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C8 Paparazzi


The way James and Giovanni stared at me made me feel self-conscious. I hardly recognized myself in the mirror. I don’t think I’ve ever looked this good. I used to hate the color of my hair until today. Giovanni really knew his stuff.

“Thank you, Giovanni, James.” I blushed like a teenager.

“My pleasure, Bella!” Giovanni kissed me on both cheeks like he greeted James. It felt strange to me, I wasn’t used to affection from strange people.

James held out his hand for me to take. He looked pleased with himself, a smug grin on his face, like he’d won the Lotto or something.

“Let’s go, gorgeous.” he said.

Wow! I wasn’t expecting that. I took his hand, and we strolled out of the salon.

“Mr. Barrington! Mr. Barrington!” Someone called out and James stopped in his tracks, swearing under his breath.

Barrington? Was that his surname? Why did it sound so familiar?

James looked over at me, “Can you run, Destiny?” He grasped my hand firmly. “Come!” We ran to the car. He opened the door and half pushed me inside.

“What the hell, James?” I pulled my legs in just in time as he slammed the door and rushed to the other side.

A flash from a camera almost blinded me. There was a man at the passenger’s side window holding a camera and he was taking my picture. I shaded my face with my hand.

James sped away, burning rubber as the car turned out of the parking lot.

“Bloody paparazzi!” James snarled. “So sick of them, they’re everywhere.”

“Why on earth would the paparazzi be after you? Are you some kind of celebrity or are you on the run, James?” My stomach lurched. I didn’t know anything about this man. He could be a criminal for all I know, and I have agreed to marry him. What have I gotten myself into?

“Forget about it.” James said. He had a deep frown between his brows. He turned to glance at me. “There you go again, Destiny! You have quite the imagination.”

“What do you mean, James?” Could he read my mind?

“I’ve come to recognize that look on your face. I am not some mobster or running from the law.” He said, looking irritated. “The press just can’t leave me alone. I’ve done some stupid things which did some damage to my grandfather and my father’s good standing.” He laughed bitterly, “So now you have it. I must prove myself worthy of my lineage.”

“That’s why you want to get married.” I nodded. I just happened to bump into him at the right time, I guessed. Just my luck.


I shook my head. Were these people from the Middle Ages?

“What now?” he asked with that same note of irritation in his voice.

“It’s just… They can’t force you to get married, can they? I mean, you have rights.”

“My family is very… traditional, I guess, is the word I’m looking for.” James said glancing at me. “I am a bit of a disappointment to them.” He smiled and his blue eyes flashed.

“Really?” I looked at him. “You seem alright. I mean, you do have a job, don’t you?”

He laughed, a dimpled appeared in his cheek, and I was struck by how handsome he was when he laughed like that.

“Yes, I do have a job. At my father’s firm.”

“Oh.” I looked down at my hands.

“Now what are you implying with that ‘oh’?” he said crossly.

“Nothing.” Probably got the job just because of his father, maybe he didn’t even deserve it.

He stayed silent after that. Soon we arrived at his home.


James went to my room with me. He placed all the shopping bags on the bed. He sure spent a heck of a lot of money on me today. A part of me felt guilty that he did it, but he wanted me to change so I suppose I shouldn’t feel that way. Still…

“Thank you, James. For everything.” I said, facing him.

He shrugged, “No problem. You clean up nicely.” he said, taking my hand and twirling me around. “Really nice.”

I laughed, feeling a bit dizzy and not used to the high heels. I lost my balance and stumbled. James caught me around my waist and pulled me against him. My breath caught in my throat because his blue eyes pulled me in. His lips looked so soft, and I wondered for an insane moment what it would feel like if he kissed me. Would I like it? Would he want to kiss me, and do I want him to?

Time, it seemed, stood still as I was locked in his arms. Held by the unreadable blue pools, drowning in them, then, as if by some kind of magnetic force, his lips were drawn to mine. The kiss was soft and sweet and probing, and I lost myself in it, opening my lips to his exploring tongue. I have never been kissed like that before. Losing all feeling in my legs, I had to hold onto his broad shoulders to keep from melting at his feet.

He broke away first, leaving me wanting more and feeling ashamed simultaneously.

“Not bad for a first practice.” He said, smirking and I wasn’t sure whether or not to say something, so I didn’t.

“We should definitely do it again.” He winked at me and left, closing the door behind him.

My world spun around me. Had he felt nothing? Was it just me?


I watched my reflection in the mirror. I still couldn’t believe it. This new me with shining eyes and kiss-swollen lips. My strawberry-blonde hair framed my face perfectly and the new floral dress hugged my breasts, the cleavage peeking out just enough the draw the eye – a pretty picture. Was this what they saw? I was more than that.

I sighed. Well, I agreed to this, there was no going back now. Three years of living like this. It won’t be so bad now, would it? I touched my lips I could still feel the softness of his mouth there. Don’t get attached, Destiny. This is just a job, like any other. You can do this.

“You can do this.” I told myself in the mirror. The girl in the mirror nodded.

I packed away my new clothes.

My cell phone rang. I had completely forgotten about it. I left it on charge when we went shop-ping.

“Lorraine,” I smiled as I answered the call. She was my friend who worked with me at Ken’s convenient store.

“Girl, where the hell are you? Ken said you don’t work here anymore. What happened?” Lorraine’s voice sounded worried.

“I had the weirdest day, Lorraine. It seems like a fairy tale.” I told her.

“Are you okay, Destiny. Do I have to call the cops?” she asked. I could just picture her; Lorraine must have given Ken the Third Degree. She was very protective of me, like a mother although we were almost the same age. Tiny, feisty Lorraine taking on Ken. He was nothing like Barbie’s Ken though, paunchy, and balding with a crooked nose.

“No, no, nothing like that. I’ve met a man and we’re going to get married.” I told her.

“Girl, what are you smoking?! Have you lost your mind?” It sounded like she almost dropped her phone. “Who is this man? You don’t even date, for the love of God!”

“Yeah, we sort of ran into each other.” I giggled.

“Oh, dear Lord… Who is this man? I need a name so I can get a background check on him. There’s no way I’m letting my best friend be taken for a ride.” She sounded breathless, “And you send me a pin location immediately, Missy.”

“Okay, okay. Goodness, Lorraine.” Wow! Who knew she could be so dramatic.

“Oh, Destiny… What have you done? You have no idea how evil people can be.” She sounded like she was about to cry.

“His name is James, James Barrington.” I thought about the cameraman calling out his surname.


“No. Say that again? We must have a bad connection.” Lorraine’s voice came through clearly.

I repeated. “James Barrington.”

“Are you shitting me, girl? Barrington the Billionaire heir?” she screeched in my ear. I held the phone away from me.

“Huh?” No, James couldn’t be a billionaire. Sure, he had money, but he didn’t act like a billionaire. Okay, how would I know though? Not that I knew any billionaires.

“Destiny Johnson, you send me a pin location right now!”

“Um… Would if I could, Lorraine, but my phone doesn’t have that app.” I had a very old phone that I was used to. Those new ones looked very complicated to me, and of course, that was the least thing I had been able to afford.


“You hang in there, girl. I’ll find you. You phone me if there’s anything. You hear, doesn’t matter if it’s in the middle of the night.” Lorraine was starting to scare me.

“Sure. I promise.” I ended the call.

Libre Baskerville
Gentium Book Basic
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