Home > One with You (Crossfire #5)(7)

One with You (Crossfire #5)(7)
Author: Sylvia Day

“Gideon. Surely you can spare a few minutes for an old friend?”

Leaning back into my desk, I crossed my arms. “And extend the courtesy of not calling security. Make it quick, Corinne.”

She smiled, but her eyes, the color of aquamarines, were sad.

She had a small red box tucked under her arm. When she reached me, Corinne offered it to me.

“What is this?” I asked, without reaching for it.

“These are the photos that will appear in the book.”

My brow arched. I found myself unfolding and accepting the box, driven by curiosity. It hadn’t been too long ago that we’d been together, but I scarcely remembered the details. What I had were impressions, big moments, and regret. I’d been so young, with a dangerous lack of self-awareness.

Corinne set her purse on my desk, moving in a way that brushed her arm against mine. Wary, I reached over and hit the button that controlled the opacity of the glass wall.

If she wanted to put on a show, I’d make sure she didn’t have an audience.

Taking the lid off the box, I was confronted with a photo of Corinne and me entangled in front of a bonfire. Her head was nestled in the crook of my shoulder, her face tilted up so I could press a kiss to her lips.

The memory assailed me immediately. We’d taken a day trip to a friend’s house in the Hamptons. The weather had been cool, fall giving way to winter.

In the picture we looked happy and in love, and in a way, I suppose we were. But I’d refused the invitation to spend the night, despite Corinne’s obvious disappointment. With my nightmares, I couldn’t sleep beside her. And I couldn’t fuck her, though I knew that was what she wanted, because the hotel room I reserved for that purpose was miles away.

So many hangups. So many lies and evasions.

I took a deep breath and let the past go. “Eva and I were married last month.”

She stiffened.

Setting the box down on the desktop, I reached for my smartphone and showed her the picture wallpapering my screen—Eva and I sharing the kiss that sealed our vows.

Turning her head, Corinne looked away. Then she reached into the box, flipping through the top few photos to pull out one of us at the beach.

I was standing waist deep in the surf. Corinne was twined around me from the front, her legs wrapped around my waist, her arms draped over my shoulders and her hands in my hair. Her head was tossed back on a laugh, her joy radiating from the image. I gripped her fiercely, my face upturned to watch her. There was gratitude there and wonder. Affection. Desire. Strangers would see it and think it was love.

Which was Corinne’s goal. I denied that I ever loved anyone before Eva, which was no less than the truth. Corinne was determined to prove me wrong in the most public way possible.

Leaning over, she looked at the picture, then at me. Her expectation was tangible, as if some monumental epiphany was supposed to strike me. She toyed with her necklace and I realized it was one I’d given her, a small gold heart on a simple chain.

For fuck’s sake. I didn’t even remember who took the damn photo or where we were at the time, and it didn’t matter.

“What do you expect these photos to prove, Corinne? We dated. We ended. You married, and now I have. There’s nothing left.”

“Then why are you getting so upset? You’re not indifferent, Gideon.”

“No, I’m irritated. These only make me appreciate what I have with Eva more. And knowing that they’ll hurt her sure as hell doesn’t make me feel sentimental about the past. This is our final good-bye, Corinne.” I held her gaze, making sure she saw my resolve. “If you come back here, security won’t let you through.”

“I won’t be back. You’ll have to—”

Scott beeped through and I picked up the phone. “Yes?”

“Miss Tramell is here for you.”

I leaned over the desk again, tapping the button that opened the doors. A moment later, Eva walked in.

Would the day ever come when I would see her and not feel the earth shift beneath my feet?

She came to an abrupt halt, giving me the pleasure of taking in the sight of her. Eva was a natural blonde, with pale streaks framing a delicate face and accentuating stormy gray eyes that I could spend hours looking into—and had. She was petite but dangerously curved, her body deliciously soft to roll around with in bed.

I might’ve called her angelically beautiful, if not for the lush sensuality that always made me think of and crave wickedly raw sex.

Without volition, my mind filled with the memory of her scent and the feel of her beneath my hands. The throaty laugh that brought me joy and the fiery quick temper that rocked me on my feet were visceral recollections. Everything in me thrummed to life, a surge of energy and awareness I felt at no other time than when I was with her.

Corinne spoke first. “Hello, Eva.”

I bristled. The urge to shield and protect the most valuable thing in my life overrode any other consideration.

Straightening, I tossed the photo back in the box and went to my wife. Compared to Corinne, she was dressed demurely in a black pinstriped skirt and a sleeveless silk blouse that gleamed like a pearl. The surge of heat I felt was all the proof I needed as to which woman was sexier.

Eva. Now and forever.

The pull I felt drew me across the room in long, quick strides.

Angel.

I didn’t say the word aloud, didn’t want Corinne to hear it. But I could see that Eva felt it. I reached for her hand, felt a tingle of deep recognition that tightened my grip.

She shifted to look past me and acknowledge the woman who was no rival. “Corinne.”

I didn’t turn to look.

“I have to run,” Corinne said behind me. “Those copies are for you, Gideon.”

Unable to take my gaze off Eva, I spoke over my shoulder. “Take them with you. I don’t want them.”

“You should finish going through them,” she countered, approaching.

“Why?” Aggravated, I glanced at Corinne when she stopped next to us. “If I have any interest in seeing them, I can always flip through your book.”

Her smile tightened. “Good-bye, Eva. Gideon.”

As she left, I took another step toward my wife, closing the final bit of distance between us. I caught her other hand, leaning over her to breathe in the scent of her perfume. Calm drifted through me.

“I’m glad you came.” I whispered the words against her forehead, needing every connection I could manage. “I miss you so much.”

Closing her eyes, she leaned into me with a sigh.

Feeling the lingering strain in her, I tightened my grip on her hands. “You okay?”

“Yeah. I’m good. I just wasn’t expecting to see her.”

“Neither was I.” As much as I hated to pull away, I hated the thought of those photos even more.

Returning to my desk, I put the lid back on the box and tossed the whole thing into the trash.

“I quit my job,” she said. “Tomorrow’s my last day.”

That decision was one I’d wanted her to come to. I believed it was the best and safest step for her to take. But I knew what a difficult conclusion it must have been for her to make. Eva loved her job and the people she worked with.

Knowing how well she could read me, I kept my tone neutral. “Did you?”

“Yep.”

I studied her. “What’s next for you, then?”

“I’ve got a wedding to plan.”

“Ah.” My mouth curved. After days of fearing she had second thoughts and wanted out of our marriage, it was a relief to hear otherwise. “Good to know.”

I beckoned her closer with a crook of my finger.

“Meet me halfway,” she shot back, with a glint of challenge in her eyes.

How could I resist? We met in the middle of the room.

That was why we were going to get past this and every other hurdle we faced: We would always meet each other halfway.

She wouldn’t ever be the docile wife my friend Arnoldo Ricci had wished for me. Eva was too independent, too fierce. She had a jealous streak a mile wide. She was demanding and stubborn, and she defied me just to drive me crazy.

And that friction worked in a way it never could have with any other woman, because Eva was meant for me. I believed that as I believed in nothing else.

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)