One Night With a Billionaire(3)

Fair enough. “You’re high profile, and this’ll look good on my résumé.” Not entirely the truth again, but a little more mercenary.

That seemed to make Daphne happy. She touched the side of her nose in an aha moment and then pointed at Kylie. “Now I get you. All right, then,” Daphne said, getting to her feet. She seemed to be coming down off of whatever high she’d been on, and was almost normal. “I suppose I should get that fussy dick Powers and see what he thinks.” She winked at Kylie and gave a toss of her limp platinum hair.

And Kylie found herself smiling. When Daphne was playful like this, it was easy to see why she was so popular.

Daphne opened the door to the conference room and stuck her head out. “Powers, get your ass over here,” she bellowed down the hall, and Kylie winced. But Daphne’s method was effective. A moment later, Mr. Powers appeared in his stuffy little suit and took a look at Daphne. He eyed her critically, and then grabbed her chin and turned her face, checking it from the right and the left.

To Kylie’s surprise, Daphne was docile and stood for the humiliating treatment. When Powers grabbed one of Daphne’s arms and examined it, then peered into Daphne’s eyes, it reminded Kylie of someone purchasing a horse. Kylie couldn’t help but murmur, “Do you want to check her teeth, too?”

Daphne giggled.

Powers looked over at Kylie, his brows drawing together. “Did you do something to her teeth?”

“Inside joke,” Daphne said, and then held her skinny arms wide. “So what do you think?”

Powers looked over at Kylie, then back at Daphne, then back at Kylie again. “You’re hired. Send your salary demands to the personnel office.”

“You and me are gonna be great friends, Fat Marilyn,” Daphne announced, and then pulled out a flask.

Somehow, Fat Marilyn doubts that, Kylie thought to herself, but she couldn’t help but feel sorry for Daphne, just a little. She had to be miserable as hell on the inside to be such a mess on the outside.

Once Kylie had accepted the offer, she was steered toward the Human Resources offices. There, she’d signed contracts and talked salary and all the nitty-gritty details of her job details that both Mr. Powers and Daphne were too important to go over. To Kylie’s surprise, no one batted an eye at her salary demands, just agreed and set a start date. The money was a sum that made her happy, even if it meant touring for the next four months. The fact that they paid her demand without haggling told her she’d have to earn every last penny, though.

Still pleased with her new employment, she packed up her gear and headed back out to the street. Instead of returning to her friend’s apartment, though, she took a cab to the outskirts of L.A., deep into the quiet suburbs. “Wait here,” she told the cab-driver. “I promise I won’t be more than twenty minutes.”

“The meter keeps running,” he told her.

Kylie didn’t have a car, so it wasn’t like she could argue over the price. “Fine. Just stay, okay?”

He turned up the radio and gave her a thumbs-up.

Sucking in a breath, Kylie headed into the nursing home.

As soon as she stepped through the doors, the cool waft of air-conditioning touched her sweating brow. The sterile white tile floors were a blinding white, the walls a comforting pink. It almost distracted from the big locked automated glass doors that were only accessible via a keycard.

Kylie went to the visiting window and signed in. She handed the clipboard to the attendant. “I’m here to see Sloane Etherton.”

“Just a moment,” the girl at the window said. She turned in her chair and pulled a folder that was tagged with a yellow slip. “I’m supposed to remind you that your last payment didn’t go through.” She gave Kylie an apologetic look. “Do you need to talk to the billing department to make arrangements?”

She shook her head. “No, I can make a catch-up payment now. I . . . had some financial difficulty for the last few months.” Kylie pulled out her checkbook and began to write. “Everything should be fine now. I just signed a contract for a new job and I get my first advance payment on Monday.” Or as soon as she could finagle something from Mr. Powers. “Can I postdate the check?”

“We’re not supposed to accept postdated checks.”

“Well, I’m leaving the state in a few days to go on tour, so I won’t be here to pay in person,” Kylie snapped, annoyed. “So either you take a postdated check or you take no check.”