Banking the Billionaire (Bad Boy Billionaires #2)(3)


by Max Monroe

“I’m hanging up now.”

He laughed. “Fine, fine. Call me when you’re back in town.”

“I’ll consider it.”

“You’ll consider it?” he repeated. “Well, fuck, that’s a hell of a lot better than the last time I told you to do that.”

My eyebrow quirked up. “What’d I say the last time?”

“That you’d slap me in the dick.”

“Don’t worry, T. I’ll find a way to accomplish both.”

His deep chuckles were the last thing I heard before hanging up the phone.

Only then did I realize I’d expressed my intent to see him. Because no matter how I planned it, dick slapping was an in-person kind of thing.

Forty years of my parents’ marriage and thirty-five years of my own life history had brought me here, back to my hometown, Frogsneck, New York. My parents were the picture of everything I wanted in a marriage when it came to commitment, and celebrating so many years of their love for one another tonight had been a seriously special experience. They were the best kind of people—loving and loyal and fucking honest to a fault.

But I hated being back here in my hometown, the looks people gave me and my parents never having faded even after this many years.

Perception is the ultimate example of “it is what you make it.” Unfortunately, what people “made it” sometimes lacked basis in the truth.

I knew I shouldn’t have come here to the local watering hole after the party. I should have remembered the past and toasted to the future in the privacy of my childhood home instead, but I hadn’t.

And now, as the door opened to reveal one of my most negative high school memories, I had to face the consequences.

“Hey, Ryan, you see who’s here?” Johnny Townsend asked his friend, Ryan Fondlan.

I’d spent so many of my younger years despising Johnny that even the sound of his name made my blood pump faster. That was probably the half-baked reason John from BAD rugby and I couldn’t seem to get along. BAD was the rugby team Kline, Wes, and I played on during the week and the basis of our ridiculous nickname, the Billionaire BAD Boys. The team was aptly sponsored by and named after Wes’s restaurant, BAD. It was a terrible fucking name for a restaurant, but hell if Wes wasn’t profiting. It probably helped that he owned an NFL team and drew in the professional athlete crowd.

John was on that team, and I couldn’t deny we spent far too much time tossing jabs at one another. Shit. I probably needed to try not to be such a prick next practice.

“Johnny—” Ryan attempted to interrupt, but it was no use.

Ryan had always been the well-meaning sidekick to Johnny’s insensitive ways, and it pained the fuck out of me to see them both singing the same tune after this many years. It’s one thing for boys to be boys, but it’s quite another for men to act like them.

“I almost couldn’t believe my eyes. A big shot like Thatcher Kelly at the Sticky Pickle? Seems odd to me,” Johnny prodded, trying to incite a rise out of me. He’d been pushing my buttons since I was an overweight freshman just trying to survive high school. I’d never been insecure, but he’d been all too happy to try to make me that way. The tables had only turned when two years, a foot of height, and fifty extra pounds of muscle on my frame made them.

“Cool it, John,” Ryan suggested, directing, “Have a seat and get a drink,” before turning to me.

“Hey, Thatch.” Ryan greeted me with a grimace, settling onto the stool next to mine and keeping himself between Johnny and me—a smart move—but that didn’t stop Johnny from looking over me closely as Ryan spoke. “How are things?”

“Pretty good,” I told Ryan honestly, but I kept it short in an attempt to make this interaction as painless as possible. I took a pull of my beer. I wasn’t normally that big a fan of Coors, but tonight it seemed to be going down smoothly.

“Been a while since you’ve been around,” he went on.

“Yep.”

“And you’re okay with that?” he asked, and Johnny scoffed.

“Of course, he fucking is. Too good for places like this.”

My jaw ticked, but I did my best to ignore Johnny and focus on getting through the conversation with Ryan.

“Yeah. I see everyone I want to regularly. My parents come up, and Frankie’s in the city.” I shrugged.

“Frankie,” Johnny said derisively under his breath, and I started to get really fucking annoyed for the first time tonight.

“Fucking watch it,” I warned as I pushed off my stool. The sound of it scraping across the wood floor pulled the attention of several nearby patrons.

Ryan immediately stood up between us. “He’s just having a bad night, Thatch. Recently divorced and his wife won custody today,” he whispered.

Forcing my pounding heart to slow, I sat back down on my stool and flagged the bartender to close out my tab. Safe to say going out for a relaxing drink was no longer anything but stressful.

“How is Frankie these days?” Johnny asked, undeterred. I tried my best to take Ryan’s information to heart and ignore him—and get the goddamn bartender to hurry up. The faster I got out of here, the better.

“Fucking shut up, dude,” Ryan advised as I towered over them. I’d never been meek, but now I was the exact opposite of meager. At six-five and two hundred and fifty pounds, I was practically double their size.

“He stays away too,” Johnny continued. “But I guess I wouldn’t come home if I were him either. A fucking scumbag pig in his own shit, clinging to the coattails of the guy who killed his fucking sister just to keep his crappy business afloat.”

Johnny stood up from his stool as my blood boiled, and he rounded Ryan to get in my face, a slimy smile on his.

His smarmy voice dropped to a knifelike whisper. “Tell me, Thatch. How does it feel to get away with murder?”

I watched as a drop of blood ran from the raw split in my knuckles and dripped to the concrete floor. One and done, I’d knocked ol’ Johnny clean out with a halfhearted swing of my fist, and now, here I was—in the cold concrete confines of an eight-by-ten cell.

As far as the eyes of the law were concerned, the one hit wasn’t that much of a problem, but the bar brawl that ensued between everyone else sure was. I guess in an old quiet town like this, entertainment value could be found nearly anywhere—even in an unlikely and unfounded opportunity for a fight.