“No, I’m fine. I’m coming to you. In Rio.”
“What? No. I don’t want to be here. I need to be home to sort this shit out.”
“It’s out in the wild, Gideon. Nothing you can do will change that.” I pulled myself up off the floor. “You can hunt him—or her—down later. I’m not letting this ruin our memories of the weekend.”
“If they want pictures of you in Brazil, ace, I’m going to be in them.”
He took that in. “All right. I’ll be waiting for you.”
“Maybe it’s Photoshopped,” Megumi said.
“Or that guy is a lookalike,” Shawna suggested, leaning close to Megumi to look at her tablet. “You can’t really see that much of him, Eva.”
“No.” I shook my head. It was what it was. “That’s definitely Gideon.”
Cary, who sat beside me in the limo, took my hand in his and linked our fingers. My mom sat on the bench seat directly behind the driver, looking at fabric swatches. Her sleek legs were crossed, her foot tapping restlessly.
Both Megumi and Shawna shot me pitying looks.
Their sympathy chafed my pride. I’d made the mistake of looking at social media. It amazed me how cruel people could be. According to some, I was a woman scorned. Or I was just too stupid not to realize I was marrying a man who would give me his name while giving his body and attention to anyone he chose. I was a gold digger willing to put up with the humiliation for the money. I was a woman who could be a champion for all women … if I turned my back on Gideon and found someone else.
“It’s an old photo,” I reiterated.
In reality, May wasn’t all that long ago, but no one needed to know exactly when, aside from the fact that the photo hadn’t been taken while he was in a relationship with me.
He’d changed so much since then. For me. For us. And I was no longer the woman he’d met that fateful day in June.
“It’s ancient,” Shawna said decisively. “Totally.”
Megumi nodded but still looked dubious.
“Why would he lie?” I asked flatly. “It wouldn’t take much work to find the club in the background. It has to be one of Gideon’s, and I bet you it’s in Manhattan. He couldn’t be in New York and have a passport stamped in Brazil on the same day.”
It had taken me a couple of hours to figure that out and I was kind of glad about that. I didn’t need proof my husband was telling me the truth. But if we could somehow prove the photo was taken in a specific, identifiable location, it would be nice to set the public record straight.
“Oh, right.” Megumi gave me a big smile. “And he’s crazy about you, Eva. He wouldn’t mess around.”
I nodded my agreement, then pushed the subject aside. We would be at the airport soon and I didn’t want us to leave each other thinking about stupid gossip instead of the amazing trip we’d had. “Thank you for coming. I had a great time.”
I would’ve loved to take them to Rio, too, but they didn’t have the required visas to enter the country. Plus, they both had to work on Monday. So we’d part ways, with the girls heading home with Clancy’s security team, while Cary, my mom, and Clancy flew with me to Brazil on a jet Gideon had secured for us.
It was going to be a quick trip. We’d arrive on Monday morning and leave Monday night. What sleep we managed to catch would be on the jet. But by the time I was done, Gideon would leave Brazil with a smile. I didn’t want him looking back on the weekend with regret. He had enough bad memories. Moving forward, I wanted him to store up nothing but good ones.
“We should be thanking you.” Shawna grinned. “I wouldn’t have missed this for the world.”
“I’m with Shawna,” Megumi said. “This was a trip of a lifetime.”
Closing her eyes, Shawna leaned her head back against the seat. “Say hi to Arnoldo for me.”
I knew Shawna and Arnoldo had become friends since they had been introduced the night we’d gone to the Six-Ninths concert. I think they felt safe with one another. Shawna was waiting for her boyfriend, Doug, to come home from Sicily, where he was attending an exclusive course for chefs. Arnoldo was nursing a broken heart, but he was a man who loved women and likely appreciated being able to enjoy the companionship of one who expected nothing more.
Cary was dealing with something similar. He missed Trey and wasn’t interested in screwing around, which was huge for him. Usually, when he was hurting, he fucked to forget. Instead, he’d spent the weekend sticking close to Megumi, who looked like a deer in headlights when men approached her. Cary had been her shield, keeping things light and fun for both of them.