“I need to talk to him. She was like a mother to Cary.”

“Eva.” I slid to the end of my seat and gripped her shoulders. “You don’t need to worry about anyone else right now.”


“Why didn’t you tell me?” She looked at me blankly. “Why lie to me?”

I started to explain, then hesitated. Finally, “To protect you.”

Her gaze left my face, drifted off to the side. “I think I knew something bad happened. I think that’s why I’m not surprised. But when we left … Was she …?”

“She was already gone, Eva. I won’t lie to you again—I didn’t know whether anyone had been hit when I got you out of there. The most important thing was to get you somewhere safe. After that—”

“Never mind.”

My chest expanded, my lungs shuddered. “There was nothing you could do.”

“It doesn’t matter now anyway.”

“You’re in shock, Eva. Look at me.” When she didn’t, I scooped her up and pulled her onto my lap. Her entire body was cold. I hugged her close, trying to warm her, and she shivered.

Standing, I took her to the bed and yanked the comforter back. I sat on the edge of the mattress and pulled the blankets around us, covering her from the shoulders down. Then I rocked her, my lips pressed to her forehead.

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“I’m so sorry, angel. I don’t know what to do. Tell me what to do.”

She didn’t answer me and she didn’t cry.

“Have you slept at all?” Chris asked softly. “Maybe you should lie down for an hour or so.”

I looked across my desk, startled to see my stepfather standing in front of me. I hadn’t heard him come in, my thoughts somewhere else as I stared sightlessly out the window.

Victor and Cary were in the living room with Eva, the two men barely able to talk, stunned with grief. Angus was somewhere in the building, working with the lobby staff to manage the throng of photographers and reporters camped outside the main entrance.

“Did you speak to Eva?” I rubbed my stinging eyes. “Her father and Cary are wrecks, and she’s …”

Christ. What was she? I hadn’t a clue. She seemed … detached. As if she weren’t connected at all with the anguish and powerless anger pouring from two people she loved deeply.

“She’s numb.” He took a seat. “It will hit her, eventually. For now, she’s dealing with it the only way she knows how.”

“ ‘Eventually’ isn’t quantifiable! I just need to know when … how … what to do.”

“That’s why you need to take care of yourself, Gideon.” His soft gaze searched my face. “So you can be strong for her when she needs you to be.”

“She won’t let me comfort her. She’s too busy worrying about everyone else.”

“It’s a distraction, I’m sure,” he said quietly. “Something to focus on besides her own loss. And if you’ll take my advice, right now you need to focus on you. It’s obvious you’ve been up all night.”

I gave a humorless laugh. “What gave me away? The tux?”

“The bloodshot eyes, the morning stubble. You don’t look like the husband Eva counts on to keep it together and do everything he can.”

“Damn it.” I stood. “It just seems … wrong to act like nothing happened.”

“That’s not what I meant. But life has to go on. And for Eva—that’s going to happen with you. So be you. Right now, you look as shaky as they do out there.”

I was. The fact that Eva wasn’t turning to me for comfort … It was everything I had been afraid of.

But I knew he was right. If I didn’t look like I could support her, how could I expect her to lean on me?

Chris rose to his feet. “I’ll make a pot of coffee while you’re in the shower. I brought food, by the way. Some pastries and sandwiches from a bakery your brother recommended. It’ll be lunchtime soon.”

I couldn’t imagine eating anything, but it was thoughtful of him. “Thank you.”

He walked with me to the door. “I’m staying in the city now, as you know. Christopher is going to manage things at work for the next few days so I can help you out here. If you need anything—at any time, doesn’t matter—just call me.”

I halted. My chest was too tight. I fought for every breath.

“Gideon.” Chris put his hand on my shoulder. “You’re both going to get through this. You have family and friends looking—”

“What family?”

His arm fell to his side.

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