Billionaire's Baby (A virgin fake marriage romance)

By: Lila Younger


“Wow, you look like hell.”

That’s how Bart, my best friend and assistant, greets me as he drops a giant cup of Starbucks coffee into my hand. I take a grateful gulp, letting the caffeine slowly make its way through my bloodstream. Maybe in a few more minutes I’ll feel like an actual human being.

“Thanks,” I say gruffly, taking another sip. If it wasn’t still hot as lava, I’d probably be downing the thing in one go. That’s how shit I feel right now.

Bart pantomimes looking around my penthouse apartment. It’s stark and modern and, some might say, soulless. But it does what it needs to do. It gives me a place to sleep, to find food, and work in peace. Everything else is just distraction.

“Where is she?”

“Who?” I ask as I grab a bowl and pour out some cereal. My stomach growls appreciatively. I don’t think I’ve eaten since lunch yesterday.

“The woman who kept you up all night. Usually they like to stick around in the hopes that it leads to something.”

“There wasn’t anybody,” I say curtly. “You make me sound like a womanizer.”

“That’s because you kinda are,” he says with a grin. “Nothing to be ashamed of. You’ve always been like that.”

This is categorically untrue. Yes, there’ve been a lot of women in my life, and no, the relationship, if you can even call it that, hasn’t lasted more than a few months. But it’s not because I’m trying to sow my oats in as many fields as I can. It’s more that I can’t give them what they all want. A relationship, a ring on the finger, unlimited access to my time and my bank account.

Interestingly enough, it’s the time that bothers them more than anything. For me, work comes first, before anything else. I can’t help it. All my life, the thing driving me is a need to figure out problems, to pull things apart and put them together better. It’s probably why Claringdon Industries has done so well for ourselves. We work in the energy sector, and while fossil fuels remain the dominant means for society to get their energy, I’m looking ahead to solar. I want to make the pivot, and fast, establishing ourselves while the field is still new enough for us to muscle in and gain the lead.

That doesn’t mean that I don’t have needs, which is where the women come in. And not just physical. I’d like to share my life with someone, one day, if they could only accept that work comes above all else. That I live and breathe Claringdon Industries, and they have to too.

Unsurprisingly, there aren’t a lot of women who want that. Even when I make it clear from the start. Even if I happily bankroll their spending sprees and spa trips with friends and whatever else will keep them occupied and happy while I work.

“I stayed up all night to try and figure out the issue with my solar panels,” I tell him. “Surely there’s a way to get more than 20% energy to electrical power. I feel like I’m thisclose to figuring it out. It’s there in the back of my mind, I just can’t seem to visualize it.”

“Isn’t that already some of the best in the market?”

“Sure, but it’s not going to give us the edge needed to make Claringdon solar the company to go with.”

I pour milk on my cereal and begin to methodically spoon food into my mouth.

“I need you to clear my schedule for the day,” I tell him through chews. “I can’t afford any distractions.”

Bart shakes his head.

“You forgot, didn’t you? Of course you did. It’s your grandfather’s memorial service today. And there’s the reading of the will afterwards. You have to go.”

This explains why Bart’s in the black suit and shirt. Normally he prefers to wear wool button downs and skintight trousers. He’s essentially Hipster Grown Up, complete with black plastic frames.

“I don’t have to go.”

“Yes, you do. He’s your grandfather. I mean, the guy was a total ass, but still, grandfather.”

Calling him an ass is the understatement of the year. He was cold, elitist as all get out, and manipulative. The man never did another without an ulterior motive, and he always hated the fact that my blue blood was tainted by my mom’s Irish Catholic background. She wasn’t the best of what society had to offer. Instead, she had worked as a waitress at my dad’s favorite steak restaurant. They both died in a car crash when I was one. Grandfather made it clear that meant I had to work harder for his love and approval, an always moving goalpost that I realized I would never get to when I graduated from business school in Yale at the top of my class and he didn’t bother to show up at. I went into the family business not to try and appease him, but because it was what I was interested in anyways.

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