When Chloe put her feet at the restaurant entrance, she was five minutes late.
“Good evening. How can I help you, milady?” a handsome man, wearing a black suit asked her.
“Good evening. I have a reservation in the name of Evan Bailey.” she said trying to sound calm.
The man leaded the way to a private room, where her boss was waiting for her.
At each step taken her nervousness was increasing.
“Good evening.” she said shamefully.
“Good evening, Ms. Rodriguez.” Mr. Bailey said while he stood up on his feet.
He brazenly assessed the woman from head to toe, which made Chloe embarrassed.
The maître of the restaurant pulled out the chair for her to sit.
“Oh, thank you!” Chloe simply said. Mr. Bailey took his seat as well.
She felt like a fish out of the water. It was her first time at a fancy restaurant. She was used to attend middle class establishments, just like her parents’ restaurant in New Jersey.
“May I ask what this beautiful lady would like to order?” the maître asked, shamelessly looking at her lips.
“You can bring a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon 2015 from Scarecrow and the chef’s specialty for both of us.” Mr. Bailey said rudely. “And if you want to keep your job, don’t come back to this room tonight.”
Chloe widened her eyes, glancing at the man in front of her.
The maître was speechless, so he just made his way out of the room.
Mr. Bailey was staring at her with those glacial eyes and the stiffened jaw.
“You’re late.” he pointed, without changing his expression.
“It was the traffic.” she lied, uncomfortable. She didn’t want to explain she spent countless minutes in a hot bath.
Mr. Bailey got up and started to walk around the table.
There was a strange energy between them. Chloe was avoiding his eyes, because they were too intense for her.
Chloe shivered when he whispered in her ear:
“You did great earlier today.”
His lips touched her earlobe. Her breath became uneven.
It was so unexpected that she looked at him. For the first time at that night. And by all means it was a huge mistake.
He was too close. She could sense the strong aroma of his perfume.
Chloe exhaled heavily, while she felt a heat rising through her body.
Mr. Bailey didn’t give her time to think twice when he ended the distance between their lips.
Chloe was took by surprise and she tried to get away, but Mr. Bailey had a possessive hand holding her neck.
He sucked her lower lip and then invaded her mouth with his tongue passionately. As the kiss was getting more intense, she put her arms around his neck.
Mr. Bailey wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her off the chair.
He held her possessively with his big hands. She was totally given over to the kiss.
It was intense but they both needed air. He pulled his lips away from hers gently and said:
“We need to talk about business.”
Chloe nodded, still confused. Her eyes were still closed because she couldn’t look at him. Not yet.
Mr. Bailey took his arms away from her and made his way to his chair.
Chloe was breathing in and out to calm herself down. After a few seconds, she sat.
A short middle-aged man entered the room, to break the heavy climate that had set in. He was there to serve the wine.
Chloe wondered how that man could be so contradictory. She didn’t have a lot of time to think about it because he started to speak:
“Let’s talk about business now.” he was always analyzing her moves. “What are your aspirations in life?”
“Is this business?” she mocked.
“It will be.” Mr. Bailey said rudely. “For now, just answer what I ask you.”
“I…” she started harshly but he interrupted her first:
She let her guard down. Could that day get any weirder? She wondered. Mr. Bailey being nice was the last thing she would see in life.
“I just wanna be a successful businesswoman. To help others.” Chloe said sheepishly.
“Who are the others?” he sounded interested.
“Hum… My family. And those who live in need.”
She had a sad smile on her face because she remembered her parents.
“What if you were a millionaire?” he asked suddenly, studying her reaction.
“Impossible!” Chloe laughed, discredited.
“Impossible is just something that nobody has managed to achieve so far.” Mr. Bailey took a sip of his wine while watched her.
“True.” she just said, with her head down for looking so silly.
“I have a deal to offer you, Ms. Rodriguez.” he said firmly as she lifted her head to glance at him.
“I’m all ears.” she encouraged him to continue.
“WHAT?” Chloe couldn't control herself not to scream.
“A contract marriage. We play a happy couple for one year and in the end of 12 months, you will receive one million dollars.” Mr. Bailey explained briefly. “After one year you will be whomever you want. The sky will be the limit.”
Her surprise turned to anger.
“Are you kidding? You don’t have the right to propose something like that to me!” she spoke without thinking, gesticulating wildly. “Who do you think you are? You don’t own the world!”
Chloe was furious and her eyes were burning red. She was staring at him, dismayed. Her breath was uneven.
Mr. Bailey was calm. At no time he had changed his tone of voice and his posture. It seemed like an usual subject to be dealt.
“What do you have to lose?” he simply asked while he touched her hand.
His eyes were bluer than ever. Mr. Bailey was looking right into her eyes.
She hesitated for a moment as she bit her lower lip. That touch made her shiver.
“The chance to be with someone who I love for real.”
Chloe had the courage to speak while she challenged him with her glance.
She quickly withdrew her hand, breaking the touch.
“Come on! You know love doesn’t exist! It is just an excuse to act like a fool!” Mr. Bailey said angrily.
Too many questions were on her mind and Chloe felt suffocated. She needed to get out of that room.
“I’m sorry to inform you that love is not a business, Mr. Bailey.”
She got up and made her way to the door.
Mr. Bailey didn’t move but his voice denounced how angry he was.
Chloe didn’t look back.
When he tried to call her again, she was already gone.