But instead of stopping at the shops we passed, the car slowly pulled into an area of New York I’d never been in before.
The storefronts and the high-rises slowly diminished into crumbling brick facades and rickety doors. I furrowed my brow as we continued to follow them, and my curiosity was officially piqued. Where the hell was Elizabeth going? Who in the world could she have possibly known in this area of New York? Homeless men were piled in dark alleyways, and men sitting on stoops smoking god-knew-what watched us roll by.
Was she headed to another client?
She couldn’t have been. She came with a high price tag, and it was nothing the people of this particular neighborhood could afford. The car rounded the corner before it came to a stop, and I told my driver to pull over. I guided him down an alleyway before we pulled around, and we sat at our perch as I watched Elizabeth get out of the car.
Her long legs clicked in her heels as she wrapped around to the truck. She tapped on it and it came flying open, and then she began pulling her things out of the back. Her suitcase. Her zip-line niceties. Her toiletry bag. Her purse. She closed the trunk as the driver got out, and he offered his hands to help her. And in true Elizabeth fashion, she shook him off before bending forward and pressing the kindest kiss to his cheek.
Then, he escorted her to the front of the crumbling brick building.
Holy shit, did she live there?
“Where to now, sir?” my driver asked.
“Sit until the car pulls off. Then we can head back to my place,” I said.
I watched the driver come back without her, and the car pulled effortlessly away from the curb. Holy hell, Elizabeth lived in a place like that. It wasn’t at all what I expected someone with her price tag to live in. Fuck, those apartment complexes had rooms that were no bigger than my damn walk-in closet. I didn’t like that. I didn’t know why I didn’t like it, but I didn’t. Elizabeth had no business living in such a decrepit place.
Shit, I was doing it again.
“Pull away. Now,” I said flatly.
The car lurched ahead, and I closed my eyes, ridding myself of my surroundings. I couldn’t think about it a second longer. The more I thought about it, the more I cared. And that couldn’t happen. We rode the streets of the city before coming back into territory I was familiar with, and I let out a heavy sigh.
And once again, the emptiness returned.
I should’ve been happy with the deal I’d made. With all that had been accomplished. Hell, I’d gotten my dick wet for the first time in years while doing it. I should’ve been all smiles and ready to celebrate with Justin that evening. I made a great deal that would skyrocket this new branch he and I had been working on.
But I missed Elizabeth.
She had been fun and flirty and engaging. Intelligent and graceful and absolutely breathtaking. And damn, that body. The way she had called out for me. The way her breath begged for me and the way she fisted my suit to pull me closer. My cock throbbed at the thought of it. As I traveled back to the empty penthouse apartment I called home, a thought crossed my mind.
Maybe I should call her again.
I was my own boss, after all. I could do whatever the fuck I wanted. I could make time with whoever I damn well pleased. And with this contract signed, my free time wouldn’t be used wining and dining Cristoff Bauer. I’d have some time. I could sacrifice some late nights at the office if it got me Elizabeth.
If it got me her smile and her presence and her warmth.
I gazed out the window and watched my hometown pass me by. I was due for some time off. A couple of monthlong vacations. I could take Elizabeth with me. Whisk her away to Bora Bora or Paris or Venice. We could rent a vineyard cottage on a hillside and never leave the room except to eat.
Could I really have a relationship with a call girl?
That was the thing. It wasn’t as if I’d ask her to come with me and she’d drop her job. She would still be taking clients. Hanging off their arm. Could I really trust her in that line of work? Could I trust her not to take on men that wanted to kiss her or sleep with her?
Hell, could I even handle her engaging another man like she had me?
The mere idea of another man having his hands on her boiled my blood. I drew in a deep breath and clenched my jaw, attempting to keep my anger at bay. She wasn’t mine, and I wasn’t hers. I didn’t own her, and she didn’t own me. That was her profession, and this was mine. Our worlds couldn't have been more different. I had been infuriated the second I saw her and Sam. Seeing his hands wrapped around her made my stomach roll with nausea.