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Butt-dialing the Billionaire: Chapter 46


I’m squeezed between Willow and Kelsey in our usual booth at the Wilder Club. Tabitha, who’s on the other side with Francine, catches the attention of the server and orders a basket of tater tots and a large order of nachos.

“Yes, please,” I say, trying not to cry, though it’s hard with the constant lump in my throat.

Vicky’s over at the old jukebox—not her first visit. Joan Jett blares from the speakers. Again.

Kelsey slams down her empty tequila shot glass. “Emotionally unavailable man-boys need not apply!”

I do my shot and my friends all clap. “Another!”

“No way,” I say. “If you get me drunk, I might call him.”

“You can’t call him,” Willow says.

“The ball is firmly in his court,” Francine says. “He needs to step up. Not that he will.”

My galpals are all really mad at Jack. And yes, I’m mad at him, too, but I’m mostly sad. I know his heart. I know he’s hurting. I know he doesn’t want to be alone.

Neither do I. I used to not care, but that was before I met Jack. My heart lurches sickeningly when I think of his eyes during that fight. How he seemed so far away from me.

“He wants to be with me,” I say. “He really, really does. He wants to cross this bridge to me, but he can’t stop himself from burning it.”

“You deserve better than that,” Tabitha says.

I sigh. I don’t want better; I want Jack, or at least the version of Jack that I had for a few weeks there. I want open and vulnerable Jack, telling me real things in bed at night. I want witty, protective Jack who was in my corner. I want brave Jack who let his heart have big feelings.

I want the Jack who cared about a dying cactus like it was his own damn child.

I fight back the tears, thinking about long, lazy mornings in bed. His dry sense of humor. Him in that hat with the lone dimple.

Vicky comes back. She’s decked out in a fabulous black jumpsuit with white piping. She’s heading to Paris to do an event for the Smuck U line of jewelry. I aggressively question her about every aspect of the trip as a way to get my mind off of Jack.

She pulls out her phone and shows us pictures of the hotel where she’ll be staying, and we all help her plan her itinerary, right down to looking at the menus of fabulous restaurants on the Left Bank and some hole-in-the-wall place in Marais. But then Lizzie arrives with a box of heart-shaped cookies that have jagged cracks frosted down the middle, and on one side of the broken heart is the letter ‘F’ and on the other is ‘U’ in pink frosting.

“Nice,” I say, doing my best to swallow the lump back. “Stay positive.”

“And they’re lemon flavored.” Lizzie shoves the box toward me.

How can I resist?

We all stuff our faces while Francine and Kelsey seat-dance to Heart.

“I still think you should take some time off after SportyGoCo closes,” Tabitha says. “November is your favorite month in the city. Kick back, girlfriend!”

It’s true—November is my favorite month in the city. I love the crisp, cool sunshine. I love the crunch of leaves and the fall coats and the excitement in the air. If I last out next week at work, they’ll have to give me two week’s severance pay, so it’ll be like a paid vacation. I won’t have the stress of finding a new job, because Tabitha’s offered me a position doing merchandising for her style storefronts while I look for another design job.

“You can take your time and find something perfect,” she’d told me.

I’m grateful, of course, but what I want is to keep my SportyGoCo job. I want to keep building the Wonderbag line. I want to stay working with my people. I want our routines and our dreams and our family.

Our food comes. I scoop a heaping helping of tots onto my little plate and squeeze thick, deep red lines of ketchup over them in a crisscross pattern.

“You’re better off without him,” Kelsey says, passing the salt. “He can fuck himself.”

“I don’t hate him,” I say. “But maybe some causes really are lost.”

I’m still holding onto a shred hope when I get into work Monday. Yes, we missed the Nobella cutoff, but maybe we can get into other stores. It’s a longshot, but we still have the week.

The place is still in disarray from the chaos of Friday—I can’t even look at the area near the window. I duck right into my cubicle and text Mackenzie to stop by when she gets in.

Shondrella looks over my cubicle wall. “Did you hear?” The way she says it, it’s not good news.

“What now?”

Renata comes up. “Did you tell her?”

“Tell me what?” I say.

“Bert earmarked Wonderbag as summer season only,” Renata says.

“What?” I hiss.

They nod in unison.

“But if we don’t get our spring season orders up, there will be no summer season,” I say.

“Yup,” Shondrella says.

I hang my head and stare blankly at my keyboard. “In other words, SportyGoCo’s toast.”

Renata comes around and squeezes my shoulder. “At least we know we have to look for jobs now.”

“He is such an unbelievable asshole,” Shondrella says. “But I’ll tell you one thing—I’m lasting this week out. Hell if he’s screwing me out of my severance pay. I swear to god.”

Renata and I pack up the Wonderbag prototypes. My heart does a sad little bleat when we put the lid on the box and set it on a shelf.

We act busy. We work hard to be polite to Bert, determined not to be more notches on his fire-your-ass belt.

One week. That’s the end of the accounting period. The end of SportyGoCo.

Jack’s cubicle stays empty. I’m sure he’s out of jail by now. Maybe he’s in Bahrain. I check my phone. Late afternoon in New York is late night in Bahrain.

The idea that I might not ever see him again is a steak knife in my gut.


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