I was sure Eva and Dr. Petersen would disagree, but friends and family could be more of a pain in the ass than anything.
The rest of the afternoon passed as scheduled and planned. It was nearing five o’clock when Arash strolled in and settled comfortably on the nearest sofa, spreading his arms wide across the back.
I wrapped up my call with one of our distribution centers in Montreal and stood, stretching my legs. I was due for a session with my trainer, but he was going to kick my ass. I was sure Eva would be delighted to know she’d sapped my stamina.
Not that it would prevent me from having her again when the day was done.
“There’d better be a good reason why you’re making yourself at home,” I told Arash dryly, rounding my desk.
He flashed a cocky grin. “Deanna Johnson.”
My stride slowed, the name taking me by surprise. “What about her?”
Arash whistled. “You do know her.”
“She’s a freelance journalist.” I walked to the bar and pulled two chilled bottles of water out of the refrigerator. Deanna was also a woman I’d fucked, which turned out to be a colossal mistake in more ways than one.
“Okay. The hot blonde I bailed on last night?”
I shot him an impatient look. “Get on with it.”
“She works in the legal department of the publishing house that acquired the rights to Corinne’s book. She told me the ghostwriter is Deanna Johnson.”
I exhaled roughly, my hands squeezing the bottles so hard they leaked under the strain. “Damn it.”
My wife had warned me about Deanna and I hadn’t listened.
“Let me take a wild guess,” Arash drawled. “You know Ms. Johnson in the biblical sense.”
I turned and faced him, moving back to where he sat. I tossed a bottle at him, sending sprinkles of water arcing between us. Opening my own, I drank deeply.
Eva was right: We needed to be a better, more cohesive team. She and I were going to have to learn to trust—and take—each other’s advice implicitly.
My friend set his elbows on his knees, holding his water in both hands. “Now I see why you were in such a rush to get a ring on Eva. Seal the deal before she runs away screaming.”
Arash was joking, but I could see the concern on his face. It echoed my own. Really, how much could my wife take?
I pulled the bottle away from my lips. “Well, that’s a nice bit of news to wrap up the day,” I muttered.
Arash and I both turned our heads to discover Eva bouncing through the open door of my office with only her smartphone in her hands. She was dressed in the same workout gear she’d been wearing the day I first saw her. Her ponytail was lighter nowadays and shorter, her body leaner and more defined. But she would always be that girl who took my breath away.
“Eva.” Arash stood quickly.
“Hey.” She flashed him a smile as she came toward me, rising onto her tiptoes to press a kiss to my mouth. “Hi, ace.”
As she lowered back down, she frowned. “What’s wrong? Is it a bad time?”
I slid an arm around her waist, pulling her close. I loved the feel of her body against mine; it soothed the anxiousness I felt whenever we were apart. “Never, angel. You come to me whenever you want.”
Her eyes sparkled. “Megumi and I are going to hit the gym together, but I’m early, so figured I’d drop in on you. Grab a glimpse of your hotness to motivate me.”
I dropped a kiss on her forehead. “Don’t wear yourself out,” I murmured. “That’s my job.”
There was a frown between her brows as I straightened. “Seriously. What’s the matter?”
Arash cleared his throat and gestured toward the door. “I’ll head back to my office.”
I answered her question before he left. “Deanna is ghostwriting Corinne’s book.”
Eva stiffened. “Is that so?”
“She knows about Deanna?” Arash looked at us both with wide eyes.
My wife pinned him with her gaze. “Do you know Deanna?”
He held up both hands. “Never met her. Never even heard of her before today.”
Stepping out of my embrace, Eva shot me a look. “I told you.”
“Told him what?” Arash asked, shoving his hands in his pockets.
She took my water bottle and dropped into a club chair. “That she couldn’t be trusted. She’s butthurt because he got her naked, then blew her off. Not that I blame her. I’d be totally humiliated if I showed the goods but couldn’t make the sale.”
Arash sat back down on the sofa. “You have performance problems, Cross?”
“You have your eye on unemployment, Madani?” I took the other chair.
“She’d already played hide-the-salami with Gideon once,” Eva went on. “And she really liked the salami. Can’t blame her there, either. I told you what a great lay he is.”
Arash glanced at me, highly amused. “You did, yes.”
“Blows the top of your head right off. Your toes curl and—”