The Billionaire's Convenient BrideBy: CJ Howard
Both men looked at the property and then at Emmaline in utter surprise. Tristan clasped her arm and shook her hand. “Well, that’s brilliant! I never would have thought of that, but then I don’t know the Quarter as well as you do, I’m sure. Thank you so much! Peter, what do you think? Would you be willing to do that?”
Peter knew that what she had said would solve everything they were working on that morning. He felt a heavy pit in his stomach and he looked up at her and nodded quietly.
“Yes, I think that would take care of everything.”
She watched him with hurt and angry eyes and then looked away from him and smiled up at Tristan. “Thank you, Tristan, I appreciate your kindness more than you know. It was wonderful to meet you, but I think I should step out and leave you two to the details of your work.”
Tristan smiled down at her and took her hand, lifting it to his lips again. “The pleasure is entirely mine, Emmaline. Thank you for bailing us out. We’d never have gotten through it without you, and thank you again for your sweet hospitality. I’ll enjoy the refreshments.”
They shared a pleasant moment, then she turned and walked from the room. Nelson held the door open for her and smiled apologetically at her as she walked out. She was furious with Peter, and she sent him a text to tell him she was canceling lunch. He didn’t respond to her. She was out working in the garden a while later when Nelson approached her with a nervous smile on his face and she saw a moment later that Tristan was a few paces behind him.
“Well! There she is!” Tristan called out happily.
Nelson leaned toward her and said quietly, “He was looking for you and I thought you might be out here. Great job in the war cave today. Peter got your message. He’s not happy about it, but he got it.”
Nelson left and Tristan walked up to her as she set her shears down and pulled off her gloves.
“Emmaline, I wanted to tell you how impressed I was with you in there today. You showed real courage under fire and that says a lot about your character. You also offered us a simple and brilliant solution to a challenge we couldn’t see past, and I wanted to thank you for it. May I take you to lunch, if you don’t already have other plans?” Tristan asked, his eyes locked on hers.
She felt butterflies swarm in her and it was an unfamiliar feeling; one that made her feel as though she was glowing, and she liked it.
“Yes, I would be glad to join you for lunch. As it happens, I had a last minute cancellation and I’m free today.” He held his arm out to her and she slipped her hand into it.
“Good, you can show me that building in the Quarter that you were talking about. I’d like to see it in person. Of course, we’ll do that after lunch.” He smiled down at her they walked back into the house.
“I’ll just go get cleaned up, and I’ll be right back,” she said sweetly.
“Take your time,” he said in a soft tone.
She felt like she was floating down the hall to her room, and it made her giddy. It seemed like she was fifteen years old with a high school crush. She told herself that she was just being silly and he was only a nice man; a business associate of Peter’s, and that was all.
Emmaline slipped on a thin gauzy white summer dress that narrowed at her waist and danced in waves around her calves. She set a white sunhat on her head and walked back down the hall to Tristan.
He brightened when he saw her, and she noticed his lingering glance at her. “You look lovely,” he said with a grin, extending his arm for her again. She took it and they walked out of the house to his car.
An hour later they were laughing and talking over lunch, sharing stories and truly enjoying each other’s company. He toasted her with champagne and told her how she had saved the jobs of so many people that day.
“You truly are an amazing woman,” he said, his eyes focused on her.
The corners of her mouth had been turned up nearly the entire time she was with him that day, and his comment only made her smile again. “Thank you.”
He leaned closer to her and spoke softly, “May I ask, and please don’t answer if you feel it isn’t my business, but what was that comment that Peter made to you earlier about being a waitress? What was he talking about?”
She looked at Tristan and knew that she could not betray Peter, “Well, before I became involved with Peter, I worked as a waitress for a while.”
Tristan frowned. “He seemed to use that as an insult for you. It shouldn’t be. Servers work harder than most people, I think, and many times they are underappreciated for the service that they provide. It’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of, and most assuredly nothing to throw at you as an insult.”
Emmaline was quite pleased with Tristan for saying what he did and she grinned at him. “Thank you!” she exclaimed.
They walked to the building she had discussed with them earlier and the man who owned it happened to be there. He saw Emmaline and came right to her, hugging her and patting her back.
“Well hello, young lady! I’m so glad to see you out on this fine day. How are you doing?” he asked with a broad toothy grin.
“Well I’m just fine, Mr. Turner! I’m so pleased to see you! How are you?” she asked, her hand on his arm.
The old man nodded and pushed his hat back on his head. “I’m getting by, missy, gettin’ by.”
“Mr. Turner, I’d like to you to meet Tristan. He’s a friend of mine.” She waited as the men shook hands and greeted each other, and then she continued. “Mr. Turner, I was just telling Tristan this morning about this wonderful old building of yours because he’s in need of one that he can rent out for a few things. I told him he might see you about renting this old place from you for a short while.”
The old man looked carefully at Tristan and said, “You’re looking for a place to rent?”
Tristan nodded. “Yes, sir, we are. We need a little spot to set up some desks and run an office for a little while, maybe a few months. This is just the right location, and I like the look of it, Mr. Turner, you’ve really fixed this place up nicely. I’ll tell you what, if you’d be willing to rent this to us, I’ll pay you whatever your asking price is for a six month lease, and I’m fairly certain we’ll be out of here before the six months is over, but you are welcome to keep the full six months payment. How would that be?” he asked hopefully.
Mr. Turner rubbed his hand over his chin and looked at Tristan, and then at the building. Then he turned and looked at Emmaline. “Miss Emmaline,” he said quietly, “do you think I ought to lease my building out to this man?”
She took his hand in hers. “Yes, sir, I do.”
He nodded. “Alright then, Tristan, the building is yours. I’ll be here tomorrow and you can drop the payment off and I’ll give you the keys.”
Tristan blinked in surprise. “Well, certainly! I’ll be sure to be here early tomorrow morning. Thank you, Mr. Turner!” They shook hands and as Tristan was walking Emmaline away, Mr. Turner called out, “Tell your grandfather I’ll be by to see him in a few days! We’ll go fishing!”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Turner!” she called back with a wave, turning to Tristan with a smile.
Tristan placed his hand over hers and held it snugly. “I am just so impressed with you! I can’t believe how easy that was! I’ve never had a business transaction go that smoothly before! Thank you so much Miss Emmaline!” He grinned at her and they laughed as they strolled down the street.
He had her back at Peter’s house a little later that afternoon, and he thanked her wholeheartedly again when he dropped her off. He honked and waved good-bye and she went inside the house, happy as she could be.
She was curled up outside in the garden, swinging on the hanging bench with a book in her hands, enjoying a cool breeze just as the last light of afternoon was beginning to wane when Peter came out to her and, by the look of his walk, she could tell right away that he had been drinking some.
Emmaline looked up at him and saw right away that he was in a foul mood. She set her book down and stood up, facing him, but she didn’t say anything. She knew what was coming, and she had to mentally prepare.
“Well, well, well, there she is, folks. The wonder woman who saved the day,” he said sarcastically as he tipped his glass back and swallowed what was left of the contents of it. Then he looked at her and raised his eyebrows in mock surprise.
“I guess our dinner date was off too, then. You never said anything about that. You must really be put out with me for insulting you with the truth today,” he snapped at her and took a step toward her.
“Guess what,” he said, setting his empty glass on the little table near the swing. “I just got off of the phone with Tristan. He can’t stop going on and on about you. He was just soooooo impressed with you today, and do you know what he told me?” He took another step toward her and laughed sarcastically. “He told me that the two of you went to lunch together. Yeah. The two of you, all alone at lunch. Then he said that you walked him over to that building you were talking about this morning and in the snap of finger, you had the owner eating out of your hand and he just gave the building to Tristan for six months so we could move everyone into it like you said this morning.”