“I prefer to gloat quietly. Do you have something for me?”
Approaching my desk, he grinned in a way that told me he loved his job, although I never doubted it. His predatory instincts were nearly as highly developed as my own.
“The Morgan deal is coming together nicely.” Adjusting his tailored slacks, he settled into one of the two chairs facing my desk. His style was slightly flashier than mine but couldn’t be faulted. “We’ve ironed out the bigger points. Still finessing some clauses, but we should be ready to proceed by next week.”
“You are a man of few words.” Casually, he asked, “You up for getting together this weekend?”
I shook my head. “Eva may want to go out. If so, I’ll try to talk her out of it.”
Arash laughed. “I gotta tell you, I expected you to settle down at some point—we all do, eventually—but I thought I’d have some warning.”
“So did I.” Which wasn’t quite the truth. I never expected to share my life with anyone. I’d never denied that my past shadowed my present, but I saw no need to share that history with anyone before Eva. It couldn’t be changed, so why rehash it?
Standing, I walked to one of the two floor-to-ceiling walls of windows framing my office and took in the urban splendor sprawling beyond the glass.
I hadn’t known Eva was out there, had been afraid to even dream of finding the one person in the world who would accept and love every facet of me.
How was it possible that I’d found her here, in Manhattan, at the very building I’d had built against sound advice and at great risk? Too expensive, they’d said, and unnecessary. But I’d needed the Cross name to be memorable and mentioned in a different way. My father had dragged our name through the mud; I’d lifted it to the heights of the most relevant city in the world.
“You showed no sign at all you were leaning that way,” Arash said behind me. “If I remember correctly, you tagged two women when we blew out Cinco de Mayo, and a few weeks later you’re telling me to draft an insane prenup.”
I surveyed the city, taking a rare moment to appreciate the hawk’s-eye view afforded me by the height and position of my office in the Crossfire Building. “When have you known me to delay sealing a deal?”
“It’s one thing to expand your portfolio, another to reboot your life overnight.” He chuckled. “So what are your plans, then? Breaking in the new beach house?”
“An excellent idea.” Taking my wife back to the Outer Banks was my goal. Having her all to myself had been heaven. I was happiest when I was alone with her. She revitalized me, made me anticipate living in a way I never had before.
I’d built my empire with the past in mind. Now, thanks to her, I would continue to build it for our future.
My desk phone flashed. It was Scott, on line one. I pressed the button, and his voice came through the speaker. “Corinne Giroux’s at reception. She says she needs just a few minutes to drop off something for you. Because it’s private, she wants to give it to you personally.”
“Of course she does,” Arash chimed in. “Maybe it’s more flowers.”
I shot him a look. “Wrong woman.”
“If only my wrong women looked like Corinne.”
“Keep thinking that while you head up to reception to get whatever it is she has.”
His brows shot up. “Really? Ouch.”
“She wants to talk, she can talk to my attorney.”
He pushed to his feet and headed out. “Got it, boss.”
I glanced at the clock. Quarter to five. “I’m sure you heard that, Scott, but to be clear, Madani will handle.”
“Yes, Mr. Cross.”
Through the glass wall separating my office from the rest of the floor, I watched Arash round the corner on his way to reception, and then I mentally brushed the whole thing aside. Eva would be with me shortly, the very thing I’d been waiting for since the workday started.
But of course, it couldn’t be that easy.
A flash of crimson in the corner of my eye just a few moments later had me looking back out at the work floor and seeing Corinne marching toward my office with Arash hot on her heels. Her chin lifted when our eyes met. Her tight smile widened, transforming her from a beautiful woman to a stunning one. I could admire her the way I would admire anything except Eva—objectively, dispassionately.
Now happily married, I could fully grasp what a horrible mistake it would have been to marry Corinne. It was unfortunate for all of us that she refused to see it.
I stood and rounded my desk. The look I swept over both Arash and Scott called them off from any further action. If Corinne wanted to deal with me directly, I’d give her one last opportunity to do the right thing.