So this doesn’t really fit with everything else, is all… as in I like it, and I forget exactly, but I think the way this got sorted out was kind of less confrontational, so this part never really had a place to go. But from somewhere in the middle, when they stop being just about Evie being paid, and while it turns into a relationship.
“Hey,” Natalie said after a few minutes. “Come and sit down.”
Evie did, on the bed. Natalie seemed agitated, and Evie wondered what was up.
“I know we said we’d never talk about the money again,” Natalie said. “But, well, I wanted to give you a second chance. In case you wanted to change your mind.”
Evie shrugged. “Okay. I mean, I don’t, but okay, that’s fine.”
“Please don’t be offended because I brought this up again.”
“You said you would be.”
“If it got mixed up with everything else, yep. But if you’re just going to ask me one last time and then let it go forever…”
“That would be okay?”
“That’s be kind of sweet,” Evie said. “I suppose. If you were just making sure I hadn’t changed my mind. If that was all.”
“I am. It is.”
“Then okay,” Evie said. “Go on.”
Natalie went to her dresser and opened a drawer. She took out an envelope, a thick envelope, and handed it to Evie. Evie looked inside, with a fairly good idea of what she’d see. She saw what she expected.
The envelope was full of money.
It was full of hundred dollar notes, and there were a lot of them. A lot more than Evie had been expecting, even given the weight in her hand. She had no idea how heavy money actually was, she supposed.
“Oh fuck,” Evie said.
“That’s for you.”
“I guessed, but… I’m a little scared by what else you might want me to do for that much money.”
“What?” Natalie said. “Nothing else. What do you mean?”
Evie looked at her.
“Why, what did you…?” Natalie said.
“There’s an envelope full of money… A huge envelope…”
“Well, yes. Which I got out the bank a while ago, in case you wanted it.”
“In case I wanted it?”
“Yes. From when we were talking about that.”
“Oh,” Evie said. Yes. How much is there here?”
“Ten thousand dollars. Like we talked about.”
“You’re worth that much to me. Far more that that, actually, but that’s what we talked about. So keep it. It was for you anyway, so you may as well have it.”
“It’s too much.”
“It isn’t, Evie. It really isn’t. If you want more I’ll give you more. How much do you need?”
“I don’t need any.”
“But you said about paying your rent. That you have trouble sometimes making enough to cover it.”
Evie looked at the money. “Not that much trouble.”
“There must be other things you’d like to get.”
Evie nodded again, thinking about clothes and a new car and paying all her rent in one go for a whole year.
“No,” she said. “I can’t. I really can’t.”
“Just take it anyway. It might be useful one day.”
Evie slid the bundle of banknotes out of the envelope, and slid her fingers across them. They felt smooth and slightly slippery, like new money straight from a bank machine. Not creased and crumpled like money she had usually was.
“No,” she said. She pushed the money back into the envelope, and put the envelope on the bed between them. “You can’t give me this.”
“Well, I am.”
“No,” Evie said. “You can’t. I’m not taking it. And you shouldn’t have that much money lying around. It might get stolen.”
“In your undies drawer?” Evie said. “That’s kind of… obvious isn’t it?”
“It’s still hidden. Keep it.”
“Nope,” Evie said. “And it’d definitely get stolen from my place.”
“So leave it here.”
Evie shook her head. She was starting to feel annoyed. The way Natalie wouldn’t just let her say no, and accept it.
“Evie, please. Just take it.”
“As what? A tip?”
“I wouldn’t say it like that, but yes, if you like.”
Evie pushed her hand away. “Don’t be an asshole, Natalie.”
“You don’t want it? There’s a lot of money there.”
“I don’t. I really don’t.”
Evie looked at her. “Last chance, put it away.”
After a moment, Natalie picked up the envelope, and went over to the dresser, and put it back in the drawer where it had been.
“Thank you,” Evie said.
“You can’t pay me to do this,” Evie said. “There just isn’t enough money. Not to pay me. I’m doing this because I want to now. With you. Not for money.”
“I’m sick of you assuming otherwise,” Evie said.
“I’m sorry,” Natalie said.
“No, it isn’t. You’re right. I keep assuming. And I really shouldn’t.”
“You do,” Evie said. “You really fucking do. So stop trying to buy what I’m going to give you anyway, and just enjoy this.”
Natalie turned around and smiled.
“And stop offering me money when I don’t ask for it,” Evie said.
They looked at each other. Evie took a slow breath. “Why is this, with money, turning into the thing we fight about?” she said.
“We don’t fight,” Natalie said. “We occasionally disagree.”
“Yeah,” Evie said, grinning. “Of course we do. But still stop.”