It always tripped me out to think about his history. It was so James Bond. I’m sure I romanticized it way too much, but I was comforted by the knowledge, too. Gideon was in the best of hands.
“Hey, you,” I greeted Angus, allowing affection to color my voice.
I couldn’t help but feel special gratitude for him. His past with Gideon spanned years and I would never know the whole of it, but I knew he’d been the one support in Gideon’s life after Hugh. And Angus had been the only person from our daily lives who’d witnessed our elopement. The look on his face when he talked to Gideon afterward … the tears that had shined in both of their eyes … There was an unbreakable bond there.
His pale blue eyes sparkled at me as he pulled open the limo door. “Where would you both like to go?”
Mark’s brows shot up. “This is what you left me for? Hell. I can’t compete.”
“You never had to.” I paused before I slid into the back and looked at Angus. “Mark doesn’t want me to know where we’re headed, so I’ll just climb in and try not to eavesdrop.”
Angus tapped the brim of his hat in acknowledgment.
A few minutes later we were on our way.
Mark sat on the bench seat opposite me, taking in the interior. “Whoa. I’ve rented limos before, but they never looked like this.”
“Gideon has great taste.” It didn’t matter what the style was—modern and contemporary like his office or classic and old world like his penthouse—my husband knew how to present his wealth with class.
Looking at me, Mark grinned. “You’re a lucky lady, my friend.”
“I am,” I agreed. “All of this”—I waved my hand—“is amazing, of course. But he’s the catch all by himself. He’s just genuinely a really great guy.”
“I know what it’s like to have one of those.”
“Yes. You sure do. How’s the wedding planning coming along?”
Mark groaned. “Steven’s killing me. Do I want blue or periwinkle? Roses or lilies? Satin or silk? Morning or evening? I tried to tell him that he can do what he wants, I just want him, but he chewed me out. Said I damned well better care because I didn’t have a chance of ever getting married again. All I can say is thank God for that.”
“How about you?” he asked.
“I’m starting to get into it. In this crazy world filled with billions of people, we managed to find each other. As Cary would say, we should celebrate that.”
We talked about first dances and seating arrangements as Angus maneuvered us through the traffic that seemed to always clog Midtown. Looking past Mark out the window, I watched a cab come to a stop at the light beside us. The passenger in the back pinched a phone between her shoulder and ear, lips moving a mile a minute and hands furiously flipping through a notebook. Behind her, on the corner, a hot dog cart vendor did brisk business with a waiting line of five people.
When we finally arrived and I stepped out onto the sidewalk I knew right where we were. “Hey!”
Tucked below street level, the Mexican restaurant was one we’d been to before. And it just so happened to employ a server I was very fond of.
Mark laughed. “You quit so suddenly Shawna didn’t have time to request the day off.”
“Aww, man.” My chest felt tight. It was starting to feel like an ending I wasn’t ready for.
“Come on.” He caught me by the elbow and directed me inside, where I quickly spotted the table that held a party of familiar faces and Mylar balloons that said GREAT JOB and BEST WISHES and CONGRATS.
“Wow.” My eyes burned with a sudden wash of tears.
Megumi and Will sat with Steven at a table set for six. Shawna stood behind her brother’s chair, their bright red hair impossible to miss.
“Eva!” they shouted in chorus, drawing the attention of everyone in the room.
“Oh my God,” I breathed, my heart breaking more than a little. I was suddenly filled with sadness and doubt, faced with what I was giving up, even if only in one way. “You guys are so not getting rid of me!”
“Of course not.” Shawna came over and gave me a hug, her slim arms strong and fierce around me. “We’ve got a bachelorette blowout to plan!”
“Woot!” Megumi wrapped me in a hug the second Shawna stepped back.
“Maybe we could skip that tradition,” interjected a warm, deep voice behind me.
Turning in surprise, I faced Gideon. He stood beside Mark with a single, perfect red rose in hand.
Mark flashed a big smile. “He touched base earlier to see if we were doing anything and said he wanted to come.”
I smiled through my tears. I wasn’t losing my friends, and I was gaining so much more. Gideon was always there when I needed him, even before I realized he was the integral piece that was missing.
“I dare you to try their diablo salsa,” I challenged, holding my hand out for my rose.
His lips curved faintly with a subtle smile, the one that did me in every time—and every other woman in the room, too, I couldn’t help but notice. But the look in his eyes, the understanding and support for what I was feeling … That was all mine.
“It’s your party, angel mine.”