Chapter 1

I met Eric at the tennis club I had joined. We were both single men with no set schedule to speak of, so we played together pretty often. I'm a pretty laid back guy on most things, but tennis was one of the few things I was competitive at. Eric, it turns out, was the same way, and some of our arguments over points almost devolved into fistfights. The club pro took an interest, and soon we were playing in amateur tournaments as a doubles team. We were pretty much undefeated for two years, even beating a couple of pros in charity events. Of course, they were both just north of forty, but I was no spring chicken at thirty-seven. Eric was twenty-six, a fact he liked to rub in every once in a while.

Our friendship began slowly, mostly because of the age difference. The fact that I was prematurely gray highlighted our difference, and when we began to hit clubs together he'd introduce the girl he was targeting to me as his Dad, to make him appear harmless. I wasn't a troll, and the years had given me a wealth of patter to draw on. I think it shocked him that I could pull women faster, but he adapted, becoming my wingman. It was never anything serious, I'd given up on a permanent relationship long ago. Still fun to have a hot, sweaty night with a sweet young thing, as long as she knew she was going home in a cab the next morning.

I knew the girls talked, as did the people we knew in the community and at the tennis club. We both had money, never seemed to work, didn't have a set schedule. The general consensus was that we were drug dealers. It got to the point that we would get stopped and have our car searched on a regular basis, and people we barely knew were wanting to know if we could 'hook them up'. A couple of phone calls from some very high priced lawyers ended the harassment, and a few well placed "FUCK OFFs!' took care of the rest.

So then, where did the money come from?

For Eric, it came the oldfashioned way. He inherited it. His family owned several very successful businesses, and when they all went down in a plane crash, he inherited everything, along with some very nice insurance settlements. No idiot, he had an MBA from one of the most prestigious schools in the country. But he soon discovered he couldn't stand the rigid demands of business on a regular basis, hired top notch managers, and went in to his office twice a week for five hours, to keep check on things. He also had two sets of accountants and a very good law firm to look out for his interests, so he was pretty much set.

He didn't just slack around and party. He kept in shape, with tennis and martial arts, and had numerous hobbies that were pretty demanding.

I was almost the exact opposite. My parents were dirt poor. I was just lucky enough to pay for their funerals when they passed. I'd been married, and after five years she told me I'd never amount to anything, and she was leaving me for a better life. Took almost everything of value with her when she left.

Her exit plan was a victim of timing, I did indeed have nothing when we divorced, but eighteen months after I got the final decree, something I'd been working on in my spare time paid off, and the paydays just kept getting better. My darling ex somehow discovered my good fortune and came sniffing around, hinting that perhaps she'd made a mistake, and maybe we should work on mending fences.

I politely told her to kiss my ass, rubbed my good fortune in her face, and moved away without a forwarding address. I bought the condo I live in seven years ago, and just kept moving forwards.

Eric and I had many of the same interests, and our attitudes complimented each other. He'd get enthused over something, try to drag me along with him in his latest scheme, and I'd be the voice of reason, pointing out holes in his plan until he got bored and dropped it. But if he really, really wanted to do something, no force on earth would keep him from trying.

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