“I thank you for your openness and your kindness. I feel like I’ve made a new friend,” I said.
“You have. That fiancé of yours might be here for business, but I wanted to make sure you got some time to enjoy Vienna. It’s a beautiful place, and one that should never be neglected when in its presence. Kind of like yourself.”
He lightly thumped my nose with his knuckle as a giggle fell from my lips.
“You remind me of my father,” I said.
“One of my greatest regrets in life was never having children, Miss Elizabeth. It’s one of the things I missed out on by neglecting my wife for work. She’s a beautiful, loving woman. But we weren’t without our disasters and faults. If you ever need anything, you contact me at any time. Whether it’s about Phillip or not.”
He stuck his hand into his pocket and pulled out a card before handing it to me.
“My office number is on the front, but if you catch my voicemail, press 7 on your dialing pad. It’ll shoot your call to my personal number. But don’t tell anyone. It’s a secret for a reason.”
I held back tears of gratitude as I nodded my head.
“Your secret is safe with me,” I said.
I smoothed my hands down the front of my suit as a smile crossed my cheeks. Today was the big day. Cristoff had called me the night before, asking me to clear my schedule so we could talk business. Finally, after entertaining his wild notions all this week, we were sitting down to do what I came here to do. It wasn’t as if anything else was on my schedule to begin with, so I was eager to get down to things and hammer out details.
“Ready for your meeting?”
I looked over and saw Elizabeth leaning against the doorframe of my room.
“I am. I’ve been ready since we got here. It’s nice to see that entertaining his crazy notions and wants are finally about to pay off,” I said.
“Well, tell him I said hello. It would be rude of me to not tell you to say something like that to him.”
“I’ll make sure to pass on the message.”
“Here, let me help you with that.”
She walked into my room, and I turned toward her. She worked nimbly, undoing my bow tie before tying it off perfectly. She pulled at the two bow loops and centered it for me, then ran her fingertips along the underside of the collar of my suit coat. She took a step back to survey her work before a grin crossed her cheeks, and I couldn’t help but think about how domestic it all seemed.
It was nice.
“Let me know how it goes,” she said.
“You can go out into the city again, if you want.”
“I actually have some spa treatments scheduled for myself while you’re gone doing man stuff.”
“Then I hope you enjoy the amenities at your disposal,” I said.
I had to resist the urge to kiss Elizabeth on the cheek before I left. And the entire way to Cristoff’s office in the center of the city, my mind was on her. Not on the task at hand. Not on business. But on her.
The call girl I couldn’t stop thinking about.
I forced myself to pay attention the second I stepped into Cristoff’s office. It was immaculate, and not a thing was out of place. It seemed very much like him as well. The furniture was big and plush. The view of Vienna was probably the best in the city. He had a glass of Scotch already sitting out for me as well as a stack of papers I recognized.
The contract I had given him to look over.
“First off, I want to start by saying that your contract is very detailed. It outlines everything perfectly, and my lawyer and I greatly appreciate it.”
I sat down in front of him and reached for the Scotch he slid my way.
“But?” I asked.
“There’s one thing I do want to tweak.”
“Then lay it on me and we can get to work tweaking it.”
“On the very last page, you outline the amount of money you’ll need from me in exchange for the percentage of the company I’ll be retaining. From what I understand, this new company you’re establishing will be your thirteenth?”
“It will be, yes. And I think it’s a market that is very undervalued and has a lot of room for improvement,” I said.