My dad exhaled in a rush when he flipped to the next page. “Okay. This is …”
“More than you were likely expecting, but that spreadsheet gives you the info you need to gauge the offered compensation compared to my other chiefs. You can see that it’s fair. It’s predicated on the expectation that you will consent to further training and attain the necessary permits, licenses, and registrations.”
I watched my dad’s shoulders go back and his chin lift, the stubborn line of his mouth softening. Whatever he saw, he was taking as a challenge. “All right.”
“You’ll note that a housing allowance is included,” Gideon continued, in full-on mogul mode despite his matter-of-fact tone. “If you would like, there’s a unit next door to Eva’s former apartment that’s available and furnished.”
I caught my lower lip between my teeth, knowing he was talking about the apartment he’d kept while Nathan was a threat. We had met there clandestinely for weeks while keeping up the fa?ade that we were no longer together.
“I’ll think about it,” my dad said.
“Another thing to think about,” Gideon began, “is the reality of your daughter being my wife. Certainly we would be mindful of your personal role in Eva’s life and be respectful of that. But respecting your place as her father means we won’t be brazen. It doesn’t mean we won’t be intimate.”
Oh my God. My shoulders hunched with embarrassment. I glared at Gideon. So did my dad.
It took my father a long minute to unclench his jaw and respond. “I’ll keep that in mind while I’m thinking things over.”
Gideon gave a brisk nod. “All right. Was there anything else we needed to cover?”
My dad shook his head. “Not right now.”
I crossed my arms, knowing I’d have more to say at some point.
“You know where to find me, angel, when you’re ready to tear into me.” My husband offered his hand to me. “In the meantime, let’s get some food into you.”
Dr. Petersen showed up around three, looking a little rattled. Getting through the throng on the sidewalk to enter the lobby had obviously been a trial. Gideon introduced him to everyone as I watched, trying to judge his reaction to meeting the people he’d heard such intimate things about.
He spoke to me briefly, offering his condolences. He’d liked my mother and often was somewhat indulgent about her neurotic behavior, to my frustration. I could tell he was affected by her loss, which made me wonder how I came across to him. Evidently, he couldn’t quite tell. I struggled to answer his questions about how I was doing.
He talked with Gideon for a much longer time, retreating with my husband to the dining room, where they spoke in hushed tones.
But not for long. Gideon turned toward me and I understood their talk was over. I accompanied Dr. Petersen to the foyer and saw him out, but not before I spotted my clutch on an end table.
When I retrieved my phone, I saw the dozens of missed calls and texts. Megumi, Will, Shawna, Dr. Travis … even Brett. I opened my messages and started to send out replies when the phone vibrated in my hand with an incoming call. I saw the name of the caller, looked up at Cary and found him talking with my dad, then headed down the hall to the bedroom.
Through the slender windows, I could see how far the afternoon had progressed. It would be dark in a few hours and the first day without my mom would be over.
“Eva. I … I probably shouldn’t be intruding at a time like this, but I saw the news and I was calling you before I thought about it being a bad idea. I just wanted to tell you how sorry I am.”
I took a seat in one of the reading chairs, refusing to think about what the headlines might be shouting right now. “I appreciate you thinking of me.”
“I can’t believe what happened. If there’s anything I can do, please let me know.”
I let my heavy head fall back against the seat and closed my eyes. I recalled Trey’s handsome face, his kind hazel eyes and the little bump on his nose that told me it’d once been broken. “Look, Trey, I don’t want to lay a guilt trip on you, but you should know that my mother meant a lot to Cary. She was like a surrogate mom to him. He’s really hurting a lot right now.”
He sighed. “I’m sorry to hear that.”
“I meant to call you … before.” I curled my legs up beneath me. “To see how you’re doing, but also—well, there’s more. I wanted to tell you that I know you have to do what’s best for you. That said, if you’re thinking at all that you might want something with Cary, you should make up your mind quickly. The door is closing.”
“Let me guess. He’s seeing someone,” he said flatly.
“No, just the opposite. He’s taking some time for himself and reevaluating what he wants. You know he broke it off with Tatiana, right?”
“That’s what he says.”
“If you don’t trust him to tell the truth, it’s good you broke things off.”