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C2 James


Old man James the first was livid. His bulbous nose turned firehose red, reminding me of Rudolf the red nose reindeer. He slapped his hand on the living room table, so the coffee cups rattled dangerously.

We were in our private dining room in the Barrington mansion, Westwood. Grandfather summoned me to appear. Not that I wanted to be there.

“I’ve had it with you, James. Had it.” He shook the paper he had in his other fist. “What were you thinking? A bar fight! Again.”

I shrugged. So what? The guy deserved the black eye he received. He was moving in on my territory. And my, was she fine…

“The tabloids are having a field day with your escapades.” My father, James the second, had to throw his five cents in. He read the headlines aloud. “Billionaire playboy picked up by local police for drunk and disorderly.” He scowled at me while reading, gritting his teeth. “Will Billionaire James Barrington the third ever grow up.” He showed me the photos.

I smirked. That was one hell of a party.

Grandfather stood up to his full five feet four inches height – I was over six feet. He pulled me down with my leather jacket, until our faces met. “What do you have to say for yourself, young whippersnapper?”

“What the fuck is a whippersnapper?” I asked, I really had no idea. I wasn’t being snippy.

I thought the old man was getting a stroke. His face turned puce, a horrible color. Flecks of spit appeared on his lips.

“You… you… I understand now why some mammals eat their young.” He spat at me. He released me to fall back into his chair, wheezing for breath.

Father brought him a glass of water. His scowl turned darker.

“James, show some respect!” he patted the old man on his back. “You have gone far enough. It’s time for you to take responsibility. Time to pull your weight.”

“And by that you mean?” I actually know exactly what he meant. They’ve been after me for months, trying to get me to take an interest in the company. I’m not completely uninterested, I do go into the office from time to time. But why waste my life sitting in a boring office when every-thing is going smoothly? With or without me, the company is doing great.

“Your reputation is doing great damage to the Barrington name and to our company.” Father straightened his tie. I imagined that was what he wished he could do to me. Straighten me out.

I leaned against the table, folding my arms, waiting for the lecture I knew was coming. I’ve heard it so many times I could actually quote them verbatim.

“It’s time for you to get married. Stop your mucking about.” Grandfather wheezed. He reached for his inhaler in his pocket.

“Say what now?” This was unexpected.

“Sit down.” My father said, and for the first time in my twenty-six years I obeyed like a puppy. I was shocked to the core.

“You know Richard Davenport?” Father asked, knowing full well I knew the Davenports had gone to private school with their children.

Can’t say we have a loving relationship. They were very snobbish.

“Yeah? So?”

“We’ve set up a date for you with their eldest daughter, Macy Davenport. She would be a good match for you.” Grandfather smirked at me. The old man looked delighted with their plans.

“A good match as in you want us to get married?” I asked calmly, but inside the rebel in me was getting ready to explode.

My father who knew me better tried to reason with me. “Just go on the date, James. What have you got to lose?”

Only my freedom.

“She’s an attractive girl. Very respectable. She’ll be good for your image.” The old man’s blue eyes looked me up and down and the grim look on his face told me he wasn’t pleased with what he saw.

I was clad in all leather; my brown hair was long, and I hadn’t shaved in a few days. Not ‘respectable’ at all, according to the Barrington’s.

“Not my type.” Putting it mildly. I remember Macy. Blonde, blue-eyed, but oh so shallow. She cared more about her appearance than anything. “No way in hell.”

“You haven’t seen her in what? Ten years.” James the second tried again. He was getting agitated, pulling at his perfect dark hair.

I shook my head. “I don’t care. You can’t force me to marry a girl I don’t know or care for. In fact, you can’t force me to marry anyone! For fucks sake this is not the Middle Ages.” I was no longer calm. These were the times I wished my mother were still alive. She would have given them hell.

I got up to leave but Father stopped me. “Do you know our shares have dropped? You would have if you spent more time in your office.”

“I don’t see what that has to do with me?” I didn’t want to spend one second more with them. I needed to get on my bike and get the fuck away from them.

“Idiot! Every time you do something stupid it reflects badly on the company. Now either you get your shit together, or I will disinherit you. Not only disinherit but cut you off completely. You will find yourself on the streets, young man.” Old man James yelled at me. He clutched at his heart. I found myself wondering if he even had one.

Father reached for me, “Be reasonable, James. Do you really want to throw your inheritance away because of your stubbornness?” He took off his glasses to glare at me with his light blue eyes.

Of course not. I wanted them to see me, not as a clone of them, but as me, James Barrington, Jimmy to my friends. Through all the years I have been nothing but James Barrington the third, heir to the Barrington Billions. I had to dress like them, walk and talk like them, expected to fit the mold. But I am not like my father. I am my own person.

I was still trying to figure out my life and what I wanted to do with it. Without them pushing me into a mold of who they wanted me to be. But I needed their money. Sad but true. So, they wanted me to get married and change my ways? Fine. But I will do it on my own terms.

I took out a cigarette to light it.

“Don’t smoke in the house.” Grandfather snapped back at me. Another thing he loathed about me.

I put it behind my ear. “I will compromise.” I told them.

My father frowned. “Compromise? James, this had better not be one of your schemes.”

Grandfather huffed through his nose, turning his head away in disgust. The old man hated me that’s for sure.

Leaning forward with my hands on the table I looked the old man straight in the eyes. “Fine. I’ll get married. But not Macy Davenport. I’ll find my own damn wife, thank you.”

Grandfather laughed in my face. “Yeah? And who are you going to propose to? Some whore you picked up at a bar. One of your gold digger ‘girlfriends’?”

“Dad, let’s hear what James has to say, please.” Father said. It amazed me that he would come to my defense in some way. That was new.

The old man raised a gnarled hand to let me continue.

“I have someone in mind.” I lied through my teeth. So help me, I will find a girl who has no idea who I am, and I will convince her to marry me. Even if it takes me a while, granted my face has been plastered all over the tabloids and social media. I don’t want to marry some gold digger like my grandfather suggested. They were a dime a dozen. I needed to find a girl with no status. Someone so ordinary just to spite the James’s.

“Oh really?” Grandfather didn’t believe me. “Well, young man, you have three weeks, and I am being very lenient to you. One week to present your lady to us and two weeks to arrange your marriage. If you don’t deliver… You know the rest.”

“Fine.” I stood up straight, adjusting my leather jacket. Father gave me a warning look.

“James, stay out of trouble.” He said, walking me out. “And make an appearance at the office, for God’s sake.”

“I’ll try my best,” I told him, smirking. Trouble has a way of finding me. I put on my helmet and started my black and gold Hayabusa. It purred like a kitten.

My father shook his head. Another thing the James’s disapproved of. I revved the engine and sped off down the long driveway.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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