Tempted by a Tiger (Mate Me Book 3)

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Chapter 9

Evelyn couldn’t believe she bumped into Anderson at the airport. The second his body touched hers, she went into hyper-drive. Everything tingled and her pussy dripped with her desire for the man. Something else came over her too, a sense of being home and where she belonged. That had been a new feeling; she’d never had that before. Today, she would pick up Evan Matthews and getting him settled at the Clove Leaf Inn with Caroline. Thinking about what she’d researched, she knew Evan Matthews was a vegan, he never touched alcohol, he needed a quiet place to work with a view of nature. He did best with less is more approach to getting a new piece done. His work was being shipped across the U.S. as they spoke. Her best man Lincoln was driving the truck with his trusted partner Davis. The two were the best at packing the artwork the way Roxie liked it.

Evelyn remembered the day of Roxie’s show almost a year ago, she’d been demanding with how her art would be packed and shipped out to those who bought it. She’d told her,

“What is the point of selling it if it doesn’t get to the buyer in the condition they saw it in?” Evelyn had all of her people in shipping learn from Roxie until they were perfect at packing the art to stop any damage happening. She waited by the gate he was said to be coming through, she’d checked the arrival board and knew his plane would land in five minutes. This gave her time to have a cold sweet tea ready along with a snack of peanut butter crackers. She’d received his list of demands yesterday in her email and she spent her time after her date with Preston getting ready.

Thinking back on her date, she smiled. Preston had been a complete gentleman, and they only exchanged a few small kisses. She had called Roxie after the date and told her everything. Roxie had been ecstatic and told her to bring him with her to her brother’s engagement party. She was thinking about bring Preston, but didn’t want to get her mom’s hopes up. Preston was a sweet guy, but he didn’t make her body sing the way Anderson did. Just getting a whiff of Anderson had sent her hormones into overdrive, something she’d not expected.

“Are you Evelyn Tate?” a deep voice asked. She looked up to see Evan Matthews standing with his carryon bag. He had dark brown hair and hazel eyes, to many she would bet he was attractive, to her he was a client.

“Yes. Welcome to White Valley, Mr. Matthews. We will drive about an hour to get to the town. I have your sweet tea and crackers ready.” She smiled at him, he gave her a deadpan look and walked past her.

“Do you need to stop at baggage claim?” she asked, unperturbed by his lack of response.

“Yes.” He walked toward the baggage claim area and she followed pocketing the crackers she’d had in her hand.

“Which bag is yours?” she asked as a whole load of bags came down on the carousel.

“It is neon orange. I chose the obnoxious color so I could spot it the minute it comes out. I hate being made to wait,” he replied. Evelyn watched as bag after bag came out until a neon orange bag came down the ramp. She stepped forward and grabbed the bag placing it on its wheels.

“Ready?” she asked him, he gave her a stiff nod, but she could tell it impressed him. Mentally patting herself on the back, she led the way out of the airport and into the parking lot. She had borrowed one of Roxie and Xander’s large SUVs after reading a report about how Evan Matthews hated small cramped cars. Her little Toyota hatchback would have given the man a heart attack. She unlocked the car and opened the trunk to place his bags in the back. She set the tea and crackers in the cup holder and watched as Evan placed himself in the back seat.

“Would you like a snack?” she offered again. She didn’t want to come across as pushy, but the SUV made her nervous to drive and she didn’t want to be focused on anything but getting home safely.

“Yes.” He held out his hand, and she passed back the snack she had brought for him. Settling in the driver’s seat, she waited for him to buckle and then started the car.

“Are you just the assistant or am I to deal with you the whole time?” Evan asked as she pulled out onto the main highway.

“I am the manager, so yes.” She glimpsed the grimace on his face and immediately knew he would be difficult because she was a woman.

“I see,” he replied.

“I wanted to tell you how much I enjoy your art. I have a print up in my home of your Griffin in the Sky. The original spoke to me on a whole other level, but it had been purchased before I could,” she added trying to draw him into talking about himself.

“That was a good one. I had several bids on the piece itself. Any others you like?” he asked.

“Your centaur collection was amazing. I loved the change of the seasons,” she replied, maintaining a safe speed. Driving was not something she enjoyed, not after a car accident from her time in college. She always stayed in the right hand lane and went at a reasonable speed.

“I am thinking of making another collection on female centaurs with their male lovers,” he commented.

“I look forward to seeing what you come up with. I have always loved fantasy creatures and your work is the best,” she complimented him and could tell he had relaxed.

“Thank you,” he replied, and they fell into a comfortable silence as she drove to White Valley. An hour later, she pulled into the driveway of the Clover Leaf Inn.

“This is where you will be staying. The place is quiet and has a private space for you to paint. The owner is Caroline Jefferson,” she explained, turning off the car and looking back at Evan.

“It looks quaint. Will I really be able to be creative here?” he asked with a sniff. She bit her lip and continued,

“Roxie comes out here to paint from time to time. She has found it very relaxing.”

“I see and Roxie Austin is the landscape artist?” Evan asked.

“Yes. Her husband owns Dragon Lore Gallery,” she replied stepping out of the car and opening the back door to help him out.

“Hmm, I’ll be the judge of that,” he answered and walked toward the front porch. Evelyn quickly gathered his things and followed to the porch. Thankfully, Caroline and her son Liam were waiting on the porch.

“Welcome to Clover Leaf Inn, Mr. Matthews,” Caroline said with a bright smile. She had dark blond hair and dove gray eyes. Her son Liam had dark brown hair and her eyes, he stood next to him mother with a smile on his face. Evelyn remembered meeting them when she came for the Mate Me event.

“Will he be noisy?” Evan asked, looking down at Liam.

“No. He is a very quiet boy,” Caroline explained. Evan nodded and swept past them into the inn. Evelyn walked up the drive and gave Caroline a wry smile.

“He is going to be fun,” Caroline commented under her breath, and Evelyn nodded.

“He is slated to be here for two weeks,” she explained.

“We can manage for two weeks, isn’t that right Liam?” she asked her son. Liam nodded and put a finger to his lips. Evelyn found that odd but didn’t comment. Every little boy she’d met was noisy and loved to run around and cause chaos.

“Liam doesn’t speak much. He was such a babbling baby and then his father died. After Tristan died, Liam went silent. It has taken me two years just to get him to whisper to me,” she explained.

“I am sorry for your loss,” Evelyn said, patting her hand.

“Thank you. It has been hard, but taking on this place has given me a new life. Plus, my sister Georgia lives in D.C. so I am close to her and my sister Virginia is in Maryland,” Caroline explained.

“My brothers both moved away. I am actually going to an engagement party for my brother Luke in two weeks,” she replied.

“Congratulations. Now, let’s deal with your artist,” Caroline answered, and the two women walked inside to get her prickly artist settled.

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