Home > One with You (Crossfire #5)(6)

One with You (Crossfire #5)(6)
Author: Sylvia Day

My jaw set. “It won’t play out that way.”

“Why would you risk it?” Her voice rose and became shrill. “Because of Corinne Giroux? Her book will come and go in the blink of an eye, but you’ll never get rid of the attention once you invite it!”

“I don’t get you. There’s no way to be married to Gideon and not get attention! I might as well take control and set the stage myself.”

“There’s a difference between being prominent and being a TMZ headline!”

I growled inwardly. “I think you’re taking the drama to the extreme.”

She shook her head. “I’m telling you, this is the wrong way to handle the situation. Have you discussed this with Gideon? I can’t see him agreeing to this.”

I stared at her, truly startled by her response. I’d thought she would be all for it, considering how she felt about marrying well and what that entailed.

That was when I saw the fear tightening her mouth and shadowing her eyes.

“Mom.” I softened my voice, mentally kicking myself for not putting it together sooner. “We don’t have to worry about Nathan anymore.”

She returned my stare. “No,” she agreed, not the least bit soothed. “But having everything you’ve done … everything you’ve said or decided dissected for the entertainment of the world could be its own nightmare.”

“I’m not going to allow other people in the world to dictate how I and my marriage are perceived!” I was tired of feeling like a … victim. I wanted to be the one to go on the offensive.

“Eva, you’re not—”

“Either give me an alternative that doesn’t involve sitting around doing nothing or drop the subject, Mom.” I turned my head away. “We’re not going to agree and I’m not changing my mind without a different game plan on the table.”

She made a frustrated noise, then fell silent.

My fingers flexed with the need to text Gideon and vent. He had once told me I would excel at crisis management. He’d suggested I lend my talents to Cross Industries as a fixer.

Why not start with something more intimate and important instead?

2

“More flowers?” Arash Madani drawled as he strolled into my office through the open glass double doors.

My lead attorney walked over to where Eva’s white roses decorated the main seating area. I’d had them placed on the coffee table in my direct line of sight. There, they had been successfully drawing my attention away from the stock tickers streaming on the wall of flat screens behind them.

The card that accompanied the flowers sat on the smoked glass of my desk and I fingered it, rereading the words for the hundredth time.

Arash pulled a rose out and lifted it to his nose. “What’s the secret to getting sent some of these?”

I sat back, absently noting that his emerald-hued tie matched the jeweled decanters decorating the bar. Until his arrival, the brightly colored carafes and Eva’s red vase had been the only spots of color in the monochromatic expanse of my office. “The right woman.”

He returned the flower to its vase. “Go ahead, Cross, rub it in.”

“I prefer to gloat quietly. Do you have something for me?”

Approaching my desk, he grinned in a way that told me he loved his job, although I never doubted it. His predatory instincts were nearly as highly developed as my own.

“The Morgan deal is coming together nicely.” Adjusting his tailored slacks, he settled into one of the two chairs facing my desk. His style was slightly flashier than mine but couldn’t be faulted. “We’ve ironed out the bigger points. Still finessing some clauses, but we should be ready to proceed by next week.”

“Good.”

“You are a man of few words.” Casually, he asked, “You up for getting together this weekend?”

I shook my head. “Eva may want to go out. If so, I’ll try to talk her out of it.”

Arash laughed. “I gotta tell you, I expected you to settle down at some point—we all do, eventually—but I thought I’d have some warning.”

“So did I.” Which wasn’t quite the truth. I never expected to share my life with anyone. I’d never denied that my past shadowed my present, but I saw no need to share that history with anyone before Eva. It couldn’t be changed, so why rehash it?

Standing, I walked to one of the two floor-to-ceiling walls of windows framing my office and took in the urban splendor sprawling beyond the glass.

I hadn’t known Eva was out there, had been afraid to even dream of finding the one person in the world who would accept and love every facet of me.

How was it possible that I’d found her here, in Manhattan, at the very building I’d had built against sound advice and at great risk? Too expensive, they’d said, and unnecessary. But I’d needed the Cross name to be memorable and mentioned in a different way. My father had dragged our name through the mud; I’d lifted it to the heights of the most relevant city in the world.

“You showed no sign at all you were leaning that way,” Arash said behind me. “If I remember correctly, you tagged two women when we blew out Cinco de Mayo, and a few weeks later you’re telling me to draft an insane prenup.”

I surveyed the city, taking a rare moment to appreciate the hawk’s-eye view afforded me by the height and position of my office in the Crossfire Building. “When have you known me to delay sealing a deal?”

“It’s one thing to expand your portfolio, another to reboot your life overnight.” He chuckled. “So what are your plans, then? Breaking in the new beach house?”

“An excellent idea.” Taking my wife back to the Outer Banks was my goal. Having her all to myself had been heaven. I was happiest when I was alone with her. She revitalized me, made me anticipate living in a way I never had before.

I’d built my empire with the past in mind. Now, thanks to her, I would continue to build it for our future.

My desk phone flashed. It was Scott, on line one. I pressed the button, and his voice came through the speaker. “Corinne Giroux’s at reception. She says she needs just a few minutes to drop off something for you. Because it’s private, she wants to give it to you personally.”

“Of course she does,” Arash chimed in. “Maybe it’s more flowers.”

I shot him a look. “Wrong woman.”

“If only my wrong women looked like Corinne.”

“Keep thinking that while you head up to reception to get whatever it is she has.”

His brows shot up. “Really? Ouch.”

“She wants to talk, she can talk to my attorney.”

He pushed to his feet and headed out. “Got it, boss.”

I glanced at the clock. Quarter to five. “I’m sure you heard that, Scott, but to be clear, Madani will handle.”

“Yes, Mr. Cross.”

Through the glass wall separating my office from the rest of the floor, I watched Arash round the corner on his way to reception, and then I mentally brushed the whole thing aside. Eva would be with me shortly, the very thing I’d been waiting for since the workday started.

But of course, it couldn’t be that easy.

A flash of crimson in the corner of my eye just a few moments later had me looking back out at the work floor and seeing Corinne marching toward my office with Arash hot on her heels. Her chin lifted when our eyes met. Her tight smile widened, transforming her from a beautiful woman to a stunning one. I could admire her the way I would admire anything except Eva—objectively, dispassionately.

Now happily married, I could fully grasp what a horrible mistake it would have been to marry Corinne. It was unfortunate for all of us that she refused to see it.

I stood and rounded my desk. The look I swept over both Arash and Scott called them off from any further action. If Corinne wanted to deal with me directly, I’d give her one last opportunity to do the right thing.

She glided into my office on red stilettos. The strapless dress she wore was the same hue as the shoes and showed off both her long legs and pale skin. She wore her hair down, the black strands sliding around her bare shoulders. She was the polar opposite of my wife and a mirror image of every other woman who’d passed through my life.

Books
     Bared to You (Crossfire #1)
     Reflected in You (Crossfire #2)
     Entwined with You (Crossfire #3)
     Captivated by You (Crossfire #4)
     One with You (Crossfire #5)