We made our way to the car in silence, and I forced myself to focus on the job at hand. I had to escort my “escort” to dinner. We had to put on a face. Play a game. Dance around one another and put on an act. None of it was real, and none of it came with any perks I needed to indulge. My focus had to be on one thing and one thing only: sealing the deal with Cristoff Bauer.
But my cock wanted to seal the deal with Elizabeth.
I expected some sort of reaction out of her when we walked into the restaurant—some sort of awe that would rush over her face. I planted my hand onto the small of her back and felt her warmth penetrating the fabric of the dress. But instead of having to speak with her lowly about keeping her shock and awe to herself, Elizabeth slipped into a role that left me wondering exactly who she was and where she had come from.
Because she didn’t seem uneasy at all. In fact, she seemed more at ease with the scenario than I did.
“Mr. Chambers! Welcome to my part of the world.”
Cristoff got out of his chair and came at me with his arms outstretched. I slipped my hand away from Elizabeth’s back and clapped the man tightly. I didn’t usually hug my prospective clients and partners, but for a traditionalist, Cristoff really enjoyed the intimate interaction. He always held me a little too long and breathed on me a little too heavily. But it was par for the course with him. Signing him on for a multimillion-dollar contract was worth whatever hoops I had to jump through in order to get him there.
But he really was a character.
“And this must be your lovely fiancée,” he said.
“Elizabeth soon-to-be Chambers,” she said with a smile. “It’s very nice to meet you, Mr. Bauer.”
“You have fine taste in fiancées,” Cristoff said.
“And I have fine taste in men,” she said.
“Shall we sit and get some food?” I asked.
“Allow me,” Cristoff said.
He pulled out Elizabeth’s chair, and she sat with her back straight and her head held high. It was as if she was bred for this kind of role. I sat down beside her and slipped my arm around her chair, pulling her just the slightest bit toward me. Every little interaction between the two of us had to look genuine, from eye contact all the way down to constantly having her as close as I could get her. Which wouldn’t be an issue.
I wanted her to close I could slip my body into hers.
Cristoff was a very old-world aristocrat whose ideals fancied someone out of the 1930s. He was happily stuck in the past despite his advisors insisting he diversify his accounts and take on modern-day investments. That was what I was attempting to get him to do: invest in my company, take a small slice for himself, and urge him into the twenty-first century while furthering my own financial gain. But dealing with someone like Cristoff meant playing a game of chess, not checkers. With his gray hair, rosy red cheeks, and very round stomach, he boasted of an arrogance that was shrouded in the niceties men bestowed upon people around them on a daily basis.
But Elizabeth didn’t flinch one ounce.
The three of us were not alone at dinner, despite what I imagined. Cristoff was surrounded by four of his friends, people he trusted more than anything else. And it felt as if I was sitting in front of a firing squad. I expected Cristoff’s wife, possibly. But not people who looked eager to rake Elizabeth and me over the coals.
“So, Elizabeth. Where are you from?” one of them asked.
“Born and raised in upstate New York,” she said.
“How long have you and Phillip been together now?” another asked.
“About three years, give or take. Honestly? Some months seem much longer than others,” she said.
A chuckle permeated across the table, but I became nervous. I didn’t think about a cover story between the two of us. I didn’t think about the fact that people would question the American couple on their life together. Shit. What kind of idiot was I? Yet another reason why Elizabeth was a poor choice in the long run. I wasn’t thinking about the simplest of things.
“I don’t care about any of that,” Cristoff said. “I want to hear how the two of you met. Phillip? I always enjoy the man’s perspective. It’s always so different from the woman’s.”