“It’s Cross. I need to tell you something. Are you alone?”
“I can be. What’s wrong?” he demanded, picking up on the gravity of my tone. “Has something happened to Eva?”
“No, it’s not Eva.” Just get it out. Blunt and quick. That’s how I’d want to be told that my life was over. “I’m sorry. Monica was killed tonight.”
There was a terrible pause. “What did you just say?”
My head fell back against the chair. He’d heard me the first time, I could tell by his voice. But he couldn’t believe it. “I’m very sorry, Victor. We don’t know much more than that at this time.”
From his side of the call, I heard a car door open, then slam shut. There was a brief spate of transmissions from a police scanner, then eerie quiet followed and stretched out for long minutes. Still, I knew he was there.
“It happened barely an hour ago,” I explained quietly, trying to bridge that silence. “We were all leaving an event. A gunman in the crowd opened fire.”
“I don’t know. But the shooter was apprehended. We should have more details soon.”
His voice strengthened. “Where’s my daughter?”
“She’s home with me. She won’t leave here until I’m certain it’s safe for her to do so. I’m making flight arrangements for you now. Eva will need you, Victor.”
“Let me talk to her.”
“She’s resting. You’ll get a text with the information for the flight as soon as it’s confirmed. It’ll be one of my jets. You can speak with her in the morning when you get here.”
Victor exhaled roughly. “All right. I’ll be ready.”
“I’ll see you shortly.”
Hanging up, I thought of the other man who was a father figure for Eva. I couldn’t think about what Stanton was going through; it shattered my mind. But I felt for him and was deeply sorry that anything I could offer would be inadequate.
Still, I reached out, typing a quick text. If I can be of service in any way, please let me know.
I left my office and went to the master bathroom. I paused on the threshold, everything inside me raw and aching at the sight of Eva stretched out in the steaming water with her eyes closed. Her hair was clipped up in a sexy, wild mess. The diamonds glittered on the counter. Lucky pawed at my shins.
“Hi,” she murmured, her eyes still closed. “You take care of everything?”
“Not yet. Right now, I need to take care of you.” I went to her, saw the toddy was half gone. “You should finish your drink.”
Her eyes opened slowly, dreamy and soft. “It’s strong. I’ve got a buzz.”
“Good. Now drink the rest.”
She complied. Not out of obedience but in the way a woman with a hidden agenda pretended to follow an order: because it suited her.
“Are you coming in?” she asked, licking her lips.
I shook my head. She pouted.
“I’m done then.” She rose from the tub, rivulets of water sliding over her flushed curves. She gave me a seductive smile, knowing what she was doing to me. “Sure you won’t change your mind?”
My throat worked on a hard swallow. “I can’t.”
With weighted steps, I grabbed a towel and handed it to her. I turned away, tormented by the sight of her, and collected first-aid items, setting the tubes and packets on the counter.
She came to me, leaning into my side. “Are you okay? Still thinking about your mom?”
“What? No.” I groaned, my head bowed. “When you passed out … Fuck. I’ve never been so scared.”
“Gideon.” She slid into me, hugging me. “I’m okay.”
Sighing, I gave her a quick squeeze and let her go. It pained me too much to hold her, knowing what had been left unspoken. “Let me take a look and make sure.”
Lucky sat with his head to the side, watching me curiously as I inspected Eva’s arm. I cleaned it with an antibiotic wipe before smoothing ointment over the angry red scrape. I taped gauze over it to keep it protected. The livid bruise on her hip got a generous application of arnica, my fingers lightly swirling over the darkening skin until the gel was fully absorbed.
My touch and focus aroused her, despite my best efforts. Squeezing my eyes shut, I straightened. “Off to bed with you, Mrs. Cross.”
“Umm … yes, let’s go to bed.” Her hands went to my shoulders, her fingers running down the untied ends of my bow tie. “I like your collar open like this. Very sexy.”
“Angel … You’re shredding me.” I caught her hands. “I’ve still got some things to handle.”
“Okay. I’ll behave. For now.”
With her hand in mine, I led her into the bedroom. She protested when I pulled out a Cross Industries T-shirt and slipped it over her head.
“What about the diamonds?” she asked.
She might never wear them again after this night. Where the fuck was Dr. Petersen? I needed his help to say the right things in the right way when the time came.