You have to trust me.
I closed my inbox, my breathing too quick and my heartbeat too fast. Jealous confusion twisted my gut. I knew he couldn't possibly have been physically intimate with another woman and I knew he cared for me. But I hated Magdalene with a passion - certainly she'd given me good reason to during our bathroom chat - and I couldn't stand seeing her with Gideon. Couldn't stand seeing him smiling so fondly at her, especially after the way she'd treated me.
But I put it away. I shoved it into a box in my mind and I focused on my job. Mark was meeting with Gideon tomorrow to go over the RFP for the Kingsman campaign and I was organizing the information flowing between Mark and the contributing departments.
"Hey, Eva." Mark poked his head out of his office. "Steve and I are meeting at Bryant Park Grill for lunch. He asked if you'd come. He'd like to see you again."
"I'd love to." My whole afternoon brightened at the thought of enjoying lunch at one of my favorite restaurants with two really charming guys. They'd distract me from thinking about the conversation I was hours away from having with Gideon about my past.
My privacy was clearly gone. I would have to grow a set of balls and talk to Gideon before we went out to dinner. Before he was seen in public with me any further. He needed to know the risk he was taking by being associated with me.
When I received an interoffice envelope a short while later, I assumed it was a small mock-up of one of the Kingsman ads, but found a note card from Gideon instead.
Noon. My office.
"Really?" I muttered, irritated by the lack of salutation and closing. Not to mention the lack of a request. And who could forget the fact that Gideon hadn't even mentioned running into Magdalene at dinner?
Had he invited her as his date in my stead? That's what she was there for, after all. To be one of the women he socialized with outside of his hotel room.
I flipped Gideon's card over and wrote the same number of words with no signature:
Sorry. Have plans.
A bratty reply, but he deserved it. When a quarter to noon rolled around, Mark and I headed down to the ground floor. When I was stopped by security and the guard called up to Gideon to tell him I was in the lobby, my irritation kicked into a temper.
"Let's go," I said to Mark, striding toward the revolving door and ignoring the pleas of the security guard to wait a moment. I felt bad putting him in the middle.
I saw Angus and the Bentley at the curb at the same moment I heard Gideon snap out my name like a whipcrack behind me. I faced him as he joined us on the sidewalk with his face impassive and his gaze icy.
"I'm going to lunch with my boss," I told him, my chin lifting.
"Where are you headed, Garrity?" Gideon asked without taking his eyes off me.
"Bryant Park Grill."
"I'll see that she gets there." With that, he took my arm and steered me firmly toward the Bentley and the rear door that Angus held open for me. Gideon crowded in behind me, forcing me to scramble across the seat. The door shut and we were off.
I yanked the skirt of my sheath dress back into place. "What are you doing? Besides embarrassing me in front of my boss!"
He draped one arm over the back of the seat and leaned toward me. "Is Cary in love with you?"
"Have you f**ked him?"
"Have you lost your mind?" Mortified, I shot a glance at Angus and found him acting like he was deaf. "Screw you, billionaire playboy with your bevy of beautiful socialites."
"So you did see the photos."
I was so mad I was panting. The nerve. I turned my head away, dismissing him and his idiotic accusations. "Cary's like a brother to me. You know that."
"Ah, but what are you to him? The photos were amazingly clear, Eva. I know love when I see it."
Angus slowed for a herd of pedestrians crossing the street. I shoved the door open and looked at Gideon over my shoulder, letting him take a good look at my face. "Obviously, you don't."
I slammed the door shut and set off briskly, righteous in my anger. I'd fought back my own questions and jealousy with herculean effort, and what did I get for it? An irrationally pissed-off Gideon.
"Eva. Stop right there."
I flipped him the bird over my shoulder and raced up the short steps into Bryant Park, a lushly green and tranquil oasis in the midst of the city. Just crossing up and over from the sidewalk was like being transported to a completely different realm. Dwarfed by the towering skyscrapers surrounding it, Bryant Park was a garden land behind a beautiful old library. A place where time slowed, children laughed over the innocent joy of a carousel ride, and books were treasured companions.
Unfortunately for me, the gorgeous ogre from one world chased me into the other. Gideon caught me by the waist.
"Don't run," he hissed in my ear.
"You're acting like a nut job."
"Maybe because you drive me f**king crazy." His arms tightened into steel bands. "You're mine. Tell me Cary knows that."
"Right. Like Magdalene knows you're mine." I wished he had something near my mouth that I could bite. "You're causing a scene."
"We could've done this in my office, if you weren't so damned stubborn."
"I had plans, asshat. And you're f**king them up for me." My voice broke, tears welling as I felt the number of eyes on us. I was going to get fired for being an embarrassing spectacle. "You're f**king up everything."
Gideon instantly released me, turning me to face him. His grip on my shoulders ensured I still couldn't get away.
"Christ." He crushed me against him, his lips in my hair. "Don't cry. I'm sorry."