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The Billion Dollar Girl


Ͼ Ella Castillo Ͽ

“That’ll be three dollars and ninety-nine cents.”

I gave the man the money and he handed me the pack of lollipops. Neat exchange. Right away, I ripped it open, pulled out my current craving – strawberry – and tore off the wrapper with my bare teeth. Soon, it was in my mouth and I was sucking happily on it.

“You look ecstatic,” James said, watching me. I gave him a broad smile, pulling out the lollipop as I did so.

“They’re my favorite food.”

“You count it as a food?”

“Yep. What else would it be?”

“I don’t know. Junk?”

We were walking down the sidewalk. I was waiting for him to start – after all, he did promise to tell me the story. About three lollipops later, once we’d depleted all subjects of small-talk, I started wondering if he’d simply forgotten. As we passed through a park, I was working on a way to bring it up casually. James surprised me by grabbing onto my hand and pulling me down onto a bench.

“Do you really want to know?” he asked intently, as I regained my sense of gravity. James lowered himself onto the bench beside me. “The story about Will and Ash?”

“I want to know,” I said at once. It was long enough. I would’ve liked it if it had been Ash to tell me, but apparently he didn’t trust me. “I’m married to him. I have to know why Ash is being so hostile.”

“Right,” James mumbled. “You have to know.”

He gave a heavy sigh.

“Do you believe in love at first sight, Ella?” James asked. I frowned, wondering where he was going with this. “Well,” he continued, “that’s how it was like for them. They couldn’t help it. As soon as they saw each other, it was over.”

“Are you talking about Will and Ash?” I said incredulously.

“No! God, no! I’m talking about Ash’s mom and Will’s dad. Brother and sister-in-law. They weren’t related by blood.”

“Oh, right,” I said, sighing in relief. “Start from the beginning.”

“Will’s father…” James muttered, mirroring my sigh. “…ran the company Ash’s father runs now. He basically brought it back from the dead after his own father almost wrecked it. Will’s dad reclaimed his family’s fortune, and more. The whole Castillo family owes everything to him.”

I had no idea Will’s father was the one who originally owned the company. It was interesting, I guess, but I didn’t really see where the story was heading.

“Ash’s father was grateful as well. Suddenly, everything was going right for him again. He was welcomed back into Manhattan’s social circle, and went straight to the top. He met a beautiful woman – Ash’s mother – and fell in love. Ash’s parents were probably glad that Ash didn’t have the pressure Will did. Because Will, being the natural heir to his father’s company, had the weight of the world on his shoulders.”

“Will used to be the heir?” I gasped. I was starting to see the rift.

“And it didn’t help that his mother had divorced his father shortly after she gave birth to him,” James continued. “They split, because of marital difficulties. And with his parents hardly around, Will was lonely. Ash was his only friend.”

“They used to be friends?”

“The best,” James confirmed, nodding. “Until they were about six or seven, I think.”

“So what went wrong? How did Ash end up as heir?”

“Love,” sighed James. “The second Will’s father and Ash’s mother saw each other…it was the end.”

“Wait…” I frowned. “They only met when Ash was six? Surely if they were brother and sister-in-law…”

“Maybe I didn’t explain well enough. One of the reasons Will never had his father around was because he was in Europe, to look over some branch of the company there. When he finally came back, it happened that Ash’s mother was also in town. Kind of lucky, since she’s almost always abroad. She was a model,” he added, when he saw the confused look on my face. A model? I was beginning to see where Ash got his damn good looks from. “And I think it was at Ash’s fifth birthday party they first met. And, like I said, love at first sight.”

“So Ash’s Mom left him?”

“Not at first, but she was pretty unhappy for a long time. Caused a rift in the family, I guess. But the Christmas when Ash was seven…Apparently, there was some kind of fight. I don’t know much about that. But that was the day Ash’s Mom ran away. And what happened after that…” He sighed. “Well, there’ve been rumors, but Ash tells me nothing come close to the truth.”

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Ashley Greeneas Ella
Alex Pettyferas Ash
Matt Lanteras Will
Chad Michael Murrayas Zack
Blake Livelyas Lucy

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