Billionaire's Childhood Love

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LXIV. Heartwarming

Joshua’s POV:

Mom knocked against the door.

Melanie flings open the door, and anger was an understatement. She looks like she aged overnight. My eyes skew behind her, and I saw Juliette all beaten up. Her hair tangled across her face, and there were bruises and cuts all over. She wipes the blood from her lips.

Melanie pushes the door close to us, preventing us from seeing Juliette. “What do you want?”

“Joshua,” mom said. I press a hand against the door and push it open.

“What are you-”

Mom pushes past Melanie and heads towards Juliette. She exhales softly, “Let’s go.” She held out a hand.

Juliette bit her lower cut lip and grabbed it.

“Juliette. I swear-” Melanie marches towards Juliette and mom.

I stood between them. “Don’t touch my mom.”

Melanie knew she couldn’t fight against me even if she wanted to. But, I can say. The woman can really give out a death glare. Mom led Juliette out of the room.

“You think he wants you?” Melanie screams. “He doesn’t want a child like you!”

Inside the car, Juliette cried. She didn’t say anything, just cry on mom’s shoulder.

Dinner was spent in silence.

Caleb leaned towards me, “She’s really our older sister?” He whispers.

I shrug, “Eat your peas.”

“Juliette,” mom said. Everyone pauses. “Do you have anything to do tomorrow?”

Juliette immediately swallows her food. I can see her struggling to get it down. After we got back to the mansion, mom called in for a doctor to treat Juliette’s wounds. The doctor said they were all surface wounds, but Juliette has to be careful, so she doesn’t get an infection. “No, Mrs.Greyson.”

“Would you like to accompany me tomorrow to the store?”

Juliette smiles despite the pain in one of her black eyes. Yes, a black eye. I didn’t notice it at the motel, but on our way back, one of her eyes turned black. It was apparent someone - Melanie - punched her.

“I would love to Mrs.Greyson.”

Mom smiles softly before resuming her dinner.

I watch as Juliette shoves the food inside her mouth as if she hadn’t had a proper meal in a long time. She barely touched the food the first time I saw her.

“Slow down, or you may choke,” mom said.

Juliette places the fork down and carefully chews the food in her mouth. I can see it, the smile.

Soon, dinner was over, and we all went back into our bedrooms. I laid in the backyard and exhaled heavily. It’s been a long week.

“Josh,” Jada said.

I open my eyes, “Yes?”

“Here is the phone you asked for, and everything is transferred. Don’t worry. We erased everything on your old phone,” she informs me.

I grab the phone, “Thanks, Jada.”

“De nada,” she responds before heading back inside the house.

I turn on the new cell phone and instantly set a password. Then, it arrives, the stream of calls and messages. I’m not surprised. I packed up and left without a single word.

When I saw Hailey’s phone calls and messages, I clicked on them. There were streams of messages on whether or not I’m still angry at her. I can tell she’s sad.

I tap on the most recent voicemail.

The first thing I heard was hiccups.

“Joshie Pooh,” Hailey’s stream into my ear. I miss it. “I shouldn’t have done that. I shouldn’t have ignored you, so please, pick up.” She inhales a deep breath. “I was...jealous.”

My eyes widened at her proposal of jealousy, and I sat upward. Did she seriously say she was jealous?

“I didn’t want Jasmine to be your girlfriend.”

Oh shit. Okay. Calm down, Joshua Greyson. Maybe, she meant something else.

“No. I don’t want you to have a girlfriend.”

Oh. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck! Yes!

“Because-”

“Because-” I repeated her word.

“Because-”

“Because-” I got a bit more agitated.

“Because...I-” she inhales a deep breath. “No, I need to tell you something, Josh.”

“Fuck!” I scream amid silence.

“I want to tell you this in person and not over the phone.”

“No!” I continue to scream. “Say it over the phone. It’s okay, Hailey! Just say it!”

“Please, come back soon.” The voicemail ends.

I scream from the top of my lungs before my body drops back onto the lawn chair. “Why?” I whisper. “Why do people need to say it face to face? I’m okay with you telling me whatever it is you need to tell me over the phone.”

I spent the next day accompanying mom and Juliette shopping.

I called Hailey, but it went straight to voicemail.

So, I called Crystal, who hung up on me. She was angry that I refused to tell her what happened. I want to tell her, but I don’t want to say anything until everything is confirmed.

I called Ahmend, who was in the middle of having sex. Who the fuck picks up their phone while they are doing that? He said he missed me. Well, I certainly didn’t miss him.

Tyson told me he hadn’t seen Hailey for the last few days. Predictable since they aren’t that close.

Mason told me he’s been busy with Madison with school stuff.

I didn’t know who else to call. Hailey’s circle of friendship is very tiny.

I stared at that single name - Ricardo.

“Nope.” I turn off the screen.

“Nope, for what?” Mom asks.

I smile, “Nothing important.”

“Mrs.Greyson.” The door opens to reveal Juliette in a new outfit. “This is too much.” She scratches her arm while her body fidgets back and forth.

I read about Juliette last night. Yes, their background investigation is still going on.

She went to a regular elementary, middle, and high school. For most of her life, she was taken care of by her neighbors - whoever it was at the time - while Melanie toured the world with wealthy old men. She started working at twelve through various gigs such as babysitting, dog watching, tutoring, etc.

She got a full scholarship to NYU. Usually, she would be at school or work. Juliette works as a waitress and part-time tutor. Right now, she is on winter break.

But, she has a two-bedroom apartment in the city with five other girls. Yikes.

Overall, she doesn’t seem like a bad person.

Mom smiles, and I help her stand up. That’s my main job of the day. She made her way towards Juliette and fixed her collar. Her hand went towards Juliette’s bruised cheek. “You’re beautiful,” mom said.

Juliette’s purple cheeks turn slightly red. “Thank you, Mrs.Greyson.”

“You can repay your debt by helping Josh carry the baby bags.”

Juliette’s smile widens, and she nods. “Of course, Mrs.Greyson.”

Several decades later, we finished shopping. I think my life span was cut by ten years. It was that brutal. I don’t know how people can shop so often.

The maids came out to help us carry the bags. I gave it to them and cracked my back. I need to see a chiropractor.

“Joshua?” Juliette calls for me.

“Yeah?”

“Thank you.”

“For what?”

“For not treating me badly,” she said. “I’m really grateful.”

I exhale, “Juliette.” I scratch my head. I didn’t know what to say to her. After all, she is someone I met a week ago.

“You don’t have to worry,” Juliette said. “I’m not here to demand any of Greyson’s fortune. I just wanted to meet my biological father. That’s all.”

I exhale again. “Sorry for how dad has been treating you.”

Dad isn’t hot or cold towards Juliette. Most of the time, he just sat there and allowed mom to make all the decisions. I’m sure if mom wants to adopt, he won’t even say a single word of protest. Unfortunately, I’m also certain that if mom wants to kick Juliette out. He also won’t protest.

Juliette tucked a single strand of hair behind her ear. “It’s okay. I didn’t expect him to spread his arms and invite me into his life.” She clasps her hands together. “But, most of all, I’m grateful to have met your mom.”

“What?”

“You’re really blessed to have her, Josh.”

“Josh! Juliette! Come in soon. It’s cold outside!” Mom screams.

“Okay!” I shouted in return.

Juliette smiles, “Because I would give anything for her to be my mom.”

I know this unsettling feeling. Guilt.

I was a bit taller than Juliette even though she was much older than me. Even when she had years over me, it felt as if I was looking at a child. Someone who needs love. Not just any love. But, the love of a parent.

I pat her head, just like I did with Hailey whenever she gets sad. “Cheer up,” I said. “It’s almost Christmas. No one should be sad around this time of the year.”

Juliette bit her lower lip until the wound opened up. The blood trickles into her mouth. “Thank you,” she whispers. She hugs me. “Thank you so much, Joshua.”

Steadily, I pat her back.

It was weird.

Definitely.

But, nonetheless, heartwarming.

“Josh?”

Oh, shit all over again.

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