The four men left sitting at the table after Hunter and Bailey left clinked glasses and chuckled.
“Hunter’s the first one to fall,” Brooks said.
“No, I think that was you,” Jonathon said.
Brooks looked towards the door through which Bailey and Hunter had left. “I never fell like that,” he said wistfully.
“Have you heard from her?” Declan asked before taking a sip of his drink.
Brooks shook his head. “Nope,” he said, “I don’t expect to either.”
Brooks Barry. From the outside, he looked like a don’t-mess-with-me corporate shark…which was kind of what he was. He travelled the world buying up failing businesses, stripping them down to only the most profitable pieces and then selling off those pieces at a major profit to him. He had the Midas touch and had been the first of the five to reach his first billion. He was also gorgeous. Tall – really tall – with wide shoulders, a thick chest and tight ass. He had the chiseled jaw and commanding features of a super hero and the bright blue eyes and dark blonde hair that women seemed to fall all over.
He met his wife in college and they married soon after, but the marriage fell apart within two years and Brooks took the opportunity to really throw himself into work. His wife married up. She actually married her ex and got pregnant really fast, like too fast, like Brooks wondered whether she had been sleeping with the guy before they’d separated.
But he was over her now and hadn’t seen hide or hair of her for five years and it had all just faded to a bad dream. He’d thought he’d been in love with her. He’d thought she’d been in love with him, but they obviously hadn’t loved one another enough to make it work long term.
“And I don’t expect to fall at all,” Jonathon declared. “I enjoy my single life way too much.”
Mason snorted. “Sure Jon,” he said, “but didn’t you see the way she looked at him? I wouldn’t mind someone looking at me like that.”
Jonathon’s mouth quirked up in a half smile. “Bailey’s got class, that’s for sure.”
Jonathon Ashby was almost a caricature of the quintessential playboy. He drove the flashy sports car, had a seemingly endless supply of beautiful women to escort him to all the hottest clubs and swankiest events. He had the penthouse bachelor pad with all the mod-cons (several actually, one in each city where his chocolate factories were) and the tailored suits and bespoke shoes and the limitless, black credit card. He also looked like he’d just stepped off the cover of GQ Magazine with his dark hair, grey eyes and come-hither look. The man knew how to wear a suit.
He travelled a lot. He had three factories in Australia – one each in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane – and several showrooms in major shopping districts, but his main business was in a small European country called Merveille, that was nestled between the borders of Switzerland, France and Italy. This was where he produced the large blocks of couverture chocolate that he then imported into the country to use in his chocolate factories. Just like Swiss chocolate had to be made in Switzerland and Belgian chocolate had to be made in Belgium, Ashby chocolate had to be made in Merveille. It’s what set his business apart, it’s what made Ashby Chocolates the most sought after and expensive sweets in the world.
“What about you Dec?” Brooks asked. “You ready to settle down yet?”
Declan blew out a breath. “I wouldn’t mind coming home to a warm dinner and a warm woman.”
Jonathon snorted. “You’re never home…do you even have a home Dec?”
“Didn’t you hear about my new resort?” Declan said with a smile.
Brooks shook his head. “Where is it this time?” he asked.
“Local, actually,” Declan said. “The Whitsundays.”
Declan Mayfield, of the Mayfields, was born into money…old money, but he didn’t take a cent of it to start his business. Okay, so technically he did, but it was a loan. His family owned one of the top banking institutions after all, but the loan had been paid back before the due date and he hadn’t looked back. The first Mayfield Hotel was where they were currently sitting, a luxury tower with a price to match. He had other Mayfield Hotels in major cities around the world but more recently, Declan had been branching out into resorts. The resorts were all in line with the luxury brand that had become synonymous with the Mayfield name and all followed a similar theme. The resorts were built on small tropical islands that had been previously uninhabited. In other words, Declan owned several small islands.
Declan was also a really nice guy, the kind of guy you could take home to meet your parents. He was good looking. Not in a how-good-do-I-look kind of way, but more in the boy-next-door kind of way. His hair was brown – not dark blonde, not brunette, just a nice…brown. His eyes were hazel and not set too far apart, his nose was, well, normal and his lips were not too thin. Individually his features were rather average but they were arranged in such a way as to be very appealing. He wasn’t the type of guy you would regret waking up next to in the morning.
“I’m impressed,” Mason said with a nod. “Does that mean you’ll be in the country for a while?”
He nodded. “Yeah,” he said, “eighteen months at least.”
Brooks whistled. “Maybe I might stay for a while too,” he said fiddling with his glass. “I’ve got a house I’ve barely seen in five years.”
“Ha!” Jonathon laughed. “You haven’t been able to sit still since Heather walked out on you, what makes it different this time?”
Brooks shrugged. “Just time, I think. I’m a little sick of all the travelling, living out of a suitcase. With technology the way it is, I don’t really need to be onsite.”
“Not me,” Jonathon said. “I still need to spend time in Merveille. Can’t taste chocolate from here.”
“And we know Mason never leaves his apartment except to find sustenance,” Declan laughed.
“Hey, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it,” Mason chimed in.
Mason Pressfield was the introverted genius of the group. He developed a video game that garnered a cult following and Black Sheep Software and Games was born. He continued to develop games, but now he had a whole stable full of designers and code writers and technical developers. He was also known as ‘The Phantom’ because he hardly ever showed his face at the high tech, multi-storey building that housed his billion-dollar business. He spent his time holed up in his penthouse apartment developing and testing and playing the games his company sold. A lot of the employees had never even laid eyes on him so even if he did happen to walk into the building, no one would probably recognise him. That didn’t mean no one would notice him, though.
Mason was tall too, although Brooks was taller, and for a tech geek he was well built. He had that wonderful combination of dark hair and striking blue eyes that women noticed. Oh, and a chin dimple and cheek dimples when he smiled, not that he smiled often. Mason was a serious type. His brain was constantly thinking, constantly working and quite often he was lost in his own little world. If it weren’t for the other members of Alpha Pi Tau, he would probably never socialise. Making friends was too much work and meant leaving his apartment.
Jonathon lifted his glass. “To Hunter and Bailey,” he said.
“To finding the one,” Declan said.
They clinked glasses and drank, falling silent, lost in their own thoughts. Each of them wondering if what Hunter and Bailey had was what was missing in their own lives and whether they would ever find it, not that any of them would admit that they’d need it.