The Billionaire's Wife

By: Chloe Cassidy

Chapter One

I’ve never been one to fall for the richy rich type; usually it’s the bad boys who ride perfectly maintained motorcycles but whose idea of “date night” consists of a value meal at McDonalds. What can I say? I’m like every other girl out there; the bad boys just ‘do it for me.’

Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Melissa Gainsborough. I’m 21 years old and despite the fact that I graduated college early with a 3.98 grade point average (we can’t all be perfect) I am woefully underemployed and extremely underpaid. Sure, I could have pursued the prestigious careers that my sisters opted for, but me? I prefer a little bit of a challenge. No, no medical school or law school for me, I opted to become a human rights activist or, as my father would say “one of those hippy chicks.” I can’t say that I look much like a hippy, just a regular all American girl with long dark and frequently washed hair and dark brown eyes to match. I don’t wear hemp jewelry and I bathe often and use deodorant, perfume, body spray and lotion in abundance. Now if you classify giving a damn about the world as being a hippy, then perhaps I am.

My mother always said that if I really wanted to make a difference then I’d become a doctor or a lawyer like my sisters. She firmly believes that they make a difference as they sit in their professional offices raping insurance companies and people who need their help for their ridiculous hourly fees. Hourly fees that pay for the luxurious leather furniture in their homes and the three vacations a year that take them out of the country. Me? I’d rather help people without taking them for everything they own. My sisters aren’t bad people, they’re just corporate people, they want their money and they want to go home to their five bedroom three and a half bathroom ranch homes at the end of the day.

Growing up, my grandfather always told me that if there were an easy way to do something and a hard way to do something that I would pick the hard way every time without fail. He was right, of course. The man was right about everything.

Since I graduated college I’ve spent the last six months hopping from one charity event server job to another, trying to get my foot in the door or at least make contacts. So far though, I’m still working as a barista in Starbucks, barely making bills and eating leftover muffins for dinner. I can’t complain though, the carrot cake muffins are particularly delicious and God help me when the season for pumpkin scones rolls around.

Still, my passion lies in “humanitarian crap” as my sisters say and that, more often than not, lands me on the wait staff of charity events. Underpaying and thankless as the jobs are, they will hopefully one day open up a door to something bigger.

Chapter Two

The Lambert Estate is one of those houses you see on stately postcards with fall foliage surrounding it and generic greetings stamped across the front. It has to house at least twenty five bedrooms and God knows how many bathrooms, but I know I’d hate to be a housekeeper on their staff. I can think of a number of locations other than the Lambert Estate that would have been a little better suited for a charity fundraiser –perhaps one that requires less overhead to set up, but Gideon Lambert isn’t known for being thrifty. I’ve never understood spending so much money for a charity event to raise money, why not just donate the money you’d spend on the event in the first place?

“Here, hold this.” One of the other undertrained wait staff shoves a silver plate with half filled champagne flutes in to my hands.

“Are they ready to go out?” I ask, balancing the tray on one hand.

“Umm, sure, yeah.” The guy waves me off with his hand and goes back to filling more champagne flutes. I’ve worked with a few of the wait staff before but for the most part they’re all young college kids looking for a few extra bucks and who also have no idea what they’re doing.

I push my way through the kitchen doors and start the trek back in to the “parlor” where the societal elites would be starting to dry out from a night of champagne refills.

My feet are screaming from these stupid heels and so far no one has done much more than swipe glasses off my tray and replace them with empties. Not that I expect them to offer me jobs or ask for my perspective on current world issues, but at least in the past I’ve made some connections with charities that would at least earn me a future introduction – “Hi, I’m Melissa, I met you at the…” This whole event has been more of a pissing contest than anything else though and to be honest I’ll be glad to get it over with.

Swinging back through the kitchen doors with my empty tray I take a moment to breathe and contemplate sneaking out of the back door. As I look towards the back door one of the other servers grabs me on the shoulder snagging my hair with his fingers as he does.

“Melissa, go down to the basement and grab a few more bottles, we’re running short and these people can dr-rink” He separates the word in to two over exaggerated syllables and steers me in the direction of the basement door. Fuck, I hate basements. Still, it’ll be a few minutes respite from the parlor. Opening the door I flip on the switch and step out of my shoes, I’ll break my neck taking these stairs in heels. I make sure to shut the door behind me; something I decide was probably a bad decision should a basement dwelling poltergeist decide to chase me out of its home.

The air down here isn’t the usual damp basement air and it smells like, well, nothing really. There is a distinct lack of that wet basement smell. To the left of the stairs is a corridor opening in to a large, dimly lit room that is lined with rack upon rack of wine bottles. I find the case of champagne lying by the corridor entrance though, obviously left there for easy access for us. I grab one bottle in each hand and turning to go back up the stairs I notice a flicker of light from a door to the right of the stairs. I set the bottles back down and walk over, trying the door handle. The door opens and I see a large bar room complete with a bar top, neon lights and a well groomed bar man wiping out glasses.

“Well, isn’t this some sort of shit from The Shining” I didn’t realize that I’d spoken the words out loud until the man behind the bar cracks a smile. “Sorry, I just…I didn’t expect…”

“Don’t worry about it; it’s sort of a hidden oasis. Not many people know it’s here and those that do don’t go telling about it. We like to keep it on the down low.” I can’t help but laugh at him.

“Down low? Do people still say that?” He shrugs looking a little offended.

“Apparently this person still does?” He lowers his eyes to my stocking covered feet “Sorry, no shoes, no service” There’s that smile again and this time it’s followed by a wink.

“I thought it was no shoes, no shirt, no service?” I ask walking over to the bar and hopping on to one of the barstools.

“No shirt…now there’s a thought” I can feel the color rising in my cheeks as his blue gaze lingers just a little longer than it should on my breasts. He lifts his eyes back to mine, “Can I get you a drink?”

“Got anything to steel me for the rest of the night? I just love dealing with ungrateful socialites with too much money and no manners.” His face takes on a curious look; something like amused aggravation for just a second before he turns around and reaches for a shaker.

“No excuse for a lack of manners, no excuse at all. Speaking of which, I’m Ricky” He flashes that smile again and I wonder if he knows how badly it makes me want to kiss him. He has that typical bad boy look about him and I find myself wondering just how bad of a boy he could be if he really tried.

“Melissa,” I say as I lean over the bar and watch him mixing various colored liquors in the shaker. I’m not much of a drinker and seeing him pour so many liquors in to one drink makes me a little nervous.

“Not much of a drinker, Melissa?” Cannily reading my mind, he starts to shake the shaker and I let my eyes settle on the mop of deep brown hair that flops down over his eyes as he shakes.

“Not so much. A glass of wine now and then but other than that it’s mostly coffee at work and soda or water at home” Of all times to get verbal diarrhea I choose now? Why did I tell him that? Like he actually cares what I drink and when I drink it.

“Oh. Where do you work?” He raises a single eyebrow and places the drink on the bar with a small napkin.

“Just Starbucks” I don’t know why I’m so embarrassed to tell people that I work in a coffee shop, hell, people are lucky to have any job these days and it’s not like he’s much better off working in a bar basement.

“Hmm, pretty girl like you shouldn’t be serving other people. You deserve to be the one being taken care of.” I don’t know how to respond to that.

“Hey, it pays the bills. Besides, I’ve always done pretty well taking care of myself and it’s not like I’ll be a barista forever.” Now I’m on the defensive and can’t help but feel a little angry that he’d assume that I can’t take care of myself.

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