Vanquished (The Encounter #3)(3)

Written By: Pamela Ann

Since I didn’t know the villa’s address, the best solution was to go to his hotel. His most loyal, dedicated staff would surely alert their boss that I had arrived. They already knew my face, knew I was one of his longtime consorts.

I could just see Julien’s displeasure from my drastic actions; however, I had already made a choice, and no one and nothing, not even the threatening prospect of death, could steer me away from Hugo.

Upon arriving in Monaco’s closest airport in C?te d’Azur, I took a cab to Hugo’s world-renowned hotel, The Riviera. The beautiful, scenic Mediterranean Sea didn’t soothe my anxiety during the drive.

What if Beno?t stopped me before I got to see Hugo? He seemed fond of me, but I also knew he would give his life to Hugo. His loyalty was admirable, and he would follow what Hugo directed to him at any measure, which could mean that he would block me.

However, it seemed as if luck was on my side, because when the cab deposited me at the luxurious hotel, and I strode into the lobby, I was welcomed with familiar smiles and warmth. I had expected somewhat of a less than stellar welcome, but I was encountering the opposite. Of course, some raised their brows at the drab clothes I had chosen to wear. Apart from that, everyone seemed to be in high spirits. It was as if nothing had changed. I supposed, in some ways, nothing ever did.

Hugo ran his hotels with efficiency and thoroughness. He was kind to his employees, but for them to get rewarded, they had to prove their worth. Once that had been proved, Hugo didn’t hold back with his bonuses. A pittance to him, but to his loyal people, it meant the world.

Clearing my throat, I tried to smile, but it felt strained as I paused before the pleasantly smiling attendant, ready to offer services. “Hello. I’m not sure if you know me, but—” I anxiously began, but she stopped me with a curt shake of her well-coiffured head.

“Miss Callas, it’s great to have you back with us.”

Her fluid response caught me off-guard. “Oh, you know me,” I replied with curiosity and evident shock. Was the gossip being spread that I was the recently axed woman from Hugo Xavier’s prominent lifestyle?

Her smile was unfailing. “But of course. It’s part of my job,” she informed me without malice.

Well … okay. “Right.” I gave a reluctant nod. “Of course it is.” It was a splendid thing that they didn’t seem to judge me. Then again, I supposed that came with the job description. It had to be. Reverting back to my present problem, I said, “Well, I’m here to see Hugo. I know it’s late in the evening, but I was hoping you could announce my arrival to him if he’s available. That would be great. Thank you.”

“Rest assured, I will do as you requested, Miss Callas.” She gave me a placid smile before reverting her attention to the computer screen. She typed in a few keys before her eyes met mine and she slid a keycard towards me. “While we contact Mr. Xavier, why don’t you unwind and take advantage of what our hotel has to offer, Miss Callas?”

I bit the bottom of my lip, wondering what to say next. “Erm. Thanks. This was unexpected … There’s no need really. I could wait somewhere else: at the bar, in the office. It doesn’t really matter to me.”

“We have strict instructions, and I won’t be the first one to break them. So if you please, Miss Callas, do us the honor of allowing us to serve whatever you wish,” she replied with her stern-like, porcelain doll face.

Strict instructions for Hugo’s women? For all women? Past, present, and future included? That could be a long bloody list.

“I guess … If it makes your job any easier, then I’ll wish away.”

After our exchange, I was personally escorted by a man named Philippe to the private elevator that solely Hugo used. I had been given a room key to the penthouse, but no direct message from Hugo.

Once we entered the penthouse suite, Philippe took his time showing me the bells and whistles and whatever else could make my stay luxurious. All I had to do was snap my fingers and anything would be possible.

“If you need anything else, Miss Callas, this is a direct phone to reach me.” Philippe handed me a cell phone that had his named programmed into the contact list.

Everything was great—out of this world—but none of this lavishness mattered, not right now, anyway, not until I got what I had come there for.

“Excuse me. Do you happen to know when Mr. Xavier will arrive?”

“He’s out of the country, Miss Callas.”

Fuck. Why didn’t that woman tell me downstairs? What should I do now? Wait it out?

“Uh, do you happen to know when he’ll be back?”

He could take ages to get there. Hell. I was beyond anxious, knowing he was a busy man. I never considered this, though. It was bloody stupid of me not to even consider his schedule, yet my frame of mind had been more honed into desperation and not the important bits, like Hugo’s work and travelling schedule.

“That’s all I know. Is there anything I can get you to make your stay more comfortable?”

Like the concierge woman, Philippe was pretty complacent about everything. If he saw the panic on my face, he didn’t comment on it. It was as if my emotions were irrelevant and what he cared about was getting his job done to a T.

I shook my head. “No, thank you. Everything’s great as it is.”

Hugo … Was he avoiding me and making all these excuses to keep pushing me away? If he cared even just a little, he’d eventually come to see me, right? He wasn’t that cruel, not after what we had … not after that.