“You’re the boss,” Eva said. “You can play hooky if you want to.”
“You’re a bad influence, Mrs. Cross.”
She linked her arm with mine and pulled me toward the door. “You love it.”
I held back, glancing at Mark.
“I know you’re busy,” he said. “But it would be nice if you could come along. I want to talk to you both about something.”
With a nod, I agreed. We exited out to the street, immediately hit with the heat of the day and the sounds of the city. Raúl waited at the curb with the limo, his gaze catching mine before he opened the door for Eva. A glare turned my head, drawing my attention to the telephoto lens of a camera peering at us from a car parked across the street.
I pressed a kiss to Eva’s temple before she slid into the back. She glanced at me, delighted and surprised. I didn’t explain. She’d asked for more photos of us to combat the upcoming release of Corinne’s book. It was no hardship to show my affection for her, regardless of whether that damned tell-all ever saw the light of day.
It was a short drive to Bryant Park. In moments, we were taking the steps up from the street and I was taking a trip back in time, remembering when Eva and I had fought in this very location. She’d seen a photo of me with Magdalene, a woman I considered a longtime family friend but who was rumored to be my lover. I’d seen a photo of Eva with Cary, a man she loved like a brother but who was rumored to be her live-in paramour.
We had both been crazed with jealousy, our relationship too new and stunted by too many secrets between us. I was already obsessed with her, my world tilting on its axis to accommodate her. Even in her fury, she’d looked at me with such love and accused me of not knowing it when I saw it. But I did know. I did see. It terrified me as nothing ever had. And it gave me hope, for the first time in my life.
She glanced at me as we approached the ivy-covered entrance to the restaurant, and I could see she remembered as well. We’d been here more recently, too, when Brett Kline had tried to win her back. She was already mine then, my rings on her fingers, our vows exchanged. We’d been stronger than before, but now … Now, nothing could shake us. We were anchored deep.
“I love you,” she said, as we followed Mark and Steven through the door. The sounds of a popular restaurant inundated us. The clang of silverware against china, the hum of multiple conversations, the barely discernible piped music, and the bustle of a busy kitchen.
My mouth curved. “I know.”
We were seated immediately and a server stopped by right away to take our drink order.
“Should we order champagne?” Steven asked.
Mark shook his head. “Come on. You know I have to go back to work.”
I held my wife’s hand beneath the table. “Ask again when he’s working for me. We’ll celebrate then.”
Steven grinned. “You got it.”
We placed our drink order—flat and sparkling water and one soda—and the server took off to fill them.
“So here’s the thing,” Mark began, straightening in his seat. “Part of the reason Eva quit was because of the LanCorp proposal …”
She preempted him, her mouth curved in a cat-that-ate-the-canary smile. “Ryan Landon offered you a job.”
His eyes widened. “How’d you know?”
She looked at me, then back at him. “You’re not taking it, are you?”
“No.” Mark sat back, studied us both. “It would have been a lateral move. Nothing like the bump I’ll get with Cross Industries. More than that, though, I remembered you telling me that there’s bad blood between Landon and Cross. I looked it up after you quit. Knowing the background, the whole thing wasn’t sitting right—him declining to work with us, then trying to poach me right after.”
“Could be he just wants you, without the agency,” Eva said.
Steven nodded. “That’s what I said.”
As he would, I thought, because he believed in his partner. But it appeared Mark knew better. Eva glanced at me. I clearly saw the I told you so in her gaze. I squeezed her hand.
“You don’t believe that,” Mark countered, proving us both right.
“No,” she agreed. “I don’t. I’ll be honest, I baited them. Told them Gideon and I are very fond of you and look forward to working with you again. I wanted to see if they’d bite. I figured if it was a great offer, I was doing you a favor. And if it wasn’t, no harm no foul.”
He frowned. “But why would you do that? Don’t you want me at Cross Industries?”
“Of course we do, Mark,” I interjected. “Eva was honest with them.”