Home > Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(11)

Bared to You (Crossfire #1)(11)
Author: Sylvia Day

"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."

"Of course that was part of it. But it also gives her peace of mind."

"Peace of mind? To spy on her grown daughter? It's not healthy, Richard. You've got to see that. Is she still seeing Dr. Petersen?"

He had the grace to look uncomfortable. "Yes, of course."

"Is she telling him what she's doing?"

"I don't know," he said stiffly. "That's Monica's private business. I don't interfere."

No, he didn't. He coddled her. Indulged her. Spoiled her. And allowed her obsession with my safety to run wild. "She has to let it go. I've let it go."

"You were an innocent, Eva. She feels guilty for not protecting you. We need to give her a little latitude."

"Latitude? She's a stalker!" My mind spun. How could my mom invade my privacy like that? Why would she? She was driving herself crazy, and me along with her. "This has to stop."

"It's an easy fix. I've already spoken with Clancy. He'll drive you when you need to venture into Brooklyn. Everything's been arranged. This will be much more convenient for you."

"Don't try to twist this around to being for my benefit." My eyes stung and my throat burned with unshed tears of frustration. I hated the way he talked about Brooklyn like it was a third-world country. "I'm a grown woman. I make my own decisions. It's the goddamn law!"

"Don't take that tone with me, Eva. I'm simply looking after your mother. And you."

I pushed back from the table. "You're enabling her. You're keeping her sick, and you're making me sick, too."

   
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