Power Play: Jodie and the Billionaire

By: Selena Kitt

Jodie had never been lucky at anything in her whole life except rolling dice and finding Jason. She didn’t do the former often, but the latter she had plenty of experience in. The problem was—apparently so did Nicole, the slut, the redneck skank, the devious little home wrecker.

She stared at the text on her iPhone, wondering if her LifeLock case was really waterproof, because she was seriously considering dropping it into the Caesar’s Palace fountain as she sat and waited for the rest of the girls to come back from gawking in Versace across the way.

Plz text me back. I’m sorry.

Right.

It took every ounce of her willpower not to text the little weasel back. It took even more willpower—superhuman willpower—not to check Facebook, where she knew he was going on and on to her about how funny, how cute, how sweet, and he couldn’t believe they’d both watched Frozen over a dozen times and just loved it better every single time. How old was Nicole, anyway, twelve? She acted twelve—except when she was sending nude pics to Jodie’s fiancé.

Just how stupid did Jason think she was?

But it was hard not to respond. Because it was Jason. At some point she had stopped being Jodie and they had become JodieandJason. They’d been JodieandJason since anyone could remember. She ignored her mother’s voice in her head, “Jodie, most high school sweethearts don’t make it, you know. I’m not saying you won’t, but…” Why was her mother always right?

She glanced up, seeing the girls coming out of Versace, all of them loaded down with shopping bags. Most of them had husbands—rich ones. Besides Kimber, Jodie’s best friend since forever, Lauren was the nicest one. She was married with a daughter, a college friend of Kimber’s. The other three were like Barbies—Jodie called them “the triplets” in her head—all bleach blond, tanned, long-legs and fake tits. She could barely tell Brittany, Courtney and Delaney apart and mostly didn’t want to.

Her best friend, Kimber, was marrying Ryan Camfield, the heir to some sort of paper making fortune, and this trip to Vegas was her version of a bachelorette party. Jodie hadn’t gotten to that part of the planning yet herself, she realized, swallowing the lump in her throat.

But she had picked out and put a down payment on the dress.

That’s when her mother had made the remark about high school sweethearts and failing relationships. Right there in the dressing room while Jodie tried on wedding dresses. Of course, she knew the statistics, but she and Jason weren’t a statistic. They would beat the odds. They would be together forever. They might never make the kind of money Kimber and her husband did, but they would be happy. Forever. Ever after.

Until Jason found her on Facebook. Nicole. Jodie couldn’t even think about the girl without sneering in her head. Nicole the home wrecker. She’d seen her picture, had looked through all of them with a sort of pent-up rage that scared her. She thought she understood, now, how people ended up dead after break-ups.

Nicole was a brunette, pretty in a natural sort of way with rosy apple cheeks, a down-to-earth country sort of girl who liked Luke Bryan and pickup trucks. Jodie didn’t understand the appeal—what did Jason see in this girl? How had this Nicole invaded her life, her relationship? How had she managed to steal Jason out from under her nose while Jodie wasn’t even looking?

And how could he possibly have started and then continued this “relationship,” for six months, all the while letting her plan their wedding?

“You guys done?” Jodie dropped her iPhone into her purse as the girls approached.

“Jodie didn’t come to Vegas to shop or gamble,” Kimber teased. “She came to pawn some weird-ass rare book.”

“I came for you, Kimber.” Jodie snatched her purse off the table. Behind her, the Caesar’s Palace fountain show was beginning, the statues coming magically to life. She felt like she had to escape all of it. “I have to go to the ladies room.”

Of course, she didn’t have to—but she didn’t want to burst into tears in front of a bunch of women she didn’t know. And she didn’t want to tell Kimber about Jason, not here, not now. It wasn’t fair to spoil her friend’s bachelorette party with her own unhappiness. It wasn’t Kimber’s fault Jason was a jerk and Nicole from Buttfuck, Missouri was a homewrecker.

Jodie stopped at the full length mirror, doing what she’d been doing since she’d discovered all of Nicole’s texts and photos and the Kik messenger account on Jason’s phone—trying to find what, exactly, was wrong with her. She wasn’t perfect—her mouth was Angelina-Jolie-too-big, her plain brown hair probably too long, pulled back into a sensible ponytail—but she wasn’t hideous. In fact, as much as she hated to admit it, she and Nicole even looked a little alike, if you squinted from a distance.

So what did Nicole have that she didn’t?

“Hey.” Kimber pushed open the bathroom door, coming up behind her. “What was that all about?”

“Nothing.” Jodie tried to put on a smile. It almost looked real. “You’d be depressed too, if you thought your job was going to disappear inside of a year.”

“You might want to wait to complain about the sky falling until it actually hits you on the head, Chicken Little.” Kimber rolled her eyes, putting her hands on Jodie’s shoulders. “Besides, you’re the Simon Cowell of the publishing industry. Even if the whole thing goes to hell in a hand basket, you’ll be fine.”

“I’m sure you’re right.” Jodie slung her purse over her shoulder, turning to face her friend. “So what’s on the docket tonight?”

“Well, first we’re going to get make-overs.” Kimber tucked a short strand of platinum blond hair behind her ear as if it had been out of place. “Then we’re going gambling!”

“Sounds like fun.” The thought of group makeovers and gambling didn’t exactly thrill her, but this was Kimber’s show and she was running it. Never mind that girls weren’t supposed to plan their own bachelorette parties. Kimber had been running things since they met during their freshman year of high school and she wasn’t about to stop now.

“Are you sure it’s just the job-thing that’s got you down?” Kimber’s perfectly plucked eyebrows drew together in concern.

“It’s nothing.” Jodie felt her phone vibrating in her purse. She was sure it was Jason calling. Again. “I’ll tell you later.”

“Hey!” Kimber called after her, but Jodie left her in the bathroom, joining the girls at the Caesar’s Palace fountain show. They were giggling like teenagers because one of them had a laser pointer and was using it to delineate where all the statues’ male-parts should be. Very mature. But it was about par for the course, so far, on this trip.

“Ready to go get a make-over, everybody?” Kimber brightened as she approached and they all squealed in response at this new surprise. Kimber had been full of them, from springing for the plane tickets to taking them all to Cirque du Soleil, which, she had to admit, was kind of cool. Except she kept thinking how much Jason would have loved it, which just depressed her.

“Come on.” Kimber put her arm around Jodie’s neck, smiling at the rest of the girls. “Jodie needs some cheering up. I say we go get make-overs, dress up like prostitutes and go gambling!”

Jodie plastered on a smile at all the group enthusiasm. It didn’t really matter what they did, after all. None of it was going to cheer her up.

* * * *

“My goodness, you clean up good.” Kimber grinned, brushing Jodie’s newly cut, colored, styled and curled hair over her shoulder, looking on approvingly as the stylist finished the last of Jodie’s makeup.

“You look amazing. That dress is incredible!” Jodie blinked at her friend’s incredibly short skirt and impossibly high heels. She felt decidedly out of place in her jeans and t-shirt.

“You should have come with us into Versace.” Kimber wagged a finger at her. “Shopping is good for the woman’s soul, you know. Isn’t that a book?”

“I think you’re about my size.” Lauren, Kimber’s college friend—the nice one—piped up from the chair beside Jodie. Lauren was getting the finishing touches on an up-do, pretty dark curls piled on top of her head. “I’ve got a dress you can borrow for tonight, if you want.”

“Oh no, I couldn’t…” Jodie started to protest, but Kimber was already raiding Lauren’s bag. She pulled out a sparkly black dress, so short it made Jodie blush just looking at it.

“Oh wow, this would be perfect on you!” Kimber squealed, shaking the dress at her friend. “Go put it on! I wanna see!”

“No, really…” Jodie continued to protest but she was soon surrounded—even the triplets were ushering her into a bathroom in the back.

The dress was pretty incredible, she had to admit. Checking the tag pinned under the arm, she gaped in horror. Fifteen hundred dollars? For a dress? She’d never worn anything so expensive in her life. She undressed down to her underwear—boring white cotton bra and panties—and slipped the dress on over her head. Her reflection smiled back at her in the little mirror over the sink as she smoothed her hands down the sides of the dress. The hemline ended well above her knee.

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