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Billionaires in Paris Cynthia Dane 2022/8/3 13:56:28

For our last night in Paris, we are meeting with Marilyn. Together.

She walks in to find us sitting side-by-side, holding hands beneath the table. My smile does not falter, but Kathryn’s does. Marilyn stares at our display of affection as she sits down.

Kathryn’s mother doesn’t talk much. Instead, my girlfriend and I fill the void with trite talk of Paris and how Marilyn should definitely move here if she’s thinking about it. “A change of pace could be good for you,” Kathryn says during the appetizers. “Maybe the Germans are too intense for you. These French people could help you relax.”

I try not to snort into my champagne. I’m sure Kathryn didn’t mean that in any naughty way, but what can I say? My brain goes where it will!

We both had a long chat last night about Marilyn and how she has affected Kathryn’s ability to think of marriage as anything but a pit stop on the road to ruining a relationship. She even brought up my own parents’ marriage, like Marilyn did. “You can’t compare us to them,” I had said. “We’re not a couple of should-be polyamorists who can’t get their shit together.”

At least I am on the same page as Kathryn now. I better understand her hangups and what we can do about them. I won’t bring up marriage anymore. I am going to let her open up that conversation when the time is right for her. She knows that I am here, and will be here regardless of her decision. She still wears that golden band every day. It’s more than enough for me.

I look down. Instead of a gold band, I see her grandmother’s engagement ring. Okay. I retract my comment about her wearing her band. This is only the first time she’s forgotten to wear it, but okay Katie. Give me a heart attack.

Oh, she gives me a heart attack.

“By the way,” she says at the end of dinner. “Ian and I are getting married.”

To the tune of her mother clattering dishes and me choking on water, she explains.

“I don’t know when. We’re not even formally engaged yet… but I wanted you to know that it’s going to happen one day unless one of us kicks the bucket. Even then, I’m holding him to a promise to marry me post-mortem. They do that in some cultures, you know.”

Marilyn’s eyes are attempting to burn holes into my skull. You’d think I had planned this to shove it in her face!

“Don’t forget,” I say, acting like I’m not fazed in the least. Inside I’m acting like it’s my damned birthday over here. “We were already married once. For a whole week. It was fate, right? We jumped the gun a bit.”

“Obviously we will do things the right way when the time comes.” Kathryn takes my hand. “You don’t have to do it now, but it would mean a lot to me – to us – if you would give us your blessing. I don’t want to get married until you do that.”

Ah. I knew there was a catch.

Even so, this is one of the best days ever. As soon as we leave dinner, still holding hands and forgetting Marilyn already, we head toward the Champs-Elyeese, currently glittering in strings of lights.

Kathryn lets go of my hand so she can grab onto a lamppost and look up at the night sky. At the end of the avenue is the Arc de Triumph, imposing, beautiful, and sophisticated. Three words I would also use to describe my impending fiancée.

That’s when I see it. Her golden promise ring sparkling on her left ring finger.

“Do you really want to get married?” I put my hand on the other side of the post. “Or were you sticking it to your mother?”

She spins around the lamppost and gently crashes into me. “Both.” Her hand intertwines with mine as she nods her head toward the other side of the avenue. “By the way, there’s a pap following us. We better give them something good.”

You don’t know how tempting it is to get down on one knee and mock a proposal right here. Neither of us wants to deal with the fallout of those kinds of pap photos, though.

I cup her cheek in my hand, lips hovering on hers. “We should make a sex tape and submit it to TMZ.”

Kathryn throws her head back and laughs before coming in for a passionate kiss. Her hand goes out toward the pap, ring finger extending so her grandmother’s engagement ring is in full view.

“They wouldn’t be able to handle us,” she purrs.

“I can barely handle you.”

Both of her arms are around me again. “Paris is my new favorite city. You know why?”

“Because it’s where I realized I really am going to be with you for the rest of my life.”

“You hadn’t figured that out yet?”

“Where do you think we should live? You don’t want to live in my apartment, and goodness knows yours is such a bachelor pad I could choke on the aftershave embedded into the carpeting…”