Elizabeth stared at me, clearly fuming. She obviously wasn’t on board with that plan.
“Are we done?” I asked, disgusted with her deliberate blindness.
“Not even close,” she hissed, leaning into me. “I know about you and that lead singer. I’m on to you.”
I shook my head. Had Christopher talked to her? What would he have said? Knowing what he’d done to Magdalene, I believed him capable of pretty much anything. “Unbelievable. You believe the lies and ignore the truth.”
I started walking away but stopped. “What I think is really interesting is that after I confronted you last time, you didn’t ask Gideon about what happened. ‘Hey, son, your crazy girlfriend told me this crazy story.’ I can’t figure out why you didn’t ask him. I don’t suppose you’d want to explain?”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you would.”
I left her behind before she opened her mouth again and ruined my night.
Unfortunately, when I started heading toward my table, I saw Deanna Johnson sitting in my seat, talking to Gideon.
“Are you kidding me?” I muttered, my gaze narrowing at the way the reporter kept putting her hand on his forearm as she talked. Cary was off doing what he shouldn’t be doing; my mom and Stanton were on the dance floor. And Deanna had slid in like a snake.
Whatever Gideon thought, it was obvious to me that her interest in him was as hot as ever. And while he offered no encouragement aside from listening to whatever she was saying, just the fact that he was giving her attention was watering that weed.
“She must be great in bed. He fucks her a lot.”
I stiffened and turned toward the woman talking to me. It was Cary’s redhead, who had the flushed, bright-eyed look of a woman who’d just had a very nice orgasm. Still, she was older than I’d first thought from a distance.
“You should watch out for him,” she said, looking at Gideon. “He uses women. I’ve seen it happen. More than it should.”
“I can handle myself.”
“They all say that.” Her sympathetic smile rubbed me the wrong way. “I know of two women who’ve experienced severe depression over him. Certainly, they won’t be the last.”
“You shouldn’t listen to gossip,” I snapped.
She walked away with an irritatingly serene smile, reaching up to pat her hair as she skirted tables on the way to her own.
It wasn’t until she was halfway across the room that I placed her face.
I hurried back to Gideon. He stood when I reached him.
“I need you real quick,” I said briskly, before shooting a look at the brunette in my chair. “Deanna, always a pleasure.”
She ignored the dig. “Hi, Eva. I was just leaving—”
But I’d already tuned her out. I caught Gideon’s hand and tugged. “Come on.”
“All right, hang on.” He said something to Deanna, but I didn’t catch it, pulling him along instead. “Christ, Eva. What the hell is the rush?”
I stopped by the wall and looked out over the room, searching for green and red. Seemed to me he would have noticed his former lover—unless she’d been deliberately avoiding him. Of course she looked so different without her former pixie haircut, and I hadn’t seen her white-haired husband, which would have made it easier to identify her sooner. “Do you know if Anne Lucas is here?”
His hand tightened on mine. “I haven’t seen her. Why?”
“Emerald green dress, long red hair. Seen that woman?”
“She was dancing with Cary earlier.”
“I wasn’t paying attention.”
I looked at him, getting aggravated. “Jesus, Gideon. It was hard to miss her.”
“Forgive me for having eyes only for my wife,” he said dryly.
I squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry. I just need to know if it was her.”
“Explain why. Did she come up to you?”
“Yeah, she did. Shoveled some shit my way, then wandered off. I think Cary sneaked off with her, too. You know, for a quickie.”
Gideon’s face turned hard. He turned his attention to the room, sweeping it from one side to the other, with a slow searching glance. “I don’t see her. Or anyone like you described.”
“Isn’t Anne a therapist?”
A sense of foreboding made me restless. “Can we go now?”
He studied me. “Tell me what she said to you.”
“Nothing I haven’t heard before.”
“That’s reassuring,” he muttered. “Yes, let’s go.”
We went back to our table for my clutch and to say good-bye to everyone.
“Can I hitch a ride with you?” Cary asked, after I hugged my mom good-bye.
Gideon nodded. “Come on.”
ANGUS shut the door of the limo.
Cary, Gideon, and I settled back into the bench seats, and just a couple of minutes later we pulled away from Cipriani’s and into traffic.
My best friend shot me a look. “Don’t start.”
He hated when I laid into him about his behavior, and I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t his mother. But I was someone who loved him and wanted good things for him. I knew how self-destructive he could be when left unchecked.
But that wasn’t my biggest concern at that moment.
“What was her name?” I asked, praying he knew so I could identify the redhead once and for all.
“Jesus.” My hands flexed restlessly around my clutch. “Do you know it or not?”
“I didn’t ask,” he retorted. “Drop it.”
“Watch the tone, Cary,” Gideon admonished quietly. “You’ve got a problem, fine. Don’t take it out on Eva for giving a shit about you.”
Cary’s jaw tightened and he looked out the window.
I sat back and Gideon drew me into the curve of his shoulder, his hand running up and down my bare arm.
No one said another word on the ride home.
WHEN we reached my apartment, Gideon headed into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and ended up on the phone, his gaze meeting mine across the breakfast bar and the several feet separating us.
Cary stalked off to his bedroom, then turned abruptly at the hallway and came back to hug me. Hard.
With his face in the curve of my shoulder, he whispered, “Sorry, baby girl.”
I hugged him back. “You deserve better than the way you treat yourself.”
“I didn’t do her,” he said quietly, pulling back to look at me. “I was going to. I thought I wanted to. But when it came down to it, it hit me that I have a kid coming. A kid, Eva. And I don’t want him—or her—growing up thinking of me the way I do my mom. I gotta get my shit straight.”
I hugged him again. “I’m proud of you.”
“Yeah, well.” He pulled back, looking sheepish. “I still rubbed her off, since I’d taken it that far, but my dick stayed tucked in my pants.”
“TMI, Cary,” I said. “Totally TMI.”
“We still heading out to San Diego tomorrow?” His hopeful look twisted my heart.
“Hell, yeah. I’m looking forward to it.”
His grin was tinged with relief. “Good. I’ve got us flying out at eight thirty.”
Gideon rejoined us just then, and the look he gave me told me we weren’t done talking about my going away for the weekend. But when Cary headed down the hallway to his room, I grabbed Gideon and kissed him hard, delaying that conversation. As I’d hoped, he didn’t hesitate to pull me in and take over, his mouth eating at mine with lush, deep licks.
Moaning, I let him sweep me away. The world could go crazy by itself for a night. Tomorrow was soon enough to face it and everything we had to deal with.
I grabbed him by the tie. “Tonight, you’re mine.”
“I’m yours every night,” he said in that warm, raspy voice that stirred the hottest fantasies.
“Start now.” I walked backward, pulling him toward my room. “And don’t stop.”
He didn’t. Not ’til morning.
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