Swaree’s face fell, and she turned away. I knew what she thought of my use of the word opportunity for things like this, but that’s exactly what this was – a possible step upwards. I didn’t have a clue where it would go, but I didn’t really see “billionaire’s ex-wife” as a particular con for whatever the future would bring.
“Have you even really thought this through?” She asked suddenly, her wrist indicating the documents.
“What do you mean?”
She set her drink down, looking me in the eyes. “Look, I know what you’ve been through, and everything you’ve had to do to get this far…I get that. But one day, your impulsiveness is going to really screw it all up for you. This constant reinvention thing you’ve got going on… The things you’ve done… When is it going to be enough?”
I contemplatively took another sip of my drink.
“I’ll know when it’s enough.”
* * *
The Thursday following our meeting, I was invited back to Cole Andrews’ office for another luncheon. It was hard to believe that so much had happened in a single week, but I was taking it all in stride. So far I’d been holding it all together. The only dicey moment was when I sent off an e-mail to an anonymous server letting my old benefactors know I wasn’t going to complete my assignment. The reply had been so cold and simple it almost came off as a threat: CONTRACT TERMINATED.
“Kind of have a thing for fish, do you?” I chuckled, grazing my fork prongs across a plate of blackened catfish, steamed and seasoned broccoli, and some sort of baked crabmeat dish that I didn’t recognize.
“Fish suits me,” Cole smiled. “Should I perhaps have something else prepared for next time? Any particular tastes you’d like to take advantage of, while you have the time?”
“No,” I shook my head, “show me what you like. It’s easier to get a grasp of you that way.”
“Very well then.”
This time, I focused on enjoying the meal rather than picking apart the eccentric billionaire. Deceptively simple, everything tasted extraordinary with their subtle blends of distinct spices, all cooked to perfection. Even the seasoned, buttery broccoli challenged my existing hesitation on the otherwise bland vegetable.
“I take it you enjoyed,” Cole spoke again as we dabbed at our lips with our napkins, indicating the meal.
“Very much so. Thank you.”
He paused, a smile threatening to cross his lips, but instead shrugged off my gesture of appreciation. “It’s perfectly fine. As I discussed the other day, when we went over this document, I am expecting a legitimate, legalized answer today. Have you come prepared?”
I nodded, withdrawing the one-folded papers from my replacement knock-off purse. It wouldn’t have to be knock-off for long. Soon, I’d have a whole damn closet of purses. “Here you go. Everything should be in order.”
Cole wiped his fingers one last time, taking the pages from me and thoroughly scanning the fields. He studied them for a few minutes, flipping firmly through the pages until scanning the final signatures.
“Your witness signature…who is Aiswarya Raina?”
“My closest friend,” I answered, impressed with his effortless pronunciation.
“What does she do?”
“Does it matter?”
“To me, yes.”
I scowled. “She’s a paralegal.”
He glanced up from the page. “Oh? That must be convenient for you…she read the contract I take it?”
“Yes,” I answered, growing impatient with his questions.
“And what was her professional opinion?”
Now I was starting to get angry. “‘Theoretically airtight’ and ‘still kind of ridiculous’ were her choice of words, if memory serves. She didn’t understand how any judge would honor this, but advised me to not try and go against a billionaire in court if I was going through with it.”
“Your friend is intelligent,” he observed offhandedly, then folded the pages again and slid them into an interior pocket in his blazer. Slowly, I watched him reach into another pocket and pull out a small slip of paper, carefully handing it to me.