Pawn of the Billionaire

By: Kristin Frasier & Abigail Moore



Dumping the tray on the nearest empty table, I crouched down to pick up the silverware. My head met the stranger’s with what would have been a sickening crunch if he hadn’t seen me coming and jerked backwards.

“I’m sorry, sir. Thank you for helping.” I gritted my teeth. “I can manage, though. Please sit down.”

His face was expressionless. He nodded “All right, then. If you’re sure?”

I looked up, caught his eye. Suddenly I felt the world teeter. My whole world seemed to change in an instant. How the hell had I only just found out that love across a crowded room was a real thing? As my eyes met his, it seemed as if I already knew him. Stupid girl! I dropped my eyes fast. I couldn’t think like this, there was no way that he and I were even on the same planet.

I hurriedly collected the cutlery and piled them onto the tray. This time I was much more careful, and I made it out to the back without cocking everything up again. But I’d hardly started loading the dishwasher when Marco’s voice from the front echoed through to the back.

“Toni!” He sounded really cross this time, and I stopped doing the loading. I rolled my eyes at Pete, who grinned sympathetically back, and hurried out to the front, drying my hands.

“What can I do, Marco?”

Sam was shuffling to the men’s restroom. His head was down and he looked even more downtrodden than normal. I watched him go, ignoring Marco, whose exclamation of disgust was a sign of increasing blood pressure.

Once the door swung behind Sam, I turned to Marco. “What did he do?”

“He’s a liability, Toni. He can’t keep coming here, and it’s about time he moved to another diner. He upsets all the paying clients. Look!” He gestured towards the man at the back table.

I looked over with reluctance, knowing my body betrayed me every time I looked at him. He looked uncomfortable, but there was a smear of grease down the sleeve of his light colored coat. I knew Sam must’ve brushed past him going to the men’s room, and cursed myself for seating the stranger there.

“I’ll pay for it to be cleaned.” I gritted my teeth. “Take it out of my wages. Sam needs somewhere to go when it’s wet.”

“It’s not that!” Marco’s blood pressure must be through the roof. I listened, head down. Maybe his wife had given him trouble this morning.

“I can’t have him here, Toni. Look at the state of his table, all his bags. Then falling onto another customer. It won’t work.”

I cast a glance at the men’s room. I really hoped Sam couldn’t hear this. Rage overtook me.

“He fought for this country. All his hopes and dreams of the future lost when he was injured obeying orders, defending us!” I couldn’t help myself, all the anger at the desperate need to change things, the helplessness of the poor, the inability to make things right. Even the sadness of the parents fighting disease in their children. It all added up to a miserable existence for them and for me. I couldn’t help them.

“Now you just don’t want him in here, because his balance is gone and he makes you uncomfortable!” I suddenly realized what I was doing. I was throwing away my job here. And I needed it.

I dropped my head. “Marco, I’m sorry. I wasn’t thinking.” I looked up at him, trying to produce a tremulous smile. “I really feel sorry for our vets. Maybe I could give him that table in future, then he won’t be so much in the way?” I widened my eyes, “I’m really sorry.”

My eyes flickered over to the man sitting at that table. I couldn’t help myself. He looked as if he was trying not to grin. He’d seen through my attempts to manipulate Marco. I looked away hurriedly, feeling my breathing rasping. God, I had to concentrate on my job here.

Marco’s face was a study in indecision. He wanted to make a stand, but he didn’t want to lose me, that much I knew. “Well, girl. You’ve got to manage things better.”

I sensed a movement behind me. The sexy man brushed past me as he went to the door and a jolt of electricity made me jerk. But his face was expressionless, tight.

“No offense taken, mister. I think the girl’s right. Let the vet stay.” And he pushed out of the door. I started after him since he hadn’t paid. Then I glanced at the table. A twenty dollar bill was tucked under the mug. My eyes bulged. I heard Marco chuckle.

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