“And in private?” Aspen asks.
I try not to laugh. Because I know exactly what we can do in private. We’ve already done it.
“In private you don’t have to be his girlfriend, but you can’t be anyone else’s either. You have to keep up appearances.”
Aspen and Sebastian whisper to each other and then she leafs through the contract in silence.
She looks up in surprise. “I have to move in with him in a few months?”
“It’s the normal progression of a modern relationship,” Sarah says. “Mr. Mills has plenty of room at his townhouse to accommodate you.”
Aspen looks ready to argue the point. But Sebastian puts a hand on her arm. “Penny, it could be the perfect solution. We’ll be without a place in three months anyway. It’s actually pretty good timing.”
“Penny?” I ask, amused at his nickname for her.
He shrugs. “It’s better than calling her ‘Ass,’ don’t you think?”
I laugh. “Yes, that it is. But I’m not a fan of nicknames.”
“But you have a great one. They call him Speed Limit,” he explains to Aspen. “Because he’s so fast and his number is fifty-five.”
Aspen doesn’t seem to care in the least about what her roommate is telling her. She continues perusing the contract. “But what about you?” she asks Sebastian. “Where will you live?”
“Remember what you said about my meeting people at training? I’m sure I’ll find other options. Don’t worry about me.”
Aspen looks at the contract thoughtfully. “Would I get my own bedroom?” she asks.
Sarah looks at me and I shrug.
“Yes,” Sarah says. “If that’s what you want.”
“Can we add that to the contract?”
“Of course,” Sarah says, making a note on her legal pad.
I’m trying not to smile and pump my fist. This is going to happen. I can see it in Aspen’s face.
“Can we add other things to the contract?” Aspen asks.
“Such as?” Sarah says.
Aspen looks at her friend. “Such as Bass can come stay at Sawyer’s place, too, if he doesn’t have anywhere to go after they demo our building.”
“Penny,” he says, chiding her.
“I’m not about to let you be homeless,” she tells him.
“I’m not sure that would be good for appearances’ sake,” Sarah says. “It’s tabloid fodder for sure. But how about we add a clause stating that Mr. Mills will help Mr. Briggs find suitable accommodations should the need arise? Would that be acceptable to everyone?”
Sarah looks at me and I nod. Then she looks at Aspen, who seems happy with the compromise.
“Is there anything else you might like to add?” Sarah asks her.
Aspen looks at me and blushes. Then she looks back at Sarah. “I’m not having sex with him. I want it clearly stated in the contract that it’s not my obligation to do so.”
“You’re kidding.” I narrow my eyebrows. “We’re consenting adults.”
“I wouldn’t really be consenting if you’re paying me, now would I?” she says, looking at me sternly. “I’m nobody’s whore.”
I sit in stunned silence, wondering just who this girl is. Nobody has ever said they don’t want to have sex with me. Especially someone I’m handing myself to on a silver fucking platter.
“You said so yourself that you don’t do girlfriends, Sawyer. You said it the other night. So why argue the point?”
Sarah looks at me with raised brows.
“Fine,” I grumble.
“Is that all?” Sarah asks.
“No. He can’t have sex either. I’m not a whore, but I’m also nobody’s fool. I won’t be made to look like one if it gets out that he’s sleeping around on me.”
“Now I know you must be joking,” I say. “Do you even know how long the season is? That’s a ridiculous request.”
Sebastian holds up the contract. “No more ridiculous than you paying Aspen to be your eye candy, and forcing her to move in with you. And not allowing her, or anyone, to even talk about anything.”
“But six fucking months?” I muse aloud.
“Seven if you make the playoffs,” Sebastian says.
I look around at the three pairs of eyes staring at me. Then I look down at the contract knowing I don’t have a choice.
“Write it in,” I tell Sarah reluctantly.
“And if you screw up and this thing blows up in your face, I still get all the money,” Aspen says.
I look at Sarah.
“It’s only fair,” she says. “Because if Aspen or Sebastian violate the NDA, she gets nothing.”
I blow out a long breath. “Fine.”
“And when it’s over,” Aspen says, “I want it known that I left you, not the other way around. You can make up whatever story you want as long as it doesn’t make me out to be a bitch or a slut.”
I look at Aspen. “You drive one hell of a hard bargain.”
Sarah interrupts the staring contest I’m having with Aspen. “You are aware that you’ll have to participate in public displays of affection with Mr. Mills, aren’t you?”
Aspen nods her head. “Yeah, I get that. But nothing under the clothing.”
“Kissing will be required,” Sarah says.
“I figured,” Aspen replies, looking at me with pink cheeks.
I can’t help but smile, because I know she’s thinking about the kissing we did in the alley. She doesn’t remember it, but we did a hell of a lot more kissing than that. She’s an excellent kisser.
“So are we in agreement here?” Sarah asks. “Or do you want to have a lawyer look it over, Miss Andrews?”
Aspen leafs through the pages again. “Do I really have to travel to some of his away games? I have school.”
“When are you out of school?” Sarah asks.
“Are you okay going to some out-of-town games after that? Say twice a month for three days each?” Sarah looks at me to make sure I’m okay with that. I nod. “That is six weeks away, probably about the time you’d start doing those sorts of things as his girlfriend.”
“I guess I could do that,” Aspen says. “Until grad school starts up in August.”
I see her eyes light up for the first time today when she mentions grad school. That’s how I know for sure she’s not some chick just doing this to be seen with me. She’s the genuine deal. She’s not looking for an easy ride or a quick fix. She has an agenda. One I can help her achieve.
“Maybe just an occasional weekend away game after that?” Sarah asks. “People will understand you have commitments.”
“That would be okay, as long as it doesn’t interfere with a school performance.”
“Okay, then, it looks like we might have a deal?” Sarah says.
Aspen and Sebastian whisper to each other for a minute and then they both page through the contract again.
“As long as you add everything we discussed, I’ll sign it. It seems pretty straight forward.”
“Good,” Sarah says. “And when you sign the final contract, you and Mr. Briggs will be asked to sign an additional NDA that prohibits you from talking to anyone about the terms of the contract or the details of the arrangement both now and after the arrangement ends. You’ve already signed the NDA that forbids you to talk about this meeting.”
Sebastian looks confused. “I can’t tell anyone I know you?”
I shake my head. “No, you can. You’re Aspen’s friend, so it will make sense that you know me. I’m sure we might even get to hang out. Do you have a girlfriend?”
His eyes momentarily flash to Aspen. “Not at the moment.”
“That’s probably for the best,” Sarah says. “You won’t have to keep anything from a significant other.”
Aspen looks thoughtfully at her roommate. Then she turns to me. “You know, Bass is being put into a position here. He’ll have to lie about everything. He didn’t sign up for this.”
Sarah sighs and raises her brows. “You feel he should be compensated?” she asks Aspen.
“Penny, no. That’s ridiculous,” Sebastian says. “You’re making enough already.”
“How about a season ticket – club seats?” I say. “For each of you.”
Sebastian looks at Aspen like his head will explode if she doesn’t accept.
She rolls her eyes. “I guess that’s a yes.”
“Good,” Sarah says. “Because I’m sure you saw on page three that you’re required to make a lot of appearances at home games.”
“Won’t you want her sitting with the other players’ wives and girlfriends?” Sebastian asks.
“It might be best if she didn’t,” Sarah explains. “It will avoid unnecessary questions.”
“But if I don’t sit with them, won’t it look like I think I’m too good for them?”
She has a good point. Women can be super catty.
“We’ll say you already had other tickets. And my two best friends on the team have wives who will take you under their wings, I’m sure of it. They can keep their mouths shut. They won’t let the other women be mean to you.”
“Sawyer,” Sarah, scolds me. “The fewer people who know about this, the better. If this gets out, it will be worse for you than what you were dealing with before.”
I shake my head. “I’m not worried about them saying a thing. I’d bet my life on it.”
“You still haven’t said why you’re even doing this,” Aspen says. “Did you have a bad breakup or something? Are you trying to get someone back by making them jealous?”
“Hardly,” Sebastian snorts. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen him with the same woman twice. I’ll bet I can tell you exactly why he needs you, Penny. The higher-ups in the Hawks organization are getting tired of him being on the front page of every tabloid magazine with a different woman. They are tired of him parading around like the playboy of baseball. They’re sick of having to get their PR person to explain all his indiscretions. I’m guessing there have even been a few lawsuits and some pretty pissed off husbands in the mix, too. Am I right?”