Gideon and I challenged each other. We pushed each other to change and grow. Sometimes, we hurt each other to accomplish something or make a point, which worried Dr. Petersen but somehow was working for us. We could forgive each other for anything except betrayal.
It was inevitable that others, especially those close to us, would look at us from the outside and wonder how and why it worked, and whether it should. They couldn’t understand—and I didn’t blame them because I was only just starting to really grasp it myself—that we pushed ourselves harder than we ever pushed each other. Because we wanted to be the best possible versions of ourselves, to be strong enough to be what the other needed.
I used the restroom, then washed my hands, taking a moment to look in the mirror when I was done and fluff my hair. I wasn’t sure how Mario had done it, but he’d given me a cut that gained more body the more I touched it.
I caught Cindy’s smile in the mirror and felt a little self-conscious. Then she pulled out a tube of bright red lipstick and I relaxed.
“Eva. I almost didn’t recognize you. I love what you’ve done with your hair.”
Through the mirror, I looked for the person speaking to me. For a split second, I thought it was Corinne and my heart rate kicked up. Then I homed in on the face.
“Hello.” Turning, I faced Ryan Landon’s wife. When I’d first met Angela, she had worn her hair in an artful chignon, which disguised the length of her hair. With it down, the long black strands hung in a straight curtain that reached the middle of her back. She was tall and slender, her eyes a muted blue-gray. Her face was longer than Corinne’s and her features a bit less perfect, but she was still a knockout.
Her gaze assessed me so casually from head to toe I couldn’t swear that was what she had done. Nice trick. I hadn’t mastered it. It dawned on me that I would be constantly scrutinized by more than just the media as I took my place in the city’s new elite. I wasn’t ready. My mother’s debutante training and rules weren’t going to help me, that was for damn sure.
Angela smiled and took the sink next to me. “It’s good to see you.”
“You, too.” Now that I was armed with the knowledge of Landon’s vendetta against Gideon, I was on alert. But I wasn’t trying to land her husband’s account anymore. We were equals. Well, almost. My husband was younger, richer, and hotter. And she knew it.
Cindy and Lynn finished up and started moving toward the exit. I fell into step with them.
“I was wondering—” Angela began.
I paused and looked at her inquisitively. Giving us privacy, the other gals left.
“—if you’ll be attending the Grey Isles show this week? Your close friend—the one who’s living with you—he’s the face of their latest campaign, isn’t he?”
It was hard, but I kept my face straight. Why ask me that? What was she getting at? I couldn’t tell because her face was clear and innocent, with no sign of guile. Maybe I was looking for a hidden objective that wasn’t there. Or I just didn’t have the skill set I needed to play her game as well as she did.
Because she was obviously paying attention to me. Not just my relationship with Gideon, but all my relationships. She was following the gossip. Why?
“I don’t have plans to attend any of the Fashion Week shows,” I replied carefully.
Her smile faded but her eyes lit up, putting me further on edge. “That’s a shame. I thought we might go together.”
I still couldn’t get a read on her, which was driving me a little nuts. She’d seemed nice enough when I met her the first time, but then she had been quiet, letting her husband and the rest of the LanCorp team do all the talking. Would she say outright that her husband had a hatred for mine? Neither she nor Landon had given me any clue there was animosity with Gideon. But then again, it wasn’t something that would come up during a request-for-proposal meeting.
Or maybe she didn’t know …? Maybe Landon’s drive for vengeance was something he kept to himself.
“Not this time,” I said. I deliberately kept the door open because I might be able to use it. She could be as clueless and innocuous as she seemed or she could be more cunning. Either way, I wouldn’t be making friends with anyone whose husband wished Gideon harm, but Keep your enemies closer was an adage for a reason.
She dried her hands quickly and walked with me the rest of the way to the exit. “Maybe some other time.”
After the relative quiet of the bathroom, the restaurant was boisterous and noisy, filled with the sounds of voices and clinking silverware atop background music.