Trained(The Monroe Trilogy Book 2)By: Cynthia Dane
An Alpha Billionaire Romance
The suitcase zipped shut behind Damon. He fixed his tie in the mirror, simultaneously inspecting his recently shaved face for any errant stubble. Better not be. For what he paid to have the best barber in the region to come by every other day to keep him groomed… well, if the man couldn’t do something as simple as make Damon’s face smoother than a worry stone, then he wasn’t the best, hm?
“Did you get everything, Mr. Clayborn?” he asked his assistant’s reflection in the mirror.
Nigel Clayborn nodded. “Yes, sir. Five suits, seven shirts, three pairs of pants, and plenty of undergarments to get you through your trip.”
“Excellent.” The tie was meticulously finished by the time Damon walked away from the mirror. “Have Ms. Clayborn confirm that Ms. Culver will be joining me before we take off.”
Damon didn’t like it when his obedient assistant didn’t act, hm, obedient. Whenever Mr. Clayborn looked like that, Damon knew that something sinister propagated beneath his feet. It was either boiling bad blood between the Clayborn siblings or… his father.
“About Ms. Culver…”
Damon shot his assistant a biting look. Before Nigel could nuke his own ass, someone knocked on the chamber door.
“Ah, Damon.” Russell Monroe admitted himself without invitation. “Just the man I wanted to see.” He smiled at the packed bags lining the wall. “Ready for Chicago?”
Damon tucked his hands into his pockets. “Everything should be in order.”
“Excellent. I’m counting on you.”
Once upon a time, Damon loved to hear that from his father. Not that Russell ever withheld praise. He always praised his son… when Damon earned it. He would receive no participation trophies, but he would receive a “good job” when he earned a trophy.
His father’s praise had been a drug for a while. When an only son was rejected by his mother from an early age, it was natural to search for a father’s praise, wasn’t it? At least I’m past that now. He couldn’t say that about some of his contemporaries. Although Russell saying “good job” still felt pretty nice.
“When I get back,” Damon began, relieved to see a relaxed demeanor on his father’s face. His moods could swing uncontrollably. “I’d like you to meet my new girlfriend. Perhaps we could have dinner together.”
Russell’s expression remained unchanged. Yet the atmosphere? That completely changed in Damon’s private quarters. Russell had been brought up to speed about Alice, right? If he hadn’t seen the tabloids, then he at least heard about Alice’s existence through the corporate grapevine. Some shareholder or partner or direct underling would have said something about Damon cavorting multiple times with the same woman. His hookups and random one-night stands didn’t count. People only took notice if the woman repeated. Me asking him to meet her must be like a stab in the stomach. So was the day young Damon Monroe received the informal announcement that his perfectly matched parents were getting a sudden, messy divorce.
He had only been what, six? Seven? Barely starting school, let alone boarding school. Mother Julia wasn’t around that much to begin with, but she always paid careful attention to her son when they were together. Even with nannies, Julia was in charge and had the final say in everything. “No, Damon, you didn’t finish your dinner, so no ice cream.” “Did I say that you could touch that, Damon? Be a gentleman. Gentlemen don’t touch people or things without permission.” “You can have it if you promise to play with it. Do you? All right, but if this is like the last thing we bought you, then forget any toys for three months. Do you know how long three months is? A very long time.”
To have that kind of guidance leave his life, never to be seen again outside of tabloid speculation, would have broken lesser boys. Particularly when said trash rags loved to lie about Julia’s supposed conditions. Schizophrenia. Paranoia. Narcissism. Some said she had burn scars all over her body. Others said she had tried to kill herself with Russell’s treasured Civil War pistol and was currently kept in a mental clinic. Damon’s least favorite lie that actually made him sue for libel was the one that implied she had beaten her son, prompting Russell to divorce her with no visitation rights.