Echo:A Dark Billionaire Romance

By: A Zavarelli

“Look, I’m sorry,” she said softly. “But there are some things I haven’t told you. I’m still trying to recover from my last relationship and I’m not ready to date yet.”

“Oh.” I slid from the barstool I was propped on. “I’m sorry Nicole, I didn’t realize. But you know I’m here if you ever want to talk about it.”

She gave me a tight smile before turning her attention back to the city below.

“And I understand if you don’t want to go tonight,” I added. “It was silly of me to keep pushing the issue.”


Her phone rang, and she frowned at the screen before glancing back at me. “I have to take this.”

She walked out of the room, talking in hushed whispers, and I tried to ignore the weird feeling in my gut. Nicole had been taking a lot of private phone calls since I moved in, and she was never too happy about them. I wanted to ask her who was on the other line, but again it felt like an invasion of privacy.

So instead, I dragged myself to my room to get ready. I didn’t have a large selection of clothes, so I settled on the one pair of cute jeans I owned and a simple black tank top. The benefit of hanging out with Matt was I didn’t feel the need to impress him. We were friends, and that was it.

When I walked back out to the entryway fifteen minutes later, Nicole was waiting for me. She was dressed in designer jeans and a cute little sparkly top, and she had her purse slung over her shoulder.

“I changed my mind,” she announced. “I decided I want to go after all.”

I nodded and bit my lip, deciding not to say anything as we stepped into the hallway together. Because even though she was dressed to go out, Nicole looked like she’d rather do anything else.

Chapter Four

We met at a bar that was supposed to be an ironic trailer trash theme. The irony wasn’t lost on me as we stepped inside. My life in a trailer park was never this glamorous.

It was at this point I realized I was now living in an alternate universe. Since I’d moved to San Francisco, I’d somehow ended up living in a luxury apartment and working for a billion dollar corporation. I’d hardly had time to blink, and yet everything was changing before me. Now here I was, socializing with people who thought it was fun to venture to the low class for entertainment.

I couldn’t blame them, but it made me feel like I had to keep my real identity hidden away. Most of my co-workers came from well-to-do families who had racked up generations of Ivy League Diplomas. The only one who I thought might have been closer to my side of the spectrum was Matt.

He greeted Nicole and I at the bar, dressed in a black leather jacket and blue jeans. Simple and casual, and much more suited to his personality than his daily business attire.

“Good evening, ladies.” He winked and handed us a couple of menus. “Pick your poison, drinks are on me.”

Nicole pursed her lips and tried to hand it back. “I’m not drinking anything.”

Matt gave her a tight smile and took the menu from her hand. “Fine, then I’ll order you whatever Brighton’s having.”

He turned to me, and I tried to hide the smile behind my menu as they continued to bicker.

“I guess I’ll try the Kool-Aid cocktail. Sounds like my style.”

“Perfect.” Matt flagged down the bartender. “Two Kool-Aid cocktails coming right up. Why don’t you ladies grab us a seat somewhere.”

To my surprise, Nicole didn’t argue him on this point, and I followed her towards the back of the bar. There were groups of other employees scattered about, but she didn’t seem too eager to mingle with them. Instead, she chose a dark corner in the back.

Once we sat down, she dug around in her purse and retrieved a pill container.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” I asked, my eyes lingering on the pill in her hand.

“I’m fine.” She gave me a weak smile. “I get a little anxious sometimes, that’s all.”

“Hey, Brighton, Nicole. Nice to see you here.”

I glanced up to see one of the other employees from the Bennett Corporation standing over us. I’d seen him around a few times, but we didn’t work on the same floor, so I was surprised he even knew my name.

“Hello.” I smiled politely.

“It’s Tom.” He pointed at his chest. “I’m afraid we haven’t had much time to speak to each other at the office.”

Nicole ignored him as she pulled out her phone, leaving me to fend for myself.

“No, I guess we haven’t,” I agreed.

He gestured to one of the empty chairs next to me. “Do you mind if I join you?”

“Oh.” I shifted in my chair and snuck a glance at Nicole. “Of course not.”

He took a seat beside me and started to chatter away about work. After a few minutes, I relaxed. Tom seemed happy to steer the conversation, so I just followed his lead. When Matt returned with our drinks and sat down, he furrowed his brows when he saw that Tom had joined us.

Still, he made an effort to keep up the conversation and be polite. They both peppered me with questions about my life and what I thought of San Francisco. Every time the waitress came over they ordered us another round of drinks. The danger was that mine tasted like juice, and judging by the way my head was spinning I may have had a little too much fun.

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