Elizabeth - Page 15

Elizabeth looked over at me with a kind stare, but I felt like I had swallowed my tongue. How did we meet? What the fuck was I supposed to say to that question?

“Well, it’s sort of an intricate story,” I said. “But the gist of it is I saw her and knew I had to have her. The moment I saw her, I knew she was the one for me. Even if she didn’t know it at the time.”

“See? That’s a true man,” Cristoff said. “Take note, everyone. Because a true man knows what he wants the second he sees it. I knew I saw something in you.”

“I appreciate the compliment,” I said.

“Where did you two meet?” one of his friends asked.

“We, uh... well. Initially?” I asked.

“Phillip, don’t be so embarrassed,” Elizabeth said.

She slid her hand along my knee and squeezed before she took the reins of the conversation. And I was glad for it. Because I sure as hell wasn’t adept to lying on the fly. In fact, I made it a paramount requirement to never lie to those I wanted to do business with.

Fuck. What had I gotten myself into?

“It’s really nothing fancy,” Elizabeth said. “Contrary to what Phillip shows, he’s really a romantic man. He wants to have that story where he saw me across the street before running up to me and taking me in his arms, but the truth is we met in a jewelry store.”

“That sounds romantic,” Cristoff said. “How is that not romantic?”

“The only reason he noticed me was because I tripped over my own two feet and went crashing against the display case,” she said with a giggle.

“Oh my gosh, were you hurt?” one of his friends asked.

“Only my pride,” Elizabeth said. “I caught myself, but not before I knocked my elbow against the case. I was bleeding all over myself by the time Phillip got to me. Cleaned me right up in the middle of the jewelry store.”

“A knight in shining armor is always a romantic story waiting to be told,” Cristoff said.

“Trust me, it gets better,” she said with a smile. “He took me out to his car because he said he had a first aid kit there. You know, Band-Aids and stuff. And before I knew it, I had a napkin pressed to my elbow and we were riding back to his place in order to find something to ease the pain.”

“You sly dog, you,” Cristoff said with a grin.

“He was an absolute gentleman,” Elizabeth said. “Despite the fun we might have had.”

She tossed me a playful wink as another chuckle ricocheted among the crowd around us. I had been so entranced with her story that even I started to believe it had been true. Her kind smile settled me down a little bit and eased me into the evening, and I couldn’t help but feel like she was coaching me instead of the other way around.

Who the hell was this woman?

“Well, despite the two of you meeting in a jewelry store, you are woefully lacking in jewels, Miss Elizabeth.”

“I don’t see your engagement ring?” someone asked.

I felt myself tense again, and Elizabeth squeezed my knee.

“I’m not comfortable traveling with a lot of my jewelry. Phillip took me to Bora Bora a little over a year ago, and some of my jewelry was stolen in between the flight and the arrival to our private cabana. I’ve been wary about it ever since. I’m thinking about purchasing a small rose gold wedding band to wear on my finger whenever I do travel because I feel so naked without it.”

“See, this is why I keep some of the royal jewelry that was passed to myself under lock and key,” Cristoff said. “There are greedy people in this world that believe they are entitled to the possessions of others, and I can’t stand it. The jewelry that was handed down to me has been in my family for ages, and the idea of someone taking it from me makes my heart rate shoot through the roof!”

He went on and on about some stupid rubies or whatever it was he had sitting in a vault somewhere, but my focus was no longer on him. It was on the woman next to me—the woman who had just saved my ass in the middle of the most important dinner of my career. She was charming, elegant, and completely in her element. And my hand fell to hers on my knee before wrapping around it. She looked over at me and smiled, her hazel eyes sparkling underneath the lighting of the decadent restaurant.

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