejoice in the possibility that Collins might actually want something more with me, logic had reminded me that she could have simply forgotten to grab the envelope on her way out. The woman had been moving on no sleep, so it was possible that she had simply just forgotten it.

After checking out of the hotel, I had gone home, showered, then had shot her a text, wishing her a good day. However, I had also included that I’d had to go out of town on business. I knew that it could have been perceived as a brushoff, but I’d no idea what job she’d been on, or if they even allowed her to be on her phone. So, not wanting to get her in trouble, I had sent a text.

To her credit, she had texted back a few minutes later, thanking me and also wishing me safe travels. There’d been no mention of the money, but I had left it alone because that wasn’t a conversation that I had wanted preserved in texts for the rest of our lives.

The rest of the day had gone off without a hitch. My cab rides had been uneventful, the flight to Chicago had been just as uneventful, and even check-in had gone smoothly. Everything had been great as far as traveling went, but I hadn’t considered it a successful day because Collins hadn’t returned my goodnight text Sunday night.

She also hadn’t returned any of the texts that I had sent on Monday, Tuesday, or today.

At first, I had reminded myself that this girl worked three jobs and cared for her grandmother. However, by law, those three jobs came with breaks and/or lunches. I was also fairly certain that her grandmother slept at night, so there was some free time there when she could have returned any one of my text messages.

So, that’s how I found myself pissed off as fuck on a random Wednesday, confused as fuck about the money, too. By the grace of God, I had managed to concentrate on business long enough to deal with all the goddamn meetings this company loved to have, but I was barely hanging on by a thread.

However, now that I was back at my hotel room, all I could think about was Collins. While I should be prepping for tomorrow’s presentation, I wasn’t. I was wracking my brain over why Collins hadn’t taken the money, and I was pissed that she hadn’t been returning my texts.

Grabbing my phone, I called the only person that could help me with this.

“What’s up?” Holden answered.

“If a woman wants nothing to do with you, what’s the limit before not giving up becomes a stalking felony?”

Silence.

Complete silence.

“Holden?”

“I’m processing,” he replied slowly, like he wasn’t sure who was really on the other end of the phone call.

“I don’t have time for you to process,” I told him. “I need some fucking advice.”

“Oh, so this is Evander,” he quipped, and he was lucky that I couldn’t get my hands on him.

“Not funny, Holden,” I drawled out.

“Maybe not,” he agreed. “Still, I’ve known you all my life, and I haven’t seen you stressed out by a female since high school. I truly am processing.”

“Of course, you’ve known me all your life, Holden. I’m your brother, for fuck’s sake,” I reasoned.

“Wow,” he chuckled. “You really are going through it.”

“Goddamn it-”

“Look, just tell me what’s going on,” he said, interrupting. “I didn’t even know that you were seeing anyone, Evander. How in the fuck am I supposed to help you when I don’t know what is going on?”

He had a point.

So, starting from the moment that Collins walked into the VIP room up until now, I told my brother everything. While I would never share the sexual details of any of my bed partners, I hadn’t had a problem telling him everything else.

“Holy shit,” he choked out when I was finally finished. “Who would have thought?”

“I’m serious, Holden.”

“So, am I,” he retorted. “The last time that we talked about love at first sight, you had accused me of being fanciful.” I winced at that reminder. “In fact, you told me that I was crazy for chasing Maxine down in a cab.”

“I know,” I grumbled. “I know.”

“You offered your girl ten-fucking-grand to sleep with you, Evander,” he kept going. “That’s a hell of a lot crazier than me chasing Max down in a cab, I’ll tell you.”

“Dude. Focus.”

“You know what? For someone close to reaching a net-worth of a billion dollars, you sure are dense as fuck sometimes.”

“Holden…” I warned.

“Look, if she’s working three jobs to support her grandmother, then she didn’t forget the money, Evander,” he said. “No matter how tired she might have been, no one forgets that they have ten-thousand dollars waiting for them. I hate to say it, but my guess is that taking that money would have made her feel too much like a real whore, and she realized that she couldn’t go through with it after all.”

“Then why meet me at the hotel in the first place?”

“Maybe she likes you,” he suggested. “It’s possible that it’s that simple, Evander.”

“Then why not return my texts?” I challenged.

“Evander, this woman agreed to sleep with you for money,” he drawled out slowly. “She’s probably feeling mortified, especially since she didn’t take the money.”

“I only offered her the money because I know that she needs it,” I pointed out.

“But does she know that?” he asked. “Did you tell her that you know about her three jobs and grandmother?”

“Well, no,” I admitted. “I didn’t want her to think that I had approached her out of pity.”

“So, you thought letting her believe that she could be bought was better?”

“Hey,” I objected. “I never claimed to be good at this shit. Most of my adult relationships consists of money exchanging hands.”

“I told you that paid escorts were a bad idea.”

“Not now, Holden.”

“Okay, sorry,” he muttered. “Look, just call her. Texting is a stupid way to have a serious conversation, and this sounds pretty serious to me.”

“I think it’s serious enough to discuss face-to-face,” I told him.

“Then keep texting her, and when you get back into town on Friday, go seek her out,” he suggested.

“Falling in love fucking sucks,” I remarked to no one in particular.

“It’s not for the faint of heart, that’s for sure,” Holden agreed. “But the reward is worth it.”

“Not if you get your fucking heart broken,” I argued. “Plus, who in the fuck wants to feel like this voluntarily?”

“Feel like what?”

“Like they can’t fucking breathe.”

“Well, goddamn,” Holden replied. “It really was love at first sight.”

Yeah, lucky me.

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