Not Quite Over You

Page 5


“Tequila.” He chuckled. “Okay, I’d have to learn to be a bartender. I’m saying I’m willing to do that. I want to do that. I want to be more than the guy with a check. I want to be invested.”
Her stomach clenched. Nerves, she told herself. Just nerves and a dose of apprehension. “Are you going to bartending school?”
“I was hoping I could learn some online and you’d teach me the rest. Silver, I’m a hard worker, I’m available nights and weekends and I’m not going to run off with the tip money.”
“You couldn’t just loan me the money to buy the trailers?” she asked before she could stop herself. While she never thought she would even think the question, let alone say it, the truth was owing him money would be way better than giving up part of her business.
“I could, but I’d rather do this.”
Typical. Men wanted what they wanted and the rest of the world didn’t matter at all. “Maybe the hardware store in town would like a buy-in.”
“Maybe they would, but your business is more fun.”
“Oh, I don’t know. All those power tools, the lumber section. It’s a man’s playhouse.” She pressed her lips together. “How minority of a partner would you want to be?” Ninety-ten would be great, she thought. Wishful thinking but still great.
She tried not to wince. That was nearly as close to fifty-fifty as they could get.
“I’m buying in with two trailers,” he pointed out, as if he could read her mind. “I’ll also invest twenty grand to cover refurbishing them. Hopefully there will be a few dollars left to put toward the trucks to tow them.”
“I have savings,” she said, trying to do the math in her head. “Enough to cover the trucks.” Especially if she didn’t have to buy the trailers or pay for refurbishing them. In fact there would be enough left over for her to explore some other ideas she had.
Agreeing to his deal meant she could move forward with her plans. AlcoHaul could grow and she could stop turning down business every week. But that came at a hefty price—working closely with Drew. Could she do that?
“I just don’t know,” she admitted. “I’m not sure we can work together.”
“We always did fine together before.”
“We were dating, and then we broke up.”
“But we got along. Besides, I’m more mature now.”
“Oh please.”
“I’m saying I think we’d be good together.”
In business, she reminded herself. He was talking business and only business. If she wanted anything else, she was a complete fool. And she wasn’t ever going to be a fool for a man again—certainly not for Drew.
“I need to think about this,” she told him. “Give me a few days to consider the offer, and then we’ll talk.”
“Sure.” He looked at the print shop. “Is Wynn going to be okay with the trailers parked out here?”
He was manipulating her, she told herself. Trying to get her to offer to store them in the lot with her other trailer, knowing full well if she took that much ownership it would be harder to walk away.
“I’ll talk to her,” she said instead. “Wynn’s pretty easygoing and if these are parked on a side street, I doubt she’ll care.” She flashed him a smile. “I think your bigger concern is the police. I’m fairly sure there are zoning laws and you’re violating them.”
“I’ll take my chances.”
Why wouldn’t he? Given his family connections, he would likely get special consideration from most city officials, including the police.
She stood and picked up the rest of her sandwich. “Thanks for lunch. I’ll be in touch.”
“I’ll be waiting.”
He stood, as well. In the small trailer, that put them far too close together. She could see the flecks of gold in his dark irises and the faint scar by the corner of his mouth. He wasn’t the only one invading her space—the past was there as well, threatening to overwhelm her.
“Silver, I hope you’ll agree to this. You’ve done really well with your business. With a little help, I think you can take things to the next level.”
She wanted to ask if he ever had regrets about how things had ended. She wanted to know how long it had taken him to forget her and move on to the next woman and the next. She was desperate to find out if he ever thought of the child they’d made, then had given away.
What she said instead was, “Let me think about it.”
“You know where to find me.”
“I always have.”
* * *
DREW WATCHED CAREFULLY as Jasper stepped close. His friend moved as fast as a snake, striking out when Drew least expected it. He’d learned the hard way not to relax when Jasper spun away. More times than not, he came back harder, faster and ready to win.
The workout room was silent except for the sound of their breathing and the crack of the sticks connecting. Usually music pounded but not when they worked with fighting sticks. Concentration was required.
A couple of years ago, Jasper had wanted to use fighting sticks in one of his novels. He’d hired a trainer to spend a week in Happily Inc, teaching him. His friends had been invited to the intense classes, as had a few of the local fitness trainers. As far as Drew knew, the book was finished and sent off to the publisher, but Jasper continued to train with sticks because he liked it.
Drew’s cousin Cade sat on the mat, out of range of their combat, calling out advice, praise and slurs.
“Duck, Drew. Watch that left arm of his. Jasper, my mama hits harder than that. Oh, good one. Get ’em.”
Jasper advanced, forcing Drew to retreat. Drew sidestepped, faked a slash, then came in hard. Jasper slipped on the mat and went down on one knee just as the timer dinged.
“Well done,” Cade called as he scrambled to his feet. “We got off lucky today. Only a handful of bruises and no broken bones.”
The sticks were solid wood and struck hard. Getting hurt came with the territory. None of them had more than bruises, but they were often impressive and took a while to heal.
Jasper tossed Drew a towel, then took one for himself. They all walked to the stools in the corner. On the way, they grabbed water from the refrigerator against the wall.
Jasper’s house was high enough in the mountains to be surrounded by trees. In the summer, the temperature was a good twenty or thirty degrees cooler than in town, and every now and then there was winter snow.
His place had started as a two-room cabin maybe eighty years ago. It had been added onto at least a dozen times. The house was a hodgepodge of styles and materials. Some of the rooms were large and stately and others were oddly shaped and poorly constructed.
When Jasper had bought the house, he’d built an office and the workout room. The latter had the traditional array of equipment found in a home gym, along with a big open area and a wall of mirrors. From what Drew could tell, Jasper was a “method” writer. He liked to physically work through any action scenes. He often had friends over to block out fight scenes and a couple of summers ago, he’d spent six weeks getting familiar with a hunting bow.
When they were seated, Cade unscrewed the top on his water. “So, Drew. Buying trailers?”
Jasper raised his eyebrows. “You bought trailers?”
“They’re not for me.”