Mark Garrity’s incredulous gaze lifted from my resignation letter and met mine.
My stomach knotted at the expression on my boss’s face. “Yes. I’m sorry I can’t give more notice.”
“Tomorrow is your last day?” He leaned back in his chair. His eyes were a warm chocolate shades lighter than his skin, and they registered both surprise and dismay. “Why, Eva?”
Sighing, I leaned forward, setting my elbows on my knees. Yet again, I went with the truth. “I know it’s unprofessional to cut out like this, but . . . I’ve got to rearrange my priorities and right now. . . . I just can’t give this my full attention, Mark. I’m sorry.”
“I . . .” He blew out his breath and ran a hand over his dark, tight curls. “Hell . . . What can I say?”
“That you’ll forgive me and won’t hold it against me?” I huffed out a humorless laugh. “It’s asking a lot, I know.”
He managed a wry smile. “I hate to lose you, Eva, you know that. I’m not sure I’ve ever really expressed how much you’ve contributed. You make me work better.”
“Thank you, Mark. I appreciate that.” God, this was harder than I thought it would be, even knowing it was the best and only decision I could make.
My gaze went beyond my handsome boss to the view behind him. As a junior account manager, he had a small office and his view was blocked by the building across the street, but it was still as quintessentially New York as Gideon Cross’s sprawling office on the top floor above us.
In a lot of ways, that division of floors mirrored the way I’d tried to define my relationship with Gideon. I knew who he was. Knew what he was: a man in a class by himself. I loved that about him and didn’t want him to change; I just wanted to climb to his level on my own merits. What I hadn’t considered was that by stubbornly refusing to accept that our marriage changed the plan, I was pulling him down to mine.
I wouldn’t be known for earning my way to the top of my field. For some people, I would always have married into success. And I was just going to have to live with it.
“So, where are you going from here?” Mark asked.
“Honestly . . . I’m still figuring that out. I just know I can’t stay.”
My marriage could only take so much pressure before it broke, and I had allowed it to slide to a dangerous edge, trying to find some distance. Trying to put myself first.
Gideon Cross was as deep and vast as the ocean, and I had feared drowning in him from the moment I first saw him. I couldn’t be afraid of that anymore. Not after realizing that what I feared more was losing him.
By trying to stay neutral, I’d been shoved from side to side. And as pissed off as I’d been about that, I hadn’t taken the time to comprehend that if I wanted control, I just had to take it.
“Because of the LanCorp account?” Mark asked.
“In part.” I smoothed my pinstriped pencil skirt, mentally brushing away the lingering resentment over Gideon’s hiring of Mark. The catalyst had been LanCorp coming to Waters Field & Leaman with a specific request for Mark—and therefore me—a maneuver Gideon viewed with suspicion. Geoffrey Cross’s Ponzi scheme had decimated the Landon family fortune, and while both Ryan Landon and Gideon had rebuilt what their fathers had lost, Landon still hungered for revenge. “But mostly for personal reasons.”
Straightening, he set his elbows on the desk and leaned toward me. “It’s none of my business and I won’t pry, but you know Steven, Shawna, and I are all here for you, if you need us. We care about you.”
His earnestness made my eyes sting with tears. His fiancé, Steven Ellison, and Steven’s sister Shawna had become dear to me in the months I’d been in New York, part of the new network of friends I had built in my new life. No matter what, I didn’t want to lose my connection to people I’d grown to love.
“I know.” I smiled through my sorrow. “If I need you, I’ll call, I promise. But it’s all going to work out for the best. For all of us.”
Mark relaxed and smiled back. “Steven’s going to flip. Maybe I should make you tell him.”
Thinking of the burly, gregarious contractor chased any sadness away. Steven would give me a hard time for bailing out on his partner, but he’d do it with a good heart. “Aw, come on,” I teased back. “You wouldn’t do that to me, would you? This is hard enough as it is.”
“I’m not opposed to making it harder.”
I laughed. Yeah, I was going to miss Mark and my job. A lot.