I closed my eyes as her sobs filled the penthouse, and it broke my heart. I needed to make it up to her somehow. I needed to try and find a way to show my gratitude. Because it was her that had solidified the next leg of my company’s sprint to the top.
I stepped off the balcony and closed the door behind me. I closed my eyes and let the heart-wrenching sound of her sobs fill my ears. I didn’t want to forget them. I didn’t want to get sidetracked in my mission. I was about to walk the streets of Vienna to find the perfect token of my gratitude, and I didn’t want the beauty and the rawness and the sounds to drown out the sadness of the woman I was doing this for.
I left the suite.
Despite my driver’s insistence that he drive me around, I set myself to walking. The pavement underneath my feet pushed me along, and I got to mingle with the happy people of the city. Rarely did I do something like this. Usually, I was racing in a car to get somewhere in time, a meeting or a gala event or a charity function. Sometimes a business lunch or dinner, usually on me. I stopped and looked around at all the shops, taking in the richness of the culture even in the modernized stores that surrounded me.
Elizabeth would’ve enjoyed taking this walk with me.
I kept pressing forward until I came across a jewelry shop. I gazed in the window and saw some of the most beautiful pieces I’d ever laid eyes on. I never bought jewelry in the States. It was all diamonds and man-made gems. Real gems were hard to come by. Real emeralds and real rubies and real sapphires were almost unheard of in jewelry at this point. But as I stood there gazing at the one-of-a-kind pieces, I knew I had found the store.
“Sir, we’re about to close.”
I looked up at the clerk behind the counter, who was clutching a bag in his hand.
“I’ll give you one hundred euro on top of my purchase to let me look around,” I said.
“Let me know if I can be of service,” the man said as he set down his bag.
I slid my hands into my pockets as my eyes graced the cases. There were stacks of jewelry with diamonds as the accent piece instead of the main event. No one made jewelry like that any longer. And all of it would’ve looked stunning on Elizabeth. The rings would’ve sparkled on her delicate fingers, and the bracelets would’ve sat lovingly on her dainty wrists. The dangling earrings would’ve accented the length of her glorious neck, and the jeweled hairpins would’ve kept her long, wavy brown hair piled high upon that head of hers that held a brain that consistently shocked me with its knowledge of the world.
I wasn’t shocked because she was an escort. I was shocked because she was a woman. But not in the bad sense. As I looked over the necklaces the store boasted of, I came to understand Elizabeth’s anger a little more. She probably had many clients who perceived her as nothing but arm candy and a sex toy, something that made me cringe inside. Such an intelligent mind and a fluid persona encased in a luxurious body, and she had so many men come in and out of her world that didn’t ever appreciate the woman she was. I wasn’t shocked at her talents or her grace or her intelligence because she was an escort. I was shocked because she was a woman.
Because in my experience, women were only after money. Be it because they were escorts or because they were beautiful and they knew they could if they flaunted their beauty at the right man.
Elizabeth was the kind of woman who stood on her own two feet, who could hold her own conversation in French about French politics. A woman who could serenade you with memories of her childhood and seduce you with nothing but a glance across the room. She was a woman who rode in on her capabilities, not her assets.
She was the perfect woman and had been the perfect escort for our weeklong venture.
“May I see that one?” I asked.
The man came over to the glass case and unlocked it. He pulled out the display necklace, and I knew the second it hit the light that it was the one I would get her. The perfectly cut circular rubies were separated by the best quality of pearls I’d ever come across. And between each set of three, there was a small punctuation, a small, erratically shaped onyx stone that gave the necklace some character.
Pearl, ruby, pearl, onyx. Pearl, ruby pearl, onyx. White for her supposed innocence, red for her fiery nature, and black for her endless intelligence. It was a necklace fit for a queen, and it was now Elizabeth’s.