“There are always better terms, Richard!” my mom said sharply.
“There are rewards for milestones such as anniversaries and the birth of children, and nothing in the way of penalties for Eva, aside from marital counseling. A dissolution would have a more than equitable distribution of assets. I was tempted to ask if Cross had his in-house counsel review it. I imagine they argued strenuously against it.”
She settled for a moment, taking that in. Then she pushed to her feet, bristling. “But you knew they were eloping? You knew, and you didn’t say anything?”
“Of course, I didn’t know.” He pulled her into his arms, crooning softly like he would with a child. “I assumed he was looking ahead. You know these things usually take a few months of negotiating. Although, in this case, there was nothing more I could’ve asked for.”
I stood. I had to hurry if I was going to get to work on time. Today of all days, I didn’t want to be late.
“Where are you going?” My mother straightened away from Stanton. “We’re not done with this discussion. You can’t just drop a bomb like that and leave!”
Turning to face her, I walked backward. “I’ve seriously got to get ready. Why don’t we get together for lunch and talk more then?”
“You can’t be—”
I cut her off. “Corinne Giroux.”
My mother’s eyes widened, then narrowed. One name. I didn’t have to say anything else.
Gideon’s ex was a problem that needed no further explanation.
It was the rare person who came to Manhattan and didn’t feel an instant familiarity. The skyline of the city had been immortalized in too many movies and television shows to count, spreading the love affair with New York from residents to the world.
I was no exception.
I adored the Art Deco elegance of the Chrysler Building. I could pinpoint my place on the island in relation to the position of the Empire State Building. I was awed by the breathtaking height of the Freedom Tower that now dominated downtown. But the Crossfire Building was in a class by itself. I’d thought so before I had ever fallen in love with the man whose vision had led to its creation.
As Raúl pulled the Benz up to the curb, I marveled at the distinctive sapphire blue glass that encased the obelisk shape of the Crossfire. My head tilted back, my gaze sliding up the shimmering height to the point at the top, the light-drenched space that housed Cross Industries. Pedestrians surged around me, the sidewalk teeming with businessmen and -women heading to work with briefcases and totes in one hand and steaming cups of coffee in the other.
I felt Gideon before I saw him, my entire body humming with awareness as he stepped out of the Bentley, which had pulled up behind the Benz. The air around me charged with electricity, the crackling energy that always heralded the approach of a storm.
I was among the few who knew it was the restlessness of Gideon’s tormented soul that powered the tempest.
Turning to him, I smiled. It was no coincidence that we’d arrived at the same time. I knew that before I saw the confirmation in his eyes.
He wore a charcoal suit with a white shirt and silver twill tie. His dark hair brushed his jaw and collar in a sexy, rakish fall of inky strands. He still looked at me with the hot sexual ferocity that first scorched me, but there was tenderness in the brilliant blue now and an openness that meant more to me than anything else he could ever give me.
I stepped toward him as he approached. “Good morning, Dark and Dangerous.”
His lips curved wryly. Amusement warmed his gaze further. “Good morning, wife.”
I reached for his hand, felt settled when he met me halfway and gripped mine firmly. “I told my mother this morning … about us being married.”
One dark brow arched in surprise, and then his smile curved into one of triumphant pleasure. “Good.”
Laughing at his unabashed possessiveness, I gave him a soft shove to the shoulder. He moved lightning quick, catching me close and kissing the corner of my smiling mouth.
His joy was infectious. I felt it bursting inside me, lighting up all the places that had been so dark the past few days. “I’m going to call my dad at my first break. Let him know.”
He sobered. “Why now, and not before?”
He spoke softly, his voice pitched low for privacy. The office-bound crowd continued to flow by, paying very little attention to us. Still, I hesitated to answer, feeling too exposed.
Then … the truth came easier than it ever had. I’d been hiding so many things from the people I loved. Little things, big things. Trying to maintain the status quo, while also hoping for and needing change.
“I was afraid,” I told him.
He stepped closer, his gaze intense. “And now you’re not.”
“You’ll tell me why tonight.”
I nodded. “I’ll tell you.”