A/N: Hello! This is my attempt at a cutesy monogamous romance w/ an age gap. Thanks for reading!
|||| Naomi Monroe ||||
I anxiously tap my pen against my forehead as I go through what is probably my tenth round of editing these questions. My actual editor, Katie, already reviewed them and said they were fine, however, I can’t help but to constantly make tweaks here and there. I’m not sure if its impostor syndrome or the ridiculous amount of nerves I have. I mean, I’m damn good at my job, but that’s probably because of how neurotic I am, which I am also damn good at hiding.
This is my most high-profile interview yet for NotionX Magazine. I started working here a little over a year ago — straight out of college as an editorial assistant and now here I am as a staff writer already. The team here is pretty small, but I’m still surprised I managed to get chosen to interview one of the most talked about, yet reclusive men in the world.
Ugh. Should I say his name with an accent? Or would I embarrass myself? I haven’t taken French since sophomore year of college and I’m still fucked up over the way you have 11 letters in a word only to pronounce like three of them. Still a beautiful language, though, just one that I’ll never get.
No, I definitely shouldn’t attempt to say his name with an accent.
I push my fingers into my curly hair to massage my scalp and read over the questions once again.
“Good morning, Naomi!”
I’m broken out of my focused state by Nicolas... Nicolas Laurent.
“Are you ready to interview my weird ass uncle?” he asks, handing me a coffee.
“Why do you keep calling him that?” I take the coffee and open the top of it to see if it’s black — as I prefer — or if he’s gotten me some mixed drink.
“I know you usually drink your coffee black, but I thought you’d might like to try mixing it up a bit, you know... Like adding some cream?” He smirks at me suggestively and winks as he brings his own coffee to his mouth.
I don’t bother hiding the massive eye roll. Every few weeks, Nicolas hits on me and you guessed it: rich white boy seems to think food comparisons are the way to go when hitting on a Black woman. If I get compared to coffee or chocolate or caramel one more time, I’m going to lose my shit — if I haven’t lost it already.
“I can’t deal with all the dairy and sugar,” I respond as I push the coffee off to the side.
“Aw, Mimi, don’t tell me you’re on a diet or something. Women look better with something to hold on to. Don’t you know the saying? Only dogs like bon—”
My brow twitches when he calls me by the nickname I’ve told him numerous times not to use because only my family calls me that and then he decides to start that ignorant fucking statement about dogs and bones. Why do men think insulting other women is a way to uplift another? It’s not.
“Shut up,” I say sharply, interrupting him. “Did you just come here to harass me and make misogynistic comments? Or do you have anything of value to share?”
When Nicolas isn’t fetishizing me for my race, he’s fetishizing me for my size. If he wasn’t filthy fucking rich and his dad wasn’t bankrolling this magazine, our one-person HR department would’ve kicked his ass out a long time ago. But it’s a double-edged sword for him, because I can at least talk my shit to a certain extent without facing consequences.
“Okay, okay,” he raises both hands playfully as if surrendering. “I was bringing you coffee and wanted to make sure you’re good to go on speaking with my weird ass uncle. This’ll be his first video interview and the family is very keen on making sure he has a good experience so he’ll hopefully start doing more press.”
“So, you call him ‘fucking weird,’ but you also want him doing more press in your family’s name?” I raise a curious brow.
“Yeah! I mean, he’s not weird like creepy weird, he’s just kind of eccentric in our world...”
“Ah, now I see. Instead of hoarding money he’ll never use simply to maintain the title of ‘billionaire,’ he gives up nearly all the money he earns to people who need it just as any person with actual morals would do?”
“It’s weird,” Nicolas retorts. “Why just give people handouts? If people want to make money, they should work hard for it.”
“Did you work hard for it?” I cross my arms and lean back in my seat.
Nicolas is visibly taken aback. “I er— My great-great-grandad worked hard to build our wealth in France and it was maintained and built upon, even when my grandad immigrated here.”
“I see...” I nod with pursed lips. “But what have you done to build on that wealth even further?”
He lets out a sharp breath before grumbling something unintelligible. “Anyway... Let me know how it goes with my uncle.” He walks away before I can respond.
NotionX is doing great as an online magazine covering the rapidly-growing startup scene in Atlanta, as well as all things tech and pop culture. But we’ve been needing just one thing to push us over the edge so we can attract more executives and companies that would look to us for our insights or to be featured in our work.
Nicolas getting his uncle to do this interview with us is a big deal. Sebastien Laurent — the venture capitalist from the wealthy Laurent family who choses to make as much money as he can only to give most of it away. Despite his status, there’s not much known about him... he only shows up at the most exclusive social events where cameras are often prohibited and the only picture that Nicolas could seem to dig up from him was from a family reunion like 10 years ago and he was barely visible in the back of the group photo.
I take a deep sigh and look at the clock, noticing I still have about three hours left before the interview. I open my binder and get back to work on messing around with these questions once again.
I arrive in the room where we’re supposed to have the interview and set up a camera on a tripod diagonally behind where I’ll be sitting so that just the back of my head is visible while the focus will be on Mr. Laurent’s face. I set up another camera so that it would be able to capture a side view of the two of us speaking.
Joseph, Mr. Laurent’s assistant, arrived early to check out the space and ensure it was to his liking. I wasn’t really sure what it meant at first, but it seemed that Mr. Laurent, being the private man he was, didn’t want the room to have too many people. So, it’ll just be myself, Joseph, and Mr. Laurent. However, this video interview is expected to be viewed by millions, so I’m not sure why there’s concern for privacy at this point.
“So, Joseph...” I make an attempt at small talk while we wait for the man of the hour. “What’s it like working for Mr. Laurent?” I hope he’s nothing like his creep of a nephew.
“Oh I love it!” Joseph beams. “Despite all these rules he’s made about the interview, he’s actually a pretty laidback guy.”
His words do nothing to calm my nerves and I’m still fidgeting with the pen in my hand. “That’s good to know...” I mean, the guy does give away most of his wealth and his douchebag of a nephew calls him weird, so that’s proof enough that he’s probably a cool guy, right? Yet my nerves are ridiculous right now.
Just as I’m about to start one of my breathing exercises to calm my anxiety, I hear the door open and look up to see an offensively handsome man walking into the room. His wavy salt and pepper hair is perfectly coiffed and matches his short-trimmed beard. His eyes are almost an unnaturally dark blue and his jawline — which is still noticeable under his facial hair — is to die for.
I take a deep breath and as I do nearly every hour of every day, I put on my mask and hide the anxiety that’s consuming me. After quickly gathering myself, I stand from my seat to approach Mr. Laurent and shake his hand.
“Good afternoon, Mr. Laurent. Thank you so much for taking the ti...” As I meet the man’s twinkling eyes while we’re up close and notice he has a big smile on his face, I suddenly forget to speak and my mouth goes dry.
“Ms. Naomi Monroe, I presume?” He asks and his voice is silky smooth — a descriptor I never understood for voices until hearing his.
Breathe, Naomi... Speak.
I clear my throat a couple times and am finally able to get some words out. “Yes, that is me. I am Naomi. I’m going to interview you today. Thank you so much for your time.”
“And I look forward to being interviewed by you, Ms. Monroe.” He gives a small wink, but it’s not creepy like the one that Nicolas does. In fact, I’d have to say it’s oddly kind of charming.
I go to turn on the cameras and we take our respective seats for the interview.
|||| Sebastien Laurent ||||
I reluctantly flew from San Francisco to Atlanta for this interview as a favor to my nephew Nicolas and so that my family would get off my back about raising my public profile.
The spotlight has never been a place I’ve wanted to be, but my parents and siblings have been incessantly pestering me about doing more media. When Nicolas asked me to do this interview, to help this NotionX Magazine grow, I figured it’d be a good opportunity to do some profile raising while dealing with an amateur journalist who probably wouldn’t put me through too much of a grilling.
Plus, unlike many other news outlets, they’ll allow me and my people to view the footage and provide feedback before they post it. Not the best journalistic standards considering that along with the fact that my brother is a major investor in the magazine, but at least my own nephew isn’t interviewing me.
As soon as I walk through the door, I’m met with the woman meant to interview me and for a moment, I forget how to breathe. Her beautiful dark bronze skin has a natural glow to it and her full lips are decorated lightly with gloss. Her almost black, tightly-curled hair matches her deep, dark brown eyes. As my gaze trails lower, I take in her beautiful form — her wide hips and thick thighs have my mind going places that it shouldn’t, so I quickly snap my eyes back up to hers and greet her as she takes my hand.
A smile pulls at my lips as I get a closer look at her face. I admire the sound of her soothing voice until she seems to have trailed off and stopped speaking in the middle of her greeting.
That was her name as my nephew told me — a name I definitely won’t forget now that I’ve met the woman behind it. “Ms. Naomi Monroe, I presume?” Her name tastes like honey coming off my lips and the way she looks at me when I say it has me wondering if her cheeks might be warm were I to touch them now.
She clears her throat and I can sense her nerves as she introduces herself and thanks me for my time. I can’t help but continue to smile as I wonder if the nerves are because of the interview or because she’s just as attracted to me as I am to her.
“And I look forward to being interviewed by you, Ms. Monroe,” I respond to her formalities before giving her a small wink and we sit across from each other. It’s not until then that I remember Joseph is in the room. I turn to him and nod before we begin.
As we go through the interview, it takes everything in me to focus on her questions. When I’m not fighting to keep my eyes from wandering, I’m fighting the urge to ask her questions of my own while she’s doing her job.
Is she single? How old is she, exactly? Would she date an older man? What about one outside of her race? Where did she grow up? Here in Georgia or elsewhere? What are her hobbies? What are her values? Has she ever traveled to the west coast?
“... Mr. Laurent?”
My thoughts are interrupted by the woman who is at the center of them. “Yes, what was that, Ms. Monroe?”
“Why do you do it?”
“Why do I do what?”
“Based on analyst estimates, Mr. Laurent, if you weren’t selling off the money you make or shares of these companies as soon as they become profitable, you’d be worth an estimated $54.9 billion. That would put you pretty high up there as far as billionaires go. So why do you give most of it away?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” I ask, tilting my head to the side. In return she gives me curious look, awaiting a response and I go on with my answer. “There’s no need for me to carry such wealth. I still have millions and live a very comfortable lifestyle, so why hold on to money that I’ll never use when there are people out there who actually need it or can do something good with it?”
“Fair enough, but why continue to work for it if you’re going to just give it away.”
“Why not?” I raise a brow.
Her face brightens significantly and I notice the smile that pulls at her lips and she parts them as if she is about to speak and then stops herself and readjusts in her seat.
“Fair enough, Mr. Laurent. That concludes this interview. Thank you so much, again, for your time.”
“And thank you for yours, Ms. Naomi Monroe.”