I bristled. The urge to shield and protect the most valuable thing in my life overrode any other consideration.
Straightening, I tossed the photo back in the box and went to my wife. Compared to Corinne, she was dressed demurely in a black pinstriped skirt and a sleeveless silk blouse that gleamed like a pearl. The surge of heat I felt was all the proof I needed as to which woman was sexier.
Eva. Now and forever.
The pull I felt drew me across the room in long, quick strides.
I didn’t say the word aloud, didn’t want Corinne to hear it. But I could see that Eva felt it. I reached for her hand, felt a tingle of deep recognition that tightened my grip.
She shifted to look past me and acknowledge the woman who was no rival. “Corinne.”
I didn’t turn to look.
“I have to run,” Corinne said behind me. “Those copies are for you, Gideon.”
Unable to take my gaze off Eva, I spoke over my shoulder. “Take them with you. I don’t want them.”
“You should finish going through them,” she countered, approaching.
“Why?” Aggravated, I glanced at Corinne when she stopped next to us. “If I have any interest in seeing them, I can always flip through your book.”
Her smile tightened. “Good-bye, Eva. Gideon.”
As she left, I took another step toward my wife, closing the final bit of distance between us. I caught her other hand, leaning over her to breathe in the scent of her perfume. Calm drifted through me.
“I’m glad you came.” I whispered the words against her forehead, needing every connection I could manage. “I miss you so much.”
Closing her eyes, she leaned into me with a sigh.
Feeling the lingering strain in her, I tightened my grip on her hands. “You okay?”
“Yeah. I’m good. I just wasn’t expecting to see her.”
“Neither was I.” As much as I hated to pull away, I hated the thought of those photos even more.
Returning to my desk, I put the lid back on the box and tossed the whole thing into the trash.
“I quit my job,” she said. “Tomorrow’s my last day.”
That decision was one I’d wanted her to come to. I believed it was the best and safest step for her to take. But I knew what a difficult conclusion it must have been for her to make. Eva loved her job and the people she worked with.
Knowing how well she could read me, I kept my tone neutral. “Did you?”
I studied her. “What’s next for you, then?”
“I’ve got a wedding to plan.”
“Ah.” My mouth curved. After days of fearing she had second thoughts and wanted out of our marriage, it was a relief to hear otherwise. “Good to know.”
I beckoned her closer with a crook of my finger.
“Meet me halfway,” she shot back, with a glint of challenge in her eyes.
How could I resist? We met in the middle of the room.
That was why we were going to get past this and every other hurdle we faced: We would always meet each other halfway.
She wouldn’t ever be the docile wife my friend Arnoldo Ricci had wished for me. Eva was too independent, too fierce. She had a jealous streak a mile wide. She was demanding and stubborn, and she defied me just to drive me crazy.
And that friction worked in a way it never could have with any other woman, because Eva was meant for me. I believed that as I believed in nothing else.
“Is this what you want?” I asked her quietly, searching her face for the answer.
“You’re what I want. The rest is just logistics.”
My mouth was suddenly dry and my heartbeat too quick. When she lifted a hand to brush my hair back I caught her wrist and pressed her palm to my cheek, my eyes closing as I absorbed her touch.
The past week melted away. The days we’d spent apart, the hours of silence, the crippling fear … She’d been showing me all day that she was ready to move ahead, that I’d made the right decision to talk to Dr. Petersen. To talk to her.
Not only didn’t she turn away, she wanted me more. And she called me miraculous?
Eva sighed. I felt the last of her tension drift away. We stood there, reconnecting with each other, taking the strength we needed. It shook me to the core to know that I could bring her some measure of peace.
And what had she brought me?
The way Angus’s face brightened when Eva exited the Crossfire Building moved me in ways I could never explain. Angus McLeod was quiet by nature and by training. He rarely showed any emotion at all, but he made an exception for Eva.
Or maybe he couldn’t help himself. God knew I couldn’t.
“Angus.” Eva flashed him her bright, open smile. “You’re looking especially dapper today.”