The Shy Bride(2)

By: Lucy Monroe


Bet or no bet.

“There is definitely something going on you don’t know about, Neo. It’s called life and it’s going on all around you, but you’re so busy with our company, it’s passing you by.”

“Stamos and Nikos Enterprises is my life.”

Zephyr gave Neo a look of pity, as if the other man hadn’t worked just as hard to leave their shared history behind. “The company was supposed to be our way to a new life, not the only thing you lived for. Don’t you remember, Neo? We were going to be tycoons by thirty.”

“And we made it.” They’d made their first million within three years of stepping onto American soil. They’d been multimillionaires a few years later, and held assets in excess of a billion dollars by the time Neo was thirty. Now he and Zephyr were the primary shareholders in a multibillion-dollar company. Stamos & Nikos Enterprises didn’t simply bear his name; it consumed his waking and sleeping hours.

And he was just fine with that.

“You wanted to buy a big house, start a family, remember?” Zephyr asked in chiding tone.

“Things change.” Some dreams were mere childhood fancy and needed to be left behind. “I like my penthouse.”

Zephyr rolled his eyes. “That’s not the point, Neo.”

“What is the point? You think I need piano lessons?”

“As a matter of fact, yes. Even if your GP had not issued you a warning at your latest physical, I would know something has to give in your life. Considering the stress you live under, it doesn’t take a doctor to know you are a heart attack waiting to happen.”

“I work out six days a week. My meals are planned by a top nutritionist. My housekeeper prepares them to exact specifications and I eat on a schedule more regular than you keep. My body is in top physical condition.”

“You sleep less than six hours a night and you do nothing that works as a pressure valve for the stress in your life.”

“What do you consider my workouts?”

“Another outlet for your highly competitive nature. You are always pushing yourself to do more.”

Zephyr should know. He was right there competing with Neo. So, the other man had started leaving the office closer to six than eight a couple of years ago. And maybe he’d taken up a hobby unrelated to real estate development or investments, but that didn’t mean his life was better than Neo’s. It was just a little different.

“There is nothing wrong with striving to achieve.”

“That is true.” Zephyr frowned. “When you have some measure of balance to your life. You, my friend, do not have a life.”

“I have a life.”

“You have more drive than any man I have ever met, but you do not balance it with the things that give life meaning.”

As if Zephyr had any room to talk.

“You think piano lessons will give my life meaning?” Maybe Zephyr was the one who needed a break. He was losing his grip on reality.

“No. I think they will give you a place to be Neo Stamos for one hour a week, not the Greek tycoon who could buy and sell most companies many times over, not to mention people.”

“I do not buy and sell people.”

“No, we buy property, develop it and sell it. And we are damn good at making a profit at it. Your insistence on diversifying our investments early on paid off, too, but when will it be enough?”

“I am satisfied with my life.”

“But you are never satisfied with your success.”

“And you are any different?”

Zephyr shrugged, his own tailored Italian suit jacket moving over his shoulders flawlessly. “We are talking about you.” He crossed his arms and stared Neo down. “When was the last time you made love to a woman, Neo?”

“We’re past the age of scoring and sharing, Zee.”

Zephyr cracked a smile. “I don’t want to hear about your conquests. And even if I did, you couldn’t tell me about this one because you’ve never done it.”

“What the hell? I have sex as often as I want it.”

“Sex, yes. But you have never made love.”

“What difference does it make?”

“You are afraid of intimacy.”

“How the blue bloody hell did we get from piano lessons to psychobabble? And when did you start spouting that garbage at all?”

Zephyr had the nerve to look offended. “I am simply pointing out that your life is too narrow in its scope. You need to broaden your horizons.”

“Now you sound like a travel commercial.” And a damn hypocritical one at that.

“I sound like a friend who doesn’t want you to die from a stress-related illness before your fortieth birthday, Neo.”

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