Bossed by the Billionaire: Part 4 – Chapter 3

Alyssa

Chapter 3 – Alyssa

It’s rare for me to have a whole Saturday to myself these days. Between Julian demanding more and more of my personal time, and finals creeping up on me, my weekends are usually packed with homework, sex, more homework, and those fancy gatherings my billionaire boyfriend insists on showing me off at. (You should’ve seen me the second time we met up with his parents at a cozy villa up in Washington Park. He practically twirled me around his mother’s Persian carpet and dipped me to the amusement of his half-drunk father.

This auspicious weekend, however, I have so much precious time to myself. I’ve handed in a bunch of term papers – that Julian so graciously allowed me to work on in the office – and I’ve permitted myself to take a break from studying to give my brain a rest. Julian’s up in Seattle until later this evening. I’m supposed to go to his place around eight. But until then?

Shopping on him!

When I said I planned to go shopping with my friends this weekend, he immediately reached into his wallet and handed me his little black card. “No limit,” he said with a yawn. “Knock yourself out. Buy something cute that we can both enjoy.”

After I coyly suggested that my poor friends would only get so much enjoyment from watching me shop, he shrugged and suggested that I spoil them too. The day would be on him!

Can you believe it? Not only is my boyfriend a hot billionaire, but he’s so generous, too!

It’s the perfect day for gal-paling around Portland, too. We’ve had a mini heatwave as of late, which has been a God send after the blustering cold winter hanging around way too long. The day is eighty degrees and there isn’t a cloud in the sky. I’m wearing one of my breeziest sundresses and a cute pair of comfortable sandals that allow me to walk everywhere without a single blister. If only my mom could see these super cool designer sunglasses! And don’t get me started on my freshly styled hair that turns heads wherever we go on NW 23rd Street.

Even since dating Julian, I don’t get to come up here that often. Bit too out of the way for my boyfriend to deign going somewhere for the evening, and honestly, the vibe is hardly him to begin with. Julian likes places that are the right kind of pretentious. Hipster and yuppie utopias don’t really apply.

But it’s right up my alley! I’d come here every day if I could.

My friends Kelly and Selkie likewise love this neighborhood, especially on a beautiful day like today. We are quite the sight as we half-frolic down the shady sidewalks, gaping in storefronts, realizing that we can actually afford to shop in these stores when I have my boyfriend’s black card on me, and you know what?

It’s so much fun!

I’m not overreacting when I saw NW 23rd is an expensive neighborhood to live and play in. The Alphabet District, bunched up against the famous Pearl District, has a reputation as the most expensive place in Portland. Rents are hilariously high. If you’ve got a cool million laying around, you can get yourself an old fixer-upper. The restaurants are reasonable, but if you plan on getting gourmet tea or shopping for a new dress, you better hope that you got paid. Even the simplest dress or T-shirt will cost you half a paycheck.

My friends don’t have a whole lot of money, but I go a little crazy. If they try something on that’s absolutely them, I buy it when they’re not looking and they’re refusing to take Julian’s money. If nothing else, Selkie’s birthday’s coming up, and Kelly is going to study abroad next semester. She needs a new wardrobe, right?

We step out of a cute boutique in one of the converted Victorian houses, sharing happy sighs as our shopping bags weigh us down. I’ve got a new, gauche belt to cinch some of my favorite dresses. Besides, doesn’t Julian love a good challenge when it comes to undressing me? Or maybe that’s me who loves giving him the challenge…

“My feet are killing me,” Kelly bemoans. “Why don’t we go upstairs and get some tea?”

Duh! Has she been reading my mind?

The best teahouse in the city is on the second floor. I’m feeling some cool iced tea, but my friends want the best boba tea… and the sign saying that they’re out of tapioca isn’t going to deter us from waiting for the stock to come back in. In the meantime, I order us a small pot of gourmet tea to share on the terrace overlooking the busy, touristy street.

We’re not the only ones out here. In fact, we grab the last table out here, up in a canopy of trees shielding us from the warm sun. A cool breeze tickles my aching feet the moment I sit down by the railing. I had no idea how much my feet hurt.

Selkie pops back inside to use the bathroom. Kelly groans when a political news alert hits her phone. While she babbles about something I don’t even pay attention to, I turn on my phone to find one message from Julian.

“Can’t wait to see you tonight. I’ve been thinking about how good you taste all day.”

I squirm in my seat, crossing my legs. As if anyone else is going to have a shot at putting their mouth on Julian’s favorite place to put his…

Selkie returns the moment the barista brings us our small pot of tea and three cups to share it. Warm steam rises into the air as Kelly graciously pours us each a cup. We toast to having what may be the last free day of the semester.

“To studying abroad,” we say to Kelly.

“To graduating,” we say to Selkie.

“To hot internships that lead to hotter boyfriends,” they say to me.

I blush. Well, when they put it that way…

Our conversations are perfectly meaningless as we take the loads off our feet and load up our bladders with excellent tea. Other patrons come and go, cool washes of air conditioning touching us every time. With the occasional flirty text from Julian that says he’s thinking about me on his flight back from Seattle, I am so damned content that I can’t help but feel that the other shoe is about to drop.

Man, I really have no idea.

A young woman steps through the door, carrying a little paper bag from Lush. Instantly, the scent of handmade soaps competes with the more exotic scent of our tea. Between that and the flowy, beachy pink skirt wrapped around the woman’s long, tanned legs, my eye is drawn to the beautiful face snorting at my presence.

Kelly and Selkie stop talking. I, in my endless stupidity, think it’s a great idea to acknowledge Cher’s sudden arrival.

I haven’t seen her since she was fired from her internship at Bradley & Marcus.

“Lovely day, isn’t it?” That’s all she says as she goes to sit by herself on the other side of the terrace. She leans back in her chair, Chromebook out and sunglasses down on her face. Her giant iPhone cover mimics Pride & Prejudice. Fitting, hm?

“Friend of yours?” Kelly asks. Both she and Selkie steal glances at Cher behind them. Damn, she blows us all out of the water in the looks department. And I say this while totally acknowledging that none of us are bad to look at. Kelly’s a cute blonde with a bobbed haircut and a hot style that suits her curvier figure. Selkie can wear shredded jeans and a torn band tank top and still look like she belongs anywhere she goes. And me? I may be the plainest of Janes, but the glow of love emitting from my heart lights me up more than the expensive clothes and hairstyles I now have.

“We were in the same internship until…” I text them so Cher can’t overhear me talking shit about her. “Until my boyfriend fired her for being a bitch.”

Kelly laughs once she gets her message. Selkie shakes her head.

The barista brings Cher a large iced tea and tells us that they have tapioca back in stock. Both of my friends rush inside to order their favorite boba tea flavors.

The only other person besides Cher and me on the terrace is a man. He quickly packs up his things and takes his empty mug back inside.

Now it’s only Cher and me.

She covertly glares at me from the rim of her Chromebook. I shuffle in my seat.

Now seems like a good time to text Julian back.

“We still meeting tonight?”

“Of course,” he texts not a moment after. “I bought you a couple of presents here in Seattle. I want to make sure you get them tonight.”

I giggle. What in the world has he gotten me this time?

When I look up, I notice that Cher is no longer at her table. There’s only one way she could have gone… and it’s not in the opposite direction.

“Hey.”

Yup. She’s standing right next to me.

“Hi.” What do I do? On one hand, I’m sad she was fired from something I know she fought hard to get. On the other? Bitch was talking shit about me to my boyfriend. She can rot.

Hello, conflicting feelings!

“How goes things?”

Now I know she’s not pretending that there’s no animosity between us. Does she think I don’t know why she was fired? Does she think Julian wouldn’t have told me as soon as he knew? I mean, Julian wasn’t going to tell me… probably. But when I found out Cher was getting the boot, I demanded to know why. Whether he hoped I would drop it or not? Didn’t matter. Guy doesn’t get to go around firing people at the drop of a hat without telling his girlfriend why!

“Things are good. How about you? Did you…” Am I really going to ask her if she’s gotten a new job for the summer? Wow, Alyssa. Nice.

“I got a job on my campus. Don’t see you around my haunts very often.”

I had forgotten that she went to college around here. NW 23rd is probably her home. Me? I’m a stranger encroaching on her territory. I suddenly feel like I’m at one of the Marcus estates imposing on Julian’s parents.

“Take it Mr. Marcus is still treating you well?”

I flinch. “Of course he is. Thank you for asking.”

“Chill. I’m not trying to break you two up, regardless of what he might have told you.” Cher stands up straight, towering over me with her long skirt and white crop top. “I’ve got better things to do with my time. Although, there’s something you might want to know.”

This is going to be a nightmare, isn’t it?

“Do tell.” I brace myself for a load of bullshit to fall out of her mouth.

She doesn’t sit down. I glance into the teashop and see my friends still in line, poring over the menu with their heads bent down together.

“While you and Mr. Marcus were the biggest open secret in town,” she begins, “Mr. Bradley and I were the biggest closed one.”

“What?” Seriously, what? “You said you had a crush on him, but…”

“But nothing. He and I had been fooling around almost as long as you and Mr. Marcus had been together. Not as serious, though, of course. And you bet your ass he dropped me like a hot potato once I was fired.”

“That so?”

“Oh, yeah. And Preston was big on his pillow talk, especially if he had something to drink. I heard some super juicy shit during the midnight hour.”

This smells like bullshit.

“You should ask your boyfriend why he really invited you up to his office that night you guys first fucked like monkeys. Because according to Preston, it was a bet.”

“A… bet?”

“Oh, honey, you really don’t know?

“Know what?” I’m regretting this already. Shit.

She grins. Whenever Cher Lieberman grins like that? Watch out, world. She’s about to drop some poison gas on your life.

“Preston bet Mr. Marcus that he couldn’t seduce any woman he was set up with. Preston picked you for the bet, Alyssa. Some serious She’s All That shit.”

“What?”

“Your whole relationship is founded on a bet that Mr. Marcus couldn’t fuck you. Turns out you really are as easy as the rest of us. Who knew?”

“That’s absurd. Shut up.”

“Offended? That’s fine. I would be, too. I don’t have any proof on me besides my word, which I know is worth nothing, but… if your boyfriend really is as good as you think he is, you should ask him about it. See if he tells you the truth. And if you want some tangible proof? Mr. Bradley has your panties from that night.”

I can’t speak. My throat is clogged with too much tea. Or maybe it’s the heat making me sick.

“They were Mr. Marcus’s trophy from that night. Proof that he fucked you, Alyssa.”

“Shut up,” I say again. “What do you care?”

“Care?” How dare she laugh like that? “Please. I don’t care. The closest I come to caring is thinking that it’s bullshit you would be unknowingly led into a situation like that. Pretty fucked up when you think about it. I only thought you might like to know before you go off marrying Mr. Marcus or purposely getting knocked up with one of his babies.”

“I’m not…!”

“Relax. It’s a joke.” Cher goes back to her table and closes the lid on her Chromebook. “Perhaps it was fate that brought us here together today, Alyssa. It had been weighing on me that I never had the chance to warn you.”

She finishes packing up the moment Kelly and Selkie come back out, gabbing incessantly about a cute guy waiting in line with them. They ask if it’s okay if he joins us at our table. Something about him being new in town and looking for friends. The guy isn’t my type, not that it matters. I’m too distracted, anyway. Particularly when Cher sashays by with her tea in hand and laptop bag over her shoulder.

We make eye contact at the last minute. I wish I had never seen that stupid smirk on her stupider face.


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