At age 29 Elizabeth was more beautiful than she'd ever been. But she was still single because she was in love with her boss. He was the owner of the “Grand Garden“ hotel resort chain and a great man of wide influence. He had been widowed at age 30 and was still a bachelor at 60. Elizabeth was privy to everything he did and said and after seeing it all she still thought he was beautiful and absolutely wonderful in every way. Although she loved him, she knew it could never happen because of their ages.
Elizabeth was his right-hand helper. She made sure everything he needed done was taken care of. It was not work to her, even doing it with all her heart.
One day they were riding up to his suite in the penthouse of his Lebanon-based hotel. She had never been up to his personal suite but he had a few details he had to discuss with her so she joined him on the long way to the top. Someone had scheduled a literal “ball” in the hotel’s main ballroom for that night and she was arranging the arrivals of many princesses from around the region, as well as making arrangements to bring her boss’s 12 adopted children to the ball that night. He had said he wanted her there to enjoy the ball, and they both knew asking her to help take care of the children was the only way he'd get her there as an invited guest.
She had also joined him in the elevator because he was being very vague when she asked him about "Clock Tower." She had seen it on one of his expense forms. It appeared to be a sort of tech startup he had acquired last year. All she could get out of him was that it was very important to him, and there had been a huge breakthrough of some sort recently that had made him need to act very fast on it. He couldn't seem to tell her much more about it, which was abnormal for him. He never hid anything from her. This left Elizabeth feeling slightly distraught. She just wanted to understand what was going on.
The attendant in the elevator with them said, “The prince, your son sent a message, Sir. He said he would arrive to the ball at 5:45 tonight. Just thought you‘d like to know.”
Elizabeth's boss was suddenly silent. Elizabeth realized she wasn’t supposed to hear that. She never knew he had a son.
“Yes that's okay. Thank you.” He finally replied to the attendant.
By the time the elevator opened at the top Elizabeth was visibly concerned. She thought he entrusted her with everything.
Her boss turned to her and put his hand on her shoulder, “Elizabeth, I trust you with everything.”
She got off the elevator at the bottom still a little confused. She thought he entrusted her with everything. She looked toward the ballroom and the bustle looked busy through her blurry tears. All the plans she had made were happening like a well oiled machine, like usual.
She had made such a fool of herself, crying in front of him. Did he know the way she felt? She just didn't want to lose what she had with him.
Just then her phone buzzed in her purse. She pulled it out and he had sent a text with a PDF attached. The text showed several passwords for the Clock Tower company and the PDF showed the results of a test which proved the Clock Tower technology worked. She read the description of the technology several times, trying to understand it: “mass, light, time manipulation using alternate solar gravities.” She didn't entirely understand. And she didn't know why this had been so important and urgent to her boss. He was usually calm and completely transparent about everything.
Then her phone buzzed again and it said, “And the prince is looking forward to meeting you tonight. I trust you with everything, Elizabeth. I promise.” She took a deep breath, sniffed and walked toward the activity. She was still confused, but she tried to trust him.
Hours later the ball was in full swing. It was beautiful. Royal princesses from all the surrounding nations and cities showed up in their best. They were here to woo a prince. Then she saw what she thought was her boss’s son, seated in the place of honor at the front table. He was the one whom they wooed. She knew it was him, because he was the only man she had ever seen more beautiful than her boss himself. So glorious in the way he carried himself and sincere and kind in how he smiled at the princesses and the lowly help alike. She tried to entertain the children but she could barely take her eyes off of him. The women all asked to dance with him and he kindly obliged them one by one. And she was surprised but she did not see her Boss the whole night.
It was near the end of the night. Elizabeth sat down near the back, and had just sent the kids to bed with a babysitter. She would soon follow to make sure they were all asleep. But for now she would take just a short break. She started to take off her shoes.
Her last shoe had just dropped to the hardwood floor when she felt a hand on her shoulder. It felt like just how her boss would touch her. Her heart fluttered and she turned around to give him an update, and thank him for including her in the night.
Though the eyes she met were very much like her boss's, these were younger. Maybe 35. His smile so grand and beautiful. So happy to meet her.
“Will you dance with me?” It was the son. But was he? He looked just like a younger version of her boss.
“Wait--" she looked around at the princesses still dressed in their finest. "But I’m barefoot!”
”It does not matter.” He slipped his shoes off too and pulled her up. “Please dance with me.” This time his voice held sincere longing as if he had held this longing for a long time.
She agreed, dumbfounded. They walked barefoot between the high society princesses onto the dance floor. She protested the whole way, “Why--? But I'm not a princess!" He just smiled. He held her hand and pulled her to him. They rocked back and forth sweetly. Close. Warm. His touch was so tender. She only had one more protest in her, "I have to go take care of the children.”
He drew close to her ear and finally said, “They will be fine. This is why you are my princess. You care for all my children so well.”
She looked up at him. His eyes were glistening. He said, “Elizabeth, I truly do trust you with everything. I do. Please trust me. And I've loved you for so long.”
"How did you--?"
"The Clock Tower. They figured out how to do it. I don't have a son. It was me then, and me now. I brought my younger self to you."