“I know he’s getting pressure from Christopher, who’s also putting pressure on the rest of the band.”
“Why? To get to you?”
“In part. You’re not just some random hot blonde. You’re Eva Tramell and you’re news.”
“Maybe I should dye my hair. Get rid of the ‘Golden.’ How about red?” I couldn’t go brunette, not with Gideon’s history of dark-haired women. It would kill me to look in the mirror every day.
His face shuttered, closed up like a steel trap even though nothing else about him gave away any tension. I got a tingle at the back of my neck, a prickling warning that something had shifted.
“Don’t like the idea?” I prodded, abruptly reminded of a redhead from his past—Dr. Anne Lucas.
“I like you just the way you are. That said, if you want a change, I won’t object. It’s your body, your right. But don’t do it just because of them.”
“Would you still want me?”
The tightness around his mouth eased, the inflexibility on his face fading away nearly as swiftly as it had appeared. “Would you still want me if I had red hair?”
“Hmm.” I tapped my chin with my finger, pretending to contemplate the change. “Maybe we should stick with what we’ve got.”
Gideon kissed my forehead. “That’s what I signed up for.”
“You also signed up for letting me have my way with you tonight.”
“Name the time and place.”
“Eight o’clock? Your apartment on the Upper West Side?”
“Our apartment.” He kissed me softly. “I’ll be there.”
“BY THE WAY, congratulations on your engagement.”
My gaze shifted from the project engineer’s face on my monitor to the photo of Eva blowing kisses. “Thank you.”
I would much rather look at my wife. For an instant, I pictured Eva as she’d been the night before, those plush lips wrapped around my cock. I had given her carte blanche with my body and all she’d wanted was to suck me off. Again and again. And again. Christ. I had been thinking about the night we’d had all day long.
“I’ll keep you posted on the impact of the storm,” he said, bringing my attention back to work. “I appreciate you calling personally to check on us. The weather conditions may set us back a week or two, depending, but we’ll open on time.”
“We have a cushion. Take care of yourself and your crew first.”
“Will do. Thanks.”
I closed the chat window and checked my schedule, needing to know exactly how much time I had to prepare for my next meeting with the lead R and D team at PosIT.
Scott’s voice projected from my phone’s speaker. “Christopher Vidal Sr. is on line one. It’s his third call today. I’ve already told him you’ll get back to him when you can, but he’s insistent. How do you want me to handle?”
Calls from my stepfather never boded well, which meant delaying them ate into the time I had to fix whatever problem he needed to impose on me. “I’ll take it.”
I hit the speaker button. “Chris, what can I do for you?”
“Gideon. Listen, I’m sorry to disturb you, but you and I need to talk. Would it be possible for us to meet today?”
Prodded by the urgency in his voice, I picked up the receiver and took him off speaker. “My office or yours?”
“No, your penthouse.”
I sat back, surprised. “I won’t be home until close to nine.”
“Is everyone all right?”
“Yes, everyone’s fine. Don’t worry about that.”
“It’s Vidal, then. We’ll take care of it.”
“God.” He laughed harshly. “You’re a good man, Gideon. One of the best I know. I should’ve told you that more often.”
My gaze narrowed at the edge in his tone. “I’ve got a few minutes now. Just lay it out.”
“No, not now. I’ll see you at nine.”
He hung up. I sat for a long minute with the receiver in my hand. There was a knot in my gut, one that was cold and sharp.
I returned the receiver to its cradle and my attention to work, pulling up schematics and reviewing the packet Scott had placed on my desk earlier. Still, my mind raced.
I couldn’t control what happened with my family, had never had any power there. I could only clean up the messes Christopher made and try to keep Vidal from going under. I drew the line, however, at using the footage of Eva. Nothing Chris could say would change that.
Time was racing toward the PosIT meeting when the message app popped up on my monitor and Eva’s avatar appeared.
I can still taste you. Yummy.
A dry laugh escaped me. The knot I’d been ignoring eased, then disappeared. She was my clean slate. My fresh start.
Soothed, I replied. The pleasure was mine.
“I’VE got a lead.”
My head turned to find Raúl entering my office.
He came to my desk with brisk strides. “I’m still running through the guest list for that event you attended a couple weeks ago. I’ve also been running twice-daily searches for photos. Got an alert on this one today. I secured a copy and made some zoom views.”
I glanced at the photos he slid across my desk. Picking them up, I examined them more closely, one by one. There was a redhead in the background. In each successive picture, she was brought closer to the fore. “Emerald green dress, long red hair. This is the woman Eva saw.”