I looked at the photo of Eva on my desk. All other considerations were secondary.
“Hey,” Arash said, lifting his hands in mock surrender, “it’s your business. I just need to know if the rules have changed.”
“If you believe that, Cross, you’re further out of the game than I thought. While Landon’s plotting your ruin, you’re off at the beach.”
“Stop kicking my ass for taking a weekend off, Arash.” I’d do it again in an instant. Those days I’d spent with Eva in the Outer Banks had been every f**king dream I’d never allowed myself to have.
I stood and walked to the window. LanCorp’s offices were in the high-rise two blocks over, and Ryan Landon’s office had a prime view of the Crossfire Building. I suspected he spent more than a few moments every day staring at my office and planning his next move. Occasionally, I stared back and dared him to bring it harder.
My father was a criminal who’d destroyed countless lives. He was also the man who’d taught me how to ride a bike and to sign my name with pride. I couldn’t save Geoffrey Cross’s reputation, but I could damn sure protect what I’d built out of his ashes.
Arash joined me at the window. “I’m not going to say I wouldn’t hole up with a babe like Eva Tramell if I could. But I’d have my goddamn cell phone with me. Especially in the middle of a high-stakes negotiation.”
Remembering how melted chocolate tasted on Eva’s skin, I thought a hurricane could’ve been ripping shingles off the roof and I wouldn’t have given it a second’s attention. “You’re making me pity you.”
“LanCorp’s acquisition of that software set you back years in research and development. And it’s made him cocky.”
That was what really got Arash’s blood up, Landon’s pleasure in his own success. “That software’s next to worthless without PosIT’s hardware.”
He glanced at me. “So?”
“Agenda item number three.”
He faced me. “It said To Be Determined on my copy.”
“Well, it says PosIT on my mine. That game enough for you?”
My desk phone beeped, followed by Scott’s voice projecting from the speaker. “A couple things, Mr. Cross. Miss Tramell is on line one.”
“Thank you, Scott.” I headed for the receiver with the thrill of the hunt coursing through my blood. If we acquired PosIT, Landon would be back to square one. “When I’m clear, I need Victor Reyes on the line.”
“Will do. Also, Mrs. Vidal is at reception,” he went on, stopping me in my tracks. “Would you like me to postpone the morning meeting?”
I looked out the glass partition that divided my office from the rest of the floor, even though I couldn’t see my mother from that distance. My hands clenched at my sides. According to the clock on my phone, I had ten minutes to spare and my wife on the line. The urge was there to make my mother wait until I could fit her in my schedule, not hers, but I shoved it down.
“Buy me twenty minutes,” I told him. “I’ll take the calls with Miss Tramell and Reyes, then you can bring Mrs. Vidal back.”
I waited a beat. Then I picked up the phone and hit the rapidly blinking button.
The impact of Gideon’s voice on my senses was as hard-hitting as it had been the first time I’d heard it. Cultured yet smoky with sensuality, it knocked me for a loop both in the darkness of my bedroom and over the phone, where I couldn’t be distracted by that incomparably gorgeous face of his.
“Hi.” I slid my swivel chair a little closer to my desk. “Is it a bad time?”
“If you need me, I’m here.”
Something in his voice didn’t hit me right. “I can call back later.”
“Eva.” The authoritative bite when he said my name had my toes flexing in my nude sling-back Louboutins. “Say what you need.”
You, I almost said, which was more than a little insane considering he’d just f**ked my brains out only a couple hours before. After he’d f**ked my brains out damn near all night long.
Instead, I told him, “I need a favor.”
“I’ll enjoy the payback.”
Some of the tension left my shoulders. He’d hurt me by mentioning Corinne the way he had, and the argument that followed was still fresh in my mind. But I had to push it aside, let it go. “Does security have the home addresses of everyone who works in the Crossfire?”
“They have copies of IDs. Tell me why you’re asking.”
“The receptionist here at work is a friend of mine and she’s been out sick all week. I’m worried about her.”
“If you’re hoping to head over to her place and check up on her, you should get the address from her.”
“I would if she’d return my calls.” I ran my fingertip around the lip of my coffee mug and stared at the collage of pictures of Gideon and me that decorated my desk.
“Are you not on speaking terms at the moment?”
“No, we’re not fighting or anything. It’s just not like her to not get in touch with me, especially when she’s calling in sick to work every day. She’s a chatty girl, you know?”
“No,” he drawled. “I have no idea.”
If it had been any other guy who’d said that, I would think he was being sarcastic. But not Gideon. I didn’t think he’d ever really talked with women in any meaningful way. He was too often clueless when interacting with me, as if his social development hadn’t quite been well rounded when it came to dealing with the opposite sex.