Elizabeth - Page 59

Cristoff’s comment about her lack of jewelry rang heavily in my head as my eyes fell to the glass case. And they settled on a matching set of dangling earrings. Sitting on a simple white-gold chain was one of each stone. The pearl at the end, the ruby in the middle, and the erratically shaped onyx on top.

“I’ll take the necklace and the matching earrings,” I said.

“Wonderful choice. Would you like me to wrap them?” the man asked.

“I would. And throw your card in there. I want to make sure I remember this place.”

“Of course, sir. I’d be glad to.”

I took the wrapped gift from him before paying for the jewelry and giving him the tip I’d offered to keep him open a little longer. Then, I set my sights back on the hotel. The bag swung at my side as I drew in a deep breath, and I passed by a clock that started ringing out. It rang nine times before I checked my watch. Nine o’clock in the bustling city of Vienna, and a beautiful princess up high in a tower was crying herself to sleep.

That wouldn’t do. Not for our last night here.

“Elizabeth?” I asked.

I knocked on her door as I held the present behind my back.

“Are you still awake?” I asked.

I softly knocked on the door again before I heard something shuffling behind it.

“Yes,” she said groggily.

“Have you eaten dinner yet tonight?”

“Can’t say I’m hungry.”

“If I asked you to join me for dinner, would you?”

I closed my eyes and swallowed hard as the silence grew thick between us.

“Give me twenty minutes,” she said.

“I’ll be out here waiting for you.”

And exactly twenty minutes later, I heard heels sounding down the hallway. I turned, keeping the present out of view as she emerged from the darkness of her own private corridor. She looked spectacular. She always did. But her face seemed a bit paler, her eyes a bit sadder than usual. She encased it well behind the plastered smile on her face, but I had been around her enough this past week to know that she wasn’t elated at the idea of dinner.

I hoped my present would cheer her up.

The ride to dinner was silent, and if she was aware of the gift at my side, she made no mention of it. My hand pressed into the small of her back as I led her into Das Loft, one of the most expensive restaurants in all of Vienna. It had perfect views, and one nice donation in the proper place got us a view of the water from their rooftop seating. We were tucked away in our own little corner, as if the world didn’t exist, the second we sat down into our chairs.

“Would the two of you care for something to drink? Perhaps our decadent house red?” the waiter asked.

“We’ll actually take a bottle of the Château Mouton Rothschild,” I said.

“Would either of you care for an appetizer of some sort?”

“Your snack plate. But instead of the olives, can you replace it with grapes, instead? It’ll compliment the wine better that way.”

“Of course, sir. I’ll get that in for you. Would you like the bottle of wine uncorked before its arrival, or at the table?”

“Uncorked and aerated before it’s brought,” I said.

“I’ll be right back with your order.”

“That’s an expensive wine,” Elizabeth said.

It was the first time she had spoken since we’d left the hotel.

“I figured the two of us could enjoy a few more delicacies before heading back in the morning,” I said.

“It wasn’t necessary. But the view is beautiful.”

Not as beautiful as you.

I drew in a quick breath before I reached down next to me.

“Elizabeth, how I’ve treated you this week has been less than par to what I expect of myself. A man should always respect a woman, no matter what. And I didn’t live up to that expectation this week.”

“Phillip, you don’t have to—”

“Just listen,” I said.

I watched her nod before I placed the gift on the table. Her eyes fell to it as I slid it toward her, and I watched her brow wrinkle in confusion. But she didn’t say anything, and I relished the stunned silence etched into her features.

“This is a token of my appreciation. For everything you’ve done for me and all you put up with. I’m sorry, Elizabeth.”

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