Butt-dialing the Billionaire: Chapter 15


Jada

I slam into work early the next day and hit the ground running—the zipper samples for our Unicorn Wonderbag design.

Unicorn Wonderbag is a secret, off-the-books project that Renata and I have been playing with for a while now, and then we got Shondrella on board. Shondrella knows the fashion industry in and out, and she was thrillingly enthusiastic. We’re going to slip it into our spring/summer lineup when it’s all worked out, specifically when it’s too late for Bert to doom the project.

Being that it’s October, spring/summer ordering is virtually here.

Unicorn Wonderbag can transform into three different modes, from elegant purse to sporty bag to shopping sack, and it can also be rolled up into a “unicorn horn” for travel. The design is bold, and there’s an enamel unicorn zipper charm.

Dave says they’re going to close the company if we don’t get enough orders in this accounting period, and this bag is our silver bullet. We’re pretty sure we can sell it to Target and maybe even Walmart.

It’s not until almost lunchtime that I notice Jack hasn’t punched in, even though he’s been buzzing around, mostly doing stuff for the shipping guys.

When I see him up at reception with Varsha, I take the opportunity to stretch my legs and remind him of the rules. “You’re supposed to punch in, Jack.”

“Oh, right. I will.”

Varsha’s eyes widen. “You have to punch in! Otherwise, you’re not technically here.”

“Bert saw me,” he says.

“That’ll keep you from getting a demerit, but you won’t get paid if you don’t punch in,” I say.

“I’m so touched that you care.”

“Oh, I don’t care,” I say.

“Not even a little?”

“Not even a little. We should be paid for putting up with you.”

Jack gives me a big smile-frown, then he strolls to his cubicle and settles in.

I head over right after him. He fires up the intranet and clicks the radio button to signify his arrival at work, then twists in his chair, all the better to address me annoyingly. “Happy?”

I pause over him. “Help me out with a decision tree here. Are you incompetent or just indifferent?”

He leans back in his chair and crosses his legs. “I’m extremely competent at certain things. Very competent.”

Heat rises to my face. “I doubt that, party-shirt peacock.”

He grins at the name. “Do you, though? I don’t think you doubt it. I think you’ve been thinking about it—more than you want me to know.”

“That’s cute that you think that,” I say casually. “And what, pray tell, have I been thinking? What is this ‘it’ you think I’ve been pondering so hard? Please enlighten me with your sure-to-be-impressive revelation.”

“To be honest, I think there are a lot of ‘its’ that you’ve been pondering when it comes to me.”

I shamble on a surprised face. “You don’t say!” Deep down, I’m aware that I’m playing with fire, but I can’t stop.

“Well,” I say. “Let’s hear one of them. Just for entertainment’s sake.”

“For one thing…” He looks over his shoulder.

I follow his gaze past the cutting tables, past the shelving systems that groan with binders of fabric samples and boxes of fixings, all the way over to a remote corner where there’s a scuffed door that leads to a deep closet full of office supplies.

“The office supply closet,” he says.

“Ah,” I say. “And what about the office supply closet?”

“You keep thinking about us in there, that’s what. You’re imagining us in it. It’s outrageous and just wrong. You are my boss, after all.”

I snort. I should cut this off and get back to work, but I tell myself I need to know how far his arrogance goes. His arrogance is a phenomenon, an extra-annoying force of nature that must be tracked and monitored. “And whatever is it that I’m imagining?”

“Two words: hate fuck. Or is that one? I never really know.”

That’s what you think I’ve been imagining?” This like it’s so hilarious.

“All-out, no-holds-barred hate fuck. Or is it no holes barred?” he says. “I never know that, either.”

My mind spins. “Guess it’s too much trouble for your lazy ass to google such a thing,” I manage.

“True, and also, why bother? A proper hate fuck would have no holes barred as well as no holds barred, don’t you think?”

“Oh-ho-ho,” I fake laugh.

He lowers his voice. “I’d hold you by your hair, that’s a given. You know, a pretty little blonde bun isn’t just for holding pencils anymore. Or maybe I’d undo the whole thing so I can pull it a little—or actually a lot. I’d pull it pretty hard, I have to warn you.”

My mouth goes dry. “You have quite the overblown sense of yourself for somebody who is so incapable—”

“There a problem here?” Bert asks.

I straighten up. How did I not see Bert bumble into the design department? Was there a Bert alert I didn’t hear? “No problem at all,” I say.

Bert looks from Jack to me and back to Jack and then he walks off.

I turn to Jack. “You need to stop distracting me.”

“I was distracting you? I’m sorry, am I the one who interrupted an important exchange that I was having with Varsha and then hounded me all the way to my desk, trying to get me into a lurid conversation?”

I give him an indignant stare and point at the supply closet. “In your dreams.”

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