My fingers shook as I scrolled to the top of the page and read the brief article, searching for more information.


I went numb when I saw the mixer had been Thursday, from six to nine, at one of Gideon's properties - one I knew all too well.


He'd fucked me there, just as he'd fucked dozens of women there.


Gideon had stood me up for our appointment with Dr.


Petersen to take Corinne to his fuck-pad hotel.


That was what he'd wanted to tell the detectives that he didn't want me to hear: His alibi was an evening - maybe the whole night - spent with another woman.


Setting the tablet down with more care than necessary, I released the breath I'd been holding.


"That's not his sister."


"I didn't think so."


I looked at him.


"Could you do me a favor and finish making the coffee? I have a call to make."


"Sure.


Then I'm going to grab a shower."


He reached over and set his hand on top of mine.


"Let's go out and erase this whole morning.


Sound good?" "Sounds perfect."


I grabbed the phone off its base and went back to my bedroom.


I hit the speed dial for Gideon's cell and waited for him to pick up.


Three rings later, he did."Cross," he said, although his screen would've told him it was me.


"I really can't talk right now."


"Then just listen.


I'll time myself.


One minute.


One goddamn minute of your time.


Can you give me that?" "I really - " "Did Nathan come to you with photos of me?" "This isn't - " "Did he?" I snapped.


"Yes," he bit out.


"Did you look at them?" There was a long pause, then, "Yes."


I exhaled.


"Okay.


I think you're a total asshole for letting me go to Dr.


Petersen's office when you knew you weren't coming because you were going out with another woman instead.


That's just serious douchebag territory, Gideon.


And worse, it was a Kingsman event, too, which should've had some sentimental value to you, considering that's how - " There was the abrupt scraping noise of a chair being shoved back.


I rushed on, desperate to say what needed to be said before he hung up.


"I think you're a coward for not coming right out and saying we're over, especially before you started fucking around with someone else."


"Eva.


Goddamn it."


"But I want you to know that even though the way you've handled this is fucking wrong and you've broken my heart into millions of tiny pieces and I've lost all respect for you, I don't blame you for how you feel after seeing those pictures of me.


I get it."


"Stop."


His voice was little more than a whisper, making me wonder if Corinne was with him even now.


"I don't want you to blame yourself, okay? After what you and I have been through - not that I know what you've been through because you never told me - but anyway ."


I sighed and winced at how shaky it came out.


Worse, when I opened my mouth again, my words were watery with tears.


"Don't blame yourself.


I don't.


I just want you to know that."


"Christ," he breathed.


"Please stop, Eva."


"I'm done.I hope you find - " My hand clenched in my lap.


"Never mind.Good-bye."


I hung up and dropped the phone on my bed.


I stripped off my clothes on the way to the shower and set the ring Gideon had given me on the counter.


I turned the water on as hot as I could stand it and sank numbly to the floor of the stall.


I had nothing left.



Chapter 17



For the rest of Saturday and Sunday, my dad and I bounced all over the city.


I made sure he did the food thing, taking him to Junior's for cheesecake, Gray's Papaya for hot dogs, and John's for pizza, which we took back to the apartment to share with Cary.


We went up to the top of the Empire State Building, which also satisfied the Statue of Liberty requirement as far as my dad was concerned.


We enjoyed a matinee show on Broadway.


We walked to Times Square, which was hot and crowded and smelled awful but had some interesting - and a few half- naked - street performers.


I snapped pictures with my phone and sent them to Cary for a laugh.


My dad was impressed with the emergency responder presence in the city and liked seeing the police officers on horseback as much as I did.


We took a ride around Central Park in a horse- drawn carriage and braved the subway together.


I took him to Rockefeller Center and Macy's and the Crossfire, which he admitted was an impressive building more than capable of holding its own among other impressive buildings.


But through it all, we were just hanging out.


Mostly walking and talking and simply being together.


I finally learned how he'd met my mom.


Her sleek little sports car had gotten a flat tire and she'd ended up at the auto shop where he was working.


Their story reminded me of the old Billy Joel hit "Uptown Girl," and I told him so.


My dad laughed and said it was one of his favorite songs.


He said he could still see her sliding out from behind the wheel of her expensive little toy car and rocking his world.


She was the most beautiful thing he'd seen before or since .


until I came along.


"Do you resent her, Daddy?" "I used to."


He put his arm around my shoulders.


"I'm never going to forgive her for not giving you my last name when you were born.


But I'm not mad about the money thing anymore.


I'd never be able to make her happy in the long run, and she knew herself enough to know that."


I nodded, feeling sorry for all of us.


"And really" - he sighed and rested his cheek against the top of my head for a moment - "as much as I wish I could give you all the things her husbands can, I'm just glad you're getting them.


I'm not too proud to appreciate that your life is better because of her choices.


And I'm not upset with my lot.


I've got a good life that makes me happy and a daughter who makes me so damn proud.


I consider myself a rich man because there's nothing in this world I want that I don't already have."


I stopped walking and hugged him.


"I love you, Daddy.


I'm so happy you're here."


His arms came around me, and I thought I just might be all right eventually.


Both my mom and my dad were living fulfilling lives without the one they loved.


I could do it, too.


* * *


I fell into a depression after my dad left.


The next few days crawled by.


Every day I told myself I wasn't waiting on some sort of contact from Gideon, but when I crawled into bed at night, I cried myself to sleep because another day had ended without a word from him.


The people around me worried.


Steven and Mark were overly solicitous at lunch on Wednesday.


We went to the Mexican restaurant where Shawna worked, and the three of them tried so hard to make me laugh and enjoy myself.


I did, because I loved spending time with all three of them and hated the concern I saw in their eyes, but there was a hole inside me that nothing could fill and a niggling worry about the investigation into Nathan's death.


My mom called me every day, asking if the police had contacted me again - they hadn't - and filling me in if the police had contacted her or Stanton that day.


I worried that they were circling around Stanton, but I had to believe that because my stepfather was obviously innocent, there was nothing for them to find.


Still .


I wondered if they would end up finding anything.


It was obviously a homicide or they wouldn't be investigating.


With Nathan being new to the city, who did he know who'd want to kill him? In the back of my mind, I couldn't help but think that Gideon had arranged it.


That made it harder for me to get over him, because there was a part of me - the little girl I'd once been -  who'd wanted Nathan dead for a long time.


Who'd wanted him to hurt like he'd hurt me for years.


I'd lost my innocence to him, as well as my virginity.


I'd lost my self-esteem and self-respect.


And in the end, I'd lost a child in an agonizing miscarriage when I was no more than a child myself.


I got through every day one minute at a time.


I forced myself to go to Parker for Krav Maga, to watch TV, to smile and laugh when it was appropriate - most especially around Cary - and to get up every morning and face a new day.


I tried to ignore how dead I felt inside.


Nothing was vivid to me beyond the pain that throbbed through me like a constant dull ache.


I lost weight and slept a lot without feeling rested.


On Thursday, Day Six After Gideon: Round Two, I left a message with Dr.


Petersen's receptionist letting her know that Gideon and I wouldn't be coming to our sessions anymore.


That evening, I had Clancy swing by Gideon's apartment building, and I left the ring he'd given me and the key to his apartment in a sealed envelope with the front desk.


I didn't leave a note because I'd said everything I had to say.On Friday, one of the other junior account managers got an assistant, and Mark asked if I'd help the new hire get settled.


His name was Will and I liked him right away.


He had dark hair that was curly but worn short.


He had long sideburns and wore square-framed glasses that were very flattering on him.


He drank soda instead of coffee and was still dating his high school sweetheart.


I spent much of the morning showing him around the offices.


"You like it here," he said.


"I love it here."


I smiled.


Will smiled back.


"I'm glad.


I wasn't sure at first.


You didn't seem all that enthusiastic, even when you were saying good stuff."

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