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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:12

I’ve spent most of my life dealing with men like Monroe – hell, some would say that I am a man like Monroe – and he has to be one of the biggest examples of an asshole I’ve ever encountered. I wish I could say that I’m kidding. Monroe and I are almost the same exact age, and yet while I was captaining the soccer team at the Winchester Academy in 2004, Damon Monroe was halfway through his undergrad at Princeton. He knows his shit. So when I hand over a portfolio detailing my family’s extensive real estate holdings, I better damn well make sure I check them over a million times and make sure they’re accurate. The Monroes are prime to pump hundreds of millions of dollars into my family’s business, and if I don’t secure it, I think my father will disown me. (I’m his only child and heir, by the way.)

He’s wearing one of the finest tailor made suits I’ve ever seen, and I have no idea what it is. His cologne is halfway to seducing me, the most heterosexual man you have yet to meet. (I swear. I’m not protesting too much. Really.) His body language both irritates and intrigues me. Fuck me. I’ve got a guy crush.

Monroe holds his hand up, and two assistants sitting off to the side leap up to do his bidding. Here I thought I was hot shit for having a full-time assistant back in America. Valerie would smack me across the face and pour her baby’s piss into my coffee if I treated her like that.

“Yes, sir. Absolutely, sir.” Some twiggy guy in a suit as expensive as mine takes the portfolio away. The other assistant pulls out her tablet and gets to work verifying the information. Riiiiight in front of me.

Not that I have anything to hide. It’s the principle of the thing. Like, really?

“My father will be in contact with yours over the final decision.” Monroe plucks his wineglass off the table and savors the aroma. Do I look like this much of a douchebag when I go to wine tastings? “By the way, how are things?”

He’s giving me a chilly smile, as if we’re best friends, or at least go back to Winchester. I think we may have attended the same Young Men’s Gala when we were thirteen, but that’s it.

“Things are well. Business is on an upswing this year. We’re looking to purchase and remodel an estate in the Hamptons.” I drink my wine faster than he does. I have nothing to savor. “Turn it into a quaint bed and breakfast. With eighty rooms and ten breakfast nooks.” It’s my mother’s ridiculous idea. I’m only along for the ride.

“Fantastic.” Oh, yeah, I can feel his enthusiasm seeping from his finely-trimmed brows. “Except I was inquiring more into personal matters. I saw in the paper that you and Ms. Alison have passed the one-year mark.”

Would it be uncouth to pour another glass of wine? Why the hell is he asking about my girlfriend? Like it’s any of his business. Does he even know Kathryn? Damon Monroe is not the kind of man she would bother with. Kathryn spends her free time in soup kitchens and underfunded libraries. Monroe is the man making people homeless and asking interviewers “What do we really use libraries for these days?”

“Yes, I’m a very lucky man.” I’m by myself here, so I don’t have servants or assistants traipsing around Paris with me. Valerie would’ve loved to come, I’m sure, and she probably silently stewed when I told her it would only be Kathryn and me in Paris, but I’m a big boy who can do most things on his own. I don’t even need my assistant to hold my dick for me while I take a piss. “It’s the real deal with her.”

“With so many weddings happening this year, I would think you two are next.”

Thank my stars I am a controlled, contained man. Because Monroe brought up marriage and he has no idea what a can of worms that is.

To some degree I’ve asked Kathryn to marry me. More than once. I’ve at least implied that I want her to be my wife. She knows how I feel. Unfortunately, I know how she feels too.

“We’ll see,” I say, ready to break my wineglass stem. “We’re still young and taking time.”

“My father always said that when a man knows, he knows.” That all-knowing grin is worse than my father’s when he’s about to do something incredibly stupid. “I’m a bit jealous.”

What the fuck do I say to that?

I’m saved by one of his assistants springing forward. “Sirs,” he whispers over the table, “there is a woman asking to come in.”

Neither Monroe nor I flinch. “Who is it?” Monroe asks with a firm tone. The male assistant scurries to the female one, who looks up from her tablet and announces my girlfriend.

Another smile flashes in my direction. “Speak of the lovely lady and she appears. Go ahead and send her in. I’m sure Mr. Mathers will be fine with his girlfriend joining us.” Nevertheless, Monroe is buttoning up his jacket. “I’d like to say hello anyway.”