Home > Mr. Lucky: Billionaire Romance Novella

Mr. Lucky: Billionaire Romance Novella
Author: Nora Flite


Chapter 1

Calli


“You have got to be fucking kidding me!” I slapped the pleather check holder down on the laminate-topped restaurant booth table. Loose slips of white paper slid out with the paid check.

Had I really just gotten stiffed on a tip for the third time this week?

I sat down in the booth and massaged the dull ache out of my temples, a swell of defeat washing over me. My joints throbbed and my back had started to cramp up. No amount of coffee could keep the seven straight double shifts from finally catching up to me. The exhaustion I’d been ignoring all week was trapped in my rib cage and sat heavy on my heart.

How long can I keep this up?

I'd been asking myself that same question for a long while. If I was really, really honest with myself, I'd been asking it ever since my best friend had abandoned our hometown. Well, abandoned was a strong word, but she had run off to NYC years ago.

Don't be too jealous, I reminded myself scathingly. You'll get to see New York City soon enough. Zenya—the best friend that she was—had asked me to be her maid of honor. The wedding was this weekend, and I'd been trying all week to feel excited about it, but it hadn't worked.

“Never trust a customer who comes in five minutes before closing,” Marcos said, leaning over the restaurant’s bar. He was the owner and chef of Sophie’s Place. In his hand was an open bottle of rum—had he already started drinking? He took a few long swigs. “If they're too rude to notice the time, they probably won't have the presence of mind to give you a tip.”

I sighed and gathered up the receipts on the floor. “Your wisdom is always appreciated.”

He nodded sagely and took another deep drink. “Wisdom is worth more than money.”

I snorted in disgust. “We’ll see about that when my landlady changes the locks on my apartment for not being able to pay rent.”

Didn’t these customers realize I only made two dollars and eighty-three cents per hour? I NEEDED my goddamn tips!

“You have any bread left?” I asked, hating that I'd fallen so far.

Marcos disappeared into the kitchen and returned with a plastic bag half full of the brown house-baked bread we gave to everyone as a free appetizer. “Here you go, Saint Calli.” He paused, then pulled the bag just out of my reach. “Hey, any of this tax-deductible?”

“Give me that, Scrooge.” I stood up and pulled the bag to me, but Marcos didn't let go.

“Did you give my offer any more thought?” he asked, his normally apathetic face taking on a stern, almost worried quality. “No one knows more about this place than you.”

“I—can you give me until the end of the weekend? With the wedding and all that, I've got too much going on right now.”

His eyebrows lowered, like he knew that we both knew this wasn't about me being busy. Hell, I was standing here playing tug-o-war with leftover bread. Clearly, I needed money, and becoming a manager at Sophie's would give me that.

But how could I ever explain how terrifying it was to me to take the position? The job would give me security. It would also tie me to this place—this town I was desperate to escape. It wasn't my dream to be a townie, tied to a failing restaurant while all my friends became pilots and doctors.

The changing digital clock above the bar caught my eyes. “It's one in the morning? Dammit! Do you mind if I skip clean up? I have to be in Manhattan in six hours.” And I still had to pack!

Marcos nodded, let go of the bag and waved a hand dismissively. “Get out of here.”

“I owe you one!” I scooped up my purse, coat and the bag of bread, and bolted for the door.

“Hey!” Marcos called after me. “Tell Zenya to hit me up on Instagram some time.”

“I’m sure her fiancé would love that,” I replied. Marcos's hearty laughter chased me outside.

While a had a soft spot for my boss, the reality was, there was no way Zenya would ever leave her fiancé for someone else. The guy was gorgeous, and she couldn't stop telling me how great he was. How great her whole life was.

A lightning flash lit up the inky sky when I pulled out of the parking lot. I hated how sad I felt whenever I thought about her happiness. It made me feel like the worst person in the world.

Another crack of lightning split all the dark clouds, except the one that followed me wherever I went. Please, please, please don’t rain! My car handled like a wet bag of cats in the rain.

“Just get me through the weekend, Carrie,” I pleaded with my car, rubbing the dashboard lovingly as I drove. From the way it loudly backfired, it was easy to tell something was very wrong, but with Zenya’s dream wedding coming up I hadn’t had the time, or money, to get it checked out. “I promise, if you get me to Monday, I’ll get you a full check-up. I’ll even pick up one of those pine tree car fresheners so you smell pretty.”

I turned down my cramped side street to see a huge storage pad squatted in my unit’s clearly-designated parking spot. The long, rectangular, corrugated metal trailer looked like it fell off a MAC truck with no thought given to how it would affect anyone else.

“Nononono... Not now!” I pulled up behind the storage pod, which was locked up and dark. They weren’t even moving anything in! What kind of selfish asshole would do something like this?

Carrie's engine suddenly idled super loud and popped like a gunshot. It startled a scream out of me. In any other neighborhood that might’ve gotten the police called, but not where I lived on Washington Street. Carrie cleared her throat one more time, then finally died.

“Fuck!” I punched my steering wheel until my fists started to hurt. “Dammit, Carrie! No little pine tree for you!”

I fished my Triple A card out of my purse, dialing into my phone. The little voice on the line informed me it'd be between two and four hours before they could send someone to look at my car. Seriously? So much for getting any sleep before Zenya’s bridal party luncheon.

I grabbed the bag of bread and opened my door just as the rain clouds rumbled, lit up, and broke apart. Down came the water.

I jogged across the street and left the bag of bread next to the first door in the apartment building’s hallway. I knew Olga would find it in the morning—and if not her, one of her six kids. It would have been nice to keep some of the bread for myself... but they needed it more than me.

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