The Right Price

Chapter 19

Collins

It was Sunday evening, and I was back to avoiding Evander. It was cowardly, but I needed the space something fierce.

After Evander had left the club Friday night, I’d been a mess, and Carver had been kind enough to let me be a mess. Since I’d been scheduled to dance, instead of serving drinks, he had sent me home, full pay for what would have been my regular shift. I had tried to argue against it, but he’d been insistent, and I hadn’t had the strength to argue with another man that night.

When Lita had informed me that Evander had been waiting on me, I hadn’t known what to expect, but Evander Kendrick professing his love for me hadn’t been anywhere on the list of possibilities. While that night in the hotel had ended up meaning more to me than I had ever expected, I never imagined that it would affect Evander in the way that he had claimed.

Now, did I love Evander? I had no way of answering that honestly. I had no idea what I felt for Evander right now. There was no doubt that our sex life would be phenomenal, but I couldn’t get Carver’s words out of my head. He’d told me not to get sidetracked by dick, and I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t. I mean, I knew that I had feelings for Evander, but I knew better than to trade logic in for love. I had to choose practicality over fairy tale wishes because I had Nan to think about. This wasn’t about trusting Evander with my heart; it was about trusting him with Nan.

When Saturday afternoon had rolled around, Evander had called me and had left a message. Straight to the point, he’d said that we needed to talk and to call him back. However, he had also managed to include that I couldn’t run from him forever, and that he’d meant every word that he’d said at the club.

So, back to my coward status, I had ignored his call and all the ones that had followed. I also hadn’t replied to his texts, and even though my actions had me looking like an ungrateful bitch, that wasn’t the case at all. Even if I could get past the issue of how he had initially paid me for sex, I worked three jobs, and he was the CEO of his own company. When would we even find the time to date? My free time was reserved for Nan, so how realistic would a relationship be right now?

“Collins?”

I looked up to see my shift supervisor, Louie, standing in the doorway of one of our many stockrooms. “Yeah?”

“There’s some guy here to see you,” he said, and my stomach immediately dipped with apprehension.

“There is?”

Louie nodded. “He looks like his time is worth more than our yearly salaries, so I wouldn’t keep him waiting if I were you.”

I tried to smile my unease away. “I’ll see what he wants,” I told him. “I won’t be long.”

Louie snorted. “Collins, the man looks like he can buy this place with the money that’s his pocket change. Take your time. Let’s not offend him.”

That made me laugh. “You’re being ridiculous, Louie.”

“Hey, if he ups and buys this place, I don’t want to get fired because I wouldn’t let you talk to him,” he kept on. “Take your time, Collins. Trust me on this.”

Shaking my head, I said, “I’ll only be a few minutes. If this man’s time is as valuable as you think it is, then I’m sure that he has better things to do than talk to a stock girl.”

Louie moved from the doorway. “Be that as it may, he’s here, and he wants to talk to you. So, by my accounts, that must mean that you’re pretty valuable yourself.”

That got a laugh out of me, regardless of my nervousness. “I’ll only be a few minutes,” I repeated.

Nodding, he said, “I had him wait over by the fourth dock.”

Heading towards the back of the store, I immediately noticed Evander waiting around by the fourth delivery bay that our supply trucks used. He looked so out of place that it was a bit comical. Even though it was past eight in the evening, Evander was still dressed in a suit, looking like he just got out of a board meeting. Taking him in, I could see why Louie might be intimidated by the way Evander looked.

As soon as he saw me, he straightened and slid his hands in his pockets. I wasn’t sure what was so sexy about that simple act, but Evander looked sinful dressed in a suit with his hands in his pockets like that.

He looked masculine.

When I stopped to stand in front of him, he immediately began speaking. “I’m sorry for bothering you at work, but you gave me little choice.”

“It’s not really an apology if you’re going to turn around and blame me for your actions, Evander,” I remarked a bit dryly.

“I suppose you’re right,” he conceded.

“Evander-”

“Just hear me out,” he said, interrupting me. “Can you do that for me?”

Letting out a deep sigh, I nodded. “Yeah, I can do that.”

“I wish that I could say that the money was a mistake, but it can’t be,” he started. “Not if it brought you to me. I’m sorry if you think that our relationship is tainted because of our initial meeting, but I don’t feel that way. I didn’t give you the money for sex, Collins. I gave it to you because I couldn’t stand knowing that you work three jobs to support yourself and your grandmother.” I watched him crack his neck to the side, trying to relieve some of his tension. “And I don’t care why you agreed to the money, or why you decided not to take it after all. All I fucking care about is you, Collins.”

“You don’t even know me,” I pointed out. “We spent one night together.”

“Trust me when I tell you that I’m very aware of how crazy I sound, but I don’t really give a fuck about logic, either,” he replied. “I feel what I feel, Collins, and I’m not walking away from you just because you’re scared.”

“I’m not scared,” I denied.

“Bullshit,” he quickly shot back. “Why else would you be avoiding me?”

“Evander-”

“Unless, of course, you really don’t think of me as anything other than a one-night stand,” he added. “Maybe I’m the only one who felt something more that night.”

That got me.

While I was scared, I didn’t want to lie to him. Especially, when he was standing before me, being honest as the day he was born. However, that got me to thinking about what he was doing here.

“How did you know where I worked?” I finally asked.

“You’d be amazed at what having money can accomplish,” he drawled out.

“I’m serious, Evander.”

“As soon as I found out that you worked three jobs, I hired someone to find out everything that they could about you,” he answered honestly, and I wasn’t sure if I was offended, impressed, ready to swoon, or just plain ass stupid. “Granted, it wasn’t all that hard with social media being a part of everyone’s life now, but he was able to find out where you worked, lived, and what your shifts are.”

My eyes narrowed at that last part. “You had him following me?”

With no shame or remorse whatsoever, he said, “You’re goddamn right I did.”

“Oh, my Christ,” I exclaimed. “That is such a huge violation of privacy, Evander.”

“Yeah, so sue me,” he replied flippantly. “You’ll win, and then I won’t have to worry about you working yourself to death anymore.”

Christ, this man.

While everything that he was saying was morally wrong, there was just something about a man that was willing to fight for you. Evander was laying all his cards out on the table, and he didn’t seem even remotely embarrassed or deterred by any of it.

“While taking you for everything that you’ve got in court sounds like a really romantic time, I need to get back to work, Evander,” I told him, sidestepping all the things that were wrong with our relationship. “I can’t do this right now.”

“So, if not now, then when?” he asked, not backing down.

“I don’t know,” I answered. “That’s part of the problem, isn’t it? I work three jobs, and I imagine that you’re probably pretty busy yourself. What kind of relationship would be have?”

“Collins-”

“I have to get back to work, Evander,” I said, interrupting. “But…I promise I’ll call you.”

“You’re lying,” he accused, and I couldn’t swear that he was wrong.

“I promise,” I repeated, knowing that he deserved that much.

He didn’t comment right away, but when he finally did, it was to say, “If you don’t call me, losing your jobs will be the least of your worries, Collins.”

Who said romance was dead?

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