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“We’ll work on it,” he said. “And your nightmares, Gideon, are likely to continue to lessen in quantity and severity as we do. But this is just the beginning. We’ve taken some first steps in a long journey.”

Tilting my head back, I looked up at Gideon. “A lifetime,” I vowed.

Gideon touched my cheek with gentle fingers. He didn’t say the words, but I saw them in his gaze, felt them in his caress.

We had love. The rest would come.

10

“I’ve been communicating with Benjamin Clancy,” Raúl said, leaning forward with his elbows on his knees. “You and Mrs. Cross will be heading toward the airport at the same time, so you can travel together, if you like.”

“Of course.” I needed that time with Eva before we went our separate ways. The hours in the workday were too long to be away from her. A weekend was going to be torture. “I’ll call her and let her know we’ll be picking her up. We’ll need the limo.”

A professional to the core, Raúl showed no reaction. It would make more sense to use the limo for Eva’s friends, instead of us, but neither the Bentley nor the Benz offered the privacy I required.

Sitting on the couch in my office, I faced both Angus and Raúl, who’d settled into the two club chairs. We’d decided that Angus should stay behind while Raúl headed the security team accompanying me to Brazil.

Angus would be heading to Austin to dig into the background of Lauren Kittrie.

Raúl nodded his understanding. “We’ll make separate transportation arrangements for her friends and yours.”

“How is Eva getting to Ibiza?”

“Private jet,” he replied, “chartered by Richard Stanton. I suggested they stay at the Hotel Vientos Cruzados Ibiza and Clancy agreed. It took some doing, as the resort is fully booked for the summer season, but the property manager was able to make it happen. They’ve stepped up security in anticipation of Mrs. Cross’s arrival.”

“Good.” Having Eva stay in a Cross Industries resort gave me added peace of mind. We had two well-known nightclubs in Ibiza as well, one in Ibiza Town and one in Sant Antoni. I knew without asking that both had been pointed out to Clancy in advance. I expected he’d use the information. He was a smart man and would appreciate the added support provided by their security and staff.

“As we discussed previously,” he went on, “we’ll have our own team in place at the airport, and they’ll follow Mrs. Cross over the weekend. They’ve been instructed to stay in plainclothes and blend in, providing backup for Clancy’s team and interceding only when absolutely necessary.”

I nodded. Clancy was good, but he had both Monica and Eva under his watch, and they considered Cary family, so Clancy would be watching him closely, too. His focus would be divided three ways, with Monica taking precedence as the wife of his employer. Eva wasn’t the priority for anyone else that she was for me. I wanted dedicated eyes on her every moment she was out of the hotel.

Thank God this weekend was a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Raúl stood. “I’ll touch base with Clancy to discuss the protocol for getting to the airport.”

“Thanks, Raúl.”

With a nod, he left.

Angus rose to his feet. “I’ll be hieing off to take Lucky to your sister. She’s texting me every hour to see if I’ve left yet.”

That almost made me smile. Ireland had been excited when I asked if she would watch the dog for me. I figured Lucky would like that better than boarding, and Ireland could use a distraction from our mother’s depression over the divorce.

Angus paused on the way to the door. “Have fun, lad. It’ll do you good.”

I snorted. “Call me if you find anything.”

“Of course.” He departed, too, leaving me alone to finish up the workweek.

I noted the time on my phone before I speed-dialed my wife.

“Hi, ace,” she answered, her voice light and bright. “Can’t stop thinking about me, can you?”

“Tell me you were thinking about me.”

“Always.”

I remembered her as she’d been last night, lying prone on the bed with her heels kicked up behind her. She had watched me pack with her chin propped on her hands, commenting occasionally on my choices. She’d noted that I didn’t pack either the graphite gray slacks she fantasized about or a black V-neck T-shirt. The deliberate omission was the one thing that made her smile. Otherwise, she had been mostly quiet and moody.

“You and I are going to ride to the airport together,” I told her. “Alone.”

“Oh.” She let that sink in. “That’ll be nice.”

“I’m shooting for more than nice.”

“Ohhh … ” Her voice lowered, took on the soft huskiness that told me her thoughts had turned to sex. “Got a little transportation fetish yourself ?”

Warm amusement slid through me, helping to ease the stress brought on by thinking of the days ahead. Eva would let me have her anywhere, but she frequently seduced me while we were en route to somewhere. Having previously been restricted to having sex only in the hotel, she’d rocked my world by inciting me to make love to her in cars and planes, as well as my home and various places of business.

I would never say no to her. I wasn’t capable of it. When she wanted me, I was ready and more than willing.

“I have an Eva fetish,” I murmured, turning around something she’d once said to me.

“Good.” She took a breath. “Is the weekend over yet?”

I heard Cary say something I couldn’t quite make out. “Soon, angel. I’ll let you go.”

“Don’t ever let me go, Gideon.” There was a fervency to her words that moved me, betraying how unsettled she was by the weekend ahead. After the separation she’d enforced, it was good to know she wasn’t looking forward to another, even under much happier circumstances.

“I’ll let you get back to it,” I corrected. “So you can be ready when Raúl comes for you.”

“Never mind him. I’ll be ready to come for you,” she purred back, leaving me hard and aching as I ended the call.

Arash entered my office shortly after four, sauntering in with his hands in his pockets and humming a tune. He grinned as he sank into one of the chairs in front of my desk. “You ready for the weekend?”

“As ready as I’m going to be.” I sat back and drummed my fingers on the armrests of my chair.

“You’ll be happy to hear that Anne Lucas’s assault complaint is going away.”

I’d expected as much, but it was still good to have confirmation. “As it should.”

“I haven’t heard if she’ll be charged with falsely reporting an incident. In the meantime, if she attempts contact with you, Eva, or Cary in any way, I need to know immediately.”

I nodded absently. “Of course.”

He studied me. “Where’s your head at right now?”

My mouth twisted wryly. “I just got off the phone with one of the Vidal Records board members. Christopher is continuing to work on acquiring the capital for a buyout.”

Arash’s brows shot up. “If he pulls it together, would you consider getting out?”

“If I only had him to worry about, I would.” Whether Ireland chose to join the family business in the future was still to be seen, but regardless, she had a stake in the success of the company, and Christopher made poor decisions. All of my offers to support him and offer guidance had been rejected. He often refused to listen to Chris as well, apparently assuming his father’s wisdom came in some part from me.

“What does the board think?”

“It’s viewed as a family feud and they want me to find a quick, painless resolution.”

“Is that possible? You’ve never gotten along with your brother.”

I shook my head. “It’s a nonstarter.”

I knew Arash couldn’t understand. He had a brother and sister of his own, and his family was extremely tight-knit.

He sighed. “Sorry, man. That’s tough.”

In an ideal world, Christopher would be attending my bachelor party weekend. We’d be close. He would be the best man at my wedding …

… which was a position I hadn’t yet asked anyone to fill. Arnoldo had taken the reins with the weekend planning, but I didn’t know if he had done so because he assumed he’d be standing beside me at the wedding. Maybe he just had more initiative than the other guys.

Only a few short weeks ago it would have been a no-brainer to have Arnoldo stand with me. Part of me hoped that he still would.

Arash was also a good choice. Unlike Arnoldo, I saw Arash nearly every day. And as my attorney, he knew things about me—and Eva—that no one else did. I could trust him with anything, even without the protection of attorney/client privilege.

But Arnoldo was direct with me in a way no one else was, aside from my wife. I’d long thought that Arnoldo’s blunt, incisive advice had kept me from becoming too cynical and jaded.

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