They turned down a quiet, elegant street filled with mature trees and large homes. "Here we are," Hunter said, touching Luna's arm to lead her to one of the pristine residences. It looked like a colonial governor's mansion. "Wow, this is you?" "Yeah," Hunter blushed. He should have taken her to his apartment, not the house. Her mouth made a shape like the letter O. "It's gorgeous. This has to be hundreds of years old." "Only two, give or take a few decades." Luna blinked. "I love it." Hunter laughed. "You haven't even seen inside yet." Inside was all deep mahogany blended with a combination of antique and surprisingly modern furniture. Luna half expected a butler to pop out at any moment. "Do you live with family?" "No." "Roommates?" "No." "Psychotic wife you've locked in the attic?" A laugh. "No." "This is all you? Only you?" Hunter shifted uncomfortably. "You don't have to make it sound quite so depressing." "I just mean, you seem to be doing really well for yourself. Most cafe owners don't live in beautiful mansions and give yoga studios to their friends." "This isn't a mansion." If she wanted a mansion, she should come see the Prescott Estate in Charleston. "Gigantic, gorgeous house. Better?" Hunter laughed. "Much." He reached a hand for her yoga mat, and put them both in the hall closet under the staircase. He caught Luna looking around, mouth agape. "Real estate up here isn't what it is in Phoenix, and definitely not what it is in Charleston. Especially not a few years ago when I bought this place." He felt he needed to justify himself. "Okay." "And...my family's pretty well off." "Yes, I gathered that." Luna was running her finger up the ornate bannister. *** Hunter remembered the solemn call on his twenty-first birthday from the family's accountant. His grandfather, who had died too early to find Hunter disappointing, made arrangements for him to inherit substantial sums held in trust until age twenty-one. As the eldest grandchild and only boy - Grandpa Prescott was an incorrigible misogynist - Hunter was left a far larger portion of the Prescott fortune than Iris and her younger sister Emma. On his twenty-first birthday he would inherit all the years of interest the trust fund had earned, and continue to pull paychecks from the fund's dividends for the rest of his life. When Hunter learned how much he inherited, he sat down so heavily he almost broke his tiny apartment's tinier chair. "Elodie!" He called her breathless, moments after hanging up on the accountant. "Come over right away." He waited what seemed like an eternity for his girlfriend of four years to remove her peacoat and scarf. "I have big news. Huge news. Life changing news." Elodie settled her plush body onto the mattress he had pushed against the wall of his small studio apartment. Her comfortable elegance was a welcome addition to his stark, undecorated room. "Bigger than mine?" she asked, tucking her fingers under her chin. She was still riding the high of her acceptance to the law school at McGill days before. "Way bigger than that. You don't have to go to law school. I - we - we're rich! We never have to work again!" She looked amused. "So what will we do all day?" "Travel the world, build an orphanage, buy a movie theater and sit in it all day, just the two of us. Whatever the hell we want!" "And if what I want is law school?" "Yeah, I mean, you can do that too." *** “It’s not a big deal, really” Hunter told Luna, blushing furiously. “I can afford to preserve some historic buildings in a city with a relatively low cost of living. I’m not some prince or anything.” She laughed. “I know we’re in Canada, but you’re forgetting I’m from Phoenix. We practically invented crass materialism. I’m not going to hold being rich against you. Besides, now I don’t feel bad at all for making you pay for tapas tonight.” Hunter looked at her awkwardly. “Are you...into the idea of me having money?” He didn’t think he’d be able to take it if Luna turned out to be the stereotypical Arizona trophy wife type. Some men might want to marry their mothers, but not him. Not by a long shot. Luna laughed, but her eyes were hard. “My dad was in construction. My mom runs a daycare. We were always so lower middle class it was boring. After my dad died, we never had anything that looked like money again. We lost our house - we lost everything. I promised myself I’d grow up to be rich. Not marry rich. Me, myself. And I’m so close I can taste it. I make....well, it’s a lot of money compared to what either of my parents ever did. And I’ve worked my ass off to make sure I’m on track to be a tech executive before I’m forty.” She looked at him intently. It was almost a glare. “So what I’m saying is...no, I don’t get off on you being rich. I’d rather get off on me being rich instead.” Hunter felt a strong urge to kiss her. He gathered from her social media posts that her father had been killed in a car accident when she was a teenager. He wished he’d known her then. He wanted to hold her in his arms and tell her it would be all right. Of course, Luna was probably some teen queen who wouldn’t have stood for that. “You’re a remarkable woman, Luna.” He wanted to say more, but couldn’t verbalize “I wish I could have loved you when you were a teenager” in a way that wasn’t deeply disturbing. Luna rolled her eyes. "You're a hell of a guy - one moment you're worried I won’t be interested if you have money, the next you're worried I'm too interested? Give me a break." "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that." Her expression softened slightly. "It's all right. If I was a Canadian Batman I'd be careful, too." Hunter ran his hands through his hair. "Will you accept tapas as an apology?" Luna laughed. "No fair, we were already getting them. I'll accept a post dinner drink, how about that?" "You have yourself a deal." Hunter excused himself to the restroom before they left, taking a long look at himself in the full length mirror. His face was still an unappealing shade of pink from the workout and the cold. His clothes were tighter than he remembered, and he debated undoing the top button of his jeans. Damn it. Of course he'd meet someone beautiful and engaging and miles out of his league the same month he'd surpassed even his highest post-divorce weight. Perfect timing Hunter, you fat fuck. He’d caught her eying his body as he'd been trying to eye hers at the studio. She hadn't looked completely repulsed, but she could just be polite. He'd tried to wear some of his tighter clothes to minimize the risk of them rolling up on him during yoga, but they'd managed to do so anyway. His cheeks burned as he remembered her eyes on his big stomach after his shirt rode up. Humiliating. He'd hoped bringing her along to yoga would paint him as someone who wasn't a lazy slob despite his size. But having his fat belly hanging out for her to see felt more like he'd achieved the opposite. Luna was in such good shape - he flushed red hot again thinking of her sexy getup earlier - it seemed unlikely she'd find anything about his body interesting, even at his fittest. He was way out of his comfort zone here. "Did you fall in?" Luna called from the hallway. "Be right out." He made a face at his reflection. This is as good as it's going to get, he thought. Unfortunately.