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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:16

As if on cue, my phone buzzes in my purse. I know it’s from Ian before I glance at the preview. “How’s dinner with your friend?”

That’s right. I lied to him about who I came to see. I didn’t want him to worry. Told him I had a friend in town. If he knew I was meeting with my mother, he’d insist on joining me eventually. They have never met.

Did you hear that? The man I’m super serious about has never met my mother. That’s unheard of in our society.

“That’s great, dear.” That, my friends, is the closest she’s gotten tonight to saying something sweet to me.

“Yup. Ian and I are doing well. You know we’ve been together over a year now. That’s my longest relationship ever.”

My mother purses her bright red lips. “Congratulations.” She reaches for some alcohol.

“He’s an excellent boyfriend. Feels weird calling him that now.” How far can I push this? “We’ve been talking a lot about marriage.”

Boom. I said the M word. My mother’s least favorite word.

“Kathryn,” her terse voice cuts through the air, “if you’re trying to give me a heart attack, you’re damn near succeeding. Don’t scare your poor mother with that marriage tripe.”

If anyone ever comes up to you and asks where half my problems with marriage come from, I want you to point that nosy asshole to this moment.

“What if I told you that he and I eloped in Vegas a few months ago?”

An almost comedic amount of alcohol shoots out of my mother’s face. She chokes until she covers her pristine white napkin with red wine. “What?”

“Don’t worry. We got it annulled. Neither of us were ready yet.”

The relief descending upon the table would make you think I’m twelve and joking about being pregnant.

“Kathryn.” This is the most serious I’ve heard my mother in years. “Don’t you dare do that to me. For all you know I’ve got a bad heart like your grandmother did.”

More information I never knew. “I’m serious about the other things, though. We’re having many conversations about marriage.”

My mother will not look me in the eye.

“It would mean a lot to me if you would come to our wedding one day.”

I have surprised even myself, since this is the closest I’ve ever come to saying I’m going to marry that man one day. But I am resolute in my conviction. Mother won’t have any idea that I’m blustering. Marrying Ian? Really? Are you kidding me? Don’t even go there!

I’m expecting my mother to react in any other way than how she does. Namely, she tosses her napkin down and stands up, reaching for her coat.

“Where are you going?” Is she seriously leaving? I’m not done yet!

Her coat slips over her arms. “I am not in the mood to deal with your childishness.” Her purse snaps into her hand. “If you want to ruin your life like that, Kathryn, be my guest. I’ll have no part of it, though. Don’t let me have to tell you that I told you so.”

My mother’s a monster, isn’t she? A real, certified monster.

I’m too gob smacked to say anything or otherwise defend myself. My mother glides out of the room without another word. I feel like I’m five again, chasing her down the hallway of my family home and begging her to pick me up, hold me, anything.

“Ladies don’t do that, dear. They certainly don’t beg or pander. Aren’t you supposed to be a little lady?”

I’m not supposed to beg for her attentions, let alone positive ones. I’m not supposed to beg for anything. It’s unladylike. Unfathomable. A great way for men and their ilk to take advantage of you.

Isn’t that why I turned out the way I did? I don’t need my mother’s team of shrinks to figure that one out.

However, it would be nice to have another napkin. This one is about to be covered in tears.

Can you believe that there’s an app for taking a picture of your cat and turning her into a thousand dollar replica?

I’m doing it right now.

“Even when you’re a picture, you’re a shithead.” Fellow cat owners, you know that “shithead” is a term of endearment for our feline friends. I’ve got this picture of Saoirse, my cat, flopped over on the floor going nuts for cat nip. She looks like she’s seen things, man. If I don’t have a life-size replica of this beautiful moment waiting for me when I return to America, then my life has not been worth living.