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“You want to see if Landon will offer Mark a job.”

“I’m curious to see how far Landon will go, yes. I’m not worried about Mark. He’s loyal and while he doesn’t know the particulars, he knows LanCorp is part of the reason I quit. Plus, he’s got an in with the head honcho at Cross Industries. He’d just be a drone at LanCorp. He’s not stupid.”

Gideon settled back in his seat. If I didn’t know him so well, I might have thought he was just getting comfortable. “And you want to see if I was straight with you about Landon’s motives.”

“No.” I set my hand on his thigh and felt the tension there. Both of his parents had let him down. I knew there was a part of Gideon that invariably expected everyone else to do the same. “I believe you. I believed you when you told me. Your word is all the proof I’ll ever need.”

He looked at me for a long minute, then squeezed my hand. Hard. “Thank you.”

“But maybe you felt the need to prove it to me?” I asked gently. “You find out Landon’s got a reservation. You want to introduce me to the Crossroads board. Meeting at Tableau One accomplishes two things if I run into Landon while I’m there. Although there was a lot left to faith for that to happen.”

“Not if he’s seated by the bathrooms.”

“Maybe I wouldn’t have gone to the bathroom.”

Gideon shot me a look.

“It wasn’t a foregone conclusion,” I argued.

“You’re a woman,” he countered, as if that answered everything.

My eyes narrowed. “Sometimes I just want to smack you.”

“I can’t help being right.”

“You’re deflecting.”

His lips tightened for a moment. “You left me because of him. I needed you to see him again after that.”

“That’s not entirely accurate, but okay. I see what you were after.” A little frustrated, I pushed my new bangs out of my face. “I still couldn’t get a sense of them, though. He’s a little easier to read than his wife, but they both play sincere very well. And they’re a team.”

“You and I are a team.”

“We’re getting there. I need to learn how to hold up my end better.”

“I have no complaints.”

I smiled. “I didn’t fuck up, which isn’t the same as doing a good job.”

His fingers brushed my cheek. “I wouldn’t care if you fucked it up, although I’m sure your definition of what that would be is very different from mine. I wouldn’t care if you have green hair or purple hair or whatever color you choose, although I’ll say I like it blond. You’re what I want.”

Turning my head, I kissed his palm. “Angela looks like Corinne.”

He huffed out a surprised laugh. “No, she does not.”

“Oh my God, she totally does! I mean, not like twins or anything. But the hair and the body type.”

Gideon shook his head. “No.”

“Do you think Landon went for someone who looks like your ideal woman?”

“I think your imagination is running away with you.” He put his fingers over my lips when I would’ve said more. “And if not, he got it wrong, so the point is moot.”

I wrinkled my nose at him. My clutch vibrated next to my thigh and I reached for it, pulling my phone out.

There was a text from Raúl. She’s at work.

I glanced at Gideon and found him watching me.

“I asked Raúl to track down Anne today,” I told him.

He muttered something under his breath. “You’re damned stubborn,” he bit out.

“As you pointed out, I feel confident and sexy.” I blew him a kiss. “It’s a good day to say hi.”

His eyes lifted to the rearview mirror. Angus met his gaze and something passed between them. Then my husband turned his brilliantly blue gaze back to me. “You’ll do whatever Angus says. If he doesn’t think it’s a good idea when the time comes, you back off. Understood?”

It took me a beat to reply, because I’d expected more pushback. “Okay.”

“And you’ll come to the penthouse tonight for dinner.”

“When did this become a negotiation?”

He just looked at me, implacable and unwavering.

“I told Cary I’d take him out to dinner, ace. He’s been making calls for me today while I’ve been with you. You’re welcome to come along.”

“No, thanks. Come over afterward.”

“Will you behave?”

His eyes sparkled with mischief. “Only if you do.”

I figured if he could have a sense of humor about it, we were making progress. “Deal.”

We pulled up in front of the Crossfire and Gideon straightened, preparing to get out. As Angus rounded the car to open the door, I leaned forward and offered my mouth. Cupping my face in both hands, Gideon kissed me, his lips firm and possessive. Unlike the melt-my-panties kiss he’d given me when we left Tableau One, this one was sweeter. And thorough.

I was breathless when he pulled away.

He studied me a moment, then gave a satisfied nod. “Call my cell as soon as you’re done.”

“What if you’re—”

“Call me.”

“All right.”

Gideon slid out of the back of the Bentley and strode into the Crossfire.

I watched him until I couldn’t see him anymore, remembering the first day we met. I’d been inside the lobby then and he’d come back for me. I kept that in mind, knowing it was senseless to feel bereft now, but it was never easy watching him walk away. That was one of my many flaws and something I would have to get over.

I miss you already, I texted to him.

His reply was quick. I’m glad, angel mine.

I was laughing as Angus slid in behind the wheel. He looked at me through the rearview mirror. “Where to?”

“Wherever Anne Lucas works.”

“She may be working for hours yet.”

“I figured. I’ve got a few things I can handle while I wait. If I run out of things to do, we’ll try again some other time.”

“Got it.” He started the Bentley and took off.

I called Cary.

“Hey,” he answered. “How was lunch?”

“It was good.” I caught him up.

“Eventful,” he said when I finished. “Can’t say I get the whole Landon thing, but then I don’t understand much of what goes on with your old man. Is there anyone not pissed off at him?”

“Me.”

“Right, but you’re not banging him.”

“Cary, I’m going to kill you, I swear.”

His low chuckle rippled over the line. “I got in touch with Blaire. He said he can meet you at the penthouse tomorrow if you like. Just text him a window of time and he’ll see what he can do.”

“Sweet. How about Kristin?”

“Getting to that, baby girl. She’s in the office all day today, so you can call her anytime. Or drop her an e-mail, if that’s easier. She’s champing at the bit to talk to you.”

“I’ll call her. You figure out where we’re going to dinner yet?”

“I feel like Asian. Chinese, Japanese, Thai … something like that.”

“Well, all right, then. Asian it is.” I leaned my head back against the seat. “Thanks, Cary.”

“Happy to help. When are you coming home?”

“Not sure yet. I’ve got one more thing to do, then I’ll head back.”

“I’ll see you then.”

I killed the call as Angus slid into a spot by the curb.

“That’s her office across the street,” he explained, directing my attention to the brick-faced building on my side. It had several stories and a small, neat lobby visible through glass doors.

I checked it out briefly, imagining her inside with a patient, someone who was baring their most personal secrets without knowing who they were really talking to. That was the way it worked. The mental health professional we trusted knew everything about us, while we only knew what we could discern from photos on desks and degrees on walls.

Scrolling through my contacts, I found Kristin’s number and called her office. Her assistant put me through straightaway.

“Hi, Eva. I had you on my list to call, but your friend beat me to it. I’ve been trying to reach you for a few days now, actually.”

“I know. I’m sorry about that.”

“No problem. I saw the pictures of you and Cross at the beach. I don’t blame you for not calling back. We do need to get together, though, and nail down some details.”

“September twenty-second is the date.”

There was a pause. “Okay. Wow.”

I winced, knowing I was asking a lot on incredibly short notice. And that it was going to cost a pretty penny to get it done in time. “I’ve decided my mom’s right about the white, cream, and gold palette, so let’s run with that. I’d like small accents of red. For example, I’ll have a neutral bouquet, but my jewelry will be rubies.”

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