My head is throbbing and I decide to take another pill and chase it with sparkly water. I don’t feel like going out today but my phone vibrates again and unwillingly I look at the screen to find message from Luke, my assistant: “Mrs. Loette wants to see you personally. Old hag has no idea what she wants but needs a new painting for her dinner party.” 

I roll my eyes, put down my cigarette and pick out a fur coat that could make me feel better. But it makes no difference really. Not many things do these days. 

As I get down to the living room I spot Sergei who is standing there, talking to one of my maids. 

“Good morning ma’am!” He says as all the blabbering stops and Lou, my maid goes back to the kitchen. 

“Good morning, Sergei. Everything ok?” I ask as I head toward the exit.

“Yes, everything fine ma’am, miss Kira is still asleep and your Lamborghini is ready.” 

“Thank you Sergei. You can drive me today.” I say as I check my Rolex for time. It’s 10 in the morning and it’s a late start to my day. 

I arrive to the office. Little, charming place at Saint-Germain-des-Prés area and Luke greets me with a wide-eyed stare and bunch of leather folders in his arms. 

“Thank god you are here Ina! You are never this late, it’s busy this morning!” He says as he puts down the folders and takes my coat. 

“Yes sweetheart, I had a rough morning.” I say as I kiss his cheek. “Don’t get sulky.” I warn him as he pouts. 

“I’m worried about you! Are you ok?” Luke asks as he hands me my usual double shot Americano.

“Yes, I just have terrible headaches.” I say as I sit down in my red leather chair and light a cigarette. “So, what’s on the table today?” 

“Hm, well, Loette bittchh obviously and she’s being quite fussy. Then, Mr. Bernards wants you to call him and a new client, I forgot his name but I have it there.” He says as he points to his desk. 

“Ok, well I thought about Loette on the way here and I think that we just sell her that Dutch boy wonder’s sculpture this time. She will love it.” 

“Omg Ina! Genious.” Luke smiles widely at me, clutching his vintage Hermes scarf. 
“Tell me about you Luke, how was the date with Clara?” I ask as I inhale smoke and take a sip of coffee. 

“Hmm, we broke up actually.” Luke says with tad confused grimace. 

“Why?!” I lean in closer. 

“Well, I told her I was gay and that was it.” He says, looking at me carefully, waiting for my reaction. 

“I didn’t know that.” I say as I lean back in my chair. 

“Is that a problem?” Luke asks me, with a flash of fear on his face. 

“Only if the break up left you unable to do your work, honey.” I say softly and he smiles widely with a relief. 

“Could you tell that I was gay?” He asks cautiously as he comes to sit on the armchair closer to me. 

“Well, you have too many pretty scarves but I don’t label people so I never gave it a thought.” I smile at him and he flashes a smile back.

“I didn’t know it either but I met a guy and then it all had sense.” He says somewhat quietly, confining to me. 

“I’m happy for you.” I smile again, patting his face. “You’ll be just fine.” 

“Thank you, Ina!” He says as he stands up again with a bursting energy and puts his hands on my desk, hovering over me, “Tell me about your love life, how are things going with Aleksey?” He asks with a teasing high pitch in his voice. 

“Good. He’s arriving from Moscow today and we’re having lunch. He’ll be in Paris for few weeks.” I say as I light another cigarette. 

“Wow, you seem excited. /Not./” He teases me again and I just wickedly smirk at him. 

“Don’t you have any work to do, Luke?” I say and he sassily rolls his eyes at me and goes to his desk. 


After an easy sell to Mrs. Loette I arrive at the Le Jules Verne restaurant where I’m supposed to meet Aleksey. I’m tired but I find that I’m happy that we’ll see each other. 

“Ina, my darling!” Aleksey stands to hug me and kiss me, “So good to see you!” He grips me in his arms again, squeezing me tightly. Body contact is comforting. 

“You too, dear! I’m so happy you came to Paris.” I smile at him and sit down as he holds my chair. 

We talk about business and things, have a nice lunch and then head to my place so that he can meet Kira but she’s out, apparently with some new friends. 

“Ina” Aleksey says as he looks me deeply in the eyes, his mouth pouted as he wants to tell me something important, after few seconds he takes my hand in his and pulls me down to sit next to him on my bed, “I didn’t come to Paris just to see you I came here to talk to you about something.” 

“Of course Aleksey, what’s the matter?” I ask kind of worried for a moment. 

“I had dinner with your father before I came to Paris and we talked about this, he approves…” He says, then pauses again for a second and I can already tell what this is about, “I want you to marry me, Ina. I thought about it a lot.” 

I freeze not knowing what to say as I look at Aleksey’s warm eyes but all I can think about is Christian.
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