Tempted by a Tiger (Mate Me Book 3)

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Chapter 17

Evelyn stepped out of the car laughing at Xander, he’d just gotten off the phone with Roxie. Roxie wanted to know where he had placed Sophia’s blanket, and soon they were arguing over which blanket she was asking about.

“You two are too much sometimes,” she said and looked over to see Anderson with a frown on his face. She walked past him and into the gallery, she wanted to talk to him as little as possible. She wasn’t sure she wouldn’t fall apart if they spent too much time together.

“Evvy I need you!” Lauren cried as soon as she walked into the space. She looked around and realized several paintings were missing.

“What happened?” she demanded and Lauren pointed to the office. Evelyn hurried into the office and saw four picture frames leaning against the desk. Each one had a broken hanger on the back.

“How did this happen?” she asked kneeling to look at the paintings.

“I came in this morning and there they were all lying on the floor. The hangers all cut, and the paintings were there. The frames are damaged. What do we do?” Lauren asked, and Evelyn gnawed at her thumbnail.

“Okay here is what we do. I know a framing store a few blocks over. I will call them and see if they can quickly fix the frames. They don’t look too damaged, I think we can fix it. What I need from you is to keep Evan busy with Xander filling out paperwork so I can get this done. He is super temperamental and I know this will make him angry. While he is busy with Xander, I will try to figure out who cut the painting wires. Have one assistant check the rest of the paintings,” Evelyn ordered. She picked up her phone and dialed the framing place. She watched Lauren rush out of the room and closed the door behind her.

“Greenwich Framers.”

“Hi, this is Evelyn Tate from Dragon Lore Art Gallery. Several of our paintings fell from their hangers overnight. Is it possible to do a quick fix on the hangers and the corners of the frames?” she asked pulling up the framers on her computer.

“Depends on the amount of damage on the frames. We can replace the hangers in less than half an hour,” the woman on the phone replied.

“Can I send a photo of the damage to your email and you get back to me?” Evelyn asked.

“Of course. The email is on our website. I will get back to you the minute I get the email.”

“Perfect. Thank you.” Evelyn hung up and quickly took a picture of the frames, sending them to the email from their website. Sending a silent prayer to whoever might be listening and waited with bated breath. Sitting with her head in her hands, she willed the on-coming headache away. Just what she needed on show day, a disaster with the paintings.

“Evelyn?” Anderson’s voice came through the door and she jerked her head out of her hands.

“Do you need something?” she asked trying to keep her exhaustion from her voice.

“Lauren mentioned there was an issue and to see if I can help,” he explained walking over and sitting in a chair.

“Several of the paintings hangers were either cut or broke overnight. I have four paintings that need to be repaired before the show begins tonight,” she explained, pointing to the broken paintings.

“How are you going to get them fixed?” he asked looking at the broken paintings.

“I contacted Greenwich Framers and am waiting to hear back if they can fix them by tonight,” she answered as her email dinged. Opening the email she smiled.

Ms. Tate,

We can fix the frames. It will take about two hours.

-Yvette

“They can fix the frames. Now I have to get the frames to them,” she said and looked over the paintings. She would have to borrow a car and wrap the frames up to make sure the paintings didn’t get damaged.

“We can take them in my truck. Who does the packing?” Anderson asked standing up to pick up the frames.

“I can pack them. I know how to thanks to Roxie being picky about her own,” she answered and walked past him to get the materials.

“Stay here, I’ll go get it,” he offered and put his hand on her shoulder. Her body almost betrayed her and turned into his warm embrace. She wanted so badly to be in his arms breathing in his comforting smell. She missed him but wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of knowing.

“Thank you,” she whispered and watched him leave the office. Sitting down in her chair once more she sighed. This would be harder than she thought to work with Anderson all the time. In no time Anderson was back with the materials to pack the frames safely.

“You do one and I’ll watch, then I can help with the others,” Anderson said.

“You need two people to wrap them. They are bulky,” she replied, and he nodded.

“What do you need me to do?”

“Can you lift the frame and I’ll lay out the blanket to wrap it in?” she instructed. He lifted the frame with little effort and she laid the blanket out. He placed it down gently and she began wrapping it up. They did that for the other three quickly. Anderson picked up all four frames at once and Evelyn had to swallow the gasp in her throat.

“Let’s go,” he said and walked out to his car. Evelyn followed grabbing her purse and checking to see Xander had Evan busily filling out paperwork. She climbed into the familiar truck and tried hard not to let her emotions take over. The truck brought back all the memories of their dates.

“After the art show, can we find time to talk?” Anderson asked her once they were on their way, she looked at him. He seemed nervous, his hands gripping the steering wheel tightly.

“Why?”

“I have some things I want to talk to you about, but it will take longer than a quick drive over to the framers,” he replied.

“What is it about?” she asked.

“I want to talk about everything that happened between us,” he answered, reaching over to take one of her hands in his. Her heart sped up, but she let him hold her hand.

“I am going out of town for my brother Luke’s engagement. I won’t be home until late Sunday night. If this is going to be a long conversation, maybe we can meet for dinner on Monday?” she suggested.

“Congratulations to your brother,” he said squeezing her hand.

“Thanks. So will Monday work?”

“No. I have dinner with my dad that night. What about Tuesday?”

“Girls night with Roxie, Josie, and everyone. Wednesday?”

“Sparring at the gym. Thursday?”

“Pottery class. I am trying something new. Friday?”

“Friday works for me.”

“Friday night it is then. Where do you want to meet?” he asked, she smiled happy he was giving her control over where they meet.

“Leonardo’s?” she offered, they used to go there for date night all the time.

“Sure, say seven?” he replied parking in front of the framers.

“Perfect. Friday seven o’clock at Leonardo’s,” she confirmed and hopped out of the truck as a wave of nausea hit her. She would be glad when everything was over. She was tired of feeling this way.

“You okay?” Anderson asked, pulling her into his arms. Her body caved and let him comfort her, the nausea disappearing at his touch.

“Just stressed out. I will be glad when this is over and Evan Matthews is someone else’s problem,” she answered and pulled out of his arms. She couldn’t risk letting herself get used to him. He was just going to leave her again.

“Let’s get these frames fixed,” she said and walked over to the bed of the truck. Anderson followed and took the frames out. She walked into the framers and explained to Yvette she was the one who called. Yvette took the frames and told them the paintings would be finished in two hours. Anderson and Evelyn went back to the gallery and kept Evan busy until Anderson could go back and pick up the fixed paintings.

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