Not Quite Over You (Page 15)

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A conversation they’d had before. Jasper knew the argument. Vidar, his ongoing hero, was too one-dimensional. He needed a personal life. A deeper backstory. Less grunts and more conversation.

His argument that the character borrowed heavily from the Norse mythology—the son of Odin and a giantess named Grid, Vidar was silent and known for his physical strength and therefore was unchangeable—was wearing thin.

What he didn’t tell them and would barely admit to himself was his resistance wasn’t about the story. He knew they were right in their assessment of his story arc. The problem was him—he wasn’t sure he knew how to write a woman and he sure as hell couldn’t figure out how anyone fell in love.

“I’ll see what he can do,” he told them.

“Excellent.” Hank nodded. “Now Sara has some interesting ideas about next year’s tour.”

Sara smiled. “I hope you’re going to be excited. We want to do something different.”

Their idea of exciting and his had little in common, he thought, but nodded to show he was willing to listen.

Sara leaned toward him. “We want to send you to Europe. All your publishers there are clamoring to see you. England, France, Spain, Italy and of course Germany.”

“You’re huge in Germany,” Hank reminded him.

“We’re hoping for three weeks.” Her tone was cautious. “If you think you could manage that.”

He’d never been to Europe, he thought. Never thought he’d go. He was fairly sure his passport was out-of-date, but that was easily rectified.

“Make it four weeks so I can have a day or two off in each of the countries,” he told them. “I’d like to look around and see a few things.”

“Excellent.” Sara jotted on her pad of paper. “Now about the US tour. We really want to push the book and have you visit as many of the accounts as possible.” She smiled. “Before you glower at me, we’ve come up with what we think is the perfect solution.”

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She pulled a large, glossy brochure from under the pad and handed it to him. Jasper looked at the cover and started to laugh. “Seriously?”

The picture showed a luxury RV on a highway. He turned the page and saw a layout along with a list of amenities.

Sara’s expression was hopeful. “We’d take care of renting the trailer and booking your trailer sites or camping spaces or whatever they’re called. In the big cities like Chicago and St. Louis, you’d leave the trailer parked at the site and stay at a hotel for a couple of days. But most of the time you’d be on your own, driving from place to place. No escort, no airports, no rush. What do you think?”

“How long would you want me to be on tour?”

She worried her lower lip. “Three months?”

It was a long time to be gone, but it wasn’t as if he had a lot waiting for him at home. He thought briefly of Wynn, but theirs was a casual relationship—no promises, no strings. He’d left Happily Inc three days ago and he hadn’t heard from her. He would be gone another couple of weeks and they wouldn’t be in touch until he was home. Like he’d first thought—he was free to do what he wanted.

“Let’s do it,” he told Sara. “I’ll use the road time to get my last book in the series figured out, then go home and write it.”

Hank grinned. “Fantastic. Your sales are going to go through the roof.”

Jasper nodded as if that mattered to him as well, but in truth, the writing was a lot more about keeping the demons at bay and his ability to look himself in the mirror than about any royalty check. The writing had saved him when he’d thought nothing could. Without his stories, he wouldn’t be here today—of that he was sure.

CHAPTER FIVE

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DREW WATCHED SILVER sign the paperwork formalizing their new business relationship. He’d delivered the contract to her a couple of days ago and she’d had an attorney look everything over. This morning she’d texted to say she was ready to sign.

He’d arrived at her retail space shortly before noon. She’d been waiting, one of the display tables cleared, with two chairs on opposite sides. It wasn’t until she finished with the last page that he realized he’d half expected her to change her mind. Taking on a partner was a big deal. But she hadn’t and now they were partners.

He took his copy of the contract, then held out the keys for the new trailers. “Here you go.”

She grinned and took them. “I have so many plans I’m not sure where to start.”

“Show me.”

She walked to the small alcove she used as her office and returned with several sheets of paper and a large sketch pad. She set the latter in front of him, then moved her chair so they were sitting on the same side of the table.

“I thought we’d keep the remodel on the smaller trailer fairly simple,” she began. “It’s more mobile, given the size. We can take it out into the desert or up to Honeymoon Falls. It’s going to be all about using the space.”

She showed him the drawings she’d made of custom shelves and cabinets. A refrigerator was a must, but if they were going to be away from an electrical source, then they would be working off a portable generator.

“That means there’s a noise component,” she told him. “We’ll have to figure out how long we can have the generator turned off. During a wedding ceremony for sure, but then it would have to be on for the party, otherwise, nothing would stay cold.”

“What about solar panels?” he asked.

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She blinked at him. “What?”

“Maybe we could use solar panels to power everything. We’re in the desert—it’s rarely cloudy. As long as the panels were fully charged, I bet we could avoid using a generator.”

Her eyes widened. “That’s brilliant. Yes, let’s look into that!”

Her praise made him sit up a little straighter. Stupid, but true. He’d always like impressing Silver and apparently, that hadn’t changed.

They returned their attention to her drawings. She’d designed flip-up counters and plenty of storage for glasses, blenders and liquor.

“With this design, we could use the trailer for a lot more than weddings,” he said. “How about graduations, birthday celebrations and office parties? Things that happen other than on the weekend.”

“I was thinking about that, too. Having more trailers means having more staff. I won’t be able to simply call around to find out if my preferred people are available. I’m going to have to keep at least one or two on permanently.”

She didn’t look happy as she spoke.

“There’s money in the budget for two employees.”

“I know, but it’s a step further than I’ve ever gone.” She looked at him. “We can’t all be titans of industry.”

“It’s a small-town bank, Silver. I’m not exactly a titan.”

“You’re more titan-like than anyone I know.”

They were sitting close enough that he could see tiny smile lines by her eyes and the pale freckles on her nose. She wore her usual nonwork uniform of jeans and a tank top. A tattoo of a dragon curled over her left shoulder, the tail trailing toward her elbow. He knew there was a small rose on the inside of her right ankle and a ladybug by her right hip bone.

The dragon was new to him. After all this time, there were probably tats he hadn’t seen and he was curious about them. What other ink had she chosen to define and celebrate herself?

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