“Uh, hi,” I said, squirming with embarrassment. There was no good way to explain how I happened to be in the elevator, scarcely dressed and holding yellow rubber gloves, when Angus had called it down to pick him up. To make things worse, my lips were so red and swollen from kissing Gideon for hours that there was no way to hide what I’d been up to all night.
Angus’s pale blue eyes lit with amusement. “Good morning, Mrs. Cross.”
“Good morning, Angus,” I replied, with as much dignity as I could manage.
He held out a bottle of the hangover “cure,” which I was pretty sure was just a shot of alcohol mixed with liquid vitamins. “Here you go.”
“Thank you.” The words were heartfelt and carried additional gratitude for his lack of questions.
“Call me if you need anything. I’ll be nearby.”
“You’re the best, Angus.” I rode back up to the penthouse. When the doors opened, I heard the penthouse phone ringing.
I made a run for it, sliding into the kitchen on my bare feet to snatch the receiver off its base, hoping the noise hadn’t woken Gideon.
“Eva, it’s Arash. Is Cross with you?”
“Yes. He’s still sleeping, I think. I’ll check.” I headed down the hall.
“He’s not sick, is he? He’s never sick.”
“There’s a first time for everything.” Peeking into the bedroom, I found my husband sprawled magnificently in sleep, his arms wrapped around my pillow with his face buried in it. I tiptoed over to put the hangover bottle on his nightstand, and then I tiptoed back out, pulling the door closed behind me.
“He’s still crashed,” I whispered.
“Wow. Okay, change of plan. There are some documents you both have to sign before four this afternoon. I’ll have them messengered over. Give me a call when you’re done with them, and I’ll send someone to pick them up.”
“I have to sign something? What is it?”
“He didn’t tell you?” He laughed. “Well, I won’t ruin the surprise. You’ll see when you get them. Call me if you have any questions.”
I growled softly. “Okay. Thanks.”
We hung up and I stared down the hall toward the bedroom with narrowed eyes. What was Gideon up to? It drove me crazy that he set things in motion and handled issues without talking to me about them.
My smartphone started ringing in the kitchen. I ran back across the living room and took a look at the screen. The number was an unfamiliar one but clearly based in New York.
“Good grief,” I muttered, feeling like I’d already put in a full day of work and it was just past ten thirty in the morning. How the hell did Gideon manage being pulled in so many directions at once? “Hello?”
“Eva, it’s Chris again. I hope you don’t mind that Ireland gave me your number.”
“No, it’s fine. I’m sorry I didn’t call you back sooner. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”
“Is he okay, then?”
I went to one of the bar stools and sat. “No. It was a rough night.”
“I called his office. They told me he was out this morning.”
“We’re home. He’s still sleeping.”
“It’s bad, then,” he said.
He knew my man. Gideon was a creature of habit, his life rigidly ordered and compartmentalized. Any deviation from his established patterns was so rare it was cause for concern.
“He’ll be all right,” I assured him. “I’ll make sure of it. He just needs some time.”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“If I think of anything, I’ll let you know.”
“Thank you.” He sounded tired and worried. “Thank you for saying something to me and being there for him. I wish I had been when it was happening. I’ll have to live with the fact that I wasn’t.”
“We all have to live with it. It’s not your fault, Chris. Doesn’t make it easier, I know, but you need to keep it in mind or you’ll beat yourself up. That won’t help Gideon.”
“You’re wise beyond your years, Eva. I’m so glad he has you.”
“I got lucky with him,” I said quietly. “Big-time.”
I ended the call and couldn’t help but think of my mother. Seeing what Gideon was going through made me appreciate her all the more. She had been there for me; she’d fought for me. She had the guilt, too, which made her overprotective to the point of craziness, but there was a part of me that hadn’t gotten quite so damaged as Gideon because of her love.
I called her and she answered on the first ring.
“Eva. You’ve been deliberately avoiding me. How am I supposed to plan your wedding without your input? There are so many decisions to make and if I make the wrong one, you’ll—”
“Hi, Mom,” I interrupted. “How are you?”
“Stressed,” she said, her naturally breathy voice conveying more than a little accusation. “How could I be anything else? I’m planning one of the most important days of your life all by myself and—”
“I was thinking we could get together on Saturday and hash it all out, if that fits into your schedule.”
“Really?” The hopeful pleasure in her voice made me feel guilty.
“Yes, really.” I had been thinking of the second wedding as being more for my mother than anyone else, but that was wrong. The wedding was important to Gideon and me, too, another opportunity for us to affirm our unbreakable bond. Not for the world to see, but for the two of us.