Billionaire Protector

By: Nikki Chase

But hey, at least I’m doing well, career-wise. I’ve actually appeared in some interviews for the food section of some small foodie magazines and websites, too.

I used to work at one of those restaurants that actually like creative chefs. But then I had to get involved in some workplace drama—involving the previously mentioned ex-boyfriend—and quit that awesome job.

Still, I’m now the head chef of one of the most popular mid-range restaurants in San Francisco, The Local. I regularly cook for people whose names regularly appear in the paper, like Emily’s rich in-laws.

It’s okay. I’ll find some other job soon, where I can have some freedom to shape the menu.

God, it would be so nice if I had the money to open my own restaurant, but that’s not going to happen—not unless I save up forever, which means I’ll be, like, seventy, when I have enough money.

It’s okay. Take a deep breath.

I’m doing fine for thirty-one. It’s normal to examine my life at this age.

I have a roof over my head and food on my table. I have a job that both pays the bills and is relevant to my field of expertise. I have a lot more than many other millennials.

I’m doing okay, and things are looking up.

I even have a date tomorrow night with Fred. Maybe we’ll manage to work things out. Fingers crossed!



“I’m glad you could make it,” Fred says as soon as I walk into the coffee shop.

“Yeah. It’s been a long time.” I give him a nervous smile. I take a seat across the table from him.

Fred and I met at work. We had an on-again, off-again relationship for as long as I can remember. Every time we broke up, I always told myself never to go back to him again. Then, like some masochistic moron, I went back to him, every time.

I hope this time will be different, though.

We’ve never been separated for this long before. It’s been five months so far.

Maybe Fred has had some time to reflect and change. Maybe he really wants to make it work now.

He has a laptop with him and he’s already drunk half the contents of his transparent plastic cup. I wonder how long he’s been here.

He’s wearing a lightweight black crewneck T-shirt and a pair of jeans, looking casual as can be. I guess we’re not going anywhere nice this afternoon.

I’m glad I picked a versatile little black dress to wear. I won’t look out of place no matter where we go. Along the spectrum of outfits that range from frumpy to trying too hard, this dress lies at just the right place.

“You look good.” He shoots me the sweet smile that used to send my heart pounding. It doesn't have the same effect on me anymore, I realize with a little surprise.

“Thank you,” I say, smiling even as my own lack of emotions confounds me. “Thanks for the compliment, and for the flowers.”

“What flowers?”

“The roses that you sent me last week for my birthday.”

“Oh, right. Happy birthday.” There's something strange with his smile. It reminds me of when we were just on the verge of breaking up. He's hiding something.

“It wasn't you, was it? You weren't the one who sent me the flowers.”

“I could've done that.” He shrugs.

“Yeah, but you didn't. That's what matters. God, I feel like such an idiot right now. I’m going home.” I get up, letting the metal chair legs drag on the floor noisily in my rush.

Why did I even bother coming?

I thought I was done with him, until he started sending me cute little bouquets of flowers, with the biggest one being the one he sent me for my birthday. I thought he was finally changing.

He was never an attentive boyfriend. I had to remind him to buy me a cake whenever my birthday came around. Then he’d show up with the sorriest excuse of a cake that he bought from the gas station at the last minute.

He put the minimum effort necessary to keep the relationship going. It was never bad enough to end things altogether, but it was also never good enough for me to imagine a happy future with him.

Then he cheated on me with a colleague.

He was the manager of the restaurant at the time and we all had to keep working together, which made things really awkward for everyone involved.

That’s why I got the job at The Local and moved away from that whole toxic situation.

Top Books