“Oh?” He leaned into the counter and crossed his arms.

“I’m hopping in the shower. You’re going to find me a fabulous hair salon that can fit me in about thirty minutes from now.”



“Then I’m going to lunch and you’re going to make a few calls for me. In return, I’m taking you out to dinner tonight. You pick the place.”

“I know that look you’ve got,” he said. “You’re on a mission.”

“Damn straight.”

I showered quickly, since I didn’t wash my hair. Then I hurried over to my closet, having spent the time in the bathroom thinking about what I wanted to wear. It took a few minutes to locate the right dress. Bright white, with a built-in bra and fitted tulip skirt, it draped beautifully across the bust and thighs. The color and cotton fabric kept it casual, while the fit was both elegant and sexy.

It took a little longer to find the right pair of shoes. I considered nude for a long time. In the end, I went with a pair of strappy heeled sandals in aqua blue that matched Gideon’s eyes. I had a clutch that matched, and a set of opal earrings that had the same bright blue fire.

I laid it all out on the bed to make sure it worked, standing back in my bathrobe to eye the ensemble carefully.

“Nice,” Cary said, as he came up behind me.

“I bought those shoes,” I reminded him. “And the clutch and jewelry.”

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He laughed and tossed an arm around my shoulders. “Yeah, yeah. Your hairstylist is here. I told the desk to send him up.”


“I can’t see you going into any old salon without making a scene. You’ll have to find someone you trust to style you in private appointments. In the meantime, Mario can rock a haircut.”

“How about color?”

“Color?” His arm dropped and he faced me. “What are you thinking?”

I caught his hand and started out of the room. “Stick with me, kid.”

Mario was a compact bundle of energy with a stylish flop of purple-tipped curls. Shorter than me and hard with muscle, he set up shop in my bathroom while gossiping with Cary about people they knew, dropping names I sometimes recognized.

“A natural blonde,” he gushed when he first got his hands on my hair. “You, my dear, are a rare breed.”

“Make me blonder,” I told him.

Taking a step back, he stroked his goatee thoughtfully. “How much blonder?”

“What’s the opposite of black?”

Cary whistled.

Mario sifted my hair through his fingers. “You’ve already got platinum highlights.”

“Let’s take it up a notch. I want to keep the length, but let’s do something edgy. More layers. A little spiky on the tips. Maybe some bangs to frame my eyes.” I sat up straighter. “I’m sassy, sexy, and smart enough to flaunt it.”

He glanced at Cary. “I like her.”

My best friend crossed his arms and nodded. “Me, too.”

Stepping back from the mirror, I took in the full effect. I loved what Mario had done with my hair. It fell in piecey, choppy layers around my shoulders and face. He’d heavily foiled my crown and around my face, creating an overall look of lighter hair without altering the dark gold strands underneath. Then he’d teased the roots just enough to give me some sexy volume.

My weekend tan only made my hair look lighter. I’d gone a little wild with a smoky-eye look, using grays and blacks to play up my gray irises. To balance that, I’d kept the rest of my makeup neutral, including my lips, which were glossed in a nude tint. When I juxtaposed my reflection with the image of Gideon in my mind, I saw just the result I was looking for.

My husband was the definition of tall, dark, and gorgeous. His hair was pure black, as dark as ink and just as lustrous. He wore dark colors more often than not, which focused attention on the chiseled planes of his face and the striking color of his eyes. I’d pulled off being a complementary opposite. The yang to his yin.

Bam. I looked good.

“Whoa. Hotness.” Cary raked me with an appreciative glance as I rushed through the living room. “What kind of lunch is this that you’re going to?”

I glanced at my phone, cursing silently to see that ten minutes had passed since Raúl texted that he was waiting downstairs. “I don’t know. Something to do with business, Gideon said.”

“Well, you’re spectacular arm candy.”

“Thanks.” But I wanted to be more than that. I wanted to be a weapon in Gideon’s arsenal. I’d have to earn it, though, and I relished the challenge. If I could manage to contribute something—anything—to the conversation today, I’d be happy. If I was out of my depth, though, I could at least make him proud to be seen with me.

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