The Billionaire's Fake Marriage - MacKenzie Stowe

Chapter 1


No matter how many times I saw it, it never ceased to amaze me how much people felt the need to give when someone died. I stood in the middle of what used to be my father's office as every open countertop or space was filled with some sort of card, gift basket, flower, or other random forms of sympathy.

It had been only two days since he died of a heart attack after a business meeting. A meeting I had been at. It was strange to think that the last words I would say to my father were ‘I’ll get that information to you in the morning.’ He wasn’t old by any stretch of the imagination, barely in his sixties, and he would have said in the prime of his life. Though he would never say or let anyone think any differently of him.

The death had been a shock to us all. My brother, Cole, and I especially. It was strange to stand in my father’s office and know that he was never going to sit behind the black desk again. That he would never swivel in the chair and look out on the Manhattan skyline that was right outside his window. That I would never walk in to see him grumbling about some numbers or how construction was going on a project.

My father, Roger Bernard Ashton, didn’t come from humble beginnings. His father had owned a prestigious construction company. One that had helped to build an extensive amount of New York and the surrounding areas. He had given his son money to buy his first plot of land when he was only sixteen years old. He had chosen well and had sold it for a nice profit by the time he graduated high school. He was able to pay off his father and then take the rest of this money and invest it in another property.

While he went to college for his MBA, he continued to buy and sell property so by the time he had graduated from college he was a wealthy man in his own right. One who could and did buy his own father’s company. It was the first of many companies that he had bought and sold over the years. But he liked to say that his father’s was his first.

To say my father was a hard man to know, much less love, would be an understatement. He had been called a curmudgeon, an arrogant son of a bitch, a cheapskate, and in general not the nicest person, and that was from the people who liked him. I wanted to think that I knew him better, I had after all been raised by the man and worked side by side with him for years, but I really couldn’t. In truth, he had been all those things to me and more.

Etiquette said I should be sad, that I should be taking some time, that I should be in mourning. But I didn’t feel sad, I didn’t feel much of anything. It was hard when the man was Roger Ashton. He was my mentor; he was the man who taught me everything that I knew and there was a part of me that would forever be grateful for it. But there was also a bigger part of me that was glad that he was gone. Though I could never or would I ever admit that to anyone.

As the oldest of the family, I knew it fell on me to do what was right. To keep the company going, to protect the legacy that my father had created. He had told me as much since I was a young boy and it was something he had never let me forget. He knew that the only way the company was going to succeed was if I was at the helm, after he was gone.

He had talked about that more frequently in the last few months, how he wanted me to handle things when he was gone, and it made me wonder if he knew that his health was failing. That his time was coming to an end. I hoped not, as it certainly hadn’t made him any nicer towards me or my brother. He had been exactly the same to us up until the day he died.

I guess there is something to be said for consistency.

“Jesus,” Cole, my brother, said as he walked into Dad’s office. “Did a charity event throw up in here?” he asked.

“Looks like it doesn’t