By: Tara Crescent

Down from that was a floor that contained a gym, a massive library that I immediately resolved to spend all day in, and an actual movie theatre. I wanted to linger in the library. My eyes kept getting drawn to the door. “This is insane,” I said.

He laughed. “I completely agree. I bought this from a Count with opulent tastes and strained finances. It’s utterly ridiculous. But the house is conveniently located.”

On the main level, were the bits I’d already seen. The living room and a kitchen, with a walk out patio and a tiny little back garden.

In so many ways, this house, as large and opulent as it was, was similar in feel to the tiny house he’d taken me to two years ago. Then too, there had been a garden. Then too, there had been warmth and comfort. Then too, I had felt at home.

Maybe he too was the person I had thought he was two years ago.

Chapter 18

Ellie / Jenny:

It wasn’t until later that it occurred to me that he hadn’t shown me his playroom. I asked him about it at lunch. We were perched on the kitchen island again, eating the vegetable salad that Elodie had made. There was a baguette on the side and I gave it several longing looks, but didn’t take any. I couldn’t be skinny and eat bread at the same time.

“Please,” he looked annoyed. “Just eat. Don’t be one of those women that never eats. It really isn’t attractive.”

Is that an order, Sir? I bit back my snap with difficulty. It was his preference for waif-like women that had driven me to my diet.

To satisfy him, I tore off a small piece. He frowned at me and shook his head. “You didn’t show me your playroom,” I asked him, hoping to change topics before I yelled at him. I bit into the bread and tried to stifle my moan of appreciation. God, I’d missed the boulangeries in Paris.

“Ready to play, Jenny?” He raised one eyebrow at me. “Not afraid anymore?”

“I’m not afraid to see the playroom,” I replied and he grinned. “Is it in the basement?”

He shook his head. “I’m French. The wine cellar is in the basement. The playroom is off my bedroom.”

This was an opportunity to ask him a question I’d been wondering about for two years. “You are French?” I asked him. “I thought you are American. You sound American when you speak English.”

“I sound Parisian when I speak French,” he replied with a shrug. “That’s just an accent.” He took a sip of water and eyed me thoughtfully. “My father was American. My mother was French. I grew up in Europe; I summered in the South of France. I’m a dual-citizen on paper, but I identify as French, not American.”

“Do you visit the United States much?” There was so much about Alexander that I didn’t know. The fact that Lucien could find no information on him was baffling. It was almost impossible to hide if you were really rich. Someone would know you existed. There were no secret billionaires.

Except evidently Alexander.

“From time to time,” he replied. “I have many business interests there and I travel to New York quite frequently. London as well. Any of these on the list of cities you want to explore, Jenny?”

Hanoi. Hanoi was on the list of cities I wanted to explore.

“I guess there’s something comforting about visiting a place where you speak the same language,” I ad-libbed furiously. “But somehow, that doesn’t seem as magical to me. Bangkok was lovely. I wandered around and I was there, but because I couldn’t understand anyone, I was also insulated from it all.” I looked at him. “Am I making any sense?”


Lucien would have been so proud of me for that. I’d set the stage well. I’d planted the thought in his mind. Perhaps, when the impending trip to Hanoi happened, I’d get taken along. And then I could fulfil the deepest desire of my heart.

“So, the playroom. Why don’t you take a day or two to get over the jetlag? I’m going to be pretty busy today and tomorrow with work, but perhaps tomorrow night, we’ll try it out?”

Heat filled in my veins at that. No fear. Just pure, untainted lust. Whatever else he was, Alexander had always managed to make me feel unafraid about sex.

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