Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(8)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(8)
Sylvia Day

"You're right. He's an arrogant douche. Let him lust after you until he has blue balls. Serves him right."

That made me smile. Cary could always do that. "I doubt that man has ever had blue balls in his life, but it's a fun fantasy."

He shut his netbook with a decisive snap. "What should we do tonight?"

"I was thinking I'd like to go check out that Krav Maga studio in Brooklyn." I'd done a little research after meeting Parker Smith during my workout at Equinox and as the week passed, the thought of having that kind of raw, physical outlet for stress seemed more and more ideal.

I knew it wouldn't be anything close to banging the hell out of Gideon Cross, but I suspected it would be a lot less dangerous to my health.

Chapter 3

"There's no way your mom and Stanton are going to let you come out here at night multiple times a week," Cary said, hugging his stylish denim jacket around him even though it wasn't more than slightly chilly.

The converted warehouse Parker Smith used as his studio was a brick-faced building in a formerly industrial area of Brooklyn presently struggling to revitalize. The space was vast, and the massive metal delivery-bay doors offered no exterior clue as to what was taking place inside. Cary and I sat in aluminum bleachers, watching a half-dozen combatants on the mats below.

"Ouch." I winced in sympathy as a guy took a kick to the groin. Even with padding, that had to sting. "How's Stanton going to find out, Cary?"

"Because you'll be in the hospital?" He glanced at me. "Seriously. Krav Maga is brutal. They're just sparring and it's full contact. And even if the bruises don't give you away, your stepdad will find out somehow. He always does."

"Because of my mom; she tells him everything. But I'm not telling her about this."

"Why not?"

"She won't understand. She'll think I want to protect myself because of what happened, and she'll feel guilty and give me grief about it. She won't believe my main interest is exercise and stress relief."

I propped my chin on my palm and watched Parker take the floor with a woman. He was a good instructor. Patient and thorough, and he explained things in an easy to understand way. His studio was in a rough neighborhood, but I thought it suited what he was teaching. It didn't get more "reality based" than a big, empty warehouse.

"That Parker guy is really hot," Cary murmured.

"He's also wearing a wedding band."

"I noticed. The good ones always get snatched up quick."

Parker joined us after the class was over, his dark eyes bright and his smile brighter. "What'd ya think, Eva?"

"Where do I sign up?"

His sexy smile made Cary reach over and squeeze the blood out of my hand.

"Step this way."

Friday started out awesome. Mark walked me through the process of collecting information for an RFP, and he told me a little more about Cross Industries and Gideon Cross, pointing out that he and Cross were the same age.

"I have to remind myself of that," Mark said. "It's easy to forget he's so young when he's right in front of you."

"Yes," I agreed, secretly disappointed that I wouldn't see Cross for the next two days. As much as I told myself it didn't matter, I was bummed. I hadn't realized I'd been excited by the possibility that we might run into each other until that possibility was gone. It was just such a rush being near him. Plus he was a hell of a lot of fun to look at. I had nothing nearly as exciting planned for the weekend.

I was taking notes in Mark's office when I heard my desk phone ringing. Excusing myself, I rushed over to catch it. "Mark Garrity's office - "

"Eva love. How are you?"

I sank into my chair at the sound of my stepfather's voice. Stanton always sounded like old money to me - cultured, entitled, and arrogant. "Richard. Is everything okay? Is Mom all right?"

"Yes. Everything's fine. Your mother is wonderful, as always."

His tone softened when he spoke of his wife and I was grateful for that. I was grateful to him for a lot of things actually, but it was sometimes hard to balance that against my feelings of disloyalty. I knew my dad was self-conscious about the massive differences in their income brackets.

"Good," I said, relieved. "I'm glad. Did you and Mom receive my thank-you note for the dress and Cary's tuxedo?"

"Yes, and it was thoughtful of you, but you know we don't expect you to thank us for such things. Excuse me a moment." He spoke to someone, most likely his secretary. "Eva love, I'd like us to get together for lunch today. I'll send Clancy around to collect you."

"Today? But we'll be seeing each other tomorrow night. Can't it wait until then?"

"No, it should be today."

"But I only get an hour for lunch."

A tap on my shoulder turned me around to find Mark standing by my cubicle. "Take two," he whispered. "You earned it."

I sighed and mouthed a thank you. "Will twelve o'clock work, Richard?"

"Perfectly. I look forward to seeing you."

I had no reason to look forward to private meetings with Stanton, but I dutifully left just before noon and found a town car waiting for me, idling at the curb. Clancy, Stanton's driver and body guard, opened the door for me as I greeted him. Then he slid behind the wheel and drove me downtown. By twenty after the hour, I was sitting at a conference table in Stanton's offices, eyeing a beautifully catered lunch for two.

Stanton came in shortly after my arrival, looking dapper and distinguished. His hair was pure white, his face lined but still very handsome. His eyes were the color of worn blue denim, and they were sharp with intelligence. He was trim and athletic, taking the time out of his busy days to stay fit even before he'd married his trophy wife - my mom.

I stood as he approached, and he bent to kiss my cheek. "You look lovely, Eva."

"Thank you." I looked like my mom, who was also a natural blonde. But my gray eyes came from my dad.

Taking a chair at the head of the table, Stanton was aware that the requisite backdrop of the New York skyline was behind him and he took advantage of its impressiveness.

"Eat," he said, with the command so easily wielded by all men of power. Men like Gideon Cross.

Had Stanton been as driven at Cross's age?

I picked up my fork and started in on a chicken, cranberry, walnut, and feta salad. It was delicious, and I was hungry. I was glad Stanton didn't start talking right away so I could enjoy the meal, but the reprieve didn't last long.

"Eva love, I wanted to discuss your interest in Krav Maga."

I froze. "Excuse me?"

Stanton took a sip of iced water and leaned back, his jaw taking on the rigidity that warned me I wouldn't like what he was about to say. "Your mother was quite distraught last night when you went to that studio in Brooklyn. It took some time to calm her down and to assure her that I could make arrangements for you to pursue your interests in a safe manner. She doesn't want - "

"Wait." I set my fork down carefully, my appetite gone. "How did she know where I was?"

"She tracked your cell phone."

"No way," I breathed, deflating into my seat. The casualness of his reply, as if it was the most natural thing in the world, made me feel ill. My stomach churned, suddenly more interested in rejecting my lunch than digesting it. "That's why she insisted I use one of your company phones. It had nothing to do with saving me money."

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