“You wish. Only way you’d beat me.”
James laughed, then came at me with a roundhouse kick. I dropped low and swept him, taking him down. He scissored his legs with lightning speed, taking me down with him.
We hopped back up. Squared off again.
“You’re wasting my time,” he snapped, his fist lashing out.
I ducked to the side. My left fist shot out, grazing his side. His fist hit my ribs straight on.
“No one piss you off today?” He came at me in a rush, giving me no option to do anything but defend myself.
I growled. Rage was simmering in the back of my mind, tucked away until I had the time and attention to deal with it.
“Yeah. I see that fire in your eyes, Cross. Let it out, man. Bring it on.”
She’s the chink in your armor . . .
I lashed out with a left/right combo, driving James back a step.
“That all you got?” he jeered.
I feigned a kick and then threw out a punch, snapping his head back.
“Fuck yeah,” he gasped, flexing his arms, getting pumped. “There you are.”
She bleeds . . .
Snarling, I lunged forward.
REFRESHED from a shower, I had barely finished dressing by pulling a T-shirt over my head when my smartphone started ringing. I picked it up off the bed where I’d left it and answered.
“A couple things,” Raúl said after greeting me, the background noise of a crowd and music quickly fading, then disappearing completely. “I’ve noticed that Benjamin Clancy is still keeping an eye on Mrs. Cross. Not constantly, but consistently.”
“Is that so,” I said quietly.
“Are you good with that? Or should I talk to him?”
“I’ll deal with him.” Clancy and I were due for a chat. It had been on my list, but I would move it up.
“Also—and you may know this already—Mrs. Cross had lunch with Ryan Landon and some of his executives today.”
I felt that terrible quiet settle over me. Landon. Fuck.
He’d slid in somewhere I hadn’t been watching.
“Thank you, Raúl. I’ll need a private number for Eva’s boss, Mark Garrity.”
“I’ll text it to you when I have it.”
Ending the call, I shoved the phone in my pocket, barely resisting the urge to throw it at the wall instead.
Arash had warned me about Landon and I’d brushed his concerns off. I’d been focused on my life, my wife, and while Landon had a wife of his own, his primary focus had always been me.
The ringing of the penthouse phone jolted me. I went to the receiver on the nightstand and answered with an impatient, “Cross.”
“Mr. Cross. It’s Edwin at the front desk. Mr. Vidal is here to see you.”
Jesus. My grip tightened on the receiver. “Send him up.”
“Yes, sir. Will do.”
Grabbing my socks and shoes, I carried them out to the living room and pulled them on. As soon as Chris left, I was heading home to Eva. I wanted to open a bottle of wine, find one of the older movies she knew by heart, and just listen to her recite the corny lines of dialogue. No one could make me laugh like she did.
I heard the elevator car arrive and pushed to my feet, running a hand through my damp hair. I was tense and despised the weakness.
“Gideon.” Chris paused on the threshold of the foyer, looking grim and worn, which he so rarely did and only then because of my brother. “Is Eva here?”
“She’s at her place. I’m heading over there when you leave.”
He gave a jerky nod, his jaw working but nothing coming out of his mouth.
“Come in,” I said, gesturing at the wingback chair by the coffee table. “Can I get you something to drink?”
God knew I needed one myself after the day I’d had so far.
He stepped wearily into my living room. “Anything strong would be great.”
“Sounds good to me.” I went to the kitchen and poured us both a glass of Armagnac. As I was setting the decanter down, my phone vibrated in my pocket. Pulling it out, I saw a message from Eva.
It was a selfie of her bare leg glistening with water and draped over the rim of her bathtub with candles in the background. Join me?
I swiftly revised my plans for the evening. She’d been sending me provocative texts all day. I was more than happy to both satisfy and reward her.
I saved the photo and typed back. Wish I could. Promise to make you wet again when I get there.
Tucking my phone away, I turned and found Chris joining me at the island. I slid a tumbler over to him and took a sip from mine. “What’s going on, Chris?”
He sighed, both of his hands wrapping around the crystal. “We’re going to reshoot the ‘Golden’ video.”
“Oh?” That was an unnecessary expense, something Chris wisely avoided as a rule.
“I overheard Kline and Christopher arguing in the offices yesterday,” he said gruffly, “and got the story. Kline wants a redo and I agreed.”
“Christopher doesn’t, I’m sure.” I leaned back against the counter, my jaw set. Apparently, Brett Kline had some serious feelings for Eva after all. I wasn’t okay with that. Not even close.
“Your brother will get over it.”
I doubted that, but it would do no good to say so.
But Chris read what I didn’t say and gave a nod. “I know the video has caused stress for you and Eva. I should’ve been paying more attention.”