The Billionaire's Embrace Page 42

“And she’s been going fucking bananas ever since,” Sadie said. “Yeah. There was apparently some intense shit that went down with her mom and her ex, and I think being home was just a lot for her to deal with in general.”

Her ex? Regan had an ex? Who had apparently been important enough to her to still, six years later, be the source of intense shit. “She didn’t say much about it,” I said.

“Yeah, I figured,” Sadie said. “It doesn’t sound like she handled it very well. I think she had, like, stayed up all night sitting beside her grandmother’s casket, and then she called you. Anyway, I think she regrets it. Breaking up with you, I mean. But she’ll never do anything about it, so if you want her back, it’s up to you.”

“She told you that?” I asked. I wasn’t sure what to make of everything that Sadie was saying. It was too much to process. I had spent the last two months telling myself that Regan didn’t care about me, that she had left me without a second thought. The idea that she regretted it, that maybe she missed me, caused such intense cognitive dissonance that I felt as though the known universe had been inverted, and I had discovered a new and peculiar plane of existence, one involving an extra dimension or two beyond the realm of ordinary physics.

“Not in so many words,” Sadie said. “You know how she is. She told me about the breakup, and she hasn’t mentioned you again since. That’s how I know. The less she talks about something, the more it matters to her.”

“Maybe it’s just that she’s already forgotten about me,” I said.

Sadie gave me a skeptical look. “Yeah, right. You were the first man she’d been with, and she hasn’t had a relationship since high school—”

“Wait,” I said. “What?”

“Well, she was a virgin, of course,” Sadie said, and took a sip of her coffee, looking so innocently wide-eyed that I knew she was aware of the bomb she had just dropped on me. “Like, she never straight-up told me, but come on. It was pretty obvious.”

“It wasn’t obvious to me,” I said, through gritted teeth.

Jesus fucking Christ.

That put an entirely new and unfortunate spin on the situation.

Why hadn’t she told me?

If I had known—

Well, if I had known, I wouldn’t have touched her. Maybe that was the reason she hadn’t told me.

“It’s okay, men are pretty oblivious,” Sadie said. “Don’t worry about it. Anyway, the big problem here is that she’s got her head up her ass and won’t admit that she made a mistake.”

“I’m not going to show up at her apartment with a boombox, if that’s what you’re thinking,” I said. “She told me it was over, and I intend to respect that.”

Sadie sighed. “Carter, look. She didn’t break up with you because she wasn’t into you, or because you did something wrong. Her big fear is that she isn’t good enough for you. She hasn’t been able to articulate that to me, of course. She said a few things about how you were ‘too different,’ which in Regan talk means she thinks she’s gutter trash.”

How could Regan think she wasn’t good enough for me? If anything, I wasn’t good enough for her.

Maybe we were both afraid. Maybe that was the problem: neither of us had enough courage to face down our fears. Regan was afraid of inadequacy, and I was afraid of abandonment. What a sad pair. I rubbed my face and said, “Why don’t we just cut to the chase. What is it that you think I should do?”

“Okay,” Sadie said. “I’ll be honest with you, I’m not convinced that the whole high-flying billionaire thing is good for her, but she was happy and now she’s not, and I’m invested in her continued happiness. Do you understand what I’m saying? You do what I tell you to, and I’ll work on bringing her around.”

“That sounds a little threatening,” I said, carefully non-committal. I knew a watershed moment when one beat me over the head. This was my last chance to walk away with heart and dignity intact.

Sadie leaned toward me. “It doesn’t sound like you’re saying no.”

In for a penny. “I’m not,” I said.

“Good,” she said. “Now, listen up. I have a plan.”

Chapter 14

Sadie, it turned out, fancied herself as something of a tactical genius, an intellectual descendant of Sun Tzu. The first part of her plan involved having me learn about Filipino culture to convince Regan that I was capable of understanding her background. The second part required me to purchase certain things for my apartment and discard others, to make my home more welcoming. The third part involved learning to ride the subway—

“I already know how to ride the subway,” I said.

“Yeah, but when was the last time you actually did it?” Sadie asked. “When you were a kid, and your mom thought you needed to see how the other half lives? Get real, you have a car and driver. I wouldn’t take the subway either.”

“So then why is it so important for me to start taking the subway?” I asked.

“Who’s making the list here, me or you?” she asked. “That’s right, it’s me. You don’t get to ask questions.”

I rolled my eyes. We were in Starbucks again, three days after our first meeting, and Sadie had brought an actual typed list of things that I needed to do. I was beginning to get the feeling that her tasks were more about forcing me to jump through hoops for her own amusement than actually helping me to win Regan back. But it was important to be on Sadie’s good side, and so I was willing to indulge her, at least for now. It also gave me some more time to figure out how I felt about seeing Regan again.

“Okay, step four,” Sadie said. “Sell your company, give away all your belongings, and move into a yurt in Central Park.”

“I’m not going to do that,” I said. “Rent in Central Park is much too expensive.”

“What about a tent,” she said. “Smaller footprint, right? You can afford that.”

“Not if I sell my company,” I said. “How will I buy food? I have no marketable skills. My resume only has one line: Head Mogul.”

“Well, okay,” Sadie said. “You can keep the company for now. I pulled your expense reports from the last fiscal year. Pretty good profit margins, but corporate donations are on the low side. You can work on that.”

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