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Escorting the Billionaire #1(6)

By´╝ÜLeigh James

 
I’d left Boston for grad school, and I went back as rarely as I could. But this time there was no way out. Todd was probably getting married just to spite me. In a classic dick move, he’d also asked me to be his best man. He had me then. My mother insisted that the best man had to attend every event, including the trip to Eleuthera, to fulfill his duties.
 
“Who takes their family on their honeymoon?” I spat out at her when she’d told me there was no getting out of it.
 
“Someone who loves their family,” she’d said icily. “But I guess you wouldn’t know too much about that.”
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
It was the flight from hell. I’d grabbed a window seat, ordered some coffee, and was reading the Wall Street Journal on my tablet. The other passengers were filing in, taking their seats. I took no notice of them until a frizzy-haired forty-something parked her kid next to me. “Be good,” she told the boy. “I’m in the row right behind you with the twins.”
 
She looked at me and pointed to the boy. I noticed that her mascara was smeared a little under one eye and that she had a little something that looked like jelly smeared on her cream-colored blouse. “This is Liam,” she said.
 
I looked at her blankly. She sighed and turned back to her son. “Don’t ask the fancy handsome businessman for anything. He’s useless. Just like Daddy. But I’m right behind you. Just call me if you need me.” She kissed him on the nose and then gave me a fiercely dirty look.
 
“Can I pway with that?” Liam asked, pointing his grimy little hands at my tablet.
 
“No way, kid,” I said and put my earbuds in.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
The twins screamed the whole flight. The earbuds did nothing to block out their wails.
 
“It’s their ears,” I heard their mother telling the flight attendant.
 
Their fucking ears had been hurting for six straight hours. If I were her, I would have given them both sleeping pills to knock them out.
 
I wasn’t her, and I was thinking about trying it.
 
“Poor things,” the flight attendant said while everyone in first class glared.
 
Liam was looking up at my tablet again, longingly.
 
“Oh, just take it,” I said. I opened up the Flappy Birds app and practically threw it at him.
 
“Miss?” I called. “I’d like a double bourbon.”
 
I also sent the frizzy-haired mother a glass of Chardonnay. She clearly needed it, and despite what people say about me, I am not a complete prick.
 
Not always.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A driver in a suit was waiting for me at Logan with a Preston sign. I raised my hand in greeting, and he gave me a pleasant smile and took my bag.
 
“Mr. Preston, I’m Kai. A pleasure to meet you.”
 
“Get me the hell out of here. The flight was full of screaming kids.”
 
“Of course, sir. You can wait in the car while I get your luggage.”
 
A Mercedes SUV was parked at the curb, hazards flashing. Once inside the cool, dark interior, I leaned back and tried to relax. The memory of the screaming twins didn’t help. The fact that I had to go see my mother and then pick up my prostitute/wedding date didn’t either.
 
Kai came out shortly with my luggage, and we sped away from the airport. “Where can I take you, Mr. Preston?”
 
“I need to go to my parents’ house in Beacon Hill.” I gave him the address. “Then to the South End to pick up my…girlfriend.” The word felt foreign on my tongue. But I might as well start the facade now. “I have a dinner tonight, a brunch tomorrow…you’ll be driving me to all sorts of annoying shit all week.”
 
I grabbed my phone and called my office assistant, Molly. She answered before the phone even rang. “Yes, Mr. Preston?”
 
“Where is the Mueller report?” I asked. “It was supposed to be sent to me during the flight.”
 
“There are a few problems with it,” she said. She was using the tone I mentally referred to as the Don’t Make Mr. Preston Scream at Me tone. “The inspections didn’t come back the way we hoped. The EPA’s going to have to be involved.”
 
“Are you kidding me?” I yelled into the phone, because (a) this was bad news and (b) I was trying to toughen Molly up. She’d been working for me for ten months, and she’d already cried twice. But this was real estate. If she kept crying, I was going to have to replace her. I didn’t have time to emotionally babysit anybody—especially not the hired help.

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