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Page 135

“That’s not what I meant, Victor.” Gideon sighed wearily. “I’m just thinking out loud. I’ll work it out. Consider it taken care of.”

I pictured how it must be downstairs outside the lobby, imagined my grandmother and cousins wading through a gauntlet like that. I shook my head and had a moment of clarity. “If they want to come, we should go to the Outer Banks like we planned. We already have the rooms reserved for them. It’ll be quiet and private.”

Suddenly, I longed to be at the beach. Feeling the wind in my hair, the surf lapping at my bare feet. I’d felt alive there. I wanted to feel alive again. “We had catering arranged. We’d have food and beverages for everyone.”

Gideon looked at me. “I had Scott talk to Kristine. We pulled out of everything.”

“It can’t have been more than a few hours ago. The hotel probably hasn’t filled the room block in that short of time. And the caterer already has the things well under way at this point.”

“You really want to go to the beach house?” he asked me quietly.

I nodded. There were no memories of my mom there, as there were in the city. And if I wanted to step outside and take a walk, no one would bother me.

“Okay, then. I’ll take care of it.”

I looked at my dad, hoping that plan was good with him. He stood beside me, his arms crossed and his gaze on his feet.

Finally, he said, “What happened changes everything. For all of us. I want to move to New York.”

Taken aback, I glanced at Gideon, then back at my dad. “Really?”

“It’s going to take some time for me to deal with work and selling my house, but I’m going to get the ball rolling.” He looked at me. “I need to be closer than the other side of the damn country. You’re all I’ve got.”

“Oh, Dad. You love your job.”

“I love you more.”

“What will you do for work?” Gideon asked.

There was something in his tone that drew my attention to him. He’d twisted a bit to face us better, drawing one thigh up to the desktop and resting his crossed hands atop it. He watched my father avidly. There wasn’t any of the surprise on his face that I felt.

“That’s what I wanted to talk about,” my father said, his handsome face grim.

“Eva needs a dedicated security chief,” Gideon said preemptively. “I’ve got Angus and Raúl stretched to their limits and my wife needs her own security team.”

My mouth fell open as I registered what my husband had said. “What? No, Gideon.”

His brows rose. “Why not? It would be ideal. There’s no one I could trust more to protect you than your own father.”

“Because it’s … weird. Okay? Dad’s his own man. It would be awkward to have my father on my husband’s payroll. It’s just … not right.”

“Angus is the closest I’ve had to a father,” he pointed out, “and he works the same job.” His gaze lifted to my dad. “I don’t think any less of him. And Chris, as the head of a company in which I have controlling interest, also could be said to work for me.”

“That’s different,” I said stubbornly.

“Eva.” My dad set his hand on my shoulder. “If I can handle it, you should be able to.”

I turned wide eyes to him. “Are you serious? Were you thinking about this before he brought it up?”

He nodded, still somber. “I’ve been thinking about it since he called me about … your mom. Cross is right: There’s no one I trust more than myself to keep you safe.”

“Safe from what? What happened last night … It’s not an everyday thing.” I couldn’t think differently. Living with the fear that Gideon might be in danger at any given moment? It would drive me insane. I certainly couldn’t live with putting my dad in the line of fire.

“Eva, I’ve seen you more on television, the Internet, and in magazines than I have in person this entire last year and you were living in San Diego for most of that time.” His face hardened. “God willing you’ll never be at risk, but I can’t take that chance. Besides, Cross is planning on hiring someone anyway. Might as well be me.”

“Were you?” I demanded, rounding on Gideon.

He nodded. “Yes. It’s been on my mind.”

“I don’t like it.”

“I’m sorry, angel.” His tone of voice told me I’d just have to suck it up.

My dad’s arms crossed. “I won’t accept any perks or compensation outside the scope of what you’re paying your other men.”

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