Home > Entwined with You (Crossfire #3)(9)

Entwined with You (Crossfire #3)(9)
Author: Sylvia Day

“It’s unreal. I’m still trying to get a grip on it all.”

“You’ve wanted this a long time and you deserve it. Enjoy it.”

“Thanks.” He fell silent for a minute, and in that space of time, I pictured him in my mind. He’d looked amazing when I saw him last, his hair spiked and tipped with platinum, his emerald eyes dark and hot from wanting me. He was tall and muscular without being too bulky, his body ripped from constant activity and the demands of being a rock star. His golden skin was sleeved in tattoos, and he had piercings in his ni**les that I’d learned to suck on when I wanted to feel his c**k harden inside me …

But he couldn’t hold a candle to Gideon. I could admire Brett just like any other red-blooded woman, but Gideon was in a class by himself.

“Listen,” Brett said, “I know you’re working, so I don’t want to hold you up. I’m coming back to New York and I’d like to see you.”

I crossed my ankles under my desk. “I’m thinking that’s not a good idea.”

“We’re going to debut the music video for ‘Golden’ in Times Square,” he went on. “I want you there with me.”

“There with— Wow.” I massaged my forehead. Momentarily thrown by his request, I chose to think about how my mom would bitch at me for rubbing at my face, which she swore caused wrinkles. “I’m really flattered you asked, but I have to know—are you cool with just being friends?”

“Hell, no.” He laughed. “You’re single, golden girl. Cross’s loss is my gain.”

Oh, crap. It’d been almost three weeks since the first pictures of Gideon and Corinne’s staged reunion   had hit the gossip blogs. Apparently, everyone had decided it was time for me to move on with another guy. “It’s not that simple. I’m not ready for another relationship, Brett.”

“I asked you out on a date, not for a lifetime commitment.”

“Brett, really—”

“You have to be there, Eva.” His voice lowered to the seductive timbre that had always made me drop my panties for him. “It’s your song. I’m not taking no for an answer.”

“You have to.”

“You’ll hurt me bad if you don’t go,” he said quietly. “And that’s not bullshit. We’ll go as friends, if that’s what it takes, but I need you there.”

I sighed heavily, my head bowing over my desk. “I don’t want to lead you on.” Or piss Gideon off …

“I promise to consider it a favor from one friend to another.”

As f**king if. I didn’t answer.

He didn’t give up. He might never give up. “Okay?” he prodded.

A cup of coffee appeared at my elbow and I looked up to see Mark standing behind me. “Okay,” I agreed, mostly so I could get to work.

“Yesss.” There was a note of triumph in his voice that sounded like it was accompanied by a fist pump. “Could be either Thursday or Friday night; I’m not sure yet. Give me your cell number, so I can text you when I know for sure.”

I rattled the number off in a hurry. “Got it? I’ve got to run.”

“Have a great day at work,” he said, making me feel bad for being rushed and unfriendly. He’d always been a nice guy, and could have been a great friend, but I blew that chance when I kissed him.

“Thanks. Brett … I’m really happy for you. Bye.” I returned the handset to its cradle and smiled at Mark. “Good morning.”

“Everything all right?” he asked, his brown eyes capped with a slight frown. He was dressed in a navy suit with a deep purple tie that did great things for his dark skin.

“Yes. Thank you for the coffee.”

“You’re welcome. Ready to get to work?”

I grinned. “Always.”

IT didn’t take long for me to realize something wasn’t right with Mark. He was distracted and moody, which was very unlike him. We were working on a campaign for foreign-language-learning software, but he wasn’t into it at all. I suggested we talk a bit about the whole-foods locavore campaign, but that didn’t help.

“Is everything okay?” I asked finally, sliding uncomfortably into friend territory, where we both made an effort not to go during work.

We put work aside every other week when he invited me along to lunch with his partner, Steven, but we were careful about maintaining our roles as boss and subordinate. I appreciated that a lot, considering Mark knew my stepfather was rich. I didn’t want people giving me considerations I hadn’t earned.

“What?” He glanced up at me, then ran a hand over his close-cut hair. “Sorry.”

I laid my tablet flat in my lap. “Seems like you’ve got something weighing on your mind.”

He shrugged, swiveling away and back again in his Aeron chair. “Sunday is my seventh anniversary with Steven.”

“That’s awesome.” I smiled. Out of all the couples I’d seen over the course of my life, Mark and Steven were the most stable and loving. “Congratulations.”

“Thanks.” He managed a weak smile.

“Are you going out? Do you have reservations or do you want me to handle that?”

He shook his head. “Haven’t decided. I don’t know what would be best.”

“Let’s brainstorm. I haven’t had many anniversaries myself, I’m sad to say, but my mom is spectacular with them. I’ve picked up a thing or two.”

After playing hostess to three wealthy husbands, Monica Tramell Barker Mitchell Stanton could’ve been a professional event planner if she ever had to work for a living.

“Do you want something private,” I suggested, “with just the two of you? Or a party with friends and family? Do you exchange gifts?”

“I want to get married!” he snapped.

“Oh. Okay.” I sat back in my chair. “As far as romance goes, I can’t top that.”

Mark barked out a humorless laugh and followed it with a miserable look at me. “It should be romantic. God knows when Steven asked me a few years ago, it was hearts and flowers to the max. You know drama is his middle name. He went all out.”

Startled, I blinked at him. “You said no?”

“I said not yet. I was just starting to get my legs under me here at the agency, he was starting to get some really lucrative referrals, and we were picking up the pieces after a painful breakup. It seemed like the wrong time and I wasn’t sure he wanted to marry for the right reasons.”

“No one ever knows that for sure,” I said softly, as much to myself as to him.

“But I didn’t want him to think I had doubts about us,” Mark went on, as if I hadn’t spoken, “so I blamed my refusal on the institution of marriage, like a total ass.”

I suppressed a smile. “You’re not an ass.”

“Over the last couple years, he’s made more than a few comments about how right I was to say no.”

“But you didn’t say no. You said not yet, right?”

“I don’t know. Jesus, I don’t know what I said.” He leaned forward, resting his elbows on the desktop and dropping his face into his hands. His voice came low and muffled. “I panicked. I was twenty-four. Maybe some people are up for that kind of commitment then, but I … I wasn’t.”

“And now you’re twenty-eight and ready?” The same age as Gideon. And thinking of that made me quiver, in part because I was the same age Mark had been when he’d said not yet and I could relate.

“Yes.” Lifting his head, Mark met my gaze. “I’m beyond ready. It’s like some timer is counting down the minutes, and I’m getting more impatient by the hour. But I’m afraid he’s going to say no. Maybe his time was four years ago and now he’s over it.”

“I hate to sound trite, but you won’t know unless you ask.” I offered him a reassuring smile. “He loves you. A lot. I think your odds of hearing yes are pretty darn good.”

He smiled, revealing charmingly crooked teeth. “Thank you.”

     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)