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The Billionaire and Me (unedited)
“Atty. Bleakly, I presume?”
The aged lawyer looked at the wealthy businessman in his coat-and-tie and handsomely trimmed blond hair. Indeed, Marc Carson looked like the son he imagined Ed Carson would have. He took the outstretched hand that Marc offered him.
“Yes Mr. Carson, please sit down”
Marc Carson sat opposite the lawyer in a well-mannered way, almost perfect, with an air of authority and straightforwardness. He ushered for a waiter and ordered for a drink. When the waiter was already a good distance away, he looked at the lawyer in a very businesslike manner.
“Before you say anything about my inheritance, I would like you to know that I will accept whatever it is my father left me with a good heart and a strong belief that what you will say to me tonight will only be for the good of my father’s legacy.”
“Yes…..” Mr. Bleakly said, taken aback by the straightforwardness of his companion. He shuffled some papers out of his suitcase. “Well, Mr. Carson, your father left you everything he owned including his company, Carson enterprises.”
“Well then, that is good.” Marc said with a confident smile. Just then, the waiter arrived to give him his drink. He took his drink and gestured for the waiter to go.
When the waiter was gone, Mr. Bleakly continued. “Your father was a very good man Mr. Carson. He made orphanages, hospitals and homes for the aged. He also made astounding contributions to save nature.”
“I think we both well know what my father did for this city.” Marc said with utter boredom, “Why don’t we cut to the chase, everything is left to me right? So why don’t you just give me the papers and we’ll be on our own ways.”
“Well Mr. Carson, as the only heir left by your father, you are left with everything. But I’m afraid I cannot give you those things just yet.”
“Why not?” Marc said with a little hint of anger in his face.
“Well, you can see here in his will that the company and all his other valuables will only be given to you if, and only if, you marry a daughter of one of his ex-girlfriends when he was young.”
“What?” Marc said with utter amazement and disbelief. “What do you mean marry a daughter of one of his ex-girlfriends? This must be a joke!”
“I’m afraid it’s not Mr. Carson,” Mr. Bleakly said apologetically, “please, your father left you with everything he owned.”
“Yes, and I won’t be able to touch any of it unless I marry, right?”
“Well, technically, yes.”
“I don’t believe this. This is a joke.” Marc covered his face with his hands and breathed hard. He looked at the troubled face of his father’s lawyer and said, “I don’t want to marry someone I don’t know. Specially one I don’t love, surely my father knew this. Is there a way to find a loophole?”
“I’ve searched and studied his will Mr. Carson but I couldn’t find any loopholes that would save you from an abrupt wedding with a stranger.”
“So, you’re saying that if I want to get all of my inheritance, I’d have to marry a stranger, Is that it?” Marc said menacingly.
“Yes, Mr. Carson. But, I’m afraid there is still more.”
Marc looked at the old man and wondered what more he could say to make his life forever miserable. “More? There’s still more?”
“Yes, Mr. Carson. I’m afraid that you just cannot marry at your own leisure,” he shuffled more papers onto the table, “you see, your father indicated precisely that if you do not marry within 100 days of his death, all of your inheritance, including your company and Carson Mansion goes to children’s funds, school renovations and other community works. The company will be headed by Mr. Victor Lang, your father’s right hand man. He will become the owner of Carson enterprises.” He looked at Marc and saw him as white as a ghost. “Are you, alright Mr. Carson?”
Marc cleared his throat and retained his businesslike manner. “100 days after his death, he’s been dead for five days now, which gives me 95 days to find a wife. A little sudden, but I think I can manage. Is there anything else? Did my father give an address as to where I can find his ex-girlfriend?”
Mr. Bleakly was astonished to see Marc retain his posture so fast. He was now again calm and relaxed as if he owned all the time of the world. “Your father did give some names; he said that it was up to you to track them all down.”
“Them?” He said with a raised eyebrow, “Can you elaborate on that?”
“Your father was quite a player in his time,” he took out a piece of paper from one of the folders and gave it to Marc. “He had 100 ex-girlfriends.”
“100! That explains the 100 days.” He looked at the list of names in alphabetical order starting from Adams, all the way to Zacharias. “It’s a long list.”
“Indeed it is, sir” Mr. Bleakly picked up all the documents in the table and arranged them again in his suitcase while Mr. Carson read on. “Excuse me Mr. Carson, but if you don’t need me anymore, I would like to go now.”
“Oh, alright” Marc said without even looking up. “I’ll contact you when I’m married.”
Mr. Bleakly stood up and went. He couldn’t stand being around Mr. Carson for a long time. He was very unlike his father in many ways. The late Mr. Carson was kind and giving, while this one was arrogant and selfish. Kids these days, Mr. Bleakly thought, weren’t the same anymore.
10 minutes after Mr. Bleakly left, Mr. Carson also stood up and left. He had so many things in his mind. He went to the parking lot and found his car. This car, he called ‘The Lightning’ was the only one of its kind because he personally designed it. His father’s company was a car company. They sold cars all over the world and was currently the number 2 most successful car manufacturer worldwide.
He swerved out of the parking lot and into the road. He still had time to pick up a new suit in Gucci and meet his fiancée, Clarice, in The River Bistro restaurant in 4th avenue downtown Manhattan.
Clarice, he thought, would be very angry if she knew of the will his father left him. Then it hit him. He stepped on the brakes quickly and thought of Clarice. After proposing to her a month ago, and telling everyone about their engagement, she would be furious to find out that if they married, they wouldn’t get a cent of his inheritance. Even the house where he had lived all his life, he would have to give up.
A car honked its horn. He was now causing traffic, and angry motorists were lining up behind him. He started the car again and went on his way. Surely Clarice would be saddened by this news. But, she would just have to accept the fact that they would have to give up the company just to be together.
He loved Clarice ever since he first met her in Harvard. He loved her blond hair and blue eyes that shone when hit by the sun. She was the daughter of the late Mr. Clarence Crow, a C.E.O. of a very big company. She was now working as a fashion model for Vanity Fair magazine. Clarice was the perfect woman for a man like him.
His father never approved of their engagement. He thought Clarice was too fashionable and expensive. Not the type that would personally take care of her kids. She was the type that would go to a saloon or go shopping whenever she has a problem, something that will often happen when they get married.
He parked his car in front of Gucci and immediately went in. The head personnel greeted, escorted him to a private room and showed him the suit he requested. He put it on and saw that it really complimented his handsome features. He paid the man and got ready to go.
“Thank you Mr. Carson. May we also extend to you our heartfelt condolence for the passing of your father. He was a very good man. Always wanted the best for himself and the people around him, I always say.”
“Thank you,” Marc replied halfheartedly. If only that man knew what his father did to him, he would think otherwise.
“Here’s your credit card Mr. Carson,” the man handed him his credit card. “What do you want us to do with your old clothes? We can put it in a plastic bag for you as usual Mr. Carson.”
“No, don’t do that. You can give it away or dump it, I don’t care. I don’t want to be carrying that thing all around.” Marc took a last look of himself in the mirror and turned to go. The personnel called his last goodbyes till he was already out of Marc’s earshot.
Marc got in his car again and started the engine. He had to tell Clarice about the will. Whatever her decision would be, it will be his too. He wanted the company and specially the mansion. It was full of good memories of her mother and his childhood; he couldn’t give it up now. He wanted it, but he wanted Clarice too.
His mind swam in thoughts as he parked in front of The River Bistro. Clarice was already waiting for him inside. She looked so lovely in her black dress and blond hair that all he wanted to do was just to stare at her from a distance. He went in and immediately, he was shown their table. Clarice smiled at him a perfect smile. A smile that would launch a thousand ships.
“You’re late.” she said, still smiling at him.
“You’re actually early.”
“Oh, am I?” she giggled.
The waiter appeared and took their orders.
“I visited Louis this morning.” Clarice said. “He said that all preparations for our wedding have been made. I also contacted a wedding singer but, he sucked so I was thinking of maybe contacting someone famous to sing like Alicia Keys or Josh Groban. It would cost a bit but it would be worth it. It is our wedding.” Her smile wavered when he saw the troubled look on his face. “What’s the matter?”
“I have to tell you something.” He took Clarice’s hand and held it tight. “I met my father’s lawyer today. He told me of my father’s will and I am to inherit everything.”
“That’s perfect then!”
“Wait, listen first. You see, I can only get everything if I marry.”
“That’s very perfect! We are getting married in 3 months. I can finally be Mrs. Clarice Carson. I’m so excited. For our honeymoon we will be going to your family’s private island resort in Hawaii right? And we will be having a garden wedding; a church wedding is just so medieval. And I want a judge to officiate, not a priest. I hate those robed old men.”
“Clarice, listen first.” He tightened his grip on her hands.
“I have to marry someone else. My father precisely indicated that I marry a daughter of one of his ex-girlfriends for me to take the inheritance. I only have 95 days to find a girl.”
“What? Marry someone else? Within 95 days? Is this your form of a joke?” she wrenched off her hand from his grip. “Tell me you’re joking.”
“I’m not. My father’s lawyer told me that it was the only way. But, don’t worry, I love you, so I won’t care about the inheritance. I won’t marry someone I don’t know.”
“What? You will lose your inheritance if you marry me? But, if we marry each other without your money, what would we do? We would starve. Where would we have our honeymoon?” she stamped her fist in the table and stood up. “I want to live in your mansion and have a comfortable life there. I don’t want to live in a rundown apartment with you.”
“Who said anything about a rundown apartment? Listen, I want to marry you. I’ll find a job somewhere and we’ll live in a house of our own. Raise our family.”
“Be a suburban family? An ordinary middle class person of the society? Are you out of your head?” she took her purse and started to go.
“Wait! Clarice!” Marc darted out for her. He caught her just as she was getting in her car. “Let’s talk”
“Talk? You still want to talk? After breaking my heart of what you said, you want to talk? No! The engagement is over! Goodbye Marc Carson. I hope you and your new fiancée would be happy together!” With that, she closed her car door and dashed away into the night, leaving Marc speechless in the middle of the street.
Well, that went well, Marc thought. He never imagined her to act like that, but then, she is a very unpredictable person, one thing that he loved about her. He went in his car and sat there. This past week was a busy one, first his father’s death in which he never had time to cry because of him taking over the company for the time being, then the aged lawyer who seemed very old to still be working, and now his fiancée leaving him in the middle of a street and announcing that their engagement was off. He took the paper which contained the names of his father’s 100 ex-girlfriends and crumpled it into a ball. He started the engine and threw the paper out of the window.