“My mother believes what she wants and you’re welcome to join her.” They were similar in that way, too. Good at believing what they wanted and ignoring any proof to the contrary.
It was a revelation to realize I had been comfortable with Corinne because I’d known she wouldn’t pry. I’d been able to fake normalcy with her and she never dug deeper. Eva had changed that for me. I wasn’t normal and I didn’t need to be. Eva accepted me the way I was.
I wasn’t going to reveal my past to everyone, but my days of playing along with the lies were over.
Corinne reached a hand out to me. “I love you, Gideon. You used to love me, too.”
“I was grateful to you,” I corrected. “And I will always be. I was attracted to you, had fun with you, for a time I even needed you, but it would never have worked out between us.”
She dropped her hand back to her side.
“I would have found Eva eventually. And I would’ve wanted her, given up everything to have her. I would have left you to be with her. The end was inevitable.”
Corinne turned away. “Well . . . at least we’ll always be friends.”
It was an effort to strip any apology out of my tone. I wouldn’t encourage her. “That won’t be possible. This is the last time you and I will speak to each other.”
Her shoulders shook with a ragged indrawn breath, and I turned my head, fighting with discomfort and regret. She’d been important to me once. I would miss her, but not in the way she wanted me to.
“What do I have to live for if I don’t have you?”
I turned at her question and barely caught her when she ran into me, holding her at bay with a grip on her upper arms.
The devastation on her beautiful face got to me before I could process what she’d said. Then it registered. Horrified, I shoved her away. She stumbled back as her heels caught in the carpet.
“Don’t put that on me,” I warned, my voice low and hard. “I’m not responsible for your happiness. I’m not responsible for you at all.”
“What’s wrong with you?” she cried. “This isn’t you.”
“You wouldn’t know.” I went to the door and yanked it open. “Go home to your husband, Corinne. Take care of yourself.”
“Fuck you,” she hissed. “You’re going to regret this, and I might be too hurt to forgive you.”
She stared at me for a long minute and then stormed out of my office.
“Damn it.” I pivoted, not knowing where to go or what to do, but I had to do something. Anything. I paced.
I’d pulled out my smartphone and called Eva before I consciously made the decision to do so.
“Mark Garrity’s office,” she began.
“Angel.” The one word betrayed my relief at hearing her voice. She was what I needed. Something in me had known that.
“Gideon.” She read me immediately, as she so often did. “Is everything all right?”
I glanced out at my staff in the distant cubicles getting into the groove of the day. I hit the controls to frost the glass, carving out a moment alone with my wife.
I lightened my tone, not wanting to cause her stress. “I miss you already.”
She waited a beat before replying, adjusting to my mood. “Liar,” she shot back. “You’re too busy.”
“Never. Now, tell me how much you’re missing me.”
She laughed. “You’re terrible. What am I going to do with you?”
“Damn straight. So what’s up? It’s going to be a busy day and I have to get going.”
I went to my desk and studied her photo. My shoulders relaxed. “Just wanted you to know I’m thinking about you.”
“Good. Don’t stop. And FYI, it’s nice to hear you not grumpy at work.”
It was nice to hear her, period. I’d given up trying to figure out why she affected me the way she did. I just appreciated that she could reset my day. “Tell me you love me.”
“Madly. You rock my world, Mr. Cross.”
I stared into her laughing eyes, my fingertip brushing lightly over the glass. “You’re the center of mine.”
THE rest of the morning passed swiftly and uneventfully. I was wrapping up a meeting regarding a possible investment in a proposed resort chain when yet another personal interruption showed up. So much for workflow.
“You’ve got to f**k up everything, don’t you?” my brother accused, barging into my office with Scott on his heels.
With a look, I gave Scott the okay to back out. He shut the door behind him.
“Good afternoon to you, too, Christopher.”
We shared blood but could not have been less alike. Like his father’s, his hair was wavy and fell somewhere between brown and red. His eyes were a gray mixed with green, while I was most definitely our mother’s son.
“Did you forget that Vidal Records is Ireland’s legacy, too?” he snapped, his eyes hard.
“I never forget that.”
“Then you just don’t give a shit. Your vendetta against Brett Kline is costing us money, damn you. You’re hurting all of us, not just him.”
Moving to my desk, I leaned against it and crossed my arms. I should’ve seen it coming, considering how irate Christopher had become at the Times Square launch of the “Golden” video. He wanted Kline and Eva together. More than that, he wanted Eva and me apart.