And for a split second, I wondered what life would be like if our engagement wasn’t pretend.
“Mr. Bauer! You really are a crazy man. That sense of humor of yours is too much,” I said with a smile.
“A man can never make a woman laugh too hard. If there aren’t tears in her eyes from the joy I bring, then what point is there to making a woman smile?” he asked.
“Her face really lights up with her smile. It’s my favorite attribute on her,” Phillip said.
I looked over at him before I leaned in close to his body. I was enjoying our “date.” I was enjoying pretending to be his fiancée. Especially when he got flustered at how close I was to him. For a billionaire, he really did blush like a virgin. And I enjoyed it greatly. But he acted as if he didn’t date much, because he was still pretty reserved in his actions. I made a mental note to do a little googling of my client once we parted ways for the evening. I always got a brief rundown from Rhonda and her files, but most men weren’t interesting enough to research more thoroughly than that. Usually, the information in her files was enough.
But Phillip? There was something about him that was endearing. Something about him that was innocent behind those devious eyes. He was like a lost little puppy, and I wanted to know him better.
Even if I could only get that information from the internet.
“Miss Elizabeth, do you work at all?”
Phillip practically choked on his wine as my eyes fell onto the only other female at the table.
“Phillip is struggling to swallow his drink because I do,” I said. “And usually, that isn’t found in the personal circles he keeps. I run my own business. It’s certainly not to the scale my fiancé has, but it supported me before I met him and it supports me now.”
“Beautiful and independent. How in the world did you get so lucky?” Cristoff asked.
“Don’t worry. The second we start having children, I have no intentions of continuing to work. I told Phillip I would never give up my business until we began filling our home with children. Then? It would be time to be a mother.”
“Phillip, if you’re not careful, I might just be looking at my second wife,” Cristoff said.
“Don’t let your wife catch you speaking that way. She might give you the boot for someone richer,” I said playfully.
“I dare you to find someone richer than old royalty.”
“Is that a challenge?”
Cristoff was a character, but all of the folks at the table were typical old money. Entitled. Elitist. Sexist in the most covert ways. Generally more ignorant than they let on. So, I had to play into that mindset. I had to paint myself as the exact kind of woman people like them would want standing at Phillip’s side. Even if none of it was true. I leaned back against my chair as Cristoff continued to laugh at our banter, and I felt Phillip slide his arm around my waist.
I had to hold back a shiver as his warmth cascaded along my skin.
I was painfully aware of how focused Cristoff was on us, which meant I had to stay on my toes the entire dinner. It was obvious Phillip wasn’t trained at lying on the fly, and since he had actively avoided me, it sat on my shoulders to dig him out of the hole he fell into the second someone asked him how we met. A cover story for this kind of thing was imperative. Did he not know that? It didn’t matter. Because of the way I lived my life, I was incredibly skilled at coming up with legitimate-sounding backstories.
“Oh, Elizabeth. I do wish my wife could have been here. She would have loved your sense of humor,” Cristoff said.
“I do hope to meet her sometime,” I said. “I’m sure if she caught the eye of a man such as yourself, she has to be a wonderful woman.”
“A little opinionated some of the time, but she knows her place,” he said.
“Until you ruffle her feathers, I’m sure. I bet she’s a fighter, isn’t she? Like her husband?” I asked.
“Elizabeth, I think you’re carrying the conversation away a bit too much,” Phillip said. “We do have other things to discuss.”
I turned my gaze to look over at him and tried not to give him the weirdest look imaginable.