He suppresses a smile and glances at his notes. “You mentioned Tatianna was coming to town last week. Did you see her?”
Tatianna is an old friend. In the biblical sense. She’s also a real live princess. If Disney ever decides to go naughty, Tatianna could be their muse. She’s a couple of dozen relatives away from the throne but her blood is as blue as it gets. And if there’s one thing royals know how to do, it’s party.
“We got together, yes.”
“And how did that go?”
I stretch my arms over my head, cracking my neck. “She came. She left.”
We both came actually. In the bed, the kitchen, the hot tub in the backyard. It was a nice visit.
Waldo nods. “You said Tatianna is engaged now?”
“That’s right. The next time she comes to the States she’ll have Duchess in front of her name.”
The last real duty of today’s nobility is to make sure the fortune stays in the family—by producing little heirs and heiresses who can inherit it. Which, sadly, means no more fun times for me and Tatianna.
“Your business partner, Mr. Becker, he’s engaged also?”
“Yep, three months out and counting. He hasn’t officially lost his mind, but he’s damn close.”
Few things in this world are funnier than watching Jake Becker—a big mountain of a guy—being forced to contemplate flower arrangements for the table centerpieces in his upcoming nuptials.
“And your other partners, Mr. Shaw and Ms. Santos, they’re expecting their first child soon?”
I nod again. “Yes, a boy. Little Becker Mason Santos Shaw.”
That’s the name of our law firm—where we’re all partners, criminal defense attorneys. I think it’s only fitting the first child born to our firm be named after it. Haven’t convinced Stanton and Sofia yet, but I’m working on it.
Though now that I think about it—I wonder if they’d be more open to Waldo?
“How do you feel about that, Brent? That so many in your inner circle are getting married, having children, moving forward in their lives.”
“I think it’s great. I’m thrilled for them. I mean, up until last year, Jake was a hard-core bachelor—a Dark Knight in a lonely Batcave without a Vicki Vale. But now he’s got a gorgeous woman and a house full of kids. He’s happier than I’ve ever seen him.”
Waldo scribbles on his notepad. “And is that something you want in your life? Marriage, children?”
I narrow my eyes. “Has my mother been calling you again?”
“Every month.” Waldo sighs, rubbing his forehead. “But you know I don’t discuss our sessions with her.”
My dear mother should probably schedule some sessions of her own—considering last month she asked their butler, Henderson, to make inquiries into her adopting a grandchild. Since I—her only son—have been so very derelict in my duty to give her one. Cue the guilt trip.
I lean forward, bracing my elbows on my knees. “All right, here’s the thing—I’m happy for them, of course. But there’s a part of me that thinks now they’re trapped. Tied down with all that responsibility. I, on the other hand, have my work to keep me busy—but I can still jet off to Switzerland to go bungee jumping, or fly-fishing in New Zealand. With one phone call I can fuck two hotel heiresses six ways to Sunday, then watch them go to town on each other while I recoup for round two.”
FYI: there is no TMI in a therapist’s office.
“If I’m jonesing for a family fix, I can swing by my friends’ houses for dinner and be the favorite uncle to their kids.” I open my arms to emphasize the brilliance of my theory. “All the perks, none of the obligation. Life is short—I want to live it. And I really like living it free.”
He regards me for a moment and says, “Mmmm.”
“Mmmm, what?” I ask. “I think we’re past ‘mmmm,’ don’t you, Waldo?”
He taps his lips with the end of his pen. “Well, it’s apparent that you believe what you say. That you think you want this self-focused, low-responsibility lifestyle. The way Pinocchio wanted to cut his strings so he could be a real boy.”
There’s always a but.
“But I wonder, deep down, if you’ve outgrown that philosophy. If you actually crave something more profound in your life. Commitment isn’t always a burden, Brent. It can also be the source of unimaginable joy and satisfaction.”
I clear my thoughts and search my mind—the way Luke Skywalker did when Obi-Wan was teaching him the ways of the Force.
Nope—I got nothing.
“You’re barking up the wrong tree on this one.”
He shrugs. “Then ask yourself this: As “tied down” as your friends may be, do you think any of them are dreaming of rubies in the sand?”
Have I mentioned that Waldo can also be one shrewd son of a bitch?
I’ve seen my last name inscribed on libraries, hospital wings, and the like, but there’s an extra thrill seeing it on the Law Offices of Becker, Mason, Santos & Shaw. Because it’s mine, not my family’s, something I did on my own. When you grow up in the shadow of all the accomplishments of those who came before you, that’s a big deal.
Jessica, our summer minion—also known as an intern—welcomes me with starry eyes and a stack of messages. “Good afternoon, Mr. Mason.”
I take the messages and avoid eye contact, keeping my face neutral. It’s a well-practiced move. Because interns are hungry, enthusiastic, willing to bend over backward.