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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:15

Ian helps himself to the now empty chair across from me. “I leave you alone for one morning and you go finding your ex-boyfriends all over 7ème arrondissement.” I try not to groan. Ian is fluent in French. By Fluent, I mean he can write, read, and listen to it with great skill. Speaking, well, he’s grammatically correct. I think. His accent is so bad that the locals have no idea what he’s saying half the time. Which sucks, because I am not fluent in French, and relying on him when we’re out of English zones means deciding if I want to be associated with him every time he goes up to someone to ask directions. Because, as we all know, there’s nothing more insulting than going up to a French person and butchering their language.

(When pressed, I tell people he’s Québécois.)

“Martin is the only ex-boyfriend so far.”

“Martin.” He says it as if it’s some old man’s name. “Really? Some guy named Martin?”

I’m finishing up my coffee so we can get out of here. “What can I say? You may not be able to tell, but he knows how to please a woman.” My empty coffee cup hits the table. “Especially a Domme like me.”

We hold a tense gaze. The weight of our entire relationship slams against the elasticity of this moment, and all I can think is that he would be a fucking idiot to insinuate that I’m not who I say I am.

Still holding my gaze, Ian leans forward across the table and plays a damned devil. “Such dirty talk so early in the morning.”

I grab my purse and get up from my seat. “It’s not dirty if it’s matter of fact.”

His hand grabs mine on my way by. I snap back, finding those no-good eyes of his still attempting to dig holes into me. “We’ve got some unfinished business, by the way.”

I snatch my hand back. “This isn’t Vegas, babe. If we don’t have slovenly sex the first night we’re in town, we’ll somehow survive. Come on. Class it up a bit.”

I walk slowly enough for him to catch up to me. What? I’m not abandoning him. I’m giving him some food for thought!

Picture this: a good looking guy (me) minding his own business in the middle of a Parisian street, drinking sparkling bottled water and holding my girlfriend’s shopping bags like a good monkey. Sounds like the perfect time to get papped, right?

I see the fucker creeping at the end of the sidewalk. He thinks he’s so slick, holding up his phone for an apparent selfie. Unfortunately, I’m on to these sorts of games now. I can look at the way he’s checking out for famous people milling around Paris and then slyly turn the camera around on his phone.

Wonder who he works for. Since he’s pointing that thing in my direction, I’m gonna assume it’s The Daily Social, my area’s #1 gossip rag for local celebrities and the high and mighty. I’ve shown up in that trash more times than my mother can count in her photo album.

“Thanks for waiting!” Kathryn pops out of the ladies’ boutique, carrying a small blue bag. She snakes her way to my chest, arm around my waist as she gives me a quick kiss to the lips. Click. We’re one of The Daily Social’s favorite couples, so this is hardly surprising. Still, I don’t have the heart to tell her we’re being trailed. I’d much rather turn her around and take her hand as we walk in the opposite direction. I’m not going to make a scene with that guy. Eventually he’ll get all the pics he wants and run off like a weasel, searching for someone else to stalk for an hour. He’ll sell his pics, I’ll call my publicist to make sure a call is put in to The Daily Social. If they’re going to print pictures of me on a date with my girlfriend, they will damn well be nice ones and only say nice things. With any luck, Kathryn will never find out, because there won’t be anything to report.

“Disgusting! There’s a pap here!”

We’re stopped at a crosswalk when we hear those French words. I slightly turn my head, seeing two women around our age hiding behind sunglasses and pulling hats down their heads. It’s too warm for that bullshit. The fact they’re carrying around bags of swimsuits attests to this.

“Where do you see a dog?”

One woman points past the other’s nose. “Hot on our trail, Dolores.”

“This would never happen in Monaco. I need to get my husband to move us there.”

“You say that every time we’re papped.” They reach our intersection and, after hastily looking both ways, race across the street before the light changes.

“They’re in a hurry,” Kathryn says. “Did you catch what they were talking about?”