Home > Blitzed by the Billionaire

Blitzed by the Billionaire
Author: Alice Ward


I pinned a final cardboard rainbow to my “Welcome to Kindergarten” bulletin board and stepped back to admire my work. I pictured my tiny students filing into the classroom the following day. Their little smiles. The chatter. Even the ones with tears trying so hard to be brave. I hoped the cheerful board welcomed those little ones most of all.

A loud knock drew my attention from the welcoming rainbow to my classroom door. My boyfriend, Ben, strode into the room with a broad smile. As our elementary school’s physical education teacher, he was in his standard gym clothes attire — sweatpants and t-shirt. He looked sexy as hell, like he’d just rolled out of bed, and I silently cursed the fact that our relationship was “hands off” while we were working.

“Hey, Emily,” he greeted me with a kiss on the forehead. “The board looks great. Are you about to wrap things up in here? I’m running to the club before the staff meeting. Want to join me?”

In addition to teaching PE, Ben oversaw the boy’s club’s pee-wee football program. Between after school practices with the school’s sports teams and his time at the club, he didn’t have a lot of free time. But I was always happy to tag along and watch him with the kids.

“I wish I could,” I replied with a sigh, pulling my long brunette hair into a sloppy bun. “Linda and I have a meeting with the Hollis family. We each have one of their twins this year, and they both have severe food allergies.”

Ben raised an eyebrow and perched on one of the miniature desks. “Didn’t you two meet with them last week?”

I nodded and sank into my cushioned desk chair. It was the first time I’d been off my feet all day.

“They just need one last bit of reassurance that we understand what Alfie and Alana are and aren’t allowed to eat. I think they’ll ease up after school starts and they adjust to not having the kids at home all the time. I’m happy to reassure them as often as necessary, but I do wish I could go to the club with you.”

Ben glanced down at his watch and rose to his feet. “Speaking of which, I should get going if I want to get back in time for the meeting. Want to order Thai and stay at my place tonight?” he asked, a grin lifting one corner of his mouth.

The grin was contagious and I couldn’t stop myself from smiling back. “Yeah, I think that’s a tradition we should keep.”

“Perfect. See you soon, baby.” He blew me a kiss and left the room. I stared at the closed classroom door and thought back to the night we’d become a couple.

Ben and I met the previous summer when we were both hired to teach at The Day School, Portland’s state-of-the-art charter school in the working class King neighborhood. We were both fresh out of college and anxious about starting our careers. We bonded over our newbie status at all of the staff development sessions, but our relationship was strictly platonic until the night before classes started.

Ben found me in my classroom that night quizzing myself with flashcards of my students’ names and faces. I remembered being terrified on my first day of kindergarten and I was determined to make the day as easy as possible for my students. Ben suggested that we have dinner, one thing led to another, and we’d been together ever since.

Ben was a walking cliché in the best possible ways. He’d been the star quarterback at his high school and went to Iowa State on a football scholarship. A torn ACL ended his senior season early, destroying his dreams to play in the NFL. After graduation, he returned to Portland to follow his next best dream of one day coaching his old high school team to a state championship.

Physically, Ben was exactly what you’d envision if someone uttered the words “prom king.” He was tall and broad, with sandy blond hair, clear blue eyes, and dimples that made it impossible to stay mad at him for more than a few minutes. The most irresistible thing about him was he had no idea just how cute he really was. Ben was modest, reliable, and, in my friend Melissa’s opinion, predictable to a fault. But after the life I’d lived, predictable was just what I needed.

My parents, Emma and Lee Kinkaid, were killed by a drunk driver on their way home from a Christmas party when I was just three months old. According to my Uncle Walt, it was the first time my mother left me. She hadn’t planned on joining my father at his office’s annual party, but Uncle Walt was in town for the holidays and he offered to watch me so they could enjoy some time together.

A few hours later, a police officer arrived at the house and broke the news. Uncle Walt was my only surviving relative, save my mother’s parents who were already in a retirement home and in no condition to raise an infant. Uncle Walt adopted me and added my parents’ combined names to the moniker they’d given me, making my full name Emily Catherine Grace Kinkaid. It was a mouthful, but I was proud to carry my parents’ names.

Uncle Walt was only twenty-four when he became my parent. I imagine most single men would immediately start looking for a wife after being thrust into instant, unexpected fatherhood. But not Uncle Walt. He was an incurable bachelor who, in his words, “loved women too much to settle for just one.” To his credit, I didn’t realize what a player he was when I was a child. I just thought he worked a lot. When I finally put two and two together, I kept my revelation to myself. I was old enough to realize he’d gone to great lengths to keep his private life out of our house and I had no desire to call him out on it.

Uncle Walt had been completely unprepared to raise a child, but he figured things out the best he could along the way. In so many ways, he succeeded. Although my legal father, he never referred to himself as my dad. Instead, he filled our apartments with pictures of my parents and told me every story he remembered about them. When I went to him for advice, he’d tell me not just his opinion, but what he thought they would say as well. Because of him, I knew them despite the fact that I didn’t have a single memory of their faces.

My uncle loved me and I have no doubt that he always had my best interests in mind. But my childhood wasn’t what anyone would call stable. Uncle Walt was a pilot and we moved a lot as he was promoted up the ranks at Universal Air. He doted on me when he was home, but I spent a lot of time with nannies during the school year and at camps during the summer. Uncle Walt was very careful about who stayed with me and unlike most of the other pilots’ kids I knew, I never resented him for leaving. There had always been an unspoken understanding between us. Neither of us had the lives we were ‘supposed’ to, but it was okay because we were in it together.

There were benefits to my uncle’s job. He got three weeks of paid vacation every year and we never had to pay for flights. That meant three weeks of exploring a new and exciting country every summer. But the vacation memories provided little comfort when arriving to yet another new school as the new girl, year after year. It wasn’t until I started college that I developed real, lasting friendships.

After a lifetime of never knowing when Uncle Walt would announce that we were moving again, a rooted man like Ben was exactly what I needed. He’d grown up in Portland behind an honest-to-God white picket fence. His father, Carl, managed a branch of Pacific Bank and his mother, Lois, ran the local soup kitchen. Ben was the middle child, sandwiched between his sisters, Holly and Shannon.

The entire family still met for Sunday morning service at United Methodist, followed by brunch at the nearby IHOP. The Garrison family welcomed me with open arms and I settled in just as eagerly. I longed to become an official member of a ‘regular’ family. And I had a hunch that my wait was almost over.

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