We are taking book requests on our companion website. You can request books here. Make sure, you are following the rules.

Butt-dialing the Billionaire: Chapter 20


I walk in, toss my glasses on the counter, and peel the itchy mole off my face. “Get me Soto on the phone. I have some company business to discuss with him.”

“Right away, sir?”

“Right away.” I head through the bedroom to the closet to change into my workout clothes. I’m feeling a few rounds on the heavy bag coming on.

Arnold’s still there when I come out from scrubbing my face.

“What is it?”

“I found a box of things you’ll need to look at.”

“Christie’s, consignment, or garbage.” I breeze past him. “Figure it out.”

“This would need your input,” he says.

“After Soto. I want to talk to him while it’s still business hours somewhere on the planet.”

I wrap up my hands, ready to go in. The hand wraps feel tight and snug, like my hands are packed dynamite. I don’t warm up, I just go at the bag—no leisurely long-range jabs and crosses; just hard, close-quarter hooks and uppercuts.

Soto’s call comes through just as I’ve gotten myself exhausted enough to start being sloppy. I put him on speaker and head to the far end of the workout space where massive windows overlook the park. “Who do I speak with about personnel changes at SportyGoCo? I need to have somebody fired.”

“Did something happen?” he asks. “Have they seen through the disguise?”

“No, there’s somebody whose face I never want to see again. Bert, the CEO. What do I need to do to get rid of him?”

“It might not be so easy,” Soto says.

“I do own the company, do I not?” I say. “Don’t worry, I have legit grounds. The man is an objectively terrible CEO. He seems to go out of his way to screw up viable projects and destroy morale. He needs to go.”

“You want somebody fired because they’re not doing a good job?” he asks.

“What’s so strange about that?”

“Nothing. I’m pleased to see you taking an interest in the company.”

“I’m not taking an interest in the company. I don’t give a shit about the company. I’m taking an interest in never seeing this blowhard’s face ever again. Get someone on it. I don’t want him in work tomorrow.”

“Well…here’s the thing. SportyGoCo is run by a management company named Bloxburn who would have the power to make decisions.”

I frown. Bloxburn. The name sounds familiar. I can remember my parents talking about it, always in furtive whispers. “But I’m the owner.”

“I’m still trying to work it out, but as a management company, Bloxburn would have some sort of contract with Wycliff that would likely give them power over personnel decisions, in other words, hiring and firing. And it’s not typically something you can simply override. A lot of these sorts of management companies, once you put them in place and work out the contract, they don’t like to be second-guessed.”

“I’m the owner, though,” I say.

“I’m telling you there might be a signed contract.”

“He’s a terrible employee who deserves to be fired under any sets of laws.”

“I can look into it, but…”

“No, don’t look into it; make it happen. Get rid of the guy or cancel the contract.”

“I’ll see what I can do.”

“Check in on the pay, too. I’m going to review the salaries and make some changes.”

“You want to cut the pay?”

“I’m making changes. Who knows, maybe a few people will get raises.”

Soto laughs at my seeming joke, and we click off.

I’m back at the heavy bag, doing Thai round kicks this time, lobbing my leg into the bag with wicked force.

I can feel Arnold hovering at the doorway. Eventually I tire and grab a towel. “What?”

“Did something happen to upset you, sir?” he asks.

“Nope. Just some personnel changes I want to make,” I say. “What’s this thing you found that I need to look at?”

Arnold hesitates. “Maybe later, after dinner.”

“Meaning after I’ve got a nice meal and tumbler of scotch in my belly?” I am not loving the direction this is taking. “Show it to me now. Let’s get it over with.”

“No, really, this can wait.”

“Now or never,” I growl. If there’s bad news, I want it.

Arnold peers at me unhappily. “It’s some old letters,” he says.

I toss the towel aside. Can this day get any more maudlin? “Let’s see them.”

Arnold observes me darkly for a few more moments and then, with obvious reluctance, he leads me to the lower level, through the great room, the den, and over to the library area. On the desk that was my father’s stands a wooden box, like a large cigar box. There’s a stack of envelopes next to it, mostly bright pastels—pale pink, light blue, mint green.

Even from where I’m standing in the doorway, I can make out the loopy scrawl of my longtime nanny, Jenny.

This strange haze comes over me, almost a buzzing in my ears. I’m awash with old feeling—not anger, but something else.

Jenny was with me from the time I was a toddler until I was ten. She and I used to write letters together, fighting for things. There was no cause Jenny didn’t want to fight for. There was a time when I imagined she’d fight for me, but I imagined wrong.

For a moment, I think these are some of the letters we wrote together, but then I read what’s written on the top envelope: Clifton Eadsburg von Henningsly. With the Türenbourg address crossed out, forwarded to the Manhattan address.

Clearly I should’ve had the meal and the scotch first.

“And why do I want to read whatever the hell she wrote to my father?” I ask with a breeziness I do not feel.

Some of the envelopes have been opened. Arnold grabs one and holds it out for me. “I took the liberty.”

“I believe there are five fireplaces in this home capable of burning all kinds of things. That’s the liberty you should’ve taken.”

“Jaxon,” he says in the voice that means business. The voice I couldn’t ignore as a young boy. The voice I won’t ignore now, because I need to see.

“Jesus Christ.” I snatch the envelope, glaring at him. He looks old. He’s been with me for the entirety of my life and sometimes I forget I’ve been most of his career.

I can’t quite bring myself to look down at it. “Were they having an affair? Is that it?”

He shakes his head.

I pull out an envelope wrapped in a note. I unfurl the note and there it is, Jenny’s loopy scrawl.

I don’t care what you tell him for why I’m gone, but if only you could give him this, so that he knows I remembered, that I’m thinking of him. He’s just a little boy, and it would mean the world to him. You can read it yourself—it’s just the birthday wishes is all. I’m asking you as a father that you would make this day a little brighter for him.

I blink, not making sense out of this.

“She can’t have it both ways. The woman left without warning—without so much as a goodbye—to go off to be with her rocker boyfriend. And suddenly she’s all about making my day brighter?”

“Look inside,” he says.

I open the card. It’s got a picture of an elephant balancing on a cake that has a ten on it. My tenth birthday. The year she left.

Happy birthday, Jack. I’m so proud of you today and hope you are feeling so much love. I miss you like the dickens, and I’m so sorry I can’t be with you, but I think of you always. Love, Nanny Jenny.

I toss it on the desk. “She left, Arnold. She made her choice.”

“Are you sure it was her choice?”

I roll my eyes. Arnold always gave her the benefit of the doubt. He’d always say things like, “It never sat right with me,” and “There’s more to the story—there has to be.”

“So this is what you were going to show me? Was there something else?”

“She broke your heart, I know that—”

“She was just a nanny.”


I give him a glare—my own shut-up glare.

“This box is full of cards she sent to you. She never forgot. You should go see her. She splits her time between the city and the Catskills. See if she’s in town. I could call her. I could call her tonight.”

“Why would I go to see her? She was paid to be my nanny, and then she wasn’t. Why would I look her up?”

“I never thought she left of her own accord, and this is further proof.”

I scowl at the box, emotions churning in me like ocean waves.

“She loved you. And you loved her.”

“Have dinner on the table at seven.” I turn and head back to the gym.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


not work with dark mode