Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(8)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(8)
Author: Sylvia Day

Taking a chair at the head of the table, Stanton was aware that the requisite backdrop of the New York skyline was behind him and he took advantage of its impressiveness.

"Eat," he said, with the command so easily wielded by all men of power. Men like Gideon Cross.

Had Stanton been as driven at Cross's age?

I picked up my fork and started in on a chicken, cranberry, walnut, and feta salad. It was delicious, and I was hungry. I was glad Stanton didn't start talking right away so I could enjoy the meal, but the reprieve didn't last long.

"Eva love, I wanted to discuss your interest in Krav Maga."

I froze. "Excuse me?"

Stanton took a sip of iced water and leaned back, his jaw taking on the rigidity that warned me I wouldn't like what he was about to say. "Your mother was quite distraught last night when you went to that studio in Brooklyn. It took some time to calm her down and to assure her that I could make arrangements for you to pursue your interests in a safe manner. She doesn't want - "

"Wait." I set my fork down carefully, my appetite gone. "How did she know where I was?"

"She tracked your cell phone."

"No way," I breathed, deflating into my seat. The casualness of his reply, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, made me feel ill. My stomach churned, suddenly more interested in rejecting my lunch than digesting it. "That's why she insisted I use one of your company phones. It had nothing to do with saving me money."

"Of course that was part of it. But it also gives her peace of mind."

"Peace of mind? To spy on her grown daughter? It's not healthy, Richard. You've got to see that. Is she still seeing Dr. Petersen?"

He had the grace to look uncomfortable. "Yes, of course."

"Is she telling him what she's doing?"

"I don't know," he said stiffly. "That's Monica's private business. I don't interfere."

No, he didn't. He coddled her. Indulged her. Spoiled her. And allowed her obsession with my safety to run wild. "She has to let it go. I've let it go."

"You were an innocent, Eva. She feels guilty for not protecting you. We need to give her a little latitude."

"Latitude? She's a stalker!" My mind spun. How could my mom invade my privacy like that? Why would she? She was driving herself crazy, and me along with her. "This has to stop."

"It's an easy fix. I've already spoken with Clancy. He'll drive you when you need to venture into Brooklyn. Everything's been arranged. This will be much more convenient for you."

"Don't try to twist this around to being for my benefit." My eyes stung and my throat burned with unshed tears of frustration. I hated the way he talked about Brooklyn like it was a third-world country. "I'm a grown woman. I make my own decisions. It's the goddamn law!"

"Don't take that tone with me, Eva. I'm simply looking after your mother. And you."

I pushed back from the table. "You're enabling her. You're keeping her sick, and you're making me sick, too."

"Sit down. You need to eat. Monica worries that you're not eating healthy enough."

"She worries about everything, Richard. That's the problem." I dropped my napkin on the table. "I have to get back to work."

I turned away, striding toward the door to get out as quickly as possible. I retrieved my purse from Stanton's secretary and left my cell phone on her desk. Clancy, who had been waiting for me in the reception area, followed me, and I knew better than to try and blow him off. He didn't take orders from anyone but Stanton.

Clancy drove me back up to midtown, while I stewed in the backseat. I could bitch all I wanted, but in the end I wasn't any better than Stanton because I was going to give in. I was going to cave and let my mom have her way, because it hurt my heart to think of her suffering any more than she already did. She was so emotional and fragile, and she loved me to the point of being crazy about it.

My mood was still dark when I got back to the Crossfire. As Clancy pulled away from the curb, I stood on the crowded sidewalk and looked up and down the busy street for either a drugstore where I could get some chocolate or a cellular store where I could pick up a new phone.

I ended up walking around the block and buying a half-dozen candy bars at a Duane Reade on the corner before heading back to the Crossfire. I'd been gone just about an hour, but I wasn't going to use the extra time Mark had given me. I needed work to distract me from my crazy-assed family.

As I caught an empty elevator car, I ripped open a bar and bit viciously into it. I was making strides toward filling my self-imposed chocolate quota before I hit the twentieth floor when the car stopped on the fourth. I appreciated the added time the stop gave me to enjoy the comfort of dark chocolate and caramel melting over my tongue.

The doors slid apart, and revealed Gideon Cross talking with two other gentlemen.

As usual, I lost my breath at the sight of him, which reignited my fading irritation. Why did he have that effect on me? When was I going to become immune to his hotness?

He glanced over and his lips curved into a slow, heart-stopping smile when he saw me.

Great. Just my crappy luck. I'd become some kind of challenge.

Cross's smile faded into a frown. "We'll finish this later," he murmured to his companions without looking away from me.

Stepping into the car, he lifted a hand to discourage them from following him. They blinked in surprise, glancing at me, then Cross, and then back again.

I stepped out, deciding it would be safer for my sanity to take a different car up.

"Not so fast, Eva." Cross caught me by the elbow and tugged me back. The doors shut and the elevator glided smoothly into motion.

"What are you doing?" I snapped. After dealing with Stanton, the last thing I needed was another domineering male trying to push me around.

Cross caught me by the upper arms and searched my face with that vivid blue gaze. "Something's wrong. What is it?"

The now-familiar electricity crackled to life between us, the pull made fiercer by my temper. "You."

"Me?" His thumbs stroked over my shoulders. Releasing me, he withdrew a lone key from his pocket and plugged it into the panel. All the lights cleared except for the one for the top floor.

He wore black again, with fine gray pinstripes. Seeing him from the back was a revelation. His shoulders were nicely broad without being bulky, emphasizing his lean waist and long legs. The silky strands of hair falling over his collar tempted me to clench them and pull. Hard. I wanted him as pissy as I was. I wanted a fight.

"I'm not in the mood for you now, Mr. Cross."

He watched the antique-style needle above the doors mark the passing floors. "I can get you in the mood."

"I'm not interested."

Cross glanced over his shoulder at me. His shirt and tie were both the same awesome cerulean as his irises. The effect was striking. "No lies, Eva. Ever."

"That's not a lie. So what if I'm attracted to you? I expect most women are." Wrapping up what was left of my candy bar, I shoved it back into the shopping bag I'd tucked into my purse. I didn't need chocolate when I was sharing air with Gideon Cross. "But I'm not interested in doing anything about it."

He faced me then, turning in a leisurely pivot, that ghost of a smile softening his sinful mouth. His ease and unconcern aggravated me further. "Attraction is too tame a word for" - he gestured at the space between us - "this."

"Call me crazy, but I have to actually like someone before I get na**d and sweaty with them."

"Not crazy," he said. "But I don't have the time or the inclination to date."

"That makes two of us. Glad we got that cleared up."

He stepped closer, his hand lifting to my face. I forced myself not to move away or give him the satisfaction of seeing me intimidated. His thumb brushed over the corner of my mouth; then lifted to his own. He sucked on the pad and purred, "Chocolate and you. Delicious."

A shiver moved through me, followed by a heated ache between my legs as I imagined licking chocolate off his lethally sexy body.

     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)