Book 1: I’m Married to a Moron
I’m this close to wringing Oliver for answers.
The many edges of this cheap plastic chair are digging into my bones, and it’s so fucking humid I might as well be standing in the monsoon outside to be as drenched as I am sitting in here.
With all the money he makes, you’d think the guy could afford decent decor.
“Well?” I try not to bark at him.
“The girl is pregnant, Zavyar…but…”
“It isn’t yours.”
Oh, thank God.
I collapse in the uncomfortable chair as if it were plush velvet. My worst nightmare just died before destroying my life.
A five-star luxury suite would have served zero purposes if the news were any different. So no, I’m never complaining about Oliver’s dingy office again.
“I am the happiest man alive,” I laugh.
“Are you, brother?” Adam frowns, crossing his arms over his chest. “For how long? Until your next indiscretion?
“Do you have any idea the amount of money and time we had to invest to keep this from the press? Not to mention the amount of money and time we would have had to invest if the news were true.”
“But it wasn’t true.” I can’t stop grinning.
I’ve spent the last four months walking on hot coals, pampering that odious woman ever since she walked through the heavy doors of my pristine office at Velshi Financials claiming I was her baby daddy.
I vaguely remembered the details, but her resolute stance—and some awfully compromising photographs—filled in the gaps, making me doubt my own judgment about the night we’d spent.
That’s easier when your reputation is less than stellar when it comes to pretty women.
But that’s all over now. I’m not about to not celebrate when I can.
“I’m sure Mr. Velshi would be relieved too,” Oliver says, taking out his phone and punching keys to call Dad.
“He’ll be pleased to know the private eye we used has decided to permanently join the team.”
“Yeah, that’s an added expense we wouldn’t have to incur if someone could keep it in their pants.” Adam glares at me.
“He unearthed her shady boyfriend and how they both tricked me. She didn’t even stay in the room once her work was done.”
I offer the explanation to placate him, although he probably knows the details more than I do. Adam is anal like that. “I was passed out the entire night. It was all orchestrated.”
“No one tricked you into getting drunk. You did that on your own pretty amazingly.”
The rebuke in his tone makes me flinch, and I take a deep breath to not show it. “My point is that the private eye is an asset. We can use a man like that.”
While Oliver turns away to fill Dad in on the outcome of my nipped-in-the-bud scandal, I nod at my brother to lighten up. He is a year younger but behaves as if he has decades on me.
“You’re acting as if you’d rather the child was mine,” I tease him.
“I would rather you had a lifestyle where we didn’t have to worry about you fathering anything out of wedlock.” Adam occupies the other crappy plastic chair. “This has to stop, Zav.”
I still remember the sting of Dad’s reprimand: If it were a girl from one of the Families, I might have considered. But a bartender, Zavyar? How could you?!
Of course Oliver Blunt and his reputation management team had to be set in motion immediately to sort out this mess.
His business has only grown ever since he took Velshi Financials as a sole client. All thanks to me, there is never a dull day in his professional life.
I take a sip from my water bottle. “I know you have a moral compass pointing north for a brain, but the rest of us are normal, Adam.”
“Getting a reputation for how many women you bang and making headlines at every single tabloid every single month is not normal.”
He’s full-on in dad mode right now. “It’s immoral. This isn’t what the Velshis are known for.”
Again with the family prestige and shit.
It was much easier when I was in England—away from Kemora—where not everyone knew the young scion of one of the founding families of a small but prosperous island nation in the Indian Ocean.
I was still popular. I still got the girls. As long as I stayed at the top of my class and played club cricket, nobody back home cared for what else I did.
Now, back in Kemora, my reputation is all that matters.
“Did it ever occur to you that most of it might be untrue?” It’s frustrating how everyone believes everything they read. Besides, I’m known for my business acumen just as much.
“I may be all smiles and kisses in public, but most of the time I’m calling it a night and going home. Alone.”
“And yet the barista wasn’t lying about sleeping with you.”
“Bartender. And she was lying.”
“You took her to your room. You remember that much clearly. So the point is, she might as well have spent the night with you like those other million girls.”
I sigh. “I’m not a nun, Adi.”
“You don’t say.”
“What do you want from me?” I spread my arms, daring him to unleash. “To swear off women? Vow celibacy?”
“Can we have that in writing?”
He shakes his head and I realize how serious his face has been all this time.
“You’re not joking?”
“Dad told me if you came out of this unscathed, he’ll make you sign a contract.”
Before Adam can confirm or deny any of it, Oliver walks over to me holding out his phone. “He wants to have a word.” He shoves it in my hand before I can give an excuse to ditch the summons.
I clear my throat, press the device to my ear, and say a prayer. “Dad?”
“You have a sore throat?”
“No.” It feels like sandpaper though. “So, you… how are you?”
“I’m great.” With that tone, he might as well wish me dead.
“I just spent thousands to keep my son from ruining the entire family’s reputation. I’m over the moon that I stopped that from happening…until next time.”
“Dad, I’m sorry.” I’m not, but he can’t see my face. “You can stop with the shaming.”
“Oh, you don’t know what shame is, Zavyar. But let’s move on. Adam told you about the contract?”
My heart sinks. “You serious?”
“Like the money I just spent.”
I turn to Adam for backup, but he just shrugs. “She was lying. None of it was true.”
“Well, son, I’m not waiting until a woman walks in telling the truth this time about something as egregious as a bastard grandchild. Is Adam there? Put on the speakerphone.”
I press the button and glare at my brother. “Go ahead. Talk bad about me like I’m not here.”
“Hey Dad,” he says into the phone and winks at me. “I think we’re good with the Celibacy Clause.”
“No way in hell—”
“I have the papers ready,” the speakerphone cuts me off. “Have lunch with me tomorrow and we’ll discuss it in my office.”
“Sure.” Adam nods. “I’ll help you fine-tune the document. I know some excellent lawyers.”
“So proud of you, son.” Dad’s voice is dripping with adoration. “I couldn’t have asked for a better child.”
“Excuse me?” I butt in. “I’m your child too, you know.”
“You’re also the bane of my existence who keeps me up at night wondering why I never wore a condom that time.”
Adam bursts out cackling, while Oliver’s chin is dripping with water he sprayed all over his table. Tears are streaming down the cheeks of both men as they make no attempt to be polite on my account.
“Subtle.” I frown at the phone. “You kiss Mom with that mouth?”
“Adam, make a note,” Dad hollers. “We also need a Don’t-Be-A-Wise-Ass Clause.”
I throw back my head and groan but hold my tongue.
“We’ll see you tomorrow, Dad,” Adam says, and the line disconnects from the other end. He turns to me. “You better pull up your big boy pants and deal.”
This could all be a joke. But it’s my father we’re talking about. Knowing him, he could very well be trying to trap me into something. I won’t know what I’m stepping into until I’m already in it.
I only hope I’m better at this game than he is.