Mister Billions - Cassie-Ann L. Miller

Prologue

Cannon

It's the plot twist of every cliched telenovela to ever get cancelled in its first season.

My best friend bolting up from under my Italian brocade silk comforter and flinging my live-in girlfriend's naked body clear across the king-sized bed.

Said girlfriend toppling over the side of the mattress and landing on the marble floor with the poise of a disgraced spider monkey.

Each of them spewing an array of nonsensical pleas an excuses my way.

"Cannon! You're home early!"

"D-don't do anything crazy, bro! I can explain."

"Baby, it's not what it looks like! You weren't supposed to find out like this!"

"I tried to say no but she threw herself at me!"

"I couldn't help it, Cannon. You work all the time. And it's been taking you forever to propose. Plus, my life coach said this sexual exploration thing is a healthy part of my natural evolution toward becoming the most authentic version of myself…”

I stand in the doorway stunned, frozen, as Margot scrambles around to unclip the gold-plated nipple clamps hanging from her tits like mini-chandeliers. Meanwhile, Carl kneels on the bed, hurrying to stuff his flaccid penis into his shit-stained white briefs.

I'm one momentary lapse in judgment away from torching the mattress with him in it.

Because there's no way in hell I will ever be able to lie on that bed with that woman in my arms again. Or sit on the couch in the living room and enjoy a Monday night football game with the hairy-assed asshole I built a billion-dollar software company with out of our college dorm room. Or take a deep breath of the hot, dense Manhattan summer air without choking on the putrid stench of this betrayal.

This is some fucked up shit.

I hear a faint whisper at the back of my mind. It sounds strangely like my grandfather’s voice. Why are you even surprised?

To know who will betray you most devastatingly, look to the one you trust most ardently.

That phrase was underlined in red ink in a dog-eared book the grumpy, old man used to read over and over again when I was a child. I never fully understood it until right now.

Barely able to see through the red haze blurring my vision, my claws clamp down on the sheets and yank them from the bed. My roar rips a new hole through the ozone layer. "You motherfuckers!" I charge across the room and tear the bedside lamp out of the wall with blinding fury. Carl squeals like a terrified piglet when I raise it above my head.

But right as I'm about to do something dramatic—and very, very stupid—I'm struck by a dizzying flash of clarity. A premonition, really. I get a glimpse of myself, despondent and disheveled, being handcuffed and hauled into a cop car. Then, I’m posing for an impromptu photo shoot courtesy of the fine officers of the NYPD. And then I’m sharing a concrete holding cell with a chatty-drunk trucker named Jim for a state-imposed time-out.

Not worth it, man.

My mother already has one hot-tempered idiot spawn behind bars. She wouldn't be able to handle another.

Nah. Not worth it.

Thirty minutes later, I'm sauntering past the doorman—key fob spinning around my pointer finger, duffel bag hitched on my shoulder. I catch sight of Margot in my periphery, flailing and yelling hysterically as my building security drops her in a heap on the bustling sidewalk outside of my Upper East Side apartment.

Pushing her bleach-blonde hair from her eyes, she hollers after me. “Cannon, baby! You can’t let them do this to me! You can’t just leave me on the street! We love each other! Where are you going, baby?”

I