It was hard, but I kept my face straight. Why ask me that? What was she getting at? I couldn’t tell because her face was clear and innocent, with no sign of guile. Maybe I was looking for a hidden objective that wasn’t there. Or I just didn’t have the skill set I needed to play her game as well as she did.
Because she was obviously paying attention to me. Not just my relationship with Gideon, but all my relationships. She was following the gossip. Why?
“I don’t have plans to attend any of the Fashion Week shows,” I replied carefully.
Her smile faded but her eyes lit up, putting me further on edge. “That’s a shame. I thought we might go together.”
I still couldn’t get a read on her, which was driving me a little nuts. She’d seemed nice enough when I met her the first time, but then she had been quiet, letting her husband and the rest of the LanCorp team do all the talking. Would she say outright that her husband had a hatred for mine? Neither she nor Landon had given me any clue there was animosity with Gideon. But then again, it wasn’t something that would come up during a request-for-proposal meeting.
Or maybe she didn’t know …? Maybe Landon’s drive for vengeance was something he kept to himself.
“Not this time,” I said. I deliberately kept the door open because I might be able to use it. She could be as clueless and innocuous as she seemed or she could be more cunning. Either way, I wouldn’t be making friends with anyone whose husband wished Gideon harm, but Keep your enemies closer was an adage for a reason.
She dried her hands quickly and walked with me the rest of the way to the exit. “Maybe some other time.”
After the relative quiet of the bathroom, the restaurant was boisterous and noisy, filled with the sounds of voices and clinking silverware atop background music.
We’d just stepped out of the hallway into the main dining room when Ryan Landon climbed out of his booth and stood in front of us. There really wasn’t a bad seat in the house, but Landon’s wasn’t great. Had Gideon known he would be dining at Tableau One? I wouldn’t be surprised. After all, my husband had once tracked me down via a credit card I used at one of his nightclubs.
Landon was tall, though not as tall as Gideon. Six feet, maybe, with wavy brown hair and eyes the color of amber. He was alpha-fit and attractive, with an easy smile and quick laugh. I’d found him charming when I met him and attentive to his wife.
“Eva,” he said in greeting, his gaze briefly sliding past me to where his wife stood at my back. “What a pleasant surprise.”
“Hello, Ryan.” I wished I could’ve caught the look that passed between them. If they were colluding against me, I really needed to know.
“I was just talking about you earlier today. Heard that you’ve left Waters Field and Leaman.”
The warning tingles that hit me in the bathroom intensified. I wasn’t prepared to play these dangerous social games. Gideon had the skill to take on anyone—hell, he ruled the playing field—but I didn’t. It took a lot of effort not to look over and see if he was watching us.
On new ground, I winged it. “I miss it already, but then Gideon and I are attached to Mark.”
“Yes, I’ve heard great things about him.”
“He really knows his stuff. It was while Mark was working on the Kingsman Vodka campaign that I met Gideon.”
Landon’s brows shot up. “I wouldn’t have guessed that.”
I smiled. “You’re in great hands. Mark is the best. I’d be more sad about leaving if I didn’t know that we’ll be working with him again.”
He visibly regrouped. “Well … We’ve decided to let LanCorp’s in-house team run with it. They really felt like they could knock it out of the park and since that’s what I hired them to do, I figured I better let them do it.”
“Ah. I look forward to seeing what they come up with.” I took a step away. “It was great seeing you both again. Enjoy your lunch.”
They wished me good-bye and I turned toward my table, noting that Gideon was deep in conversation with the board members. I thought he wasn’t aware of me approaching, but he stood just before I reached the table without even looking.
We said farewell and left the restaurant, with Gideon’s hand at the small of my back. I loved when he touched me there, the pressure steady and guiding. Possessive.
Angus waited at the curb with the Bentley. So did the paparazzi, who took the opportunity to get plenty of shots of us. It was a relief to settle in the backseat and blend into traffic.
The rough timbre of Gideon’s voice sent goose bumps racing across my skin. I glanced at him, saw the fire in his eyes. Then his hands were cupping my face and his lips were slanting across mine. I gasped, startled by his sudden hunger. His tongue stroked deep into my mouth, stirring the need for him that always simmered in my blood.
“You’re beautiful,” he said, his hands pushing into my hair. “You’re always changing. I never know who I’m going to have from one day to the next.”
I laughed, leaning into him and kissing him back with everything I had. I adored the feel of his mouth, the sensual lines softened from their usual sternness when he surrendered to me, making him even more gorgeous. “Gotta keep you on your toes, ace.”
Gideon pulled me into his lap, his hands sliding all over me. “I want you.”
“I should hope so,” I whispered, tracing his bottom lip with the tip of my tongue. “You’re stuck with me for life.”
“Not long enough.” Tilting his head, he took my mouth again, his hand at my nape holding me still as he licked strong and quick. Like fucking. I felt the brush of his tongue everywhere.
I squirmed, achingly aware of Angus. “Gideon.”
“Let’s go to the penthouse,” he breathed, as tempting as the devil. His cock was hard against my buttocks, teasing me with the promise of sex and sin and pleasure too great to bear.
“You have a meeting,” I panted.
“Fuck the meeting.”
I bit back another laugh and hugged him, pressing my nose in the crook of his neck to breathe him in. He smelled amazing, as he always did. Gideon didn’t wear cologne. There was just the clean, primal smell of his skin and faint traces of the body wash he preferred.
“I love the way you smell,” I told him softly, nuzzling against him. He was so warm, his body so hot and hard, pulsing with life and energy and power. “There’s something about it. It touches something inside me. It’s one of the things that tells me you’re mine.”
He growled. “I’m so fucking hard,” he said, his lips to my ear. He nipped my lobe, punishing me for his lust with a small bite of pain.
“I’m so fucking wet,” I whispered back. “You made me so happy today.”
His chest expanded on an unsteady breath, his hands running up and down my back. “Good.”
I pulled back, watching as he steadied himself. He so rarely lost control. It was thrilling I could do that to him. Even more thrilling to know he’d been riding that edge since I first showed up and he hadn’t shown any outward clue to the others. His restraint was a major turn-on for me.
My fingertips brushed over his striking face. “Thank you. It’s not enough for what you gave me today, but thank you.”
His eyes closed. He leaned his forehead against mine. “You’re welcome.”
“I’m glad you like my hair.”
“I like when you feel confident and sexy.”
I rubbed my nose against his, my love for him filling me until there was no room for anything else. “What if I need purple hair to feel that way?”
His mouth curved. “Then I’ll be fucking a purple-haired wife.” His hand covered my heart—and took the opportunity to squeeze my breast. “As long as the inside remains the same, the rest is just wrapping.”
I thought about telling him he was straying perilously close to being romantic but decided to keep that to myself.
“Did you see the Landons?” I asked instead.
Gideon pulled back. “They talked to you.”
My eyes narrowed. “You knew they’d be there, didn’t you?”
“It wasn’t a surprise.”
“You’re so good at being cagey,” I complained. “All you guys are. I couldn’t figure out if Angela Landon was yanking my chain when she asked to attend the Grey Isles Fashion Week show with me or if she was serious.”
“Maybe a little of both. What did you say?”
“That I’m not going.” I kissed him, then squirmed back onto my own seat. He resisted, but let me go. “Corinne would’ve known how to manage her.” I sighed. “Probably Magdalene, too. Certainly my mom.”
“You did fine. What about Landon?”
My lips pursed. “How tightly do you have Mark locked in?”
He gave me a quizzical look. “What did you do?”
“I mentioned we have a strong connection with Mark, since you and I met while you were working with him. I said we look forward to working with him in the future.”