My breath caught right along with the live audience’s gasps. “Wow,” I murmured. “He outed us.”
I barely caught the rush of conversation that followed the reveal, too stunned by what he was doing to process everything. Gideon was such a private man. He never gave personal interviews, only ones focused on Cross Industries.
The photo of us changed to a series of shots taken inside the same nightclub where the leggy brunettes had climbed all over him. When he glanced at the audience and suggested that some of them might be familiar with the location, there were a few shouted affirmatives.
“Obviously,” he went on, looking back at the hosts. “I couldn’t be in New York and Brazil at the same time. The photo that went viral was digitally altered to remove the club’s logo. You can see that it’s embroidered into the curtains of the VIP lounge. All it took was the right software and a couple of clicks to make it disappear.”
“But the girls were there,” one of the hosts countered, “and what was happening with them was real.”
“True. I had a life before my wife came along,” he said evenly and unapologetically. “I can’t change that, unfortunately.”
“She had a life before you, too. She’s the Eva mentioned in, um, a Six-Ninths song.” She squinted slightly. “ ‘Golden Girl.’ ”
The host was obviously reading the information from a teleprompter.
“Yes, that’s her,” he confirmed.
His tone was neutral. He seemed unruffled. While I knew the show was never as spontaneous as it seemed, it was still surreal to see our lives used to boost the morning ratings.
A photo of Brett and me at the “Golden Girl” video launch in Times Square popped up and a portion of the song played for a moment. “How do you feel about that?”
Gideon gave them one of his rare smiles. “If I were a songwriter, I’d compose ballads about her, too.”
The photo of Gideon and me in Brazil appeared on the screen. It was quickly followed by the photo of us in Westport, and a series of shots taken while we’d walked the red carpet at various charity events. In all of them, his eyes were on me.
“Ooh, he’s good at this,” I said, mostly to myself. My mom was busy shutting down her laptop. “He’s sincere, but still aloof and confident enough to seem like the legendary Gideon Cross. And he gave them a ton of photos to work with.”
It was also a good choice to go with the talk show format of multiple female hosts exploring female-focused topics. They weren’t going to give him a free pass for alleged infidelity or even tiptoe around the subject. It was going to clear the air in a way an interview with a male anchor might not have.
One of the hosts leaned forward. “There’s a book coming out about you, too, isn’t there? Written by your former fiancée?”
A photo of Gideon and Corinne at the Kingsman Vodka party came up on the screen. A collective murmur arose from the audience. My teeth ground together. She looked stunningly beautiful, as always, and complemented Gideon’s dark handsomeness so well.
I chose to believe the show had dug that image up on their own.
“Ghostwritten, actually,” he answered. “By someone with an ax to grind. I’m afraid Mrs. Giroux is being taken advantage of and can’t see it.”
“I didn’t realize that. Who’s the ghostwriter?” She looked at the audience and quickly explained what a ghostwriter was.
“I’m not at liberty to say who’s actually writing the book.”
The host pressed the point. “But you know him? Or her? And they don’t like you.”
“That’s correct—on both counts.”
“Is it an ex-girlfriend? A former business partner?”
The one host who’d been mostly listening switched gears. “About Corinne … Why don’t you tell us what the story is there, Gideon?”
My husband set down the mug he’d just taken a sip out of. “Mrs. Giroux and I dated in college. We were engaged for a time, but even then, the relationship wasn’t going anywhere. We were immature and, truthfully, too ignorant to know what we wanted.”
“Being young and confused isn’t very interesting or salacious, is it? We remained friends after she married. I’m sorry she feels the need to commercialize that particular time in our lives now that I’m married. I’m sure this is as awkward for Jean-Fran?ois as it is for me.”
“That’s her husband, right? Jean-Fran?ois Giroux. Do you know him?”
Corinne and Jean-Fran?ois in evening wear at some event appeared on the screen. They were an attractive couple, although the contrast between the two men wasn’t flattering for the Frenchman. He couldn’t compete with Gideon, but then, who could?
Gideon nodded. “We’re in business together.”
“Have you talked about this with him?”