She quickly and efficiently collected the photos, her face impassive. “We’ve done all we can. Where you go from here is up to you.”
I showed up at CrossTrainer at quarter after six. I went because I’d told Megumi I would and I’d already flaked on her once. I also felt a tremendous restlessness, an urge to move that I had to exhaust before it drove me insane. I’d sent a text to Gideon as soon as the detectives left, telling him I needed to see him later, but I hadn’t heard back by the time I’d put my purse in a locker.
Like all things Gideon, CrossTrainer was impressive in both size and amenities. The three-story club—one of hundreds around the country—had everything a fitness enthusiast could want, as well as spa services and a smoothie bar.
Megumi was slightly overwhelmed and needed help with some of the high-tech machinery, so she was taking advantage of the trainer-supervised workout for new members and guests. I got on a treadmill. I started out at a brisk walk, warming up, and then eventually progressed to a run. Once I hit my stride, I let my thoughts run, too.
Was it possible that Gideon and I were free to pick up the pieces of our lives and move on? How? Why? My mind raced with questions that I needed to ask Gideon—with the hope that he was as clueless as I was. He couldn’t be involved in Yedemsky’s death. I wouldn’t believe he was.
I ran until my thighs and calves burned, until sweat ran down my body in steady streams and my lungs ached with the effort of breathing.
It was Megumi who finally got me to stop, waving her hand in my line of sight as she moved in front of my treadmill. “I am so totally impressed right now. You’re a machine.”
I slowed my pace to a jog, then a walk, before stopping altogether. Grabbing my towel and water bottle, I stepped off, feeling the effects of pushing myself too long and hard.
“I hate running,” I confessed, still panting. “How’d your workout go?”
Megumi looked chic even in gym clothes. Her chartreuse racerback tank had bright blue threading that matched her spandex leggings. The ensemble was summer-bright and stylish.
She bumped shoulders with me. “You make me feel like an underachiever. I just did a circuit and checked out the hot guys. The trainer I worked with was good, but I wish I’d gotten that guy instead.”
I followed the point of her finger. “That’s Daniel. Want to meet him?”
I walked with her toward the mats in the center of the open space, waving at Daniel when he lifted his gaze and caught sight of us. Megumi quickly yanked out the rubber band holding her hair back, but I thought she’d looked great with it on, too. She had beautiful skin and I envied her mouth.
“Eva, great seeing you.” Daniel extended his hand to me for a shake. “Who’s this you have with you?”
“My friend Megumi. She just joined today.”
“I saw you working with Tara.” He flashed Megumi his megawatt smile. “I’m Daniel. If you ever need help with anything, just let me know.”
“I’m going to take you up on that,” she warned, as she shook his hand.
“Please do. Do you have any particular fitness goals?”
As they started talking more in-depth, my gaze wandered. I checked out the equipment, looking for something easy I could do while I waited for them to wrap it up. Instead I found a familiar sight.
Tossing my towel over my shoulder, I noticed my not-so-favorite reporter on the floor. I took a deep breath and walked over, watching her do curls with a ten-pound hand weight. Her dark brown hair was in a fishtail braid, her long legs on display in skintight shorts, and her stomach tight and flat. She looked great. “Hi, Deanna.”
“I’d ask if you come here often,” she replied, setting the weight back on the rack and standing, “but that’s too clichéd. How are you, Eva?”
“I’m good. You?”
Her smile had the edge that never failed to get my back up. “Doesn’t it bother you that Gideon Cross buries his sins under all his money?”
So Gideon had been right about Ian Hager disappearing once he’d gotten paid. “If I really thought you were after the truth, I’d give it to you.”
“It’s all true, Eva. I’ve talked to Corinne Giroux.”
“Oh? How’s her husband?”
Deanna laughed. “Gideon should hire you to manage his public image.”
That struck uncomfortably close to home. “Why don’t you just go to his office and chew him out? Let him have it. Throw a drink in his face or slap him.”
“He wouldn’t care. It wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference to him.”
I wiped at the sweat still sliding down my temples and admitted that might be true. I knew damn well Gideon could be a coldhearted ass. “Either way, you’d probably feel a whole lot better.”
Deanna snatched her towel off the bench. “I know exactly what’ll make me feel better. Enjoy the rest of your workout, Eva. I’m sure we’ll be talking again soon.”
She sauntered off and I couldn’t shake the feeling that she was on to something. It made me twitchy not knowing what it was.
“Okay, I’m done,” Megumi said, joining me. “Who was that?”
“No one important.” My stomach chose that moment to growl, loudly announcing that I’d burned off the boeuf bourguignon I’d had for lunch.
“Working out always makes me hungry, too. You want to grab dinner?”
“Sure.” We set off toward the showers, skirting equipment and other members. “I’ll call Cary and see if he wants to join us.”
“Oh, yes.” She licked her lips. “Have I told you I think he’s delicious?”
“More than once.” I waved bye to Daniel before we left the floor.
We reached the locker room and Megumi tossed her towel in the discard bin just inside the entrance. I paused before dropping mine, my thumb rubbing over the embroidered CrossTrainer logo. I thought of the towels hanging in Gideon’s bathroom.
Maybe next time I’d be calling him, too, asking him to join friends and me for dinner.
Maybe the worst was over.
WE found an Indian restaurant near the gym and Cary showed up for dinner with Trey, the two of them walking in with their hands linked together. Our table was right in front of the street-level window by the entrance, which lent the pulse of the city to our dining experience.
We sat on cushions on the floor, drank a little too much wine, and let Cary run commentary on the people passing by. I could almost see little hearts in Trey’s eyes when he looked at my best friend, and I was happy to see Cary being openly affectionate in return. When Cary was really into someone, he held himself back from touching him or her. I deliberately chose to see his frequent, casual touching with Trey as a sign of the two men growing closer, rather than Cary losing interest.
Megumi got another call from Michael while we were eating, which she ignored. When Cary asked if she was playing hard to get, she told him the story.
“If he calls again, let me answer it,” he said.
“Oh, God, no,” I groaned.
“What?” Cary blinked innocently. “I can say she’s too tied up to get to the phone and Trey can bark out sex commands in the background.”
“Diabolical!” Megumi rubbed her hands together. “Michael’s not the right guy for that, but I’m sure I’ll take you up on that offer someday, knowing my luck with men.”
Shaking my head, I dug stealthily into my purse for the burner phone and was bummed to see there was still no reply from Gideon.
Cary made a show of peering over the table. “You hoping for a booty call from loverman?”
“What?” Megumi’s mouth fell open. “You’re seeing someone and didn’t tell me?”
I shot a narrow-eyed look at Cary. “It’s complicated.”
“It’s the total opposite of complicated,” Cary drawled, rocking back on his pillow. “It’s straight-up lust.”
“What about Cross?” she asked.
“Who?” Cary shot back.
Megumi persisted. “He wants her back.”
It was Cary’s turn to glare at me. “When did you talk to him?”
I shook my head. “He called Mom. And he didn’t say he wanted me back.”
Cary’s smile was sly. “Would you ditch your new loverman for a repeat with Cross, the marathon man?”
Megumi poked me in the leg. “Gideon Cross is a marathon man in bed? Holy shit … And he looks like that. Jesus.” She fanned herself with her hand.
“Can we please stop talking about my sex life?” I muttered, looking to Trey for a little support.
He jumped in. “Cary tells me you two are going to a video premiere tomorrow. I didn’t realize music videos were a big thing anymore.”
I grasped at the lifeline gratefully. “I know, right? Surprises me, too.”
“And then there’s good ol’ Brett,” Cary said, leaning across the table toward Megumi like he was about to impart a secret. “We’ll call him backstage man. Or backseat man.”
I stuck my fingers in my glass and flicked water at him.
“Why, Eva. You’re making me wet.”
“Keep it up,” I warned,” and you’ll be soaked.”
I still hadn’t heard from Gideon by the time we got home at quarter to ten. Megumi had taken the subway back to her place, while Cary, Trey, and I shared a cab back to the apartment. The guys headed straight to Cary’s room, but I lingered in the kitchen, debating whether I should run next door and see if Gideon was there.
I was about to pull my keys out of my purse when Cary came into the kitchen, shirtless and barefoot.
He grabbed whipped cream out of the fridge but paused before he headed back out. “You okay?”
“Yep, I’m good.”
“You talk to your mom yet?”
“No, but I’m planning on it.”
He leaned his hip against the counter. “Anything else on your mind?”
I shooed him off. “Go have fun. I’m all right. We can talk tomorrow.”
“About that. What time should I be ready?”
“Brett wants to pick us up at five, so can you meet me at the Crossfire?”
“No problem.” He leaned over and pressed a kiss to the top of my head. “Sweet dreams, baby girl.”
I waited until I heard Cary’s door shut, then grabbed my keys and went next door. The moment I entered the dark and quiet apartment, I knew Gideon wasn’t there, but I searched the rooms anyway. I couldn’t shake the feeling that something was … off.
Where was he?
Deciding to call Angus, I walked back to my apartment, grabbed the burner phone, and took it into my bedroom.
And found Gideon gripped in a nightmare.
Startled, I shoved my door shut and locked it. He thrashed on my bed, his back arching with a hiss of pain. He was still dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, his big body stretched atop the comforter as if he’d fallen asleep waiting for me. His laptop had been knocked to the floor, still open, and papers were crackling under the violence of his movements.
I rushed to him, trying to figure out a way to wake him that wouldn’t put me in danger, knowing he’d hate himself if he hurt me by accident.
He growled, a low feral sound of aggression. “Never,” he bit out. “You’ll never touch her again.”
His body jerked violently, and then he moaned and curled to his side, shuddering.
The sound of his pain galvanized me. I climbed onto the bed, my hand touching his shoulder. The next moment I was on my back, pinned as he loomed over me, his eyes fixed and sightless. Fear paralyzed me.
“You’re going to know what it feels like,” he whispered darkly, his h*ps ramming against mine in a sick imitation of the love we shared.
I turned my head and bit his biceps, my teeth barely denting the rigid muscle.
“Fuck!” He yanked away from me and I dislodged him as Parker had taught me to do, throwing him to the side and freeing myself to leap from the bed and run.
Spinning, I faced him, my body poised to fight.
He slid from the bed, nearly landing on his knees before he found his balance and straightened. “I’m sorry. I fell asleep … Christ, I’m sorry.”
“I’m fine,” I said, with forced calm. “Relax.”
He raked a hand through his hair, his chest heaving. His face was sheened with sweat, his eyes reddened. “God.”
I stepped closer, fighting the lingering fear. This was part of our lives. We both had to face it. “Do you remember the dream?”
Gideon swallowed hard and shook his head.
“I don’t believe you.”
“Damn it. You have to—”
“You were dreaming about Nathan. How often do you do that?” I reached him and took his hand.
“I don’t know.”
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not!” he snapped, bristling. “I rarely remember my dreams.”
I pulled him toward the bathroom, deliberately keeping him moving forward both physically and mentally. “The detectives came to see me today.”
The hoarseness of his voice concerned me. How long had he been asleep and dreaming? The thought of him tormented by his own mind, alone and in pain, wounded me. “Did they visit you, too?”
“No. But they’ve been making inquiries.”
I flicked the lights on and he stopped, his grip tightening to make me stop, too. “Eva.”
“Hop in the shower, ace. We’ll talk when you’re done.”
He cupped my face in his hands, his thumbs brushing over my cheekbone. “You’re moving too fast. Slow down.”
“I don’t want to get hung up every time you have a nightmare.”