It was the sad truth that I brought out the worst in my brother. The only times he ever acted cruelly or rashly was when he was trying to hurt me. I’d seen him give brilliant speeches, charm people with his natural charisma, and impress board members with his industry savvy, but he never displayed those traits toward me.
Frustrated by his unprovoked animosity, I baited him. “I’m assuming you’re going to get to the point soon.”
“Don’t play innocent, Gideon. You knew exactly what you were doing when you systematically destroyed every media opportunity Vidal secured for Six-Ninths.”
“If those opportunities were centered on Eva, they had no business being pursued to begin with.”
“That’s not your decision to make.” His mouth twisted in a scornful smile. “Do you even comprehend the damage you’ve done? Behind the Music has delayed their special because Sam Yimara no longer owns the rights to the footage he compiled of the band’s early years. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives can’t include Pete’s 69th Street Bar in their San Diego episode, because it’s being demolished before they can film their segment. And Rolling Stone isn’t interested in pursuing their proposed piece on ‘Golden’ since your engagement was announced. The song loses its interest without the happy ending.”
“I can get you the footage VH1 wants. Put them in touch with Arash and he’ll take care of it.”
“After you remove all traces of Eva? What’s the point?”
My brows lifted. “The point is supposed to be Six-Ninths, not my wife.”
“She’s not your wife yet,” he shot back, “and that’s your problem. You’re afraid she’s going to go back to Brett. You’re not really her type and we all know it. You can eat her pu**y at parties, but what she really likes is blowing rock stars in public—”
I was on him before he blinked. My fist hit his jaw; his head jerked back. I caught him with a follow-up left and he stumbled, crashing into the glass wall.
Through it, I glimpsed Scott shoving to his feet, and then I braced for the impact of Christopher’s body hurtling into mine. We went down. I rolled, punching his ribs until he groaned. He slammed his head into my temple.
The room spun.
Dazed, I rolled away and clambered to my feet.
Christopher pulled himself up by the coffee table, blood running from the side of his lips and onto the carpet. His jaw was swelling and he gasped for air, dragging in harsh breaths. My fists ached and I flexed my hands, tensing with the need to hit him again. If he’d been anyone else, I would have.
“Do it,” he taunted, wiping his mouth on his sleeve. “You’ve wanted me dead since the day I was born. Why stop now?”
Two security guards rounded the corner at a run, but I held up a hand to stop them.
“I’m f**king onto you, ass**le,” my brother growled, pushing heavily to his feet. “I’ve talked to members of the board. Explained what you’re doing. You want to take me down, I’m fighting you all the way.”
“You’ve lost it, you f**king idiot. Take your crazy somewhere else. And leave Eva alone. You want to make an enemy out of me, screwing around with her is the way to do it.”
He stared at me for a long minute, then laughed harshly. “Does she know what you’re doing to Brett?”
I winced through a deep breath, a dull ache in my side from a forming bruise. “I’m not doing anything to Kline. I’m protecting Eva.”
“And the band is just collateral damage?”
“Better him than her.”
“Fuck that,” he snarled.
Christopher stalked toward the door.
I should’ve let him go but found myself speaking instead. “For Christ’s sake, Christopher, they’re talented. They don’t need a gimmick to be successful. If you weren’t so damned eager to make me pay for something you’ve imagined I’ve done, you’d be concentrating on better angles than making them into a one-hit wonder.”
He rounded on me with clenched fists. “Don’t tell me how to do my job. And don’t get in my way or I’ll shove you out.”
I watched him leave, escorted by security. Then I went to my desk and checked my message log. Scott had noted that two of Vidal Records’ board members had called over the course of the day.
I opened the line between Scott and me. “Get me Arash Madani.”
If Christopher wanted a war, I’d give him one.
I arrived at Dr. Lyle Petersen’s office on time at six o’clock. The psychologist greeted me with a welcoming smile, his dark blue eyes warm and friendly.
After the day I’d had, spending an hour with a shrink was the last thing I wanted to do. Spending an hour alone with Eva was what I needed more.
Our session began as they always did, with Dr. Petersen asking how my week had been and me answering as succinctly as possible. Then he said, “Let’s talk about the nightmares.”
I leaned back, laying my arm on the sofa’s armrest. I’d been up front about my sleep problems from the beginning in order to get the prescription medication that made me marginally safer for Eva to be near at night, but dissecting the dreams had never been one of the topics on discussion.
That meant someone else had brought them up. “You talked to Eva.”
It wasn’t a question, since the answer was evident.