Scott walked in. “I’ve confirmed your agenda for tomorrow. Mrs. Vidal will meet you and Miss Tramell at The Modern at noon.”
Shit. I’d forgotten about lunch with my mother.
I glanced at him. “Thank you, Scott. Have a good night.”
“You, too, Mr. Cross. See you tomorrow.”
Rolling my shoulders back, I walked over to the window and looked out at the city. Things had been easier before Eva. Simpler. During the day, while consumed with work, I’d taken a moment to miss that simplicity.
Now, with the evening upon me and time to think, the prospect of major alterations to the home I’d come to see as a refuge bothered me more than I would admit to my wife. On top of the other personal pressures we faced, I felt almost crushed by the scale of the adjustments I was making.
Waking up to Eva as she’d been that morning was worth it all, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t struggling with the aftermath of her entry into my life.
I turned at the sound of Scott’s voice and found him standing in the doorway to my office. “You’re still here.”
He smiled. “I was on my way out to the elevators when Cheryl caught me at reception. There’s a Deanna Johnson in the lobby asking for you. I wanted to confirm that I should tell her you’re no longer available today.”
I was tempted to turn her away. I had little patience for reporters and even less for former lovers. “They can send her up.”
“Do you need me to stay?”
“No, you can go. Thank you.”
I watched him leave, then watched Deanna arrive. She strode toward my office on long legs and high heels, her thin gray skirt skimming the tops of her knees. Long dark hair swayed around her shoulders, framing the zipper that gave her otherwise traditional blouse an edge.
She tossed me a megawatt smile and held out her hand. “Gideon. Thanks for seeing me on such short notice.”
I shook her hand briefly and briskly. “I expect you wouldn’t go to the trouble of coming here directly unless it was important.”
The statement was both fact and a warning. We had come to an understanding, but it wouldn’t last if she thought she could exploit our connection beyond what I’d already conceded.
“Worth it for the view,” she said, her eyes on me for just a second too long before shifting sideways to the window.
“I’m sorry, but I’ve got an appointment, so we’ll have to make this quick.”
“I’m in a hurry, too.” Tossing her hair over her shoulder, she moved to the nearest chair and sat, crossing her legs in a way that showed more of her toned thigh than I wanted to see. She started digging into her large bag.
I pulled my smartphone out of my pocket, checked the time, and called Angus. “We’ll be ready in ten,” I told him when he answered.
“I’ll bring the car around.”
Ending the call, I glanced at Deanna, impatient for her to get to the point.
“How’s Eva?” she asked.
“She’ll be here in a few moments. You can ask her yourself.”
“Oh.” She looked up at me, one eye hidden behind the fall of her hair. “I should probably be gone before she gets here. I think our . . . history makes her uncomfortable.”
“She knows how I was,” I said evenly, “and she knows I’m not that way now.”
Deanna nodded. “Of course she does, and of course you’re not, but no woman likes when her man’s past gets rubbed in her face.”
“Then you’ll have to make sure you don’t do that.”
She withdrew a thin folder from her bag. Standing, she walked toward me. “I wouldn’t. I accepted your apology and appreciate it.”
“It’s Corinne Giroux you might want to worry about.”
What patience I’d had disappeared. “Corinne is her husband’s concern, not mine.”
Deanna held the folder out to me. I took it and opened it, finding a press release inside.
As I read, my grip tightened until I crumpled the edges.
“She’s sold a tell-all book about your relationship,” she said redundantly. “The release officially hits the wire Monday morning at nine.”
“OTHER COUPLES MEET, hit things off, their friends nitpick a little but are mostly supportive, and they coast for a while in that couple stage just enjoying each other.” I sighed and glanced at Gideon, who sat beside me on the couch. “We, on the other hand, can’t seem to catch a break.”
“What kind of breaks are you referring to?” Dr. Petersen asked, eyeing us with fond interest.
That fondness gave me hope. As soon as Gideon and I had arrived, I’d noticed the change in the dynamic between him and Dr. Petersen. There was something looser between them, a new ease. Less wariness.
“The only people who really want us to be together are my mother—who thinks us loving each other is a bonus to his billions—and his stepfather and sister.”
“I don’t think that’s a fair assessment of your mother,” Dr. Petersen said, sitting back and holding my gaze. “She wants you to be happy.”
“Yeah, well, a lot of being happy for my mom is being financially secure, which I just don’t understand. It’s not like she’s ever struggled for money, so why is she so afraid of not having any? Anywayyyy . . .” I shrugged. “I’m just irritated with everyone right now. Gideon and I get along great when it’s just the two of us. I mean we fight sometimes, but we always get through it. And I feel like we’re always stronger once we do.”