A Very Bad Billionaire

By: Vivian Ward

CHAPTER ONE

Natalia





Oh, fuck me! The loud sound of thunder crashing outside my window startled me from some of the best sleep I’d had in a long time. Through squinting, tired eyes and my heart pounding, I looked over at my alarm clock to get an idea of how much time I had before I had to leave the warmth of my bed. I was confused when I couldn’t see the red digital numbers telling me what time it was. They weren’t blurry because I was tired, they just weren’t there at all. Rubbing my eyes as I tried to focus my vision, I noticed that the clock was blank. That’s when I realized that the television I had fallen asleep watching was no longer on either. Oh no! The storm must have knocked the power out!



I live in an old house that had been converted into multiple small apartments. They aren’t quite as compact as studios, but they are much smaller than a standard apartment. Most of the units have one big room plus their bathroom. I lucked into getting the only pad with a kitchen—not that it’s anything to brag about, really. It’s more of a miniature sink with an Easy Bake oven and a single, metal cabinet that featured an elegant 15”x15” countertop. Judging by the silver metal trim around the edges and the dozens of dents in the beige doors, I’d say my makeshift cabinet is a vintage 60’s model that the landlord couldn’t part with. It’s also possible that he’s just too cheap to replace anything considering that the late 70’s wallpaper is peeling off the walls and my green shag carpet needs a good mowing. I know it’s not ideal, but it’s what I can afford. At least, I had hoped I’d be able to afford it when I moved in last month and wiped out the remainder of my savings. The rent at my old place was much higher and with being out of work, it was draining my bank account. My hope when I moved into this dive was that I could save up enough money to get out when the one-year lease is up and replenish some of my savings account. I’m set to start my first day of work at my new job this morning and hoped the power going out hadn’t ruined the opportunity for me.



Jumping out of bed, I stumbled into the kitchen to find my cell phone. Fortunately, I had remembered to put it on the charger before I went to sleep. Turning it on, I was glad to see that I hadn’t overslept too much. It was 5:42 AM, almost 45 minutes after I wanted to get up. My new job didn’t start until 8:00, but it was going to take me at least an hour to get from The Bronx to Manhattan. Having to take public transportation is already bad enough but it’s even worse when the weather doesn’t want to cooperate. I was going to have to keep a tight schedule, but I figured I had just enough time to grab a quick shower and put on some makeup before walking out the door. I’d studied the bus routes over and over last night to make sure I wouldn’t get on the wrong one. Around here, there’s so many coming and going, it’s easy to end up somewhere other than where you planned to go.



I was able to get ready in record time but was still late getting out the door. With no time to eat, I grabbed an apple from the fridge and ran out the door. The storm that woke me up had passed, but it left behind a thick cloud fog that was so dense I could barely see two feet in front of me. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the benefit of taking my time to make sure I got where I was going safely. I had a nearly half-mile walk ahead of me just to get to the bus stop. If I didn’t catch the bus that was set to arrive at 6:36, I’d have to wait almost thirty minutes for the next one. At that point, I would never make it to my new job in time.





§





I could see my ride to work sitting at the bus stop as I turned the corner onto Commonwealth Avenue. It was sitting idle with the door open as the last few passengers filed their way up the stairs. The bus was still a half a block away and I needed to make sure I was on it. I did the only thing I could think to do and broke into a run, completely ignoring the fact that I was wearing high heels. Sure enough, I made it to the door on the bus right as it was closing and had to bang on it as the driver started to pull away. I would have chased the bus down if it came down to it, but the woman behind the wheel was kind enough to stop the bus to let me on.



The bus was more crowded than I had expected it to be, probably a result of the people who would usually walk not wanting to take a chance of getting rained on. I was able to wedge myself in between a little old lady and an extremely obese man who smelled like a wet dog at the back of the bus. When I sat down, he looked at me and smiled with the yellowest teeth I’d ever seen in my life before turning his attention back to the newspaper he was reading. This wasn’t the way I planned to start the first day of my new job. Nothing was going the way I wanted it to but I’d made it onto the bus and that was all that mattered. Once we got into Manhattan, I’d get off the bus at the West 86th Street and go straight to the home of Kaiden Melrose.

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