The Fake Engagement Billionaire Cowboy – Book 2 – Sneak Peek

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The Fake Engagement Billionaire Cowboy

He needs a fiancée and he’s willing to pay.

Trevor Hart is in danger of losing his inheritance and that’s not an option. After visiting his friends in Two Rides, Montana, he’s determined to bring a girl back to the ranch and claim her as his own.

He grabs the first girl he passes outside of a bustling diner. Sassy and pretty, she’s more than he’s bargained for, but will his sudden proposal be able to win her over?

Will Jesse give up her in-demand position at the café? For a few million she might…

All she has to do is put up with Trevor for six weeks. Six weeks. But the more she’s around him, the more she realizes that her dreams to help others just might start with finding happiness herself.

Chapter 1

Jesse

If she didn’t get up and stretch, Jesse was going to end up with a crooked back. She needed her back to carry all the responsibilities she had.

Standing, Jesse pressed her hand into the small of her back. “Mom, I’m heading to work. Need me to drop off any orders?” Or pick any up? They were running low on the tailoring jobs, but Jesse didn’t dare say anything to her mom who was already stressed out beyond measure.

Her mom shrugged, wincing at the sudden movement and probable pain it had caused her. “I have the Dahlbergs’ order done, but they haven’t paid yet.” No pay meant no order. Everyone in town knew that, but they liked to wait until the last minute which wasn’t fair since Sally and Jesse needed the money.

Bad.

“Do you need anything from the store, Mom? I can stop there after work.” Jesse pulled her purse strap over her shoulder and paused at the door to wait for her mom’s answer. Sometimes it took Sally a little longer to think things through since one of her strokes. A little bit of patience went a long way.

After a minute, Sally smiled, her head wobbling side to side. “Ten thousand dollars?” Her quip would have been funnier had she not partially slurred one of the words. Her health was a huge part of why they both worried as much as they did.

Not one to miss out on sharing her mother’s humor, Jesse rolled her eyes and laughed. “Yeah, I’ll get right on that. Call me if you think of anything else that is a little more doable.”

Since her mom’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s as well as multiple strokes combined with a heart attack, Jesse worked hard to help make up the difference at home. No matter what she did, they were always behind. That left her feeling like she just couldn’t cut it.

The Volkswagen Rabbit she drove had to be from the ‘70s or ‘80s. Jesse wasn’t sure which, but the olive-green paint matched the color of their temperamental fridge and chipped oven. At least the Rabbit ran well and was reliable. That was more than Jesse could say for most of the pieces of her life.

She puttered the twenty minutes in to work and parked behind the diner on the back end of the gravel lot. Under a tree, she left her windows open to catch a breeze and maybe a few dollars if anyone wanted to drop cash for fun. Wouldn’t that be awesome, if it suddenly started raining money?

Jesse leaned back in her seat and stared up at the mini dots in the ceiling material above her head. She had a few minutes before she had to be inside and she just wanted to take a minute.

She needed the brief breaks more and more lately. A real vacation was more along the lines of what she needed. Except, let’s face it. A vacation from there would just cost Jesse money she didn’t have a hope in ever having. Reaching up, she rubbed at her temples. It didn’t matter where she was or what she was doing, the constant need for money followed her like a feral cat, always looking for scraps or a chance to jump up and bite her.

After another moment, Jesse climbed from the small car and swung her purse at her side as she walked toward the diner. Inside, she tucked her things into her cubby and tied her apron around her waist.

“Hey, girl. You’re early.” Tilly, the other waitress turned manager smiled at Jesse with her bright red lips. Tilly had only recently been promoted in the small-town diner by Jesse’s best-friend’s husband, Stryder. The man was a local grown boy turned billionaire who came home to find his childhood sweetheart – Melody.

He bought up a lot of businesses and gave raises to everyone in each business. Jesse had gotten such a raise, and as much gratitude as she had for the larger check, the money didn’t make much of a dent after the government took their chunk out of her pay. But she’d take any help she could get.

“Melody is here. She’s waiting for you on the side booth. We don’t have very many customers and Joanne is fine with the ones we do have.” Tilly winked at Jesse and nudged her with her hip. “Maybe she has a guy in mind for you. Wouldn’t that be somethin’?” She giggled. Everyone in town had started believing in the Cinderella concept since Stryder had returned with his money and his looks and his love for Melody.

As much as Jesse loved Melody, she didn’t have the time to think about falling for some guy – money or not. “Thanks, Tilly.” Jesse took a deep breath and put on a smile as she made her way to sit across from Melody. Hopefully, Melody didn’t have a plan to pair Jesse with anyone. Jesse needed to pay bills and help her mom. Anything else was just more work than she needed to deal with.

Melody’s smile was warm and sunny. When you had money, your cares must disappear. Jesse didn’t begrudge her friend her good fortune in reuniting with the love of her life or with the money he’d come with. She wanted Melody happier than anyone. She just didn’t want the pity that came with it.

“How are you? I was just hoping we could sit and talk for a minute. Stryder is going to be here in a bit with a friend of his and I didn’t want to sit alone.” Melody sipped her tea and waited for Jesse’s reply.

“I’m good. Just staying busy.” Jesse wrinkled her nose. “Stryder has friends? Rich friends? If he’s rich, I’d consider a hook-up. Maybe I should snag one. You seem to have done alright.” She reached her toe across and nudged Melody’s foot under the table, wiggling her eyebrows at her friend.

Tilly snorted as she passed and then paused. “Honey, if you’re looking for a man, I can hook you up with my cousin. He’s not sore on the eyes and he has a good job on the tracks. He’s supposed to make engineer this next month.” She stood beside the booth and leaned a hand on the puffed vinyl cushion behind Melody. Both women eyed Jesse like all she had to do was say yes and the engineer man was all hers.

“I don’t need a man for looks. I need money.” Jesse grinned. Her phone rang in the front pocket of her apron and she glanced at the clock above the door. Will was right on time with his call. She sighed, pulling the phone from her pocket. “Besides, why do I need anyone else? I have my longstanding relationship with collections. Excuse me. I’ll be right back.” Sliding from the booth, she tapped the shiny tabletop. “Don’t be matching me up with anyone while I’m gone.”

Long strides carried Jesse outside and she rounded the corner of the diner, out of view of the windows. Lifting the phone, she swiped to answer it, putting her customer service voice on. “Will, how are you this week?”

“Ms. Peterson, I’m fine, thank you. I’d be better, if you told me you had some money to send me.” Will was Jesse’s collections agent. They were on a first name basis and Jesse’s only real relationship with any guy. At least he was reliable and he didn’t demand more from her than she was willing to give. She knew she owed money. It wasn’t a secret. He worked with her and she appreciated that.

“Have you considered my suggestion to sell your place?” Will was persistent but he wasn’t unkind. He was one of the few bill collectors that seemed to genuinely want to help Jesse.

She shook her head, even though he couldn’t possibly see her. “No, selling the house isn’t an option. We have too many liens on it as you know. We won’t have anything left to pay for a new house let alone the rest of our debt, if it sold.” Jesse leaned against the wall of the building, the bricks scratching the back of her pants. It wasn’t the first time she’d had to think about the option to sell their house.

Selling would be ideal, if they didn’t owe so much and have so many liens on the place. They didn’t need all the land they had and they couldn’t do anything with the open fields or the ranching equipment with Jesse’s mom’s health like it was. Jesse couldn’t do it with all the work she was already doing. Her brother wasn’t any help, in fact, Jesse couldn’t remember the last time she’d spoken to him. Time was in even shorter supply than money.

As Will brought up more ideas to deal with the debt mounting around Jesse and Sally, Jesse closed her eyes and tried really hard to listen. Didn’t he know nothing else consumed her thoughts? That’s all Jesse thought about. She didn’t even sleep with the worry of debt hanging over her. Ever cent she owed burned her mind like a branding. Getting out of debt was the most important thing she could think of. Nothing else seemed to matter.

Where was her prince with the bags of money to save her? Maybe Melody would let Jesse borrow Stryder for a magical evening and he’d give her all kinds of money. She almost laughed out loud at the thought. She wasn’t attracted to Stryder, he was gorgeous, of course, but that wasn’t the only thing that mattered to Jesse, plus, he was her best-friend’s husband. She didn’t cross lines either.

No, Jesse didn’t need a man to fix her problems. She just needed to finish the call with Will and get back to work. Nothing else was going to bring in money.

Chapter 2

Trevor

In Seattle, Trevor usually had a driver. There in Montana as he drove through Missoula and grabbed the exit running north toward Two Rides, he was glad he hadn’t changed his plans and flown in. He needed the ride. He also needed the quiet.

The pressures of running a multi-billion-dollar corporation were getting to him. More than once he’d considered running away to the hunting cabin on the family land in Montana and only coming out once a year to get supplies. He could grow a gnarly beard and never have to deal with people like Candy who were only after his money.

He shook his head at the memory of Candy showing up at his door with a bottle of champagne. Trevor had been on his way out and he’d stopped at the sight. She’d pouted and told him Stryder said he’d be interested. Shaking his head, Trevor had apologized and said quite clearly, “I’m not interested in any relationships, Candy. It’s not you or anyone else. I just don’t have time for that.” She’d huffed off and Trevor swore he’d get Stryder back.

When he’d called to thank his friend, Stryder had laughed it off. Trevor didn’t blame him. They’d been avoiding women like Candy since college. Gold diggers. Every relationship had been about money. He couldn’t escape it.

The phone beside him beeped and he pressed the button on his Bluetooth ear piece. “Hello, Mother.” Trevor leaned his arm against the windowsill, casually holding the steering wheel steady as the rig tore up the quiet country road.

“Trevor, you’re avoiding my calls.” Pamela Hart’s clipped tones didn’t necessarily lack motherly love so much as motherly patience.

“If I was avoiding your calls, Mother, I wouldn’t have answered. I do need to make it fast, though, I’m not sure about reception on this road.” He honestly had been avoiding her calls and answering her emails. She was pushing him for something, and he wasn’t interested in finding out what it was.

“Fine. I’ll make it fast. Seattle really needs to do something about the sketchy reception. You’d think with a metropolis of that size there wouldn’t be any problems with their cell towers. I’ll make a call to the governor and see if they can do anything about it.” She was about to go off on one of her tangents and Trevor had to cut her off before she lost sight of why she’d called.

“Mother-“

“I know. Fast. Here’s the problem, Trevor.” Pamela switched into her business tone. Great. “At the rate you and your brother are going, I can see Brody getting everything.”

“What?” Trevor sputtered, veering to the side of the road and parking the truck. There were no other vehicles in sight and he didn’t want to risk losing reception on the call. Not at that point. Not when everything he worked for was on the line. “Why would Brody get more than his half? A few billion is a lot of money to give to one person, when you have more children than that and they work harder than the one. And you know I’m not just saying that.” Trevor clenched his jaw and sat forward, leaning on the steering wheel and staring at the majestic sight of craggy mountains and not really seeing them.

“I understand your concern, but Brody has at least been trying to find a partner. I need you married and happy at home with children on the way, Trevor, or all of this has been for nothing.” She at least sounded like she was trying to understand.

“For nothing?” Trevor blinked hard. Brody wasn’t trying to find someone. He was a gambling addict who just happened to be very good at it and he dated more women than the games he played at the tables.

“The point is, Trevor, he’s trying to show progress outside of the company. I don’t want you to only think of work. I know that’s what you do. I can see it. We don’t have all this money for you to waste your time trying to make more of it.” She softened her tone. “I’m sorry, dear. I just want you to be happy. I’m not trying to be controlling here, I’m just trying to get you some perspective.”

Controlling was her middle name. Trevor cleared his throat. “I am happy. I’m actually…” What did he say? He was happy being single? He didn’t want a family yet? He preferred work to dealing with all the money-grubbing socialites he dealt with in the money-centric world he lived in?

His mom wanted him to at least appear to be settled down. Fine. He could appear that way. “I wanted to surprise you, but now you’ve ruined it. I’m not in Seattle right now. I’m actually almost to Two Rides to see Stryder and Melody and then my fiancée and I are coming home for a visit.” He pressed his fingers to his eyes as he lied. Where was he going to find a fiancée in the next few hours? It wasn’t like he could borrow Melody. His mother had already met her.

“You are? When? I didn’t know anything about his. Who is she?” Pamela would be suspicious but hopefully, she’d be more excited.

“You’ll meet her when I get there. She’s excited, too. I’m hoping to get home later tonight. I’m about twenty minutes outside of Two Rides. Stryder and I have some business to figure out and then we’ll head that way.” He closed his eyes. Oh, he was going to burn for his sins. Lying was one thing, lying to his mother was something completely outside of the lines of what was okay.

“That is great. I have that new office in, you can work here and I’ll set up your engagement party. I’m thinking six weeks is enough time to get things planned. She can help me when she gets here with the planning. I can’t wait to see you both and meet her. Drive carefully. I need to go. It’s time for my staff meeting.” Pamela hung up without another word, leaving Trevor staring at the mountains in silence.

Pamela ran the family company from their home ranch between Two Rides and Taylor Falls. She wasn’t shy about being successful and she wasn’t rude about it either. If her children wanted to maintain the family finances, they would have to work for it and they knew it. Pamela’s expectations were few but the ones she had were high.

Without giving him a chance to talk her out of it, Pamela had just committed Trevor to an engagement party with a fiancée he was supposed to be driving with right then as well as move all of his work back to the family ranch for the next six weeks. Why had he lied? He could’ve just promised he’d try harder to settle down and then worked on finding someone. Now he was strapped with finding a fiancée in a few hours when he hadn’t been able to find one his whole life.

He rubbed his hand down his face and clenched his jaw. What was he doing? Why hadn’t he just told the truth? Was losing everything he worked for that important? The more he thought about it, the more he realized yes, it was. He’d be hanged before he’d let Brody have everything. He didn’t mind splitting things, but he wasn’t losing everything. Plus, what would he do with his life? That’s all he dedicated himself to – Hart Industries. That’s it. He’d given up a lot to further the wealth of the family. He’d be stupid to let it all go.

Trevor shifted into drive and pulled onto the road. He didn’t have far to go before he got into Two Rides. Once there, he was meeting Stryder at the diner in the center of town. He had to find a fiancée as well. Maybe Melody would have someone in mind. He was willing to pay – a lot.

The rest of the drive passed with no small amount of frustration. He’d promised he was bringing a fiancée and at that moment the closest thing he had to a fiancée in his truck was his phone. There’s no way it would pass for what he’d promised his mother. Trevor tapped his fingertips on the steering wheel impatiently. He had to find someone. He couldn’t even focus on the meeting he was going to have with Stryder.

The small town came into view and in seconds Trevor parallel parked on the road in front of the refurbished restaurant – Dotty’s Diner. He’d been to Two Rides when Stryder had first married Melody and the town had been under renovations. Now that things were starting to come together, the buildings had a cleaner, fresher appearance and the diner was no exception.

Climbing from his rig, Trevor distractedly removed his Bluetooth earpiece and tossed it into the cupholder in the center console beside his phone. He didn’t want to hear from his mother or anyone else for the next hour or so. He really just wanted to see Stryder and see what he could do about securing a fiancée – no matter how temporary it would be. He needed to find a woman.

Closing the truck door, Trevor studied Main Street. Walking toward the front doors of the restaurant, he narrowed his eyes, still scanning the street. A woman. He just needed one. She didn’t have to be a model or anyone else from his world. In fact, she’d probably be easier to –

“Oomph.” Trevor reached out and steadied the person he’d just run into.

A dark-haired petite woman with bright green eyes jerked from his hold, a phone pressed to her ear. She shot him an irritated glance and turned to the side. “Sorry, I didn’t hear that last part. Right. Okay. Well, I’ll do my best, but I really am trying to pay everything like I said I would. Yeah, I’ll talk to you next week. Thanks.” She hung up and tossed a glance at Trevor. “Sorry about that. I wasn’t watching where I was standing.” There was something he couldn’t look away from in the heart shape of her face and the naturally thick lashes framing her eyes. Was she being sarcastic or was she being apologetic?

Trevor didn’t care if she was being any of those things. She looked at him like he was a person instead of a wallet. She was even turning her back on him. There was only one way to fix that. Trevor reached out and carefully wrapped his fingers around her upper arm. “Marry me.”

The woman blinked at him over her shoulder and then narrowed her eyes. “Are you drunk?” She glanced around, pulling from his hold and then plopped a hand on her hip. “Am I on one of those reality shows?” The movement brought Trevor’s gaze down and he took in the appearance of the polka-dotted apron and her curvy figure. She’d do nicely. He could pretend to have feelings for her. She was definitely attractive and her spunk made him grin. He liked feistiness in a beautiful woman.

He blinked and held out a hand. “No, I’m serious. You don’t have to actually marry me. I’ll pay you just to come with me and convince my mom and family that we’re engaged. We can break it off because we’re too different and go our separate ways. None the worse for wear.” The more Trevor talked the more the plan came together. It could work. It could seriously work. And the woman standing before him whose nametag read Jesse was exactly his type. Convincing his family wouldn’t be hard at all.

If he’d been in an old movie, he would have rubbed his hands together and cackled in glee.

“Are you kidding me? There’s not enough money in the world for me to be a prostitute.” Jesse folded her arms and glared at him. “In fact, I’m tempted to hire the biggest man I can find and pay him to beat some sense into you. I have a feeling your daddy didn’t do his job.” Her sass was unparalleled and Trevor couldn’t deny the tug he felt toward her. She would do nicely. If only she would cooperate.

Trevor shook his head. This was turning out harder than he’d thought it would be. Something his dad had taught him had been that nothing was worth having, if it was easy. He ratcheted up the charm. “No. It’s not like that. I really just need to pass someone off as my fiancée for a bit.” Her expression didn’t lose any of the suspicion. He had to sweeten the deal. Trevor rushed on. “Would you do it for a million dollars?”

Jesse’s lips parted and she stared at him. Satisfaction released the anxiety in Trevor’s gut. He was going to be able to pull this off. Jesse didn’t know it, but she was about to become very rich.

Chapter 3

Jesse

A million dollars? Who had that kind of cash to throw around? Certainly not men walking around Two Rides.

Recovering from her initial shock, Jesse stepped back, disgust curling her lip. “Are you some kind of jerk or something? Who walks around promising a million dollars to women, if they’ll lie?” It didn’t matter how attractive she found him, the guy was definitely crazy.

Pssh. A million dollars. As if.

“Um, me?” The man reached up and adjusted his worn Stetson. He wasn’t dressed like he had money with faded jeans which hugged his thighs a little too well and a button up red and blue plaid shirt. He’d rolled the sleeves comfortably up to the midway point on his forearms. Was it crazy of Jesse to notice the line of muscle on his arms? He had the slightest dark stubble on his cheeks which enhanced a delicious angle to his jaw.

His good looks only irritated Jesse more. She pointed her finger at his chest, narrowing her eyes almost to a squint. “Look here, cowboy. I’m not looking to fall in love or even have some guy eavesdrop on my conversation and think he can try to sweep me off my feet with talk about money. Who do you think I am?” She wasn’t a hussy and she didn’t appreciate Mr. No-Name treating her like one. Aggravated, she pushed her phone into the pocket of her apron and turned to go back inside.

Maybe she was a little bit irritated in the fact that he had come at just the right time for her to hear it. Her heart had been a little too excited and she wanted to smack him for getting her hopes up – even if only for a split second. She couldn’t handle a crash like that. Not when too much rode on her actions.

“Hey, honey, I don’t have time for gold digging women, but I have plenty of money. I’m not looking for love. I’m looking for someone to pretend for a little bit. We’re not actually getting married. It’s not lying to act or to use your imagination. You can verify my funds, if that’s what you’re worried about.” His slow drawl had a clipped professional tone at the end of his words like he wasn’t joking around.

He spoke as if he offered millions to women all the time. Jesse turned back to him, her mouth partially open. A slight breeze brought with it the scent of man wrapped in a cologne dripping with money. She snapped her lips together and narrowed her eyes. “Okay, if you’ve got the money to toss around, let’s go for five million, then. Why stop at one?” She smirked at him. The nerve. If she was going to be accused of being a gold digger, or at the very least treated like one, she was going to earn it.

The cowboy hooked his thumbs into his pockets and tilted his head back with a glint of respect in his eye. “If you convince her that we’re getting married or in love or whatever, I’ll give you one million dollars – American. If that’s not enough money, I’ll find someone else who can take on the task.” The look in his eye though suggested he knew she would take it.

Jesse folded her arms and stared at him, trying to take his measure. She was unsure how the sight of a cowboy who drove a very expensive Ford truck was standing there offering her money. It was too good to be true, which most likely meant it was. Honestly, though, she was just desperate enough to take it to the next level. She had to see just how full of it he was.

“How do we verify the funds? How long is it going to take and how much do I get for a down payment?” Jesse wasn’t turning away from a million dollars – assuming it was even real. Her suspended belief had to be assuaged. He could be a crazy person out to con unsuspecting women. Well, that was two different types of men, but all of it came down to her losing something.

He reached out a strong shaped hand. “I’m Trevor Hart, by the way.” His drawl had a pleasing huskiness to it that was going to drive Jesse mad – and not in a bad way. If he didn’t calm down on his masculinity, she’d have to charge him more for being distracting.

His name jolted through her chest. She pressed her lips together and took a deep breath. Great. She’d just sat there and possibly insulted Stryder’s friend. “Trevor Hart, as in Stryder Flint’s friend?”

“As in Stryder Flint’s friend and business partner, yes. We can verify my funds at your bank. I’ll pull out cash for an advance that you keep even if we don’t succeed. A guarantee, how’s that sound? We can use the full six weeks to make sure this sticks. She wants to throw an engagement party. You can take a break from real life and I’ll work over the next month and a half. The night of the engagement party, we can fight and ‘break up’.” He rubbed his hands together, nodding gleefully. The shadow of his hat crossed his face but couldn’t hide the white of his teeth. “Yeah, that will be perfect. Do you think that sounds okay?”

“I have to go to your place for six weeks?” Jesse chewed on the soft skin of her cheek. If he was Stryder’s friend, he most likely had the money and Jesse could verify things with Melody.

But Jesse’s mom. Jesse couldn’t just leave her that long without someone to help her. She furrowed her brow. “I… I really want to. I know Melody Flint, she’s my best-friend, so I know you wouldn’t be allowed to screw me over, but…” She glanced up at him regretfully. “I can’t leave my mom that long. She has Parkinson’s and I’m the only help she has. You might have to get someone else.” Why? Why was she unable to even grab the opportunities that life threw at her? If it was legitimate, she could use that money to pay off all their debt and get help for her mom. Hog tie it all!

No matter how much money it was, taking care of her mom was of utmost importance. Tears pricked Jesse’s eyes and she straightened her shoulders. “Thank you. I really wish I could, but I can’t.” She nodded tightly, determined not to cry in front of him. He’d grab someone else and make that girl a rich woman. Trevor was a good looking guy. It’s not like it would be hard to pretend to be attracted to him.

She turned away from him. She couldn’t be caught crying. She had to maintain some sense of pride. Facing the life of waitressing she had ahead of her seemed even more dull since that opportunity had dropped in her lap. Now, it was yanked away and there was nothing she could do about it.

Trevor reached out and softly caught her arm. His touch did things to her skin and she ignored the tingling. His voice grew huskier and he pulled her toward him. “Hey, it’s okay. Let’s figure something out. We’ve already made it past the convincing you stage. I’m not sure how many more women I’m going to run into that I find attractive and willing to listen.” He chuckled, shaking his head.

Rubbing his thumb distractedly up and down her arm, he stared toward the parking lot beside the restaurant for a moment, then he looked at her. “I can hire someone to stay with your mom. If you know someone that you’d prefer, we can hire them. If not, I know a couple people in the area who would do a great job.” He stared down into her eyes, trapping her with his hypnotic blue eyes. “Come on, Jesse. We can make this work. I need this to work. Name the number of your down payment – it’s like a bonus and not part of the million.” His eyes twinkled as if he knew what his touch and his nearness were doing to Jesse’s insides.

If she went with him, she might not have too hard a time convincing anyone she was head over heels in love with him. His touch was driving her crazy and she didn’t even know him. She reached up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. She needed to focus. Think. Come on, Jesse. “Um, yeah, okay. Mrs. Wilde is a widow and she could probably use the work.”

The older woman lived down the road from Jesse and her mom and she often came down to see if Pamela needed help with any of the sewing orders to help make ends meet. They were good friends and the job would be a perfect boon for the older woman.

“Okay, let’s go set that up. What’s the number you want for the down payment?” He ducked his head to catch her gaze which she kept dropping to the ground. She couldn’t believe she was talking about actually making a million dollars. The option wasn’t one she’d ever considered. The numbers even seemed out of her reach and unrealistic.

The last thing her mom had said to her that morning came to mind. Jesse blurted out, “Ten thousand.” Was that too much? Would he say the deal was off? She chewed on her lower lip nervously. Maybe she should yell out that she’d take a hundred, as long as the million was guaranteed.

Without flinching, he chuckled. “Honestly, I thought for sure you were going to say four million. Ten thousand is more than doable. Are you good to get things set up right now, or do you need some time to get work squared away?” He waved his hand to remind her of the apron she was wearing. “I do need to get there this afternoon or evening. It’s only about an hour away, but it does have to be today.”

Swallowing her nerves, Jesse nodded hurriedly. She didn’t care what she needed to do, she’d make sure she had the time off work. Thankfully, she knew the owner’s wife. “I need to go in and finish this shift. It’s a split, so I should be done after the lunch rush.” Was she really talking about waitressing when she was about to go home with ten grand? She blinked as if to anchor herself back to earth. What was her mom going to say!

“That works. I need to meet with Stryder anyway. What’s your address? I’ll meet you after your shift so you can pack what you need and we can make sure everything is set up with the woman. Ask her what she needs for compensation beforehand, if you will.” He reached out his hand again and Jesse would never admit she was nervous to touch him.

But she reached out and shook his hand, ignoring the increased humming in her skin where they touched.

She turned as if in a daze. She hadn’t given him her address, but she didn’t want him to see her house either. Maybe once she got her wits back around her, she could ask him to just meet her back at the diner after she went home and packed some things. That’d be easy enough. She could stop at Mrs. Wilde’s house and then go on home to finalize everything. That shouldn’t be too much of an issue.

If Mrs. Wilde worked out, Jesse could get Tilly to give her the time off. Jesse might actually be in the position to really make a difference at home for her mom’s life. Nothing was as important as all that.

Even the attraction she felt toward Trevor. It’d be so much easier, if she didn’t have the blue of his eyes branded in her mind.

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