“Sounds a little like a certain Runaway Tycoon I know,” I teased Cole.

“I had it lucky. I obtained my power with a set plan. Alphonse, on the other hand, had to work his way up from the bottom. As post-occupied Japan underwent an economic and educational revolution, he found a place in the business world, pulling himself up the ranks as viciously and quickly as possible. At the same time, he fully invested himself into Japanese culture, even choosing the Japanese surname Megami for himself.

“Throughout this time, he was known for two things, most of all: a reputation for getting results and revolutionizing departments, and for being merciless and absolutely cutthroat. To do business with Alphonse Robinson was to deal with the Devil…

“He was a brilliant chessmaster…and he learned very quickly. When he inevitably set out on his own, he put in the blood, sweat, and tears to forge a place for his own empire, one significantly larger than mine could have ever been…and he made sound business purchases. Through his hard work and dedication, the Megami Corporation succeeded, growing into the multi-conglomerate that it is today.”

“And this is the man you want me to impress.”

“That Alphonse is not the man you will meet,” Cole reassured me. “After decades of success and destroying everything in his path to achieve his goals, he reinvented himself into the image of a gentile old man. Taking up philosophy in his spare time, he rules with an iron fist through several appointed Presidents to his smaller companies, and simply helms it all from atop his tower, where he can afford to be publicly kind and charitable…”

“So he’s some kind of wise-man?” I asked.

“No, the man you will meet is a stocky, sanctimonious windbag who feels that his opinion in the room is the only one that matters…and a complete hypocrite who insists on business with traditional men, although he is absolutely nothing of the sort.”

“You despise him?” I asked thoughtfully, sipping my glass of water. He was lost deep in thought at my question. “No,” I corrected myself. “You respect him.”

“I respect all that he has accomplished,” Cole replied, taking a bite of steamed asparagus, “but as for him in particular…he has been a thorn in my side. He’s kept a simple negotiation from going smoothly, and insists on this charade. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s how he amuses himself now.”

I bit into my salmon again, nodding. “It sounds like maybe that’s just what he is.”


“What’s that?” Cole snapped his attention my way.

“Someone who is always looking for a shake-up, something out of the ordinary…I mean, what do you want when you have that much power? I’d like to think that, from what you’ve told me, he’s an intelligent and resourceful man…maybe he just likes to screw around with powerful people when he knows he can.”

Cole grew stern. “That’s probably it.”

“Unless,” I thought aloud, taking another delicious bite, “that’s not what he’s really after all along. He knows that he’s untouchable. Nobody would dare cross or question him…maybe our esteemed friend just wants a challenge.”

* * *

The rest of the week was a whirlwind of activity. It seemed like the time just rocketed past while we made our preparations for the arrival. He placed his personal driver, Gregory, on standby for the evening – the two would arrive to pick Alphonse up from his private jet, then bring him straight here to the penthouse. Cole trusted me to put together an itinerary for the following day – giving Alphonse some sights to see before heading back towards his home in Tokyo. I settled on breakfast in a fine dining restaurant not far from here, as well as a private museum visit, an early afternoon play, and thanks to touching base with Patrick, our private helicopter pilot, an aerial tour of the city.

Cole hid how poorly he was feeling – while I lay down with him at night, my head against his chest, I could hear a distant rattle in his chest. His stamina in bed was slipping; we would have to take breaks during our mind-blowing sex, and I would keep a glass of water nearby for him, or do most of the work myself. It almost felt wrong, reveling in pleasures of the flesh even as his body failed him, but he insisted that he’d never felt more alive.

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