The Billionaire Game 3

By: Lila Monroe

ONE




I fled down the street, limping from the loss of my shoe, hearing the horns of passing cars but not caring, just needing to get the fuck out of there. I could still hear Asher’s voice resounding in my brain: ten million. Ten million. Ten million.

That was all our relationship had ever been to him: a means to an end, a way to win the bet with his slimy buddy Brody Dalton, a bet on who could take the biggest no-hope business idea and make it into a success.

No hope. No hope. No hope.

That was what Asher Young thought of me. That was what Asher Young thought of my brain, and my dreams, and my aspirations.

No hope.

“Katie!” Asher’s voice rang out startlingly real and close behind me, and I ducked quickly into a nearby Dairy Queen, yanking open the door to the women’s restroom and trying not to see the judgmental faces of its patrons as I slammed the stall door shut. My bare foot flinched at the coldness of the floor, and I thanked my lucky stars that it was at least clean. If I had stepped barefoot in bathroom crud after the morning I’d just had, I would have screamed.

“Katie!” The door banged open to the protesting squawks of the rest of the women in the restroom, who immediately hustled out, all indignation and promises to complain to the management.

Even worse, I heard—and saw, underneath the stall door—Asher’s thousand dollar Armani shoes clip-clopping towards me.

“Asher,” I said, trying my hardest to hold my voice steady even though I felt about as stable as a construction worker balancing on the edge of a support beam, “if you do not back the fuck off right now, I swear to God I will shove your head down this toilet and flush you all the way down to the city of the mole men where you can become the fucking king.”

Asher backed the fuck off. Or at least, he backed off to the sink, where I could just see the black leather edge of his loafers. “Are you really going to make me do this here?”

“I’m not making you do a damn thing,” I said, biting off the words like bitter bread. “You always do whatever the fuck you want, don’t you? No matter who it hurts.”

“Kate, it’s not like—” Asher cut himself off and sighed. I could hear him fiddling nervously with the faucet at the sink, the water running for a second as he splashed his face. “Please just come back to the store and talk to me.”

“There is not one single fucking chance of that,” I said, slamming my fist against the beige stall door. My voice caught in my throat, and I couldn’t make the rest of it come out: You lied to me, Asher. You made me believe in myself, and then you took that away from me. You took everything I loved and you made it a lie.

“Come on,” he said, and he gave a little chuckle whose nervousness was smoothed away in seconds by the purr of his voice: “What’s a pretty girl like you doing in a place like this?”

“Telling you to fuck right off into the sun,” I shot back, digging in my heels. “What, are you afraid that if you stay in a fast food joint too long, you’ll find out poverty is catching?”

“Be reasonable,” he said slowly and patiently, like I was a special needs dog he was trying to coach into the carrier for a trip to the vet. “You can’t hide out in a DQ bathroom forever, or even for more than a few minutes. The crowd back at Kate’s Trifles is hungry for you, and you need to get back in there and sell it. We can spin your exit, but only if you start behaving reasonably and—”

“Is ‘reasonable’ a secret code word for doing everything you say?” I snapped, the anger feeling hot and good within my chest. It felt like the only glue holding me together, like I would fall apart into a thousand weepy pieces if I loosened my grip on it for even a second. “News flash, Asher—‘screwing my brains out’ is just a turn of phrase. You’re good at manipulation, yeah, but I didn’t magically turn into an idiot the second you pulled out your cock.”

“You think the sex was just to—” Asher’s voice halted and he lunged towards the stall door. “How can you think that—after everything I’ve shared with you—”

“Oh, I’m supposed to still trust that now?” I asked. I could feel my heart breaking even as I said the words, because oh God, I wanted to trust him, I wanted to believe that everything he had ever told me about himself and his family and his issues was a beautiful gift he had given only to me, because of what I meant to him. But he had admittedly lied, about the one thing that meant more to me than anything in the world. And I couldn’t bring myself to trust him again.

The pain of a second betrayal would only be worse.

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