Elizabeth - Page 55

“I promise I will treat her with the utmost care,” I said.

“Good. Now, get this contract off my desk and get to work. We’ve got people to protect.”

I drew in a deep breath while trying to keep a grasp on the situation at hand. I rose up from my seat and removed the contract from his desk, then shook his hand and promised him a faxed copy of it before the night was finished. But inside, I was beginning to feel guilty about the lie Elizabeth and I were portraying. We had gotten him on it, hook, line, and sinker. And the worst part of it was he seemed genuinely invested in how Elizabeth and I did. I wondered how the “demise of our engagement” would roll over with him.

“It’ll be a pleasure doing business with you, Cristoff.”

“Get out of here and go spend some time with your fiancée. You did what you came here to do. Now, focus on her,” he said.

As I rode back to the hotel in my private town car, I was nothing but stunned. I couldn’t believe that it had been Elizabeth who had sealed this deal for me. Why didn’t she tell me about the stables? About encountering Cristoff? Did she think I would get upset with her? Honestly, she probably did. Especially after what happened between us at the gala party a couple of nights ago. Fuck. I’d really screwed shit up with her.

And I owed her a huge debt of gratitude for what she had managed to accomplish on this trip.

I held the contract in my hand, but it seemed empty now, less fulfilling than I felt it would be. I had worried so much about getting those stacks of papers signed, and now that they were, things still felt wrong. No, not wrong—“wrong” wasn’t the right word. But I didn’t feel the hopefulness and glee and accomplishment I figured I would feel after getting something like this orchestrated and implemented.

I looked out the window and watched Vienna pass by as I lost myself in my thoughts. I tossed the contract onto the seat beside me and let out a heavy sigh. How in the world was I going to thank Elizabeth for essentially making this possible for me? Would she accept a tip? Maybe I could slip her some money in an envelope before I dropped her off at home. That seemed so cheap, but I knew if I sent extra money through the company, there was a chance it would never make it into her pocket. Just because the company Elizabeth was employed at was advertised “high class” didn’t mean it wasn’t full of greedy, legal pimps.

The car pulled up to the hotel, and I sat there racking my brain as to what I could do. I grabbed the contract and bid my driver goodbye, then started into the hotel. I wasn’t even sure if she was awake or done with her spa treatments for the day. But there was one thing I knew I owed her before I came up with any other way to repay her for her time this week.

I owed her a massive thanks.

Chapter 24

Elizabeth

I giggled to myself and shook my head. My last day in Vienna, and I was just stepping out onto the balcony of the penthouse suite. I closed my eyes and allowed the wind to grace my face. I had a few more hours of this fake world. A few more hours of the place in this world I loved most before I returned to my closet-sized apartment in New York. I didn’t want to return. I didn’t want to go back to that place. I wanted to check my mother out of that facility, bring her to Vienna, and live out my days as Madison Pierce, the girl I’d left behind when I changed my name. “Elizabeth no-last-name” didn’t have a life. She didn’t have a world she belonged in. She didn’t have things she could be proud of.

But Madison did.

The sadness was overwhelming. I felt my chest constrict and my heart shatter. I felt my pulse rise and fall as I struggled to catch my breath. I didn’t want to cry at the lights of Vienna; I wanted to take in their beauty. I wanted to commit every possible moment I had with them to memory. I didn’t want to waste the precious time I had been given crying over the most beautiful view in the world.

And yet, a tear still escaped down my cheek.

Everything with Phillip had been incredible. The sights. The sounds. The food. Even with all of the hiccups in the road and his disgusting little pest of a nemesis, I wouldn’t have traded the assignment off. But that was just it. Phillip had been an assignment. A quest. A client. And the beautiful dream I was standing in wasn’t real. It didn’t exist. I was no one’s fiancée. I wasn’t loved by a handsome, intelligent, sensual billionaire. I didn’t have the capability of jetting off with him to Vienna whenever I wanted. He didn’t care about me. Or my mother. Or my family. Or my dreams and aspirations.

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