Billionaire's Peeping Piper

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V. Meeting the Hobo

Piper’s POV:

I would be incredibly dense not to know Jackson still has some emotions for me.

I remember it.

The articles or photos of Jackson I come across in a magazine with him being with some models. To the world, he had moved past one of New York’s Cinderella.

But, whenever I look into his eyes.

I can still see it.

The small flickering of desire.

I’m well aware of it.

And I’m not the only one.

I ran my fingers up and down Emerson’s hair. Emerson had always felt insecure about Jackson. Who wouldn’t? I mean, I wouldn’t be too fond of some beautiful, wealthy woman looking at Emerson that way.

Yes. Jackson is attractive.

There is no denying it.

I raise Emerson’s head.

But, my heart belongs to the man sitting in front of me.

The father of our children.

When Emerson looked into my eyes, he knew.

During the years together, Emerson would rarely discuss about Jackson and me.

He knew I used to love Jackson.

He was there from the beginning.

He’s the man who helped me pick up the shards that used to be my heart.

“I’m still an idiot, aren’t I?” he asks.

“A little bit.”

“Am I still your idiotic bum?”

I nod, “You’re still my idiotic bum.”

“And, you will still take care of me?”

I nod, “Of course. I mean, if I don’t take care of you. Who’s going to take care of the unicorn demon outside?”

Emerson laughed then stood up. “You’re the best wife any husband can ask for.”

He kissed one cheek.

“The best.”

He kissed the other.

“The most beautiful.”

He kissed my forehead.

“The sweetest.”

He kissed my nose.

“I’m lucky to have found you.”

Then, finally, my lips.

I flick his forehead, ”I found you!”

“Ah. Yes. You sat on me.”

***

Entering the park, a slight breeze rustles the leaves. But, even with the wind, it’s hot. I exhale dramatically, “Of course,” I said to myself. “Of course he would have a good looking secretary. I mean, which young billionaire doesn’t?”

I chuckle to myself.

“Mom, why is that lady laughing at herself?”

“Don’t look at her. It’s rude.”

The mom gave me a rude look.

At least force your face to match your words.

I ignored it. “Sup Jackson and your stupid, overly attractive secretary.” I kicked a leaf, but it refused to move from the ground. Even the leaf is against me.

“I mean, is she even old enough to be his secretary?” I chuckled lowly, “Of course, she’s old enough. She’s an old lady. Probably suck her way to the top.”

“Sandwich! Sandwich for sale!” I turn my head towards the questionable sandwich man.

With a shrug, I made my way towards him. “Whatcha got?”

His eyes widened, “You serious?”

A group of children rushes past us, “I’m seriously hungry.” My broken heart needs food to be mend. “So, are you gonna tell me whatcha got, or should I go to an actual sandwich place?” I’m in too much of a bad mood to be nice.

“Oh.” He clears his throat, “We got baloney."

“Okay?”

“Yeah.”

“And?”

A child fell, and his parents rushed over to check his injury. He wasn’t injured, but his mental state might be bruised with his mother’s awful lecture. “That’s it,” the sandwich man said.

I leaned an elbow against the cart and pressed my forehead on my fingers, “I can’t get a break today. First, my man-” not really my man, “has a sexy secretary. Now, the sandwich man tells me he only has baloney.”

What a load of baloney.

“I make a good sandwich.” I look at him through the cracks of my fingers. “I promise. The best sandwich in the world.”

I groan, “Fine. Give me the damn sandwich.”

I watch as the man slick on gloves, “You’re lucky, ma’am.”

“Did you call me ma’am?”

“What?”

“I’m young enough to be your youngest daughter. Don’t call me ma’am.”

He forced a smile, “Of course.” He waved the gloved hand in front of his face. “I’m blind. I meant, miss.”

“Thank you.”

I watched as he made the sandwich. “Miss,” he said. “Thanks for giving me a chance.”

“Pardon?”

He put the bread on top and cut the sandwich in half. “It’s just...you’re my first customer.”

“Of the day?”

He laughs, “Of the year.”

What did the sandwich man say?

He hands me the sandwich.

“Um.”

He took a step to the left.

- No, take backs after the sandwich is made -

“There’s a problem,” I said. He tilts his head. “First of all, you shouldn’t have told me that I am your very first customer of the year when it’s already summer before I paid. And secondly, it should’ve said: No refunds. And the sign will only work after I pay.”

His arm moves down, “Oh.” He chuckles, “So, I guess you won’t want the sandwich.”

I should do it.

I should walk away.

I groaned and grabbed the sandwich. His face brightens up. I reached inside my purse and slammed down a ten.

“Oh? This is too much,” he said.

“Yes. I expect change.”

Another round of silence between us. “Oh.”

“Oh, what?”

He laughs, “I don’t have change.”

I pressed my fingers against my temple again, “Why?”

He shrugged, “Didn’t think I was going to get a customer today, either.” He exhales slowly, “I assume you would want your money back.”

I groaned again, “Keep the change.” I shoved the sandwich into my bag and stomped away.

“Thank you, miss!” he screamed. “And I promise you. It’s the best sandwich in the world! It’ll change your life!”

Doubtful.

After a street, I return to kicking leaves. I have to do it. Find a way to get rid of this anger before I return to the mansion. I cannot babysit a little girl with so much anger inside of me.

My body wiggled in frustration before I sat down on a bench.

“Holy hell!”

Immediately, I stood up and turned around.

My eyes widen at the wad of body lying on the bench. Despite the warm day, the body was dressed in layers.

I look around, only to notice how people would pass one by one without care.

I admit it.

I grew up quite shelter, so there’s only a handful of times where I would see homeless people. Despite growing up in a state where homeless is at its peak, my hometown didn’t have many of them. When I went to Santa Cruz, it was always school and dormitory. I rarely went anywhere else. And even if I did, there weren’t many homeless people.

Privilege.

That’s what I am.

Privilege, but not ignorant.

I knew they were always around, but what exactly can I do?

Volunteer at a shelter?

Volunteer despite the reality that I don’t want to?

I’m selfish.

I know it.

But, how many of us would, in actuality, pour in hours and volunteer?

Most of us would watch videos and applaud the hero.

Some of us would throw a few dollars here and there, particularly around the holidays, and call it a day.

You’ve given enough.

That’s humanity.

Detach from those without emotional attachment.

Am I trying to justify my actions?

Of course not.

I’m merely making sense of it.

I grab a stick and poke him.

No movement.

I poke him again.

Again. No movement.

Since I came to New York, I’ve seen a handful of homelessness up close. But, this is the first time I sat on one.

I poke him again.

The body moves.

My eyes widened, and the stick from my hand from to the ground when I met with a pair of deep brown. He groaned lightly before he sat up, “Mind not poking me with a stick?”

Deep.

I assume this isn’t his first time being poked with a stick.

He released a yawn before he scratched the beard. I watched as he moved his limbs, and one by one, they cracked. The hobo rests his arms on his thighs. “What?” he asked.

I continued to stare at him.

Pale face.

Pale lips.

He looks like he is on the verge of death.

The man laughed, “You’re looking at me for an awkwardly long time. Don’t tell me. Did you fall in love with me?” Despite being strangers, I can pick up the humor behind his voice.

I reached inside my bag and took out half a sandwich.

He stared at me, “What?”

“Eat it.”

He burst out laughing, “Do I look that hungry?”

Before I could respond, his stomach growled.

He cleared his throat, and even with the beard, I could see his pink cheeks.

Steadily, with his torn gloved hand, he grabbed half of the sandwich. “Thanks.”

After he took his first bite, I settled down beside him. With a single leg cross, I took out the other half.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“Well, I offered you half of my sandwich. Isn’t it only fair that you offer me half of the bench?”

I took a bite of the sandwich. It’s not that bad.

I noticed the hobo was looking at me, “What?”

“It’s just...no one would sit with me after they gave me some money or food.”

“Well, I’m short on friends here.” I nod to myself. “And seeing you make me feel better about my life.” I shrugged and took another bite.

The hobo laughed again, “You’re a blunt one, aren’t you?”

“That’s new. I usually get rude.”

He smiles, and somehow, it looks nice. “Well, with all things considered. You’re the nicest person I’ve met in a long time.”

Maybe, today isn't so bad after all.

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