Page 11 of Lift

I know she’s standoffish, but I’ve got to at least try. I can’t let her get away, and I’m not going to let her go so easily. I’m staring at my phone, willing her to text me back, when it finally chimes.

Sloan: Maybe if you didn’t snore so loud I would have kept on sleeping ;)

She doesn’t turn me down right away, which is a good sign, but I need a confirmation.

Me: I don’t believe you. Have breakfast with me and let me make it up to you.

There’s a long moment before I can see she’s typing and her message finally comes back.

Sloan: I’m going to work all day. I might be able to do something later just depending on how it goes. Can I text you later?

It’s not an outright no, which I feel like might be progress. But it’s seven in the morning and I know she only had two or three hours of sleep at most. She shouldn’t be driving if she’s tired. I think for a second before I respond, and in the mean time she texts me again.

Sloan: Don’t feel like you owe me anything. I had fun last night, but we can leave it at that.

I shake my head because it’s like she’s trying to give me a way out.

Me: Pump your brakes, sweetheart. I’ve got a ton of things I need help with today and if you’re working then maybe we can work something out?

Sloan: Like what…

Me: Meet me at the coffee shop on 11th and Garden in fifteen minutes. I’ll get you a coffee as black as your soul and tell you what I need.

Sloan: See you there.

I take a quick shower and change clothes then grab my messenger bag. I race down to the coffee shop, and when I get there I see Sloan sitting by the window. She’s wearing a different sweatshirt and her hair is pulled up in the cap from yesterday. She smiles at me and I feel like she just made my whole day before it’s even begun.

When I sit down a waitress comes over and takes our order. I add on food with the coffee because I know Sloan hasn’t eaten since she left and I don’t think she’ll order if I tell her I’m paying. When she takes our order and walks away, I give Sloan a hard look.

“Number one, I don’t snore.”

She’s smug as she sips her coffee, and I wish I could lean forward and kiss her.

“Agree to disagree,” she says as she wraps her hands around the warm mug.

“Number two, don’t do that again.”

“Do what?” Her eyebrows pull together in confusion.

“Run out on me like that. You scared me.” I see a little color come to her cheeks and she nods ever so slightly.

“Sorry, I just didn’t want it to be awkward.” She shrugs, and for the first time I see vulnerability in her eyes. “Anyway, what do you need me to help you with?”

“I’m coming to the end of a really big project and there’s a really big celebration tomorrow night. I’d like some help getting ready for that, and I can’t be in two places at once.”

“Okay.” She sounds hesitant to agree so I keep talking.

“You’d be perfect for the job. I need someone who can go to places for me and pick stuff up and deliver it. I’m sure there is a company that can do it, but I need someone I can trust.”

She looks surprised as she stares at me. “You trust me?”

“I mean, not with a bottle of pepper spray, but with everything else, yeah.” She rolls her eyes and I’m happy to see her smirk. “Seriously, let me hire you for the day. I’ll pay you whatever you’d charge if you’d keep the meter running and you get to keep the tips anyone gives you for the deliveries.”

I see her doing the mental calculations and then she nods her head slightly. “Can we do cash so I don’t have to go through the company? They take a pretty good chunk when I use their program.”

“Absolutely.” I hate that she has to drive the car, but it’s honest work at least. And it’s a really nice car as well. I forgot to ask her about that, but it doesn’t seem like the right moment.

The waitress brings over our food and sets it down in front of us. I push a plate towards her and she tries to refuse before I nudge the plate closer. Finally she grabs a fork and we dig in.

I tell her the places I need her to go and what she needs to pick up. She takes notes and writes down street names as she goes. I can tell she’s really smart, skilled and organized and also knowledgeable about the city.

“You know this place like the back of your hand,” I say as she changes the order of the places I’ve given her based on the route she’s going to take.

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