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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:20

Got it. With my phone plastered to my ear, I punch in the unlock code to Ian’s phone (he thinks I don’t know it?) and bring up the internet. He was last looking at some website about replicating his cat into a statue… God, I don’t even know what’s going on right now.

“What am I looking for?” I ask.

“You mean you’re not engaged?”

“Why the fuck would I be engaged!”

Ian picks up my pillow and slams it against his head. Whoops. Need to turn the decibels down a notch. “The news ‘broke’ on The Daily Social blog. You got papped, Kathryn. Big time.”

I hate the fact the website comes up so easily in Ian’s Google account. This means he’s looking at that site a lot… but I’ll have to unpack that later, because right now I’m too busy going to the Local Celebrity News section of this fuck-breathing website and seeing pictures of Ian and me on our date yesterday.

“Where are you getting that I’m engaged?”

My thumb goes through half a mile of scrolling, bypassing creepy shots of me kissing my boyfriend and coming in and out of Parisian shops… including the lingerie boutique. “How sweet! Prince Charming Ian Mathers carries girlfriend Kathryn Alison’s bags while enjoying a romantic day in the City of Love. Sign of things to come?”

It’s me. Just me. Coming out of the restaurant I met my mother at last night.

With a big, fat, juicy ring on my left ring finger.

It’s my grandmother’s engagement ring. Some snoops at The Daily Social have already crosschecked it with old photos of my grandmother at her engagement party nearly fifty years ago. There’s a picture of my mother coming out too. “Kathryn Alison sports her grandmother’s engagement ring on a very symbolic finger. Her estranged mother was spotted coming out only fifteen minutes before. Passing on a family heirloom? We’ll be the first to publish the confirmed engagement as soon as we have it!”

“What the fuck is this shit!”

Ian sits up in our bed, eyelids heavy and hair in complete disarray. Eva laughs in the background of my phone. “Congratulations on your engagement? Sorry I’m the one who had to break it to you. What are you doing wearing your grandmother’s ring, though?”

I had been so upset about my mother that I forgot to take that ring off until I got back to this room. How was I supposed to know that I would be papped and the picture used as “proof” of my supposed engagement to Ian? “I’ll call you back, Eva. For the record, I am not getting married anytime soon. We’re not engaged. I had dinner with my mother last night and she gave me that ring with no warning.”

“Have fun cleaning that up.”

I shut off my phone and turn to Ian, who is rubbing his face and looking at me with the dullest eyes. Under normal circumstances he would ask me to come back to bed, but he can tell that these are not normal circumstances. “Dare I ask?” he grumbles.

My anger must be palpable. By now, though, Ian is used to me having conniption and anxiety attacks over the seemingly smallest things. I’ve screamed bloody murder in his condo no less than a dozen times by now. (Don’t think I’m proud of this, by the way. I’m working on it. I swear.) “The Daily Social is reporting that we’re engaged.”

I bring him his phone. After rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Ian takes a good look at the pictures of us and reads the captions. “It’s speculation.” His phone lands in his lap. “Nobody could possibly think we’re…”

His phone rings. We both look at who’s calling. Before either of us can say “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain At An Engagement Announcement,” Ian shuts his phone off.

“She’s going to call back at least fifty more times, you know,” I say.

Ian ignores me. “My mom can deal with it. Who I should be calling is my publicist. I’m assuming that’s what you want me to do, right?”

Right. Our publicists. I run mine ragged when I show up in articles like these, but that’s what I’m paying her retainer for. She spends half her life in LA doing damage control for starlets, so why can’t I pay her double to keep the press off my ass? A girl appreciates her privacy!

Ian pats the side of the bed. I sit, waiting for his arm to encircle my torso. When it does, I let out my pent up sigh. “It’s gonna be okay,” he says in that consoling voice of his. “We’ll call our publicists and then go get breakfast. The last thing we should do is go into hiding. Let alone when we’re on vacation, right? By the way,” I’m apparently not allowed to respond, “what’s the ring? Your grandmother’s?”