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

Except the picture won’t process through the app. You know, this app that shows lots of kids with their dogs and old ladies mourning the passing of twenty-year-old Fluffy. Then there’s me, a thirty-year-old billionaire alpha male, already blubbering at the thought of his tawny baby not waking up one day.

This replica will solve everything!

…I may be a little drunk.

What the hell else does a man do in Paris at eight in the evening? If I were single, I’d be out flirting with someone, or at least hitting up one of the lounges where a guy like me could find amazing drinks and even more amazing conversation (if not mediocre-to-great sex with a local Parisian.) I’m not single. I’m happily spoken for, except my intended is currently having dinner with her toxic mother.

Yeah, she told me she was having dinner with a friend. Kathryn is a lot of things, but she’s not a fantastic liar. Nobody willingly goes out to see an old college friend with that sour look on her face. I already know her mother is in town. I can do simple arithmetic, even when I’ve been downing cognac because when in France, am I right?

So, I’m going to assume she’s having dinner with her mother. I’ve never met Marilyn Alison, but I’ve heard the stories from both Kathryn and my mother, who used to be somewhat good friends with her. Then there are the whispers I hear whenever I have the misfortune of going to the country club and hearing old women who have too much time on their hands gossiping. Nobody ever has anything nice to say about Marilyn.

I know she’s responsible for at least half of Katie’s insecurities. Can’t say I care for my spiritual mother-in-law very much.

The hotel bar is nice enough to keep me amused as I flippantly shop on my phone and order more alcohol. This is the last drink, I swear. I want to be relatively sober by the time Kathryn gets back to our room. We found out in Vegas that Little Ian doesn’t always work to his full potential when Big Ian is loaded (with alcohol. Money makes everything work better!)

Or so I claim that this will be my last drink… until a guy I met this morning waltzes in and nearly ruins my fun evening making replicas of my cat.

“Ian Mathers, right?” Surprise! It’s Martin… Charles? Chuck. Charlie. Charleston. I think it’s Charleston. Martin Charleston.

I keep my crinkled nose to my phone before turning to him. “Martin Charleston, right?”

“My apologies.” I put my phone down. At least I can pretend to be polite. “Fancy seeing you here. You must be staying in this hotel too.”

“Naturally. Just got back from seeing the future in-laws. Be glad Kathryn’s parents aren’t French.”

I’d make a crack about how it’s worse they’re so stubbornly Scandinavian, but that would only be if I didn’t dislike this guy already. Why the hell would I want to make cracks about family he used to know so well? Or so I assume. “You two go that far back, huh?”

Damnit. I’ve invited him to sit on the stool next to mine, and I didn’t even mean to! “Absolutely. She never told you about me?”

Ladies, listen up. You’re about to get some insider information on how we rich fuckheads operate. Gentlemen who happen to be reading this, take notes if you ever want to be me one day. First lesson: when guys want to passive aggressively jab each other, it begins with “oh hey remember how I used to fuck your girlfriend?” whether they did or not. If they didn’t, they’re dicks. If they did, they’re still dicks, but they’re dicks with receipts. As the biggest alpha male in the room (I’ve scoped it out) I can still smell her perfume all over him, if you know what I mean. Yes, that perfume.

Second, once we’ve established this rivalry – because it always ends up a rivalry – we’re going to give each other the most knowing of looks. Backstabbing looks. Looks that could kill, but not in the sexy way. Women give us a wide berth as they walk by. Men smirk, wondering what we’re up to. Money? Women? Both? (Always.)

Third, let me tell you right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re an alpha male or a beta male who likes to get smacked and called Charlie on the down-low. We all do this shit if we’re confident enough. Men are men are fucking men. I hate it sometimes. Why do I feel compelled to play this stupid game with my fellow man?

Oh, right. Because he fucked my girlfriend.

Rawr rawr caveman bump rawr.

Now that I’ve brought you up to speed on this ridiculous guy code we all willingly adhere to, picture this: Martin Charlestoncharlie, whose feet barely touch the ground sitting in his stool, flattens his eyes and parts his lips in a “gotcha” smile. I am the alpha male. He is the beta male. We both know this. We both play these parts as naturally as we play the part of male. Yet right now he’s got the upper hand. The damn wolf cub has come up and bit my jugular by surprise.