The Billionaire’s Price – Chapter 1

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“I, uh,” she stammered.

He raised an eyebrow, but didn’t break a stride.

“Hi, I’m Victoria Slade,” she said, finding her voice. “Your four o’clock? I know I’m late but—”

“Punctuality doesn’t seem to be a priority for you, Ms. Slade.” He brushed past her.

“I apologize,” she said, walking beside him. It was hard to keep up with him and his long legs, but she did the best she could. “I thought perhaps we could reschedule. I’ll come back anytime—”

“Your resume says you work at a coffee shop,” he said, interrupting her again. “Is that the best you could do with your masters degree?”

“No. I mean, I’ve stated in my resume that I also write for magazines.”

As they walked past the reception desk, the man behind it gaped at her silently.

“You do freelance writing,” Mr. Chase said. “And you don’t make enough that you have to wait tables at a coffee shop, and now do tutoring work?”

“I have to make ends meet, Mr. Chase. Writers don’t exactly get paid as much as hedge fund managers.”

“No, but surely a woman of your intelligence and credentials should be able to manage her career and finances better.”

“I don’t understand. What does that have to do with the tutor position?”

They were walking toward an elevator. It had wider doors than the others, and was positioned farther away from the other. A personal lift, perhaps? His assistant rushed ahead of them and tapped a card on a panel on the side, and the doors opened silently.

“I’m looking for someone to entrust my child’s educational care. I cannot give it to someone who can’t seem to take care of their own financial well-being. Or,” he said, looking at her pointedly, “can’t seem to show up for a job interview on time.”

She opened her mouth to argue, and realized she had nothing to say to that.

He got inside the elevator with his assistant, leaving her standing outside.

Victoria wasn’t sure what possessed her, but in a moment of impulse, she dashed inside the elevator before the doors closed.

“Ms. Slade, what are you doing?”

I don’t know, she thought. It was as though she was compelled by forces beyond her control.

“I, uh …” she stammered. Great going, Slade. Really articulate. She cleared her throat. “Mr. Chase, I completely understand how you feel.”

“Do you?” He nodded to his assistant. “Let’s go, Frank.”

His assistant pressed a button for one of the basement floors. The elevator doors closed and they began their descent.

“I’m not an economics or finance major,” Victoria continued, seeing as he made no move to kick her out of the lift. “I’m pretty good with numbers but horrible with money. As a matter of fact, I only like money as much as it can pay for my groceries or my car insurance. But I don’t think your child needs a financial advisor right now. What he needs is someone who believes in the importance of learning, someone well-rounded who can make him see how different areas of knowledge are connected. Help him see how education is relevant to real life.”

Chase didn’t look at her as she spoke. He kept his eyes on the doors of the elevator, his face expressionless. Was he bored? Was he even listening to her?

“I think you want this for him,” she added. “This is why you asked me to come for this interview despite the fact that I’ve had no experience. The reason you considered hiring me was because of my educational background in English and Literature, and the fact that I write for science magazines.”

She studied his face, waiting for a response. Nothing.

“You didn’t hire an experienced tutor because he probably already goes to school run by highly paid teaching professionals,” she said. “But you want him to acquire an imagination, which is why you want to hire me.”

“Anything more, Ms. Slade?” he said, still not looking at her.

“Uhm, no. That’s it.”

“I see. Frank, we’ll be dropping Ms. Slade off at the first floor.”

“Yes, sir.”

She watched Frank push the first floor button, and her heart sank.

“My apologies, Ms. Slade, if you were under the wrong impression about this job,” Chase said. “I’m looking for someone to take responsibility for my son’s education outside of school. His school demands much from him, and I want to make sure he is able to keep up with these demands. I don’t believe you and he will make a good fit. Thank you for your time.”

“Oh. I see.” She had hoped he would at least tell her he would think about it and get back to her, but this was clearly a man who didn’t like to waste time. Disappointment felt like a physical lump in her throat, but she straightened her back, looked him in the eye and forced herself to smile.

“I understand. Thank you for your time, Mr. Chase.”

When the elevator opened at the first floor, she walked out. But a sudden thought made her stop and turn. “You seem to care for your son very much,” she said. “I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

Victoria turned and walked away just as the elevator doors began to close.

Well, that was that. She did her best, at least. She was still surprised at how she had jumped into that elevator without a thought in her head. They could have thrown her out the building for that.

What were you thinking, Slade?

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