“Yes. A contract is a contract, but sometimes a business has to be willing to move with the tide in order to secure a recurring client. But if I find out you had anything to do with his decision to pay me the way he did, I’ll be demanding your cut and leaving you out on the street. I’m paid on my dime and my terms. Always.”
“Yes, Madam. I understand.”
“Good. Now get the hell out of here and go shower. You still smell like him.”
“How do you know what he smells like?” I asked.
“You don’t smell like you. I know what you smell like. And you don’t smell like you. Three days. Be by your phone.”
I left without another word. A shower sounded like a good idea, actually. I wanted to wash him from my limbs, then crawl into bed and cry for a while. I flagged a taxi down and rode back to my apartment, watching as the world passed me by. Every time I stepped into Rhonda’s office, it got sleazier and sleazier. I closed my eyes and allowed my memories to slip back to Vienna. The luxurious leather seats underneath my skin as Phillip and I rode out to the countryside. The way his eyes darkened whenever he looked at me. The way his cock filled me in ways no other man had. Even the library, with him contorting his body while he lost himself between the pages of his books. Powerful and vulnerable. Voracious and careful. Stoic, and yet somehow passionate in every move he made.
I was going to miss that man.
I told my driver to stay there. I wanted to get to the bank before it closed. I went upstairs and grabbed the two envelopes of money, then scurried back down to the car. A quick trip to the bank and fifteen more minutes of my time produced a deposit that would fulfill my mother’s medical needs until the end of the year. Which meant I could sell off the jewelry Phillip purchased me and consider getting a better, nicer place for myself.
Or I could keep it. Maybe as a reminder of him.
When I got back to my apartment, I picked up my things at the front door and launched them onto my pathetic excuse for a couch. I hadn’t even stepped into my apartment yet. I had opened the door long enough to drop my stuff, then gone straight to Rhonda’s office for the “debrief.” I stripped myself of my clothes and left a trail behind me, making my way to the shoebox bathroom in my closet-sized apartment. I turned the water as hot as I could get it and filled the corner room with steam. I breathed it in as it washed away the memories, his cologne screaming as it boiled and ran down my limbs.
It felt good to wash away the memories. I needed to forget about the fantasy of being the handsome billionaire’s fiancée and focus on my life. I had three days to figure out what I was going to do. With the chunk of money I’d made from this job, I could feasibly move my mother and me. Los Angeles did sound like a nice place to start over again. New people. New faces. I might could make a friend or two. I knew Mom would enjoy the beach. And the facility I had looked at on the plane ride home sat close to the ocean. I could get her a room where the salt water was a smell she could wake up to every morning if she wanted.
I could sell off the jewelry Phillip purchased to fund the move without touching the money needed for Mom’s treatment over on the West Coast.
After scrubbing my body and washing my hair, I stood there and ran the water cold. Satisfied with how clean my body felt, I turned the water off and stepped out. I plucked my raggedy robe off the back of the bathroom door and slipped into it, sighing at its softness. It looked hideous and never came with me on assignments, but it was always there to greet me with its comfort and warmth whenever I got home, like a trusted friend or an excited pet.
Or a loving husband.
Stop it, Madison. It’s over. Get over it.
I padded into the kitchen so I could fix myself a cup of hot chocolate. A nice hot shower, a nice hot drink, and a long, restful sleep was what I needed. I heated the milk in the microwave before grabbing a packet of the cheap stuff I bought. I pulled the mug out of the microwave and dumped the mix in, then reached into the drawer for a spoon to start stirring it. After watching the chunks of chocolate dissolve into a warm, thick mixture I couldn’t wait to drink, I grabbed the milk and stuck it back in the fridge.