I was thanking God for air-conditioning when I spotted Stanton’s head of security waiting by a black car at the curb.
Benjamin Clancy greeted me with an easy, confident nod. His demeanor was so business-as-usual, while I felt such gratitude for him it was hard to restrain myself from grabbing and kissing him.
Gideon had killed Nathan to protect me. Clancy had made sure Gideon would never pay for it.
“Hey, you,” I said to him, seeing my smile reflected in his mirrored aviator shades.
“Eva. It’s good to see you.”
“I was just thinking the same about you.”
He didn’t smile outwardly; it wasn’t his way. But I could feel it nonetheless.
My mom slid in first, and then I joined her in the backseat. Before Clancy even rounded the trunk of the car, she was shifting to face me and reaching for my hand. “Don’t worry about your father. He’s got that quick Latin temper, but it never lasts long. All he really wants is to make sure you’re happy.”
I squeezed her fingers gently. “I know. But I really, really want Dad and Gideon to get along.”
“They’re two very headstrong men, honey. They’re going to clash occasionally.”
She wasn’t wrong. I wanted to dream about the two of them hanging out the way guys did, bonding over sports or cars, with all the playful ribbing and backslapping that usually accompanied that sort of thing. But I had to work with reality, whatever that turned out to be.
“You’re right,” I conceded. “They’re both big boys. They’ll figure it out.” Hopefully.
“Of course they will.”
With a sigh, I glanced out the window. “I think I’ve come up with a solution for Corinne Giroux.”
There was a pause. “Eva, you have got to put that woman out of your mind. By giving her any thought at all, you’re giving her power she doesn’t deserve.”
“We allowed her to become a problem by being so secretive.” I looked back at my mother. “The world has a tremendous appetite for all things Gideon. He’s gorgeous, rich, sexy, and brilliant. People want to know everything about him, but he’s guarded his privacy to such an extreme degree that they know next to nothing. That’s given Corinne this opening to write her biography about her time with Gideon.”
She gave me a wary look. “What are you thinking?”
Digging into my bag, I pulled out a small tablet. “We need more of this.”
I flipped the screen around, showing her the image of Gideon and me that had been taken just hours before as we’d stood in front of the Crossfire. The manner in which he gripped me by the nape was both tender and possessive, while the way my face tilted up to him revealed my love and adoration. It made my stomach turn to see such a private moment spread out for the world to ogle, but I had to get over it. I had to give them more.
“Gideon and I need to stop hiding,” I explained. “We need to be seen. We spend too much time shut in. The public wants the billionaire playboy who’s finally becoming Prince Charming. They want fairy tales, Mom, and happy endings. I need to give people the story they want and by doing so, I’m going to make Corinne and her book look pathetic.”
My mother’s shoulders went back. “That’s a horrible idea.”
“No, it’s not.”
“It’s terrible, Eva! You don’t trade hard-earned privacy for anything. If you feed that public hunger, it will just get larger. For God’s sake, you don’t want to become a tabloid fixture!”
My jaw set. “It won’t play out that way.”
“Why would you risk it?” Her voice rose and became shrill. “Because of Corinne Giroux? Her book will come and go in the blink of an eye, but you’ll never get rid of the attention once you invite it!”
“I don’t get you. There’s no way to be married to Gideon and not get attention! I might as well take control and set the stage myself.”
“There’s a difference between being prominent and being a TMZ headline!”
I growled inwardly. “I think you’re taking the drama to the extreme.”
She shook her head. “I’m telling you, this is the wrong way to handle the situation. Have you discussed this with Gideon? I can’t see him agreeing to this.”
I stared at her, truly startled by her response. I’d thought she would be all for it, considering how she felt about marrying well and what that entailed.
That was when I saw the fear tightening her mouth and shadowing her eyes.
“Mom.” I softened my voice, mentally kicking myself for not putting it together sooner. “We don’t have to worry about Nathan anymore.”