Shared by the Billionaires
Three Years Later
I stood in front of the mirror, frowning at my reflection. “I don’t like anything in my wardrobe.”
Owen’s head appeared around the corner of the closet, a playful smirk already in place. “Your wardrobe?”
I gave him a look. “You know what I mean.”
“There’s been a lot of your and our going on lately,” he said casually. “I feel like I’m the victim of a corporate takeover.”
“You’re the one who invited me to move half my stuff in with you!” I shot back.
He shrugged casually. “I’m just saying. Getting tied down isn’t in the cards. I’ve got a lot of options, kid. So many options.”
I threw a shoe at him, then smacked the red panic room button on the wall. The closet door slid shut and deadbolts locked heavily into place.
“Is this a sit-in?” he asked through the door.
It had been a joke between us for the past few years. Owen didn’t want anything official to tie us down. This made sense from a practical standpoint, since I was in a simultaneous relationship with him, Jude, and Furio. But Owen also had claimed he didn’t believe in the idea of marriage. We didn’t need to bring the legal system into our relationship, he liked to say. What we had was more indestructible than any piece of paper.
And even after I moved most of my stuff into his condo, the teasing continued. But I didn’t mind.
“I seem to remember a time when you locked me in the closet,” Owen said.
“You deserved it,” I said, removing my dress and sliding my fingers along the options on the rack. I chose a black dress with a lacy back and said, “And yes, I know it scared Tux half to death.”
“Let me in,” he said. “I need to get my shoes.”
“You mean one of your hundred pairs of Air Jordans?” I teased. “I don’t know why you’re so into sneakers. They’re all outdated anyways.”
I heard him sputter. “Out—outdated? Are you serious? They’re classics. It’s a retro look, Amber. It never goes out of style.”
I snickered. “Yeah, okay.”
“Nope. You’ve got to use your fancy schmancy Home AI to get in here.” I grinned to myself. “Too bad she can’t help you get into my pants.”
“Don’t think there’ll be a problem there,” he replied.
I giggled to myself. He was right about that.
Owen got silent, and I wondered what he was doing out in the bedroom. Then my cell phone vibrated in my jeans pocket on the floor. I pulled it out—and did a double-take.
My background had been changed. Instead of the sleek ACS logo, it was a hand-drawn cartoon of Owen March himself. Around the image were hearts and notes like, “So swoony!” and, “Owen is a dreamboat!” and, “A + O Forever.” It looked like the kind of thing a thirteen-year-old girl would doodle in her diary.
“What the actual fuck?”
The door opened now, presumably because Owen had manually unlocked it from his phone. “What? Is there something on your phone?” He leaned over and gasped. “Oh wow. That’s a great likeness of me. You captured my charming smile.”
I gave him a playful shove. “You seriously commissioned a drawing of yourself just so you could hack my phone and set it as my background?”
He grinned widely and leaned against the closet wall. “Best five hundred dollars I ever spent. And yeah, that encryption program you downloaded for your phone? It has a backdoor I was able to exploit.”
I cursed under my breath. We had continued our playful hacking pranks ever since ACS went public, and no matter what I did, Owen was able to get back at me. He relished in reminding me that he wasn’t just a figurehead; he still had some hacking skill.
We’ll see who’s laughing by the end of the night.
“That’s the dress,” he said. His eyes moved up and down my body like a caress. “Yeah. That’s the one.”
Owen’s hand slid across my cheek and to the back of my neck, and he kissed me roughly. He was always the most aroused after getting the better of me, and I wasn’t going to complain. Three years together hadn’t lessened the deep, insatiable attraction we had for each other.
I was beginning to wonder if he wanted to see me without the dress when we heard the front door close on the other end of the condo. “We’re in here!” I called. A few seconds later, Jude appeared. His eyes brightened and he grinned when he saw me, the same way he always did.
I’ll never get sick of that look.
“I’m trying to decide what to wear tonight,” I said.
“I hacked Amber’s phone,” Owen boasted. “The TrueCrypt algorithm? It has a government backdoor. Easy to exploit once I paid off the right guys.”
Jude rolled his eyes and stepped into the closet. He gave me a quick kiss, his taste mingling with Owen’s on my lips, and then gave me a long look.
“That dress is perfect.” He turned around and rummaged through my jewelry box. “Add these earrings, and… here. This necklace.” He held it up to my neck. “Oh yeah. You’ve never looked better.”
“Fine, forget about my hack,” Owen muttered as he grabbed a pair of sneakers and exited the closet.
I pulled my hair up and turned around so Jude could put the necklace on. “I remember when I was the one giving you fashion advice.”
“I’ve come a long way since then.” Once the necklace was fastened in the back, he gently kissed the back of my neck. “Nervous about tonight?”
“I guess?” I said. “I’ve never retired from a company before.”
“It’s easy. Especially when you’re on good terms.”
“It still feels like a break-up!”
His lips caressed my skin again. “We’re here for you the entire way.”
I sighed as he hugged me from behind. “And that’s the only reason I’m not actually freaking out.”
“How many lists have you made since you decided to leave?”
He spun me around to face him, blue eyes boring into me from behind his glasses. I bit my lip and looked away.
“Okay. I’ve made about five lists per day.”
“That’s what I thought.” He hugged me, kissed my hair, and said, “This is an exciting time. It’s scary, but you know what? It should be.”
I selected a pair of heels—again with Jude’s opinion—and finished prepping my hair in the bathroom. When I eventually came out, the two billionaires were standing in the living room waiting for me. Jude was suave in his usual look: a dress shirt without a tie, and his sleeves rolled up to reveal his forearms. But it was Owen that surprised me. He was wearing a charcoal suit, well-fitted to his frame, with a gold tie with circuit-like designs similar to the ACS logo. Matching gold cufflinks glimmered at his wrists. The retro Air Jordans on his feet were the only part of him that was normal.
“Okay, this has to be some sort of prank,” I said. “But I’m not sure how.”
“It’s a big night,” he said, shoving his hands in his pockets. “A girl I know is announcing she’s starting her own company.”
The annoyance and embarrassment I’d felt earlier when I found out he hacked my phone disappeared. Owen could be sweet and affectionate, but he was rarely this… genuine? I kissed him and savored it.
“Okay, we’d better get going,” he said. “Counselor - full lockdown until we return.”
I winced. Shit.
The voice that played from the ceiling was not Counselor Troi from Star Trek. Nor was it my own sarcastic voice recorded into a computer database. No, it was the nasally, nails-on-a-chalkboard voice of Gilbert Gottfried.
“FULL LOCKDOWN ENGAGING! SEE YOU SOON, OWEN!”
Tux, upon hearing the voice, leaped off the couch and shot across the room to hide in the closet.
Jude began laughing so hard he had to cover his mouth with his hand. Owen blinked up at the ceiling, then cut his eyes down to me. I smiled weakly.
“There was a patch in your smart fridge which gave me access,” I said apologetically. “You’ve got to keep those up-to-date, you know.”
“Counselor - what’s the current time?” Jude asked through sputtering laughs. Again, Gilbert Gottfried’s voice cracked like a whip.
“IT IS CURRENTLY SEVEN FIFTY-SIX PACIFIC COAST TIME.”
Owen glared at me.
“You started it by hacking my phone?” I said hopefully.
Over by the door, Jude continued laughing hysterically.
The guys had a private driver now, and he drove us over to Marcello’s. The rooftop was reserved for our party—and I had made sure we did that weeks ago to avoid usurping anyone else’s place up there. “Yeah, fine,” Owen had told me when I made the reservation. “The last thing I want is another Amber Moltisanti type-woman calling me a cuntwaffle in front of everyone.”
Everyone was already there when we got to the roof: Dave and Nancy, with their one-year-old child in a chest carrier; Will Won and Will Crawley; Melinda and her husband Jimmy; and of course my sister Michelle and her new boyfriend, Alessandro, who had visited San Francisco with Furio and had immediately declared his undying love for my sister.
Furio was there too, of course, looking like a prince in business clothes. He had two glasses of wine, and he handed one to me before hugging me close.
“I have missed you, my love,” he breathed into my ear. As it always did, his accent sent sexy shivers up my spine and made me wish nobody else was around.
“I thought you would come to the condo first.”
“Our flight was delayed. And I was making other arrangements here.”
Furio smiled that roguish smile of his and waved a hand. “Why are we talking of such frivolities? Come! I have brought two of my closest friends with me from Italy, and it is my great desire that they meet you. This is Marco, and that bashful man is Renzo…”
I smiled as I met Furio’s friends. We didn’t speak for very long, but one thing they impressed upon me was that Furio was enamored with me. “I have never seen him in such a way,” Renzo claimed. “He is a man bewitched by love.”
I leaned a little closer to Furio.
Food and drinks were shared, and eventually it was time to do what I had come here to do. Owen cut the music and called for everyone to quiet down. Every pair of eyes turned toward me, and I felt a lump in my throat.
“Some of you may know this already, but at the end of this month,” I said, “I will be leaving ACS.”
There were a few gasps and shocked stares. Michelle flashed me a thumbs-up and mouthed, “I love you.” Jude and Owen and Furio were all beaming at me with love and support and pride.
“I’ve loved my time with the company, but it’s grown to the point where I can’t do what I really want to do,” I explained. “I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I’m going to be taking some time to work on some small projects of my own.”
“You mean the new cryptocurrency you want to develop?” Nancy said.
I gave a start. “How do you know about that?”
“Worst kept secret at the company,” Melinda said. “Everyone knows it’s what you really want to do. It’s all you’ve talked about since ArgoCoin 2.0 was released.”
“It’s going to kick so much ass!” Will Won said. “With your tech expertise, and not being hindered by the company’s restrictions…”
“Hey,” Owen said defensively. “ACS is a publicly-traded company. We were handcuffed with what we could do with ArgoCoin 2.0. And it’s still an amazing cryptocurrency.”
“But whatever you do will be better,” Dave said, walking up and hugging me. “We’ll miss you, but we know you’ll thrive in whatever you do.”
I had tears in my eyes as everyone congratulated me and hugged me. Will Crawley made a joke about whether or not I was going to cash out my considerable amount of stock options. Michelle outright cried.
“Dad would be so proud of you,” she said, and then we were both crying even harder.
Furio called for champagne. Five bottles arrived, but he dismissed the server and insisted on pouring my glass himself. I accepted mine, and wiped tears from my eyes. Everyone was looking at me, I realized. Michelle had her phone out and was stealthily trying to take a video.
Do they want me to make a toast?
That’s when I realized there was something in the bottom of my flute. Several somethings, shiny and covered with the bubbles from the champagne.
I dumped out the champagne into my palm, allowing the objects to fall into my palm. Owen winced and said something about twenty-thousand-dollar Dom, but I was too focused on my hand to notice.
Three diamond rings, the bands made of yellow gold.
I gasped, and looked around. Everyone was grinning like they knew.
“Second worst kept secret at the company,” Melinda said.
“I knew I wanted to do this the moment I laid eyes on you at ACS,” Furio said, taking one of the rings from my palm and cleaning it on his expensive suit sleeve. “The moment you uttered the word cuntwaffle. And no, I am not merely joking.”
“When you called me a cuntwaffle, I hated it,” Owen admitted. “It took me a lot longer to fall in love with you. But I did. I’ve never fallen so hard.”
“Earlier you were joking about not wanting to be tied down!” I hissed. New tears were already streaming down my cheeks.
“Consider that my final prank.” He grinned. “Got you good, didn’t I?”
Jude’s hand on my arm made me jump. He took his ring and considered it a moment. “I don’t really believe in fate. Or at least, I didn’t until I met you. I didn’t even want to come to this rooftop deck that night all those years ago, when Owen and I were meeting with Furio. But I did, and I met you at the bar, and my life…” He blushed fiercely, and I loved him for it. “My life changed so much because of such a small thing. I love you, Amber Moltisanti, and I will love you forever. Will you marry me?”
“Will you marry us?” Owen chimed in.
In that instant, my life flashed before my eyes. Not the past, but the future. The life I could have with these three amazing men, working and loving and living life to its fullest. I never thought I could be so happy, and sometimes it felt like a dream that I would wake from at any moment. But they were offering to make it permanent. All of this amazingness for the rest of our lives.
And then my brain formed a list.
Reasons to Marry Them:
Reasons NOT to Marry Them:
“Hey!” Owen said. “Don’t you dare make a list right now!”
“I can’t help it!” I said. “It’s what I do when I’m stressed, and right now my heart is about to punch out of my chest!”
“Really?” Jude asked. “You’re making a list to decide what to do?”
I kissed him and said, “It was the easiest list I’ve ever had to make in my life.”
I extended my hand and the three men placed the rings on my finger, and then everyone cheered and cried and hugged.