The Billionaire's Fake Marriage - MacKenzie Stowe Page 0,1

it?” I asked and shook my head.

Cole walked around the office, scanning the baskets, picking up some cards, smelling some flowers.

“We need to get all this shit donated somewhere. I was thinking HELP,” Cole said.

I laughed. “Do you mean the Homeless Education Learning Program? Dad thought that was the biggest waste of time.”

“And yet he went to their charity events every season. He would hate it. I think it’s perfect,” Cole said.

“I like it. Can you let Faith know and see if she can get it all sorted out?” I asked, mentioning the head of our public relations department and Cole’s best friend.

“Who do you think suggested it?” Cole asked with a smirk.

There was no reason for Cole and me to be friends, much less as close as we were, beside the fact that we were brothers. He was cocky, arrogant, and loved to be the life of the party. He gave the impression that life came to him easily and that nothing should be taken seriously. I, on the other hand, took everything seriously. I had a company to run. Not only were countless employees relying on me for a job and a paycheck, but now I had the reputation and legacy of our father to protect.

We had the same blue eyes, which luckily, we got from our mother, Mary. A saint of a woman who never should have married a man like Roger Ashton. But she had and was the dutiful wife and bore him two sons. She had died of cancer less than ten years ago, a wound that still pained both Cole and me.

I inherited my father’s jet-black hair while Cole had a lighter brown that was closer to our mother’s. We both were tall in stature though I was a few inches taller than Cole, a fact that I was happy to rub in his face every chance I got. He was more built, though he was able to spend more time at the gym than I did. Or playing basketball, or swimming, or running, or just about anything.

Dad had tried to pit us against each other from a young age. Telling us that competition was good. That it would make us better men, make us stronger. We were more than happy to see who was better at just about anything. Be it sports, academics, cooking, driving, or even picking up women. We were both fiercely competitive and liked to win. But we never let the competition interfere with our friendship. We always remained close and each other’s biggest supporter.

We had to find some way to survive the childhood we had. Not that it was all bad. Mom made it wonderful, or as wonderful as she could. Though I think when she found out that Dad had cheated on her, with his assistant of all people and had a son with her, I think a bit of life left her. The humiliation was tough for her to bear; the divorce had been hard on all of us, but I think she found a bit of happiness in the end, before the cancer took her from us.

“The bastard is really gone, isn’t he?” Cole asked, his voice barely above a whisper as if he was afraid to say it too loud. That Dad might hear and come walking into the room.

“Looks like it,” I said with a nod.

“It is weird that I miss him and yet I don’t?” Cole asked.

“Like you’re expecting him to come barging in here at any moment and telling us that we are wasting the day and to get to work. And as annoying as it was, you wish you could still hear it one more time?” I asked.

“Yes. Exactly,” Cole said and looked at me with sad eyes.

“Though if it makes you feel any better. We got a gift card to The Russian Doll,” I said.

Cole started laughing. “The sex shop?”

I waved the gift card in the air and handed it to Cole. “Here, take this, use it, or not. I think you should have it.”

“Who the hell gives a gift card of a sex shop to someone who just lost their father?” Cole asked but he took the card, looked at it, and put it in his pocket.

“Someone who has a wicked sense of humor or doesn’t seem to understand what has happened.”

“Thanks. I need a good laugh. You doing okay, RJ?” he asked, calling me the childhood nickname short for Roger Junior.

Dad wanted me to be Roger Bernard Jr,