“Your vanilla chai iced coffee, Ms. Patterson.” My assistant, Kelly placed the cool beverage down onto my desk as she usually did every morning at the start of my early mornings at the office. This would be the first of the many caffeine-induced drinks that I would have throughout the long day and hours that I spent each and every single day to maintain my status as the richest female billionaire in New York City.
“Thank you, Kelly...I’ll call you if I need anything.” I nodded and smiled at her politely and watched as she let herself out of my office so that she may return back to her work. I focused my attention back on my desktop where all my daily agenda and the leftover workload was settled and ready for me to finish up with; I had to make sure that the many companies and business I owned were on track and if they weren’t, I wasn’t going to be a happy woman today.
I looked through my files diligently, losing my sense of reality as I zeroed in on the computer screen, my ears perked once I heard my cellphone vibrate on the table beside me, bringing my attention away from my work onto my personal device.
I picked it up on the second ring knowing exactly who was calling me at this moment.
“Hey Aunt Ivy, how’s it going?” I put her on speaker as I began rigorously typing response emails to associates that I had promised to get back to in a timely manner. I hated doing mundane things like this, but I was such a perfectionist that I always needed an eye on things to make sure they were done right; maybe one day I would fall out of that obsessive habit.
I heard a bit of crackling behind the line but that could just be my own ears deceiving me. “I’m fine dear... it's beautiful in Tahiti I’m grateful that you sent me here.” She said sincerely.
I didn’t mind spoiling my auntie not one bit. I loved her so much; she was the only family I had left after that accident that killed not only my parents but my uncle as well, my aunt’s husband.
We were the only two that survived that collision, still, we stayed in the hospital for more than a month with fractures, broken ribs, and concussions. Doctors were astounded and surprised that my auntie and I didn’t make it out with more complications and life-threatening injuries.
Still....that memory was so long ago. Twelve years later, it still felt like it was yesterday our family was riding in our SUV towards downtown Brookline, Massachusetts, where I formally lived before Aunt Ivy and I moved to New York.
I closed my eyes and remembered the feeling of the hot sun resting against my face despite the fact that the windows were rolled up and the AC was blasting high; a normal hot day in the Metropolitan city. My aunt, uncle, and I were in the back jamming to some old classics by Donna Summer.
Talking about the sad girls!
Talking bout bad girls yeah!” We sang at the top of our lungs.
I remember my mother turning around and flashing her large and brilliant smile at me as I got into the rhythm of the music. Dad was nodding his head along with a small smile playing on his face, his shades were on his eyes protecting them from the harsh sunlight. I loved this feeling of being surrounded by my family with no care in the world.... just love and happiness. My uncle nudged me at my side and I turned to look at him as he whispered into my ear.
“Don’t tell your aunt, but she does not sound like Donna Summer.” He chuckled.
Aunt Ivy cut a playful glare at him. “I heard that Reggie!” She announced and everyone laughed.
Not a moment after she said that did my eyes turn to the front of the dashboard where a truck was swirling out of control and into our direction. My face fell instantly and my eyes widened with the quickness...my father didn’t react fast enough. It felt like a slow-motion reel for me after that truck had collided with us and sent our car flying off the highway and into the oncoming cars.
My heart was beating so erratically I could’ve died right there, my eyes endlessly danced around the vehicle as it spun and spun and spun and spun......I don’t know how many times it spun after that because it all went black from there.
I woke up in a hospital with clean bright lights and a group of doctors stared over at me as if I was some sort of science experiment. They told me I had been in a coma for three days, I had eight broken ribs, a fractured arm, a broken leg, and a severe concussion. They later told me both my parents and uncle died. My aunt cried every night in the hospital room, I was numb...I couldn’t feel anything, I couldn’t feel any emotion.
I never wanted to hear the damn song again.
After my aunt and I were well enough to leave the hospital, we planned the funeral. Many of our friends and extended family supported us, but my aunt was inconsolable, crying her eyes out until they finally took her away in fear she would get sick again.
I just sat there dazed.... feeling and watching as they took my family away from me; buried them deep into the ground where I would never see them again. Two days later, my aunt and I packed up to New York leaving Brookline in the past in search to start our sad futures together; somewhere that we didn’t have to “feel” anything.
“Valeria!” My aunt’s voice shook me out of my pained-filled thoughts.
I snapped my eyes opened and realized that I hadn’t sent out my last message to the banker I was exchanging emails with back and forth. I quickly sent it out quickly and focused the remaining attention on my pleading aunt.
“I’m sorry auntie, I just got caught up writing an email.” I lied hoping that I sounded authentic enough to her over the phone.
She was silent for a brief moment, “I was just saying that I wished you had come with me...it seems all you do these days is work, travel to work, and then work some more. How about you relax a bit? You’ve done an amazing job taking care of both of us.” She implored.
I sighed. Not this again. This is exactly why I sent her out on a vacation! So, she didn’t tell me that I had to take a vacation. I was content with working my long hours doing what I did best.... making my money make more money. I put businesses into existence, I supported and created major charities and organizations, I sourced the people that created legacies that would never fail; it was what I did and I loved every second of it.
Not to mention it took all the pressure and stress of my past life off of my back, overloading my mind with things to occupy myself with.
“Aunty I’m fine I don’t need a vacation I have too many things to do,” I explained to her.
I could hear her deep sigh over the phone. “Baby, you’ve been taking care of me since you were fourteen. I couldn’t imagine another beautiful, smart, and powerful niece than you Val....but sometimes you need to know when to push the stop button on your work machine. Life is too short we need to live a little and be thankful for every day God has got us walking on this earth.” She said to me.
I bit my lips and turned my chair around to face the breathtaking view of the New York skyline behind me. Prime real estate that I had set my eyes on the moment I stepped into the building; I bought it on the spot. Seeing my empire like this always reminded me of the grind and hard work I did in order to get myself there.
At this moment, it was just the beginning of the afternoon time and there wasn’t much to see but the constant rush of the cars and people on the streets, but I liked watching them from time to time. It was like a silent movie in my head. I continued viewing them, their lives were all different and unique, vibing in their own bubble of a world; so different from how I was currently living. It was one of those weird things I did to occupy myself.
“How about I make it up to you, auntie and we’ll get to the Bahamas in two weeks after I get everything sorted out in my business?” I proposed to her, feeling the guilt of not being around her so much begin to eat at my spirit; I loved my aunt and wanted to spend as much time as I could with her, but it was so hard these days; though I would make time for her. For her, I would.
I could hear scratching and muffling on the opposite line of the phone, or that could be the crashing waves of the beach. “Oh! I love that idea, Val... it’s a deal. I finally get to spend time with my busy billionaire niece.” She joked.
I lifted my lips into what would be depicted as a smile and breathed a sigh of relief that she was no longer badgering me on my constant workaholic behavior.
“Alright, Val... I’m going to head back to the hotel now. I’ll call you later and send you some more pictures, okay?” She said to me.
“Okay, auntie be safe,” I replied to her.
“You too, baby.” And the line cut off.
I sat my phone onto my glass desk and grabbed my melting iced coffee resting on my left side where all the rest of my papers laid filled with numbers and graphs. I took a long and satisfying drink before refocused my energy onto the television that I had turned on previously; they were speaking about me on a news broadcast. I hated whenever I was publicized I liked to do my work in quiet, but alas, that was nearly impossible when you were as successful as me.
“Billionaire Valeria Patterson is at it again, creating more businesses and jobs for the American people. She is a force to be reckoned with!” The news reporter stated. I watched as they showed countless pictures of me walking around New York with my associates, and then with me at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at a new development I spent a couple of months pursuing just to add to the need for jobs of the unemployed. It was what I did, and I loved doing it, but it was only a small portion of the extraneous number of things I stuffed my hands into.
When I was fourteen and my auntie and I had moved to New York, she was struggling to keep up with the rent and other bills around the house after we had to use most of our money for the funeral costs and other medical bills; no doubt the private school I had once attended in Brookline was out of the question and I had remained in public school for the remainder of my high school years.
I managed to meet an amazing woman who was now my absolute best friend Caroline Williams. She was like me in many ways; her intellect was way ahead of her time, so she was so successful. She owned multiple banks since she was so much of a number’s kind of person. There was no doubt in my mind that she and I couldn’t work together in this big thing we had going on in life.
Besides not wanting my aunt to suffer any longer, I took on average high school jobs to help with the bills. I mean sure it...helped but I needed more where it came from. So, as I searched through newspapers for a possible second job, my eyes rested on some daily stocks earnings, and my eyes instantly gravitated towards the way the graphs jumped up and down; I was addicted to trends like that.
I was an intelligent girl, I knew that from the beginning, I was always a straight-A honor-roll kind of student which led later contributed to my college acceptance and scholarship to Columbia University and a variety of other well-known institutions.
I did some research on how to get into stock trading and figured out that I could invest as early as my young age, I just needed money to start investing in and a guardian to open up a custodial account that I could trade through. There it began and I started out small, then I grew familiar with the system and it climbed and climbed until I was making six figures with my expertise.
Grown men had laughed in my face when I told them I wanted to begin investing. They couldn’t believe a young teenage girl—a black one for the matter wanted to get involved in the business world. I could still remember their shocked looks of surprise fill their faces as I predicted all their trades dropping; they were all friends with me after that. From that point forward, at the young age of twenty-one, I graduated with a degree in business and finance.
I was the youngest black woman to ever pass the threshold of a billion dollars. Of course, that also came from investing, real estate, start-ups, and all of the extra filler stuff but it was an accomplishment, something that I was extremely proud of. My aunt.... she was just shocked that I made a couple hundred thousand with just four-hundred dollars in my pocket.
I spoiled her silly buying her expensive designer clothing, bags, jewelry.... cars. Anything she wanted and set her eyes on, I gave it to her.
Still.... still, I felt something missing in my life. I was never really fully satisfied. I had everything I wanted, all I could dream of, I even helped people of all socio-economic backgrounds, but then there would be this endless, undeniable pinging in my heart at the end of the day. I needed something and I didn’t know what it was.
“Ms. Patterson, you have Mr. Richards waiting conference call for you.” My secretary popped her head in through the door to alert me of another incoming meeting.
“Thank you, Jasmine.” I waved my hands, in a quick fashion dismissing her before I eventually picked up the phone and geared it towards my ear.
Hears to another long day of work.