The Millionaire's Forever

By: Sonya Weiss
To the minions, always.

Chapter One

A life built on a lie is sure to collapse.

Olivia Carter stopped in the middle of pinning delicate fabric to a mannequin and cringed. Her late mother’s advice played over in her mind at the most inopportune times, almost as if she could see when her only daughter was up to no good.

“It was one lie, and a little lie at that,” Olivia muttered, lifting her eyes to look at the gold lettering etched onto the glass door of the wedding shop.

Forever, the lettering boldly proclaimed. Opening a wedding shop had been her and her mother’s dream, but the cancer had fought harder than her mother had been able to and the day before Olivia’s fifteenth birthday, she’d lost her.

As a young teen, for months after the diagnosis, she’d tried to be as good as possible, hoping that her good deeds would strike a bargain with the universe to spare her mother.

Sixteen years had passed since her mother’s death and Olivia had finally been able to fulfill their shared dream. After she’d opened the shop, she’d worked hard to build up a clientele, but she’d struggled. Though her clients loved her creations and Olivia had used social media relentlessly, she hadn’t managed to catch much attention.

Failure loomed dark and inevitable until the day she’d helped create a buzz for the business with that one tiny white lie. During an interview with a local newspaper, she’d mentioned her own fairy-tale love story with a rich, handsome, thoughtful boyfriend. One who didn’t exist.

When the reporter had asked for her boyfriend’s name, she’d smiled and coyly refused to give it. Only now, the lie had taken on a life of its own. That interview and the accompanying photo of one of her wedding dress designs had been picked up by a major entertainment news outlet and reached the eyes of a well-known A-list celebrity. Olivia was hired to create the dress the actress had worn for her wedding to another A-lister and had hoped her luck was about to change.

It had.

The next thing Olivia knew, she’d been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show followed by a two-page article written about her in Wedding World Magazine, where she’d told the world how perfect her nonexistent guy was. How they’d met as teenagers and then found their way back to each other years later because they were fated to be together. She’d referred to them as Romeo and Juliet, but with a happy ending. The world had fallen in love with their love story. Their fake love story.

Now, she was heading toward trouble because people were beginning to have doubts whether her guy actually existed. She hadn’t wanted to admit to herself whom she’d thought of as she’d created her fictional, smoldering-hot Romeo. She’d patterned him after Cash Mason Parker, the teenage boy who’d played the hero in all her high school daydreams.

If I could go back and do it all over again…

Olivia sighed and rubbed her forehead, biting the inside of her cheek as she did so. She’d have kept her story on the straight and narrow. She’d stick to the facts if she could have a do-over. But on the other hand, if she hadn’t lied, Forever would have gone belly-up. It would have been like losing a part of her mother. A lump stuck in Olivia’s throat over the mother-daughter experiences they’d never have together.

The bell hanging on a string over the door handle jingled. Her friend and full-time employee, Beth, rushed in, eyes round with apprehension. “We shouldn’t have gone no-technology yesterday and headed to the lake.”

Olivia frowned. “We always go tech-free on our annual lake day-trip.” Beth knew that. Olivia’s mother had loved the lake, and after her death, she’d determined to keep the ritual going. Starting when they were seventeen, Olivia and Beth would head to the lake and sit on the dock to just let the world go by. They’d spend the time reading books, catching fish, and watching cute boys in boats zip around the lake showing off.

“I know we do, but the timing was really bad this year,” Beth said.

“Why? I had to unplug to gain some sanity. Since that wedding dress design hit the news, the phone has rung off the hook. My email is flooded with messages from fans wanting me to create a dress for them like the one Heather Ramsey wore. What’s the oh-no look on your face for? Beth, this is good.”

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