“I’ve got time next week,” Cary said finally, looking at me, then Gideon.
Gideon nodded. “Let’s plan on Wednesday, then. Give us some room to recover from the weekend.”
Cary’s mouth twitched. “So it’s that kind of party.”
I smiled back. “Is there any other kind?”
“HOW are you?” I asked Megumi when we sat down for lunch on Thursday afternoon.
She looked better than she had on Monday, but she was still overdressed for the heat of the summer. Because of that, I’d ordered salads for delivery and we settled in the break room instead of braving the steamy day outside.
She managed a wan smile. “Better.”
“Does Lacey know what happened?” I wasn’t sure how close Megumi was to her roommate, but I hadn’t forgotten that Lacey had dated Michael first.
“Not all of it.” Megumi pushed at her salad with a plastic fork. “I feel so stupid.”
“We’re always quick to blame ourselves, but no means no. It’s not your fault.”
“I know that, but still . . .”
I knew just how she felt. “Have you thought about talking to someone?”
She glanced at me, tucking her hair behind her ear. “Like a counselor or something?”
“Not really. How do you even start looking for someone like that?”
“We’ve got mental health benefits. Call the number on the back of your insurance card. They’ll give you a list of providers to choose from.”
“And I just . . . pick one?”
“I’ll help you.” And if I got my act together, I’d find a way to help more women like her and me. Something good had to come of our experiences. I had the motivation and the means. I just had to find the way.
Her eyes glistened. “You’re a good friend, Eva. Thanks for being here.”
I leaned over and hugged her.
“He hasn’t texted me lately,” she said when I pulled back. “I keep dreading that he’s going to, but every hour that goes by that he doesn’t, I feel better.”
Settling back in my seat, I sent a silent thank-you to Clancy. “Good.”
AT five o’clock, I left work and took the elevator up to Cross Industries, hoping to catch some time with Gideon before our appointment with Dr. Petersen.
I’d been thinking about him all day, about the future I wanted us to have together. I wanted him to respect my individuality and my personal boundaries, but I also wanted him to open up some of his own. I wanted more moments like this morning with Cary, when Gideon and I stood together, facing a situation as one. I couldn’t really push for that if I wasn’t willing to make the same effort.
The redheaded receptionist at Cross Industries buzzed me in. She greeted me with a hard smile that didn’t reach her eyes. “Can I help you?”
“No, I’m good, thanks,” I replied, breezing past her. It would be nice if all of Gideon’s employees could be as easy-natured as Scott, but the receptionist had an issue with me and I’d just come to accept it.
I headed back to Gideon’s office and found Scott’s desk empty. Through the glass, I saw my husband at work, presiding over a meeting with casual authority. He stood in front of his desk, leaning back against it with one ankle crossed over the other. He wore his jacket and faced an audience composed of two suit-clad gentlemen and one woman wearing a great pair of Louboutins. Scott sat off to the side, taking notes on a tablet.
Settling into one of the chairs by Scott’s desk, I watched Gideon as raptly as the others in the room with him. It never ceased to amaze me how self-assured he was for a man who was only twenty-eight. The men he was meeting with looked to be twice his age, and yet their body language and focused attention told me they respected my husband and what he was saying.
Yes, money talked—loudly—and Gideon had tons of it. But he conveyed command and control with subtle actions. I recognized that after living with Nathan’s father, my mom’s first husband, who’d wielded power like a blunt instrument.
Gideon knew how to own a room without thumping his chest. I doubted the setting made any difference; he would be a formidable presence in anyone’s office.
His head turned and his gaze met mine. There was no surprise in those brilliantly blue eyes of his. He’d known I was there, had sensed me just as I often sensed his approach without looking. We were connected somehow, on a level I couldn’t explain. There were times when he wasn’t with me and I just wished he was, but I still felt him nearby.
I smiled, then dug in my bag for my phone. I didn’t want Gideon to feel like I was just sitting around waiting, not that doing so would pressure him at all.
There were dozens of e-mail messages from my mother with photo attachments of dresses and flowers and wedding venues, reminding me that I needed to talk with her about Dad paying for the ceremony. I’d been putting off that conversation all week, trying to steel myself for her reaction. There was also another text from Brett, telling me that we needed to talk . . . urgently.
Standing, I looked around for a quiet corner where I could make that call. What I saw was Christopher Vidal Sr. rounding the corner.
Gideon’s stepfather was dressed in the khakis and loafers I’d come to expect, with a pale blue dress shirt open at the collar and rolled up at the sleeves. The dark copper waves he’d passed on to Christopher Jr. were neatly cut around his neck and ears, and his slate green eyes were capped with a frown behind old-school brass-framed glasses.