Smiling wryly, I spun through the Crossfire’s copper-framed revolving doors and entered the vast lobby. If a building could embody a man, the Crossfire did for Gideon. The marble floors and walls conveyed an aura of power and affluence, while the cobalt glass exterior was as striking as one of Gideon’s suits. Altogether, the Crossfire was sleek and sexy, dark and dangerous—just like the man who’d created it. I loved working there.
I passed through the security turnstiles and took the elevator up to the twentieth floor. When I exited the car, I spotted Megumi—the receptionist—at her desk. She buzzed me through the glass security doors and stood as I approached.
“Hey,” she greeted me, looking chic in black slacks and a gold silk shell. Her dark sloe eyes sparkled with excitement, and her pretty mouth was stained a daring crimson. “I wanted to ask you what you’re doing on Saturday night.”
“Oh …” I wanted to spend the time with Gideon, but there was no guarantee that would happen. “I don’t know. I don’t have plans yet. Why?”
“One of Michael’s friends is getting married and they’re having a bachelor party on Saturday. If I stay home, I’ll go nuts.”
“Michael’s the blind date?” I asked, knowing she’d been seeing a guy her roommate had set her up with.
“Yeah.” Megumi’s face lit up for a second, then fell. “I really like him and I think he likes me, too, but …”
“Go on,” I prompted.
She lifted one shoulder in an awkward shrug and her gaze skittered away. “He’s a commitment-phobe. I know he’s into me, but he keeps saying it’s not serious and we’re just having fun. But we spend a lot of time together,” she argued. “He’s definitely rearranged his life to be with me more often. And not just physically.”
My mouth twisted ruefully, knowing the type. Those kinds of relationships were tough to quit. The mixed signals kept the drama and adrenaline high, and the possibility of awesomeness if the guy would just accept the risk was hard to let go of. What girl didn’t want to attain the unattainable?
“I’m game for Saturday,” I said, wanting to be there for her. “What did you have in mind?”
“Drinking, dancing, getting wild.” Megumi’s grin came back. “Maybe we’ll find you a hot rebound guy.”
“Uh …” Yikes. Awkward. “I’m doing pretty good, actually.”
She arched a brow at me. “You look tired.”
I spent the entire night getting nailed to my bed by Gideon Cross … “I had a tough Krav Maga class yesterday.”
“What? Never mind. In any case, it won’t hurt to check out the scenery, right?”
I shifted the straps of my bag on my shoulder. “No rebound guys,” I insisted.
“Hey.” She set her hands on her trim hips. “I’m just suggesting you be open to the possibility of meeting someone. I know Gideon Cross has got to be a hard act to follow, but trust me, moving on is the best revenge.”
That made me smile. “I’ll keep an open mind,” I compromised.
The phone on her desk rang and I waved good-bye as I headed down the hallway to my cubicle. I needed a little time to think about the logistics of playing the role of a single woman when I was very much taken. If I owned Gideon, he possessed me. I couldn’t imagine belonging to anyone else.
I was just starting to play with how to bring up Saturday night to Gideon when Megumi called after me. I turned back around.
“I’ve got a call on hold to send your way,” she said. “And I hope it’s personal, because holy hell is his voice smokin’ hot. He sounds like S-E-X rolled in chocolate and covered in whipped cream.”
Nervous excitement raised the hairs on my nape. “Did he give his name?”
“Yep. Brett Kline.”
I REACHED MY desk and dropped into my chair. My palms were damp just thinking about talking to Brett, and I was steeling myself for the little charge I’d get from hearing his voice and the guilt that would follow it. It wasn’t that I wanted him back or wanted to be with him. It was just that we had history and a sexual attraction that was purely hormonal. I couldn’t shut it off, but I had absolutely no desire to act on it.
I dropped my purse and the bag holding my walking shoes into a desk drawer, my eyes caressing the framed collage of photos of Gideon and me together. He’d given it to me so he would always be on my mind—as if he ever left it. I even dreamed of him.
My phone rang. The rerouted call from reception. Brett hadn’t given up. Determined to keep it businesslike to remind him that I was at work and not available for inappropriately personal conversations, I answered, “Mark Garrity’s office, Eva Tramell speaking.”
“Eva. There you are. It’s Brett.”
My eyes closed as I absorbed that S-E-X-rolled-in-chocolate voice. It sounded even more decadently sexual than when he was singing, which had helped to propel his band, Six-Ninths, to the brink of stardom. He was signed with Vidal Records now, the music company run by Gideon’s stepfather, Christopher Vidal Sr.—a company Gideon inexplicably had majority control over.
Talk about a small world.
“Hi,” I greeted him. “How’s the tour coming along?”
“It’s unreal. I’m still trying to get a grip on it all.”
“You’ve wanted this a long time and you deserve it. Enjoy it.”
“Thanks.” He fell silent for a minute, and in that space of time, I pictured him in my mind. He’d looked amazing when I saw him last, his hair spiked and tipped with platinum, his emerald eyes dark and hot from wanting me. He was tall and muscular without being too bulky, his body ripped from constant activity and the demands of being a rock star. His golden skin was sleeved in tattoos, and he had piercings in his nipples that I’d learned to suck on when I wanted to feel his cock harden inside me …
But he couldn’t hold a candle to Gideon. I could admire Brett just like any other red-blooded woman, but Gideon was in a class by himself.
“Listen,” Brett said, “I know you’re working, so I don’t want to hold you up. I’m coming back to New York and I’d like to see you.”
I crossed my ankles under my desk. “I’m thinking that’s not a good idea.”
“We’re going to debut the music video for ‘Golden’ in Times Square,” he went on. “I want you there with me.”
“There with— Wow.” I massaged my forehead. Momentarily thrown by his request, I chose to think about how my mom would bitch at me for rubbing at my face, which she swore caused wrinkles. “I’m really flattered you asked, but I have to know—are you cool with just being friends?”
“Hell, no.” He laughed. “You’re single, golden girl. Cross’s loss is my gain.”
Oh, crap. It’d been almost three weeks since the first pictures of Gideon and Corinne’s staged reunion had hit the gossip blogs. Apparently, everyone had decided it was time for me to move on with another guy. “It’s not that simple. I’m not ready for another relationship, Brett.”
“I asked you out on a date, not for a lifetime commitment.”
“You have to be there, Eva.” His voice lowered to the seductive timbre that had always made me drop my panties for him. “It’s your song. I’m not taking no for an answer.”
“You have to.”
“You’ll hurt me bad if you don’t go,” he said quietly. “And that’s not bullshit. We’ll go as friends, if that’s what it takes, but I need you there.”
I sighed heavily, my head bowing over my desk. “I don’t want to lead you on.” Or piss Gideon off …
“I promise to consider it a favor from one friend to another.”
As fucking if. I didn’t answer.
He didn’t give up. He might never give up. “Okay?” he prodded.
A cup of coffee appeared at my elbow and I looked up to see Mark standing behind me. “Okay,” I agreed, mostly so I could get to work.
“Yesss.” There was a note of triumph in his voice that sounded like it was accompanied by a fist pump. “Could be either Thursday or Friday night; I’m not sure yet. Give me your cell number, so I can text you when I know for sure.”
I rattled the number off in a hurry. “Got it? I’ve got to run.”
“Have a great day at work,” he said, making me feel bad for being rushed and unfriendly. He’d always been a nice guy, and could have been a great friend, but I blew that chance when I kissed him.
“Thanks. Brett … I’m really happy for you. Bye.” I returned the handset to its cradle and smiled at Mark. “Good morning.”
“Everything all right?” he asked, his brown eyes capped with a slight frown. He was dressed in a navy suit with a deep purple tie that did great things for his dark skin.
“Yes. Thank you for the coffee.”
“You’re welcome. Ready to get to work?”
I grinned. “Always.”
IT didn’t take long for me to realize something wasn’t right with Mark. He was distracted and moody, which was very unlike him. We were working on a campaign for foreign-language-learning software, but he wasn’t into it at all. I suggested we talk a bit about the whole-foods locavore campaign, but that didn’t help.
“Is everything okay?” I asked finally, sliding uncomfortably into friend territory, where we both made an effort not to go during work.
We put work aside every other week when he invited me along to lunch with his partner, Steven, but we were careful about maintaining our roles as boss and subordinate. I appreciated that a lot, considering Mark knew my stepfather was rich. I didn’t want people giving me considerations I hadn’t earned.
“What?” He glanced up at me, then ran a hand over his close-cut hair. “Sorry.”
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