"Hey, that's my line."

Chapter 14

The next morning dawned with an odd surreality. I made it to work, and then through most of my prelunch day in a kind of chilly fog. I couldn't get warm enough, despite wearing a cardigan over my blouse and a scarf that didn't match either one. It took me a few minutes longer to process requests than it should have, and I couldn't shake a feeling of dread.

Gideon made no contact with me whatsoever.

Nothing on my smartphone or e-mail after my text last night. Nothing in my e-mail inbox. No interoffice note.

The silence was excruciating. Especially when the day's Google alert hit my inbox and I saw the photos and phone videos of me and Gideon in Bryant Park. Seeing how we looked together - the passion and need, the painful longing on our faces, and the gratefulness of reconciliation - was bittersweet.

Pain twisted in my chest. Gideon.

If we couldn't work this out, would I ever stop thinking about him and wishing we had?

I struggled to pull myself together. Mark was meeting with Gideon today. Maybe that's why Gideon hadn't felt pressed to contact me. Or maybe he was just really busy. I knew he had to be, considering his business calendar. And as far as I knew, we still had plans to go to the gym after work. I exhaled in a rush and told myself that things would straighten out somehow. They just had to.

It was quarter to noon when my desk phone rang. Seeing from the readout that the call was coming from reception, I sighed with disappointment and answered.

"Hey, Eva," Megumi said cheerily. "You have a Magdalene Perez here to see you."

"Do I?" I stared at my monitor, confused and irritated. Had the Bryant Park photos lured Magdalene out from under whatever troll bridge she called home?

Regardless of the reason, I had no interest in talking to her. "Keep her up there for me, will you? I have to take care of something first."

"Sure. I'll tell her to have a seat."

I hung up, then pulled out my smartphone and scrolled through the contact list until I found the number to Gideon's office. I dialed and was relieved when Scott answered.

"Hey, Scott. It's Eva Tramell."

"Hi, Eva. Would you like to speak to Mr. Cross? He's in a meeting at the moment, but I can buzz him."

"No. No, don't bother him."

"It's a standing order. He won't mind."

It soothed me immensely to hear that. "I hate to throw this in your lap, but I have a request for you."

"Anything you need. That's also a standing order." The amusement in his voice relaxed me further.

"Magdalene Perez is down here on the twentieth floor. Frankly, the only thing she and I have in common is Gideon, and that's not a good thing. If she has something to say, it's your boss she should be talking to. Could you please have someone escort her up?"

"Absolutely. I'll take care of it now."

"Thanks, Scott. I appreciate you."

"It's my pleasure, Eva."

I hung up the phone and sagged back in my seat, feeling better already and proud of myself for not letting jealousy get the better of me. While I still really hated the idea of her having any of Gideon's time, I hadn't lied when I'd said I trusted him. I believed he had strong, deep feelings for me. I just didn't know if they were enough to override his survival instinct.

Megumi called me again.

"Oh my God," she said, laughing. "You should've seen her face when whoever that was came to get her."

"Good." I grinned. "I figured she was up to no good. Is she gone, then?"

"Yep."

"Thanks." I crossed the narrow strip of hallway to Mark's door and poked my head in to see if he wanted me to pick him up some lunch.

He frowned, thinking about it. "No, thanks. I'll be too nervous to eat until after the presentation with Cross. By then whatever you pick up will be hours old."

"How about a protein smoothie, then? It'll give you some easy fuel until you can eat."

"That'd be great." His smile lit up his dark eyes. "Something that goes good with vodka, just to get me in the mood."

"Anything you don't like? Any allergies?"

"Nada."

"Okay. See you in an hour." I knew just the place to go. The deli I had in mind was a couple blocks up and offered smoothies, salads, and a variety of made-to-order paninis with quick service.

I headed downstairs and tried not to think about Gideon's radio silence. I'd kind of expected to hear something after the Magdalene incident. Getting no reaction had me worrying all over again. I pushed out to the street through the revolving door and scarcely paid any attention to the man who climbed out of the back of a town car at the curb until he called my name.

Turning, I found myself facing Christopher Vidal.

"Oh...Hi," I greeted him. "How are you?"

"Better, now that I've seen you. You look fantastic."

"Thanks. I can say the same to you."

As different as he was from Gideon, he was gorgeous in his own way with his mahogany waves, grayish-green eyes, and charming smile. He was dressed in loose-fitting jeans and a cream V-neck sweater, a very sexy look for him.

"Are you here to see your brother?" I asked.

"Yes, and you."

"Me?"

"Heading to lunch? I'll join you and explain."

I was briefly reminded of Gideon's warning to stay away from Christopher, but by now I figured he trusted me. Especially with his brother.

"I'm going to a deli up the street," I said. "If you're game."

"Absolutely."

We started walking.

"What did you want to see me about?" I asked, too curious to wait.

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