Cristoff wanted to feel invested in every part of our world before he did any deals with Phillip, and Phillip simply didn’t understand that.
Either that, or he refused to see it. Or couldn’t. I really didn’t know which one it was.
“Come on. We won’t go far,” I said.
I held out my hand and wiggled my fingers, smiling when Phillip took my hand.
“If you insist,” he said
“How are you liking Vienna so far?” I asked as he began to walk.
“It’s nice. Adventurous.”
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Not sure what else a city can be.”
“It can be fun. Or eye-opening. Or romantic. Or exciting.”
“I said it was adventurous.”
“That’s such a designer answer, though,” I said.
“You know, fabricated. Meant to be nothing more than what it is,” I said.
“I still have no idea what you mean.”
I giggled and shook my head as our fingers threaded together.
“Have you ever been somewhere that simply... took your breath away? Left you at a loss for words or what to do once you took it in?”
“No,” he said.
“Well, that’s what Vienna did for me. My life was never the same after I traveled here for the first time. My definition of beauty and my aspirations in life changed the second I stepped foot into this place.”
“Nope. Never had that experience either.”
“Shame. It’s one of the most defining experiences a person could ever have, in my opinion.”
We walked in silence for a little bit before I drew in a deep breath.
“Favorite place to vacation?”
“I don’t do vacations.”
“Okay. Favorite place to spend time and decompress?” I asked.
“I don’t do much of that either. Though I have a nice en suite bathroom and bedroom connected to my office.”
“Do you ever leave that place?” I asked with a giggle.
“Not much,” he said as a smirk crawled across his cheeks.
“You really are something, Phillip Chambers. All work and no play make many men no fun to be around.”
“All work and no play is how I’ve built my empire. And I’m not stopping anytime soon.”
“So how big is big enough?” I asked.
“What do you mean?”
“You’re Phillip Chambers. The technological GPS guru who’s single-handedly brought our military into what everyone says is a twenty-second-century way of fighting.”
“Nice to see you’ve been doing your research.”
“I have to. You don’t talk much about yourself, and I have to know you as if I’ve known you for the past three years. So, when is the empire big enough? Does Phillip Chambers not have any want for a family in his life?”
“According to our backstory, we’re going to fill our home full of children.”
“Not what I asked,” I said.
“Then be careful what you ask. We don’t know who’s actually out in these gardens with us.”
“Fair enough. So, what’s your favorite color?”
I looked over at him as a genuine smile crossed his cheeks. His face lit up with a boyish charm when he let that thing loose. And I could tell by the lack of laugh lines in his face that he didn’t do it much. I smiled back at him before I leaned in closer, my head leaning against his shoulder. I felt him stiffen, and I shook my head as my thumb began to swirl against the skin of his hand.
“We don’t know who’s out here, remember? Plus, I don’t bite. Well, not if you don’t want me to,” I said.
He stopped abruptly, and his hand pulled away from mine. The two of us paused underneath a shadowed overhang as my gaze fluttered up to his. Did some sort of physical connection really make him that uncomfortable? How in the world did he expect to pull off having a fiancée if he couldn’t touch and tease me a bit? I wanted to ask him. I wanted to have an answer to the question plaguing my mind. Honestly, I wanted to know more about the man, in general. About the life he’d led and the person he’d become. But he needed to loosen up. He needed a little spontaneity in his life. He needed something other than work. He needed something akin to a vacation.