Romancing Paris by Milly Taiden

Chapter One





Paris





Paris Warwick hated clubs.

No. It was more than that. Paris hated being around so many people. He didn’t even like most people. He much preferred quiet solitude. It was a real testament to his artistic block that he was even here at all.

The loud, thumping music only set his teeth on edge, while the smell of a thousand bodies, dancing and sweating, made his stomach roll. He couldn’t believe he had let Pascal convince him to go out. Paris never went out. He was a notorious recluse, who preferred to stay in his home, painting, sculpting, drawing, doing anything artistic and quiet.

Fuck, he missed silence just about then. He didn’t want to be touched or brushed against by women who were silently asking him to dance. He had no desire to be close to any woman.

How his brother, London, had spent years of his life in clubs, Paris didn’t know. His playboy brother’s face was as recognizable as his was completely unknown.

Paris Warwick was the brother no one knew anything about, and he liked it that way. It made being an artist easier. When the family had to reboot and disappear, he could just pick up where he had left off with a different artist's name. It would be very bad for him if the media actually knew what he looked like.

Paris wanted to be a famed artist, but he would never want to get there because he was from a rich and powerful family. He wanted to get there on artistic credit alone. That’s why his latest bout with creative block made him angry.

How was he supposed to be the next Johannes Galileo if he couldn’t paint?

Never mind that he had been Johannes Galileo.

He had to prove himself again. To know that he could. That he hadn’t lost his touch.

The club was so packed, so full of people, it was a stark contrast, a direct opposition to what he would rather be doing. If he could manage to do it.

Painting in silence.

He had been having a hell of a hard time completing his latest painting. His muse had decided to up and leave him just as he was starting the piece. He needed the peace that came with being lost in a painting. He hadn’t felt that pull in nearly a month, and he was starting to panic.

His house was filled with half-finished projects because of it. He had tried all of his usual tricks to get his muse back, but she was being an elusive mistress. He didn’t know what else to try to coax her out. That was probably why when Pascal, his best—and only—friend, had insisted he needed time outside of the house, Paris had reluctantly followed along.

“Would you lighten up?” Pascal shouted over the music. “You look like someone’s grandpa. Ease up. You’ll never get someone to fuck you tonight if you keep snarling at anyone who gets within six inches of you.

Paris shook his head. “I’m going to head out,” he said, pointing his chin toward the exit. At least Paris was tall. His six-foot-four frame towered over the other patrons, and he could make out the door clearly. He was already planning out his route of escape.

“You haven’t left your place in months. Months, man. You need a night out. Fuck that, you need to get laid. When was the last time you had any?”

Paris cringed at his friend’s words. It had been a long time. Over a year, that was for sure. Probably closer to two. He couldn’t even remember who the woman had been. To be fair, the last couple of years had been busy. He had painted a lot as he tried to establish his new artist name. He had sold more of his pieces than ever before, and more and more art galleries around the world wanted to have a Draco original.

It was harder to make it in this era. There was too much noise.

No one knew, of course, that Paris Warwick was the elusive artist known as Draco. Only his family and Pascal knew his identity. There were multiple reasons for that, but Paris still appreciated the anonymity it afforded him. People went nuts when they thought you were a famous artist, and they immediately tried to figure out what you could do for them, to benefit them in some way.

It was tiresome.

Especially with the Warwick last name.

People were quick to link him to his brothers. London, the recently tamed and engaged former fuckboy, and York, who ran Warwick Banks, the most known financial institution on the world. People loved to think that with all of that wealth at his disposal, Paris had it easy. That he could just waltz up to any gallery and demand that they exhibit his art.

He didn’t want that.

Paris wanted his work to speak for itself. If it wasn’t a real success, he didn’t want it. That’s why he had always—always—used artist names. Draco, his latest artistic persona, was a nod to his dragon. He was a shifter, after all, and he was proud of his heritage, even though it chafed sometimes. He couldn’t just be. There were too many expectations, and too many binds to being a Warwick. It was suffocating.

Having an artistic identity, a fake name, gave him the freedom he needed to truly be himself.

And himself? Well, he was a quiet, reclusive artist, who didn’t want to be in the club to try and find a woman to fuck. Women only complicated things. He had seen what love did. To his parents, then to his brothers. He didn’t want the hassle. He wanted his art and only his art.

His paintings couldn’t necessarily keep him warm, but they sure as hell didn’t complain that he spent too much time in his studio. Even his family and Pascal were always on his case for working so much on his paintings and other pieces.