Eva’s smile faded into a frown. “I don’t think it is.”

“I’ll take a look.”


Settling back in his chair, Chris held his glass close to his chest and sighed. “That was wonderful, Eva. Thank you.”

She waved that off. “It was salad. But I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

My gaze moved from her to my stepfather. I debated saying anything, stewed over it. Things were fine the way they were. Change sometimes fucked things up that were good before.

“We should do this more often.” The words were out of my mouth before I realized it.

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He stared at me, then looked down into his glass. He cleared his throat. “I would like that, Gideon.” He glanced at me. “I’ll take you up on the offer whenever you like.”

I nodded. Sliding off my stool, I grabbed his plate and my own and carried them over to the sink.

Eva joined me, handing me her plate. Our gazes met and she smiled. Then she turned to Chris. “Let’s open another bottle of wine.”

“We’re ahead of schedule by two weeks. Barring any unforeseen events, we should be finished early.”

“Excellent.” Standing, I shook the project manager’s hand. “You’re doing good work, Leo.”

Opening the newest Crosswinds resort earlier than planned offered myriad benefits, not the least of which was combining the necessary final inspections with some playtime with my wife.

“Thank you, Mr. Cross.” He gathered up his materials and straightened. Leo Aigner was a stout man, with thinning blond hair and a big smile. A hard worker, he stuck rigidly to timelines and sped them up whenever he could. “Congratulations, by the way. I heard that you got married recently.”

“I did, yes. Thank you.”

I walked with him to the door of my office, then glanced at my watch when he left. Eva was coming to the Crossfire at noon to have lunch with Mark and his fiancé Steven. I wanted to catch her while she was close. I needed her opinion before I proceeded with a possibility I’d been entertaining all day.

“Mr. Cross.” Scott stood in the doorway, intercepting me on the way to my desk.

I shot him a questioning look.

“Deanna Johnson has been waiting at reception for half an hour. What would you like me to tell Cheryl?”

I thought of Eva. “Tell her to send Ms. Johnson in.”

While I waited, I texted my wife. Save me some time before you leave the Crossfire. I need to ask you something.

An in-person meeting? she texted back. Are you thinking about my butt and boobs again?

Always, I replied.

That was how Deanna found me, smiling at my phone. I looked up as she walked in, all amusement gone in a flash. She was dressed in a white pantsuit, with a chunky gold choker around her neck; it was clear she’d taken care with her appearance. Her dark hair hung in waves around her face and shoulders, and her makeup had been applied with drama in mind.

She walked toward my desk.

“Ms. Johnson.” I set my phone aside and settled into my chair before she sat down. “I don’t have much time.”

Her mouth tightened. She tossed her purse onto the nearest chair and remained standing. “You promised me an exclusive on your wedding photos!”

“I did, yes.” And since I remembered what I’d extracted from her in exchange, I hit the control that closed my office door.

She set her hands on my desk and leaned over it. “I gave you all the information about that sex tape of Eva and Brett Kline. I held up my end of the deal.”

“While you convinced Corinne to give you what you needed to write a book about me.”

Something passed through her eyes.

“Did you think I was bluffing during the interview?” I asked evenly, leaning back and tapping my fingertips together. “That I didn’t know the ghostwriter is you?”

“That doesn’t have anything to do with the deal we made!”

“Doesn’t it?”

Deanna pushed away from the desk in a violent explosion of movement. “God, you smug son of a bitch. You don’t give a shit about anyone but yourself.”

“So you’ve said. Which raises the question—why would you trust me to follow through?”

“Total stupidity. I thought you were actually sincere when you apologized.”

“I was sincere. I’m very sorry I fucked you.”

Fury and embarrassment colored her face. “I hate you,” she hissed.

“I’m aware. You’re certainly free to do so, but I suggest you think twice before pursuing a vendetta against me or my wife.” I stood. “You’re going to walk out the door and I’ll forget you exist—again. You don’t want me thinking about you, Deanna. You won’t like the direction my thoughts would take.”

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