Elizabeth. So mature. Well, she was ten years older than me. I could tell she didn’t really like me. But she did love the finer things in life. She held out as long as she could, the longest at four months, but even she cracked. She loved stilettos, so I planted the Stiletto rose for her.
“May I ask why?” Robert’s voice was surprisingly melodic, a beautiful tenor with a dark silky thread. It was a voice she’d only ever heard in her head, while reading a novel during which she fell head over heels for the hero. Turning him down was going to be harder than Elaina thought.
“I don’t have anything against the wealthy, but after spending the past two years dating the son of the second wealthiest family around and being forced to meet their mold, I’m through. The life of luxury has no appeal to me, not even temporarily, and…why are you looking at me like that?”
Involuntarily, Elaina pressed her book closer to her chest. The sudden look of disgust and loathing in his face surely couldn’t bore well. She hoped the door was neither too far away nor locked.
“You mean to tell me you survived two years as Brad’s girlfriend?” Robert shook his head. “Was it your idea or his?”
She blinked at him before outrage prickled her skin with heat. “You think I’m a gold digger?”
He surprised her by laughing out loud. It was a surprisingly deep laugh, done with his head thrown back. Eyes somewhat dazed as he came out of it, he shook his head.
“From how you speak of him, no.”
Her arms tightened around the book. “I’m sorry, but I really have no interest in being your next companion.”
“Then please just indulge me for an hour. It’s been a long time since I’ve spoken to a young lady who doesn’t wish to dine on fine China and wear custom dresses from Paris every day.”
She hesitated only a moment before nodding. “I suppose there couldn’t be any harm in that.” She gave him a rueful smile. “I don’t think I’ve ever had the pleasure of speaking with a rich guy who just wants to talk.”
Robert grimaced as he handed her a tea cup. “Considering you spent two years with Brad, I’m not surprised.”
“So, you knew him?”
“Before I was locked up here, we were classmates. His family is still relatively new to the upper crust, and it shows. He always thought that if one wasn’t flaunting one’s wealth and status, one wasn’t really from money.”
“That about sums it up,” Elaina said dryly. “He and his mother were extremely particular. I hate to admit I was charmed by him, and flattered because very few guys have ever shown an interest in me, so I tried hard to fit in and be agreeable. Luckily, my friends and family stepped in.” She cocked her head at him. “I take it you weren’t best of friends?”
He laughed again. “Not even close. He was always jealous of me because he’s from the second wealthiest family and he could never touch me.”
She eyed him for a moment, before deciding to let her guard down and place her book flat on her lap.
“I don’t know how to ask this without sounding weird since we’ve just discussed your ex-boyfriend, so weird it’ll have to be. What’s your name?”
She cut off when Robert held up his hand and shook his head.
“No last names. I’ll never use it, and I don’t want to find out a sister, cousin, or aunt is a former companion.”
She inclined her head. “Fair enough. I am Elaina. Not Elaine or Lainey.”