She’s not wrong. In my world, nothing is freely given. Everything comes with a price.
I break it down for her. “For the duration of the contract, you work directly with me. Not your assistant or a salesman. You.”
“So, it’s not a gift. Because if it were, there would be no strings.” She shakes the paper between us. “This is just another way for you to control me.” Her voice is quiet, and her words hit me like a gut punch.
She’s right. My first attempt to give her something I know she wants, and I fuck it up.
I snatch the contract out of her hand, pull a pen from my breast pocket, and take it over to the table. I scratch out the clause, initial it, and turn it back around.
“There.” I shove the agreement at her.
The line between Keira’s eyebrows deepens as her gaze darts between me and the document. “I don’t understand.”
My fingers crease the paper as my grip tightens on it. My jaw still tight, I reply with my final offer. “No strings and a healthy profit margin.”
I’m giving up all the leverage in this deal and receiving nothing from her in return, which feels beyond foreign.
Keira’s teeth tug her bottom lip into her mouth as she reaches out to take the contract from me. Her every movement screams hesitation.
Because she doesn’t fucking trust you, I remind myself.
“There has to be something else. You don’t do anything that’s not calculated, and you certainly aren’t out to do me any favors.”
I want to point out the fact that there’s an extra five hundred grand in her checking account and her bank debts are paid, but I bite back the retort.
“Is it so hard to believe that I did it because it’s a good deal for Seven Sinners, which means it’s good for you?”
Her stubborn chin lifts another inch. “So, you’re patronizing me?”
I count to ten, my temper flaring again. I swear, this woman lives to test me. I attempt to do something helpful and she throws it back in my face . . . but only because I attached the golden handcuffs to it first.
I release a breath, my temper ebbing once more. “No. I’m not patronizing you.”
Keira gives me a short nod before gripping the contract tightly enough to crease the pages. Her chin stays high. “Then I’ll let you know if I have any other revisions to request before I sign.”
This woman . . . She has to learn that she can only push me so far before I will throw down the rules.
“This doesn’t go to your lawyer. That’s non-negotiable.”
Mistrust flares in her gaze once more. She wants to fight me on that point, but manages to keep it in. Finally, she nods. “Okay. But I’d be a shitty CEO if I didn’t review it in detail before I sign, and that’s not how I run my business.”
Her statement knocks something loose in me, altering my perception of the woman standing before me. Keira Kilgore, the CEO. Not Keira Kilgore, the woman I plan to own.
Another piece of Titan’s advice enters my mind. Listen. Figure out what she wants. Give it to her.
I can admit when someone else is right, and he nailed it.
The contract is a start, but I’ve got a long way to go.