I noted the brittleness of her smile and doubted her, as I so often did. Still, I conceded. “We’ll make plans. Call Scott tomorrow and we’ll work something out.”
My mother’s face brightened. “I’m so glad. Thank you.”
She hugged me and I braced myself, my body stiff with the need to push her away. When she approached Eva with her arms outstretched, Eva thrust out her hand between them to shake instead. The interaction was awkward, with both women so obviously on the defensive.
My mother didn’t want to mend fences; she wanted an agreement to pretend the fences were sound.
We said good-bye, and then I slid into the driver’s seat. Eva and I took off, leaving the estate behind us. We hadn’t gone far when she said, “When did your mother talk to you?”
Damn it. I knew what that bite in her tone signified.
Reaching over, I set my hand on her knee. “I don’t want you worrying about my mother.”
“You don’t want me worrying about anything! That’s not the way this is gonna work. You don’t get to deal with all the crap alone.”
“What my mother says or does isn’t important, Eva. I don’t give a shit and neither should you.”
She twisted in the seat to face me. “You need to start sharing stuff. Especially things that have to do with me, like your mother saying things behind my back!”
“I won’t have you getting pissed off over an irrelevant opinion.” The road curved. I accelerated out of the turn.
“That would be better than me getting pissed off at you!” she snapped. “Pull over.”
“What?” I glanced at her.
“Pull the damn car over!”
Cursing inwardly, I removed my hand from her leg and gripped the wheel. “Tell me why.”
“Because I’m mad at you, and you’re sitting there looking all hot and sexy driving and you need to stop.”
Amusement warred with exasperation. “Stop what? Looking hot and sexy? Or driving?”
“Gideon . . . don’t push me right now.”
Resigned, I eased off the gas and pulled to a stop on the narrow shoulder. “Better?”
She got out of the car and went around the hood. I stepped out, giving her a questioning glance.
“I’m driving,” she announced when she was standing in front of me. “At least until we get to the city.”
“If that’s what you want.”
I knew next to nothing about relationships, but it was a no-brainer to make concessions when your woman was mad at you. Especially when you entertained hopes of getting laid in a few hours, which I most definitely was. After spending the weekend with friends and Ireland, I was feeling a renewed need to show my wife just how much I appreciated her.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she muttered.
“Like what?” I raked her with a glance, admiring how pretty she looked in a strappy white sundress. The evening was hot and muggy, but she looked airy and fresh. I wanted to strip off my clothes and press up against her, cool off a little before heating things up.
“Like I’m a ticking time bomb ready to go off!” Her arms crossed. “I am not being irrational.”
“Angel, that’s not the look I’m giving you.”
“And don’t try to distract me with sex,” she bit out, her jaw clenched. “Or you won’t get any for a week!”
My arms crossed, too. “We’ve already talked about issuing ultimatums like that. You can bitch at me all you like, Eva, but I’ll have you when I want you. Period.”
“Never mind whether I want you?”
“Asks the wife who gets wet watching me drive a damn car,” I drawled.
Her gaze narrowed. “I may just leave you here on the side of the road.”
Clearly, I wasn’t navigating the situation well. So I switched tactics, taking the offensive position.
“You don’t tell me everything,” I countered. “What about Kline? Has he completely stopped communicating with you since San Diego?”
I’d been holding back the question all weekend, wondering how Kline was going to handle Eva.
I was torn about how I wanted him to proceed. If he approached her about the tape he no longer possessed, it would hurt her but also drive her closer to me. If he walked away for her sake, it would betray deeper feelings for her than I was comfortable with. I hated that he wanted her, but I feared he might actually love her.
She gasped. “Oh my God. Have you been looking at my phone again?”
“No.” My reply was swift and decisive. “I know how you feel about that.”
I followed her every move, knew where she was and who she was with at every moment of the day, but she’d set a hard limit with her cell phone and I honored it, even though it drove me crazy.
Eva studied me a minute but must have seen the truth on my face. “Yes, Brett has sent me a few texts. I was going to talk to you about it, so don’t even try to say it’s the same thing. I totally intended to tell you. You had absolutely no intention of telling me.”
A car rushed by on the road, turning my concern toward her safety. “Get in and drive. We’ll talk in the car.”
I waited until she climbed into the seat, and then I shut the door behind her. By the time I settled in the passenger side, she’d adjusted the mirrors and seat to suit her and put the car in gear.
The minute she was fully merged in the lane, she started in on me again. I was vaguely aware of her speaking, my attention more focused on the way she handled the Bentley. She drove fast and with confidence, her grip light and easy on the wheel. She kept her gaze on the road, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My California girl. On an open road, she was fully in her element.