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Butt-dialing the Billionaire: Chapter 5


I’m cowering in my cubicle across from Renata. “What was I thinking!” I say. “Whaaaaat…”

“Stop it,” Renata says, fixing her polka-dot hairband over her jet-black hair. “No way will Bert get it out of anyone. What happens in the conference room, stays in the conference room.”

I sink lower in my seat, typing out my email to the factory explaining that it’s going out late and begging them to consider rushing the Target quote. No way will they say yes, but I have to try.

“It’ll drive him buggy,” Renata says. “It’ll be fun and entertaining to see him fume.”

“Unless he fires all of us.”

“You heard Lacey. No way will he know it’s this department.”

“He’ll suspect,” I say. “It’s very design department to do that.”

“Or marketing,” she reminds me, and then she cringes. “Except marketing has snitches and we don’t. But hey! Let him suspect. Anyway, you work too hard. It was fun to see your silly side.”

“My silly side has no place at work, especially now that I’m senior designer. Just watch, though. I’m not taking any more stupid risks. I’m going to be a million percent professional from here on out.”

“You are professional.”

What Renata doesn’t realize is that when you’re tiny and blonde, you need to be twice as professional as your coworkers if you want people to take you seriously. “A million percent professional. No more screwing around.”

“Everyone knows this place would fall apart without you. Most people in your shoes would have taken the job with your friend’s style storefronts. They would’ve left without looking back.”

“You wouldn’t have.”

“For a merchandising job like that? Are you kidding? You know, you are supposed to abandon a sinking ship. It’s what they recommend.”

“I’ll never abandon it,” I say, firing off the email.

“Bert alert,” Dave mumbles as he walks by.

I grab his wrist, stopping him in his tracks. “Lacey’s in the break room.”

“On it.”

Lacey’s horrible fatigue drives her to need a late-afternoon nap. The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with her, but we know different, and we work together to give her rest breaks.

“Here’s the deal,” Bert says, standing up at the front of the room, all angry pink cheeks under his salt-and-pepper crew cut. “We know it was somebody in this department. Each and every one of you will be fired for insubordination if I don’t get the name of the person who did it.”

I hide my phone under my desk and text Renata.

Jada: I have to come forward.

Renata: He’s bluffing.

He has to be.

Jada: What if he isn’t?

Renata: DO NOT.

Shondrella stands. She’s an elegant fifty-something fashion industry veteran with a streak of white down the front of her jet-black hair and connections all over the city. “Can you give us a few more details? I’m not really sure what you’re talking about.”

Bert eyes her suspiciously. “After the company address, there was an accidental callback where people were heard making fun of Mr. Von Henningsly, yucking it up after the call ended. I assure you, he is not amused. He has personally asked for information.” Bert looks at his watch. “You have precisely one minute to give up a name or I start cleaning house.”

My heart pounds. I have to do it. I feel Renata’s eyes on me, her famous warning scowl. Don’t you dare—that’s what the scowl says.

“Was this recorded?” Shondrella asks. “If we could hear the recording, maybe we could ID the voices.”

Freaking brilliant of Shondrella to try and see if they have a recording.

“Thirty seconds,” Bert says.

A text under my desk.


I stand. I have to confess.

Bert frowns at me. “Jada?”

Lacey strolls up next to me, casually sets her phone down on my desk, and taps a long pink fingernail onto the screen. I glance down to see a text from Bruce in shipping.

Bruce: He’s telling every department he knows it’s them.


“Jada?” Bert barks.

I swallow. “Why would we stay after the call and goof off when we had that two-piece to finish?”

Bert comes up to me. “Is this insubordination? Is that what this is?”

I straighten up. “Just pointing it out…”

He stares at my eyes for an uncomfortably long time, and I stare right back, all confused and concerned. Did he know I was about to confess? Sometimes I feel like he has evil psychic abilities. “We’ll keep our ears open,” I chirp.

“You’ll keep your ears open, will you?” he says.

I give him a polite smile. “Yup.”

“Nobody?” Bert looks around.

There’s more silence.

“Last chance.” He settles his gaze on Lacey, who looks like she just woke up. With her two demerits and her health issues, she’s vulnerable, and he knows it. Anybody who helps me out, of course, would be rewarded.

Lacey shakes her head.

“What do you think would happen if I sent the recording to a lab for voice analysis? Am I going to find out it was somebody in this department? Am I going to find out that you all know exactly who it is and are refusing to tell?” He strolls across the room, staring as he goes. “You’d best hope not.” He pauses to let that sink in, then he leaves.

“There is no way he’s got a recording,” somebody mumbles. People agree. No way.

“Even if he does,” Renata says. “A hundred women work here. He’d voice print us all? Puhlllease.”

“God, I’m so sorry!” I sink into my seat. “I am going to be all business from now on. So serious!”

“Dude, it was worth it!” Dave says.

“Yeah, seeing Bert freak?” Shondrella says. “Priceless.”

“The family,” Renata says in her Godfather impression. “You come for one of us, you come for us all.”

“That’s not a thing anybody ever said in The Godfather,” Dave says.

“Maybe it should’ve been,” Renata says. “Anyway, it’s a thing in our family.”


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