My jaw twitched as I thought of her again, spread out on her bed and screaming my name while I bucked inside her. Damn, if she wasn’t the complete package.
And damn it all if that didn’t scare the hell out of me.
I opened my eyes to find Ben staring at me in the rearview mirror. The car had stopped, and I looked out the window to see the shiny glass facade of the building that belonged to my brothers and me.
“Sorry, must have nodded off.”
I thanked him and slipped from the car before making my way to the elevator. Exiting at my floor, I knew it would be hard to keep Emma from my brain and focus on work, but I also knew I needed to give it my best shot.
As I headed through the reception area, Alyssa nodded at me but didn’t say good morning. I sighed with appreciation when I walked into my office to find a fresh cup of coffee waiting for me.
Thank God for good assistants.
No sooner had I picked up the mug, however, than my door opened behind me and I spun to find Quinn in my doorway, his face lined with concern.
“Christ, what’s wrong now?” I sipped my coffee, pretending the expression on his face didn’t rock me to my core.
He shook his head. “I have good news and bad news.”
“Which do you want to tell me first?”
“It’s the same news. We’ve been invited to speak on the Morning Herald.”
“That morning show on the News Network?”
“But they film in DC, don’t they?” I asked, and Quinn pursed his lips.
“So, you’ve spotted the problem.”
Frowning, I settled in behind my desk. “Not exactly.”
“It’s a great opportunity to be heard nationwide. We have to leave right away. You and me. Which means—”
“I’d have to leave Emma alone,” I finished for him. “No way. Are you crazy?” I shook my head. “Go by yourself. I can’t leave her after—”
“I know, and I get it. But, goddamn it, Gavin, you’re the face of the company. If I do all the talking, it looks like we brought in the ‘suit’ rather than the ‘face’ of the company, and it makes us look less trustworthy,” Quinn said. “It was scary, but Emma wasn’t hurt. If there was someone threatening her or she’d been injured, I wouldn’t even suggest it. Plus, I’m not saying she should stay home alone. There is another alternative.”
“She can’t come with us. She won’t leave the library,” I shot back.
Quinn shook his head. “Not that. Look, I know you’re not going to like it, but . . .” He glanced away and cleared his throat. “Cooper can look after her while you’re gone. Everything has been ironed out, so there’s no reason it has to be awkward, right? We all worked well together on the day of the incident. We can do it again.”
I frowned. It was far from the perfect solution, but Quinn was right. The business needed me. Moreover, as jealous as I was of Cooper, there was no one who would take better care of her besides me. It was my only choice right now.
With a sigh, I glanced up at Quinn again. “Have you talked to Coop about this?”
“Only about his running the company while we’re gone, but not about Emma. I thought it would be better if the two of you discussed it between yourselves.”
“Right. Let me think about it.”
“Think quick. They’re already prepping the plane for our departure.”
I nodded and Quinn slipped from the room, clicking the door shut behind him.
In truth, it felt cruel to ask Cooper for a favor like this. As much as I didn’t want to think about it, his feelings for Emma were just as real as mine. And when it came to women, Cooper had never had the layers of brick and cement I put between my heart and the women who shared my bed. He always laid his heart on the table, almost like a dare.
It was something I’d never understood about him. How he could fall in love so hard, so deep, over and over again, and never show the scars of all the times he’d been hurt before?
Gritting my teeth, I wondered if that was what I would have to do with Emma—tear down every bit of armor until she saw everything. Until she had all of me.
Shaking the thought away, I got up from my desk and headed down the hall until I reached my younger brother’s office. Gently, I knocked and waited for him to tell me to come in. When he did, I stepped inside, taking a seat before he bothered to offer it to me.
“Quinn already told me about the trip. You have special instructions?” Cooper asked, not looking up.
I shook my head. “No, nothing like that. I wanted to talk to you about Emma.”
“What about her?” His gaze snapped up to mine.
“I can’t leave her alone after the incident. Not yet.” I shifted in my seat and blew out a sigh. “I know this is a big ask, but I was wondering if you could look after her while I’m gone. Make sure nobody hurts her.”
Cooper stared at me for a long moment, his gaze searching mine while his lips tightened into a thin line. Slowly, he let out a low hiss and nodded. “Of course I will. Just because she didn’t choose me doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be devastated if anything happened to her. You have my word. I’ll look after her.”
“Great.” I stood to leave, but as I reached the door, I turned around. “And thanks, really.”
Cooper offered me a small smile. “Anytime.”
As I made my way back to my office, I fished my phone from my pocket and dialed Emma.
“Hello?” She sounded busy, almost frantic.
“Are you okay?” I asked.
“Fine. It’s story hour in a few minutes, and someone misplaced the crayons.” There was a long pause before she continued. “Is this what you’re going to do now? Call me every ten minutes to make sure I’m still okay?” she asked, a smile in her voice.
I chuckled and raked a hand through my hair. “No, no, I have bad news. I have to leave for DC in a few minutes, so I can’t spend the night with you. But Cooper is going to come and look after you.”
“What do you mean?” Her voice was breathy.
“We got invited to sit with a big news outfit, and we can’t decline. But I don’t want you alone, so Coop is going to come and make sure you’re okay.”
“No, no, I’ll be okay, really. That seems—”
“Fine,” I finished for her. “It seems fine. Cooper had no problem with it.”
“I can stay with my friend. She—”
“Can’t protect you if someone breaks in. Cooper will stay with you. It’s settled, Emma.”
She let out a sigh, and silence filled the line. I thought she was going to continue fighting me on it, but she didn’t.
“Okay, fine. God save me from you three alpha brothers.”
I bowed my head and said a silent prayer of thanks. “Great. I’ll call you when I land.” I said my good-byes and ended the call so Quinn and I could head to the jet hangar.
As always, I kept an emergency bag in the back of my limo for occasions like these, and Quinn hauled his own down to the car.
“Do you have talking points?” I asked.
“Of course,” Quinn said. “We’ll go over them on the flight.”
While we were in the air for the next two hours, Quinn grilled me on the details of the scandal and on our company policies. But all the while, my head was swimming with thoughts of Emma.
If I had things my way, we’d say fuck it and head straight back home. It wasn’t that I didn’t trust Cooper—I did, even in spite of everything. It was just that I didn’t want to trust that she was safe. I wanted to know it. I wanted to have her in my arms and never let her go.
Because the truth was, Emma owned me. She meant more to me than my company, more than my own life. And if something were to happen to her?
That was one tragedy I would never, ever recover from.
Bethany tapped the doorjamb to my office and peeked around the corner. “It’s five thirty,” she sang.
“I know. Go ahead without me,” I said, distracted by my work and glad for it. It had been a long day thinking about everything that had happened, and I didn’t know what to expect tonight.