The menu at the café was nothing fancy—greasy breakfasts, sandwiches, cupcakes, muffins, and over-brewed coffee. Regulars stopped by at the same time every day for the same thing, and gramps always knew what everyone wanted.
By serving coffee, muffins, cupcakes, and sandwiches, I was, in some small way, carrying on his legacy. I always remembered what my regulars drank, and whenever I saw them get in line or walk toward the truck, I had their drinks waiting when they reached the window.
Gramps died fifteen years ago, a few months after my tenth birthday. My heart ached when I thought about him. I still missed his café and my hometown. I missed the sense of security and family being there with him gave me. But I left my hometown in my rearview mirror years ago, and I would never go back.
I could never go back.
The town gossips would have a field day. My mom would throw a fit.
I looked over at The James Group Headquarters and wondered if Evan was still there doing whatever nerdy gaming stuff he did.
If ever a man could convince me to get involved for longer than one night, it would be him. The way his blue eyes crinkled when he smiled made my insides all squishy, and his bulging biceps made me dream about what hid beneath his washed-out t-shirts and threadbare jeans. His wicked sense of humor and just-tumbled-out-of-bed look made me want to tumble into bed with him.
But I couldn’t let anyone in. Not even someone like Evan.
I teased him about playing video games all day, but I knew that was the last thing he had time for. He and his brothers owned one of the biggest online gaming platforms in the world.
They were all billionaires. For all I knew, they could all be trillionaires, but as successful and as wealthy as they were, they went into the office every day and busted their butts. They also headed up foundations for at-risk kids all over the world. They ran nonprofits and free after school programs in every state and were always the first to lend a hand to those in need.
I loved that they all had a strong work ethic and big hearts, but if I had their kind of money, I’d spend my days on white-sand beaches eating bonbons. But perhaps even that would become mundane after a while.
Evan and I had this flirty game thing going on. He would ask me out, and I would say no. He would ask me out again, and I would come up with an absurd excuse. He wasn’t serious about us getting together. How could he be? Why would a billionaire businessman want to date a food truck owner with multi-colored hair, numerous ear piercings, and a murky past? Not that he knew about my past, no one but the people from my hometown did.
Evan James was as clean-cut as they came. Slightly nerdy but a whole lot of hot. Everything about him left me swooning. Yes, swooning. Tough as old boots Willow Sanders swooning over a guy. The kids at the detention facility would laugh till they cried.
I always told Evan no because getting close to him would mean opening up and opening up wasn’t something I wanted to do. If we fell in love and if he found out the truth about me, I didn’t want to have to run away rather than face his disappointment and judgment.
My business had to come first. I’d fought tooth and nail to snag the space at the park. The vendor who’d been here before me had retired. You wouldn’t believe the underhanded, backstabbing tactics that had taken place to get the spot, but there was a good reason for that. A permit and a food vendor’s license for a space in the city park meant big bucks.
Instead of living from paycheck to paycheck, I now had money in my bank account rather than cobwebs. Not a lot, but enough to cover me if I ever had to pick up and leave.
I had an employee, and I had regular customers. I could perk up people’s day with a coffee and some sugary treats. For the first time in the longest time, I had roots, but I could easily rip up those roots if I needed to leave in a hurry. I could take my truck anywhere. I didn’t want that to happen, but a girl with a past like mine was always ready to run.
I drove to Kitchen Crew—a place for people like me who couldn’t afford to rent a commercial kitchen full time. I rented the space for four hours a day—two hours at night and two hours in the morning.
I set to work dumping out the dishwater from today, filling up my water tanks, and getting everything else prepped for tomorrow. I bought my cupcakes from a local bakery, and a deli supplied the sandwiches, but I made the muffins from scratch.