The Billionaire's Ballet (Friends with Benefits)

By: Deanna Roy


My evening was destroyed. I seethed with jealousy and anger.

Sonbitch Bennett indeed. I wanted to punch him.

Then I spotted Mom. She was with him!

I spun on my heel to get away as fast as I could. But Mom must have seen me. “Juliet! Wait!” she called out.

I was stuck.

I turned and waited for them to arrive. As they approached, I could see the woman was older than I thought.

I forced myself not to look at Bennett. I was already flashing to that last day on his sofa. My face blazed hot.

Mom took my hand. “Juliet, your performance was simply perfection.” She gestured to the couple. “I’m sure you remember Bennett. This is his mother, Carrie.”

My jaw dropped. “His mother?”

The woman extended a hand. “Lovely to meet you. I understand you had a hand in convincing Bennett to contact me. I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

“I—I did?” I stammered. “You do?”

I couldn’t look at Bennett. In the two months since I left the Claremont estate, my thoughts had turned to him often. Sometimes I pined. Most times I burned with anger and embarrassment that I’d been played so hard. A token in his revenge plot.

“I do,” Carrie said. “We’ve had two lovely visits, one in Portland, where I live now, and then this one here in New York.” She glanced around the halls, which were starting to quiet down as people met up and moved on with their evenings. “It’s very exciting back here.” She gazed down at me. “You were very lovely to watch. I can see why Bennett is taken with you.”

Now I couldn’t help but snap my head around to look at him. He stood stock still, hard as granite, like that night at the suite when he hadn’t wanted to talk about his mother. He nodded almost imperceptibly at me.

“We’d love to take you to dinner,” Carrie said. “Right, Bennett?”

She looked over at him, but he had barely moved, frozen in place.

He didn’t want that. He had no more use for me.

I sent a pleading look at my mother. She could not do this!

Mom totally got it. “Juliet is looking a little more peaked than usual from this performance and she has a matinée tomorrow,” she said. “Can we take a rain check on that?”

“Of course,” Carrie said. “I really did love the show.”

“Thank you,” I said.

Bennett still hadn’t spoken, but he nodded at me again as they turned away.

Mom walked with me back to the dressing room.

“I’m so sorry, Juliet. Bennett contacted me yesterday asking if it would be okay to bring his mother to your show.”

I pushed through the dressing room door, stripping off parts of my costume as I went. I didn’t have anything to say.

I picked up a soft blue T-shirt and jerked it over my head, then pulled my bodice off underneath it. Thankfully, this production didn’t have any required appearances afterward, just a cast party I could safely skip. I was not up for socializing.

“Are we still doing our traditional night at the Hyatt?” Mom asked.

I wrapped myself in a skirt so I could jerk the tights off and replaced my toe shoes with sandals. “Of course. I just didn’t expect to see him.”

Mother sat on the stool next to me. “You sure things are done between you two?” she asked.

“We haven’t even talked in two months. He didn’t even try.” I handed the wispy scarves and bodice to a costume assistant who was organizing the racks.

“Neither did you.”

“I wasn’t the one acting like an ass.”

I retrieved the bag she carried for me and shoved my tights and toe shoes inside. We meandered through the room to the back exit. The Hyatt was only a few city blocks down. And it was our tradition.

Thankfully nowhere on our walk was Sonbitch Bennett.





Chapter 24





When we got to our rooms, Mom came over so we could order our usual late-night room service. While we pored over the menu, she got three texts in a row but ignored them.

“Who is that?” I asked.

She shrugged. “Probably Carrie. I was supposed to sneak off with her if things went well with you and Bennett.”

“Mom!”

“Well? We thought you’d fall into each other’s arms. We were wrong.” She picked up her phone and scrolled through the texts.

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