All was fair in love and war.
The old adage would serve Garrison well on his latest conquest. He considered his course of action as he stared out the floor-to-ceiling window on the fifth floor of the Gordian Building, which housed Core magazine—another publication acquisition to accompany the four others he’d bought in the last three years. The busy scene of downtown Manhattan traffic and movement of pedestrians along the streets below didn’t relieve the tension coursing through his body.
Never in his life had a woman left him. The reality of the last several months was unsettling. He was a Fox, after all, and if there was one thing his father had taught him, it was that nothing in this world came easy, but you could bend the outcome to your will.
That maxim would be tested with Ria. His wife. The thought made sadness swell within his chest. A pair of sensual brown eyes flashed before him, accompanied by full, chocolate-coated lips and skin as soft as the Egyptian cotton sheets Ria favored.
He remembered the last time their naked bodies had been twisted beneath them, coated with the scent of their lovemaking. He closed his eyes, anticipation of a long-awaited moment overtaking his senses. The familiar ache of unsated desire flickered through him. He was a sucker for her feisty spirit, her natural sensuality, and he couldn’t stop wanting her.
Garrison hadn’t hazarded to tell any family members other than Darius his intention of bringing her back home. No, there were just some things a man had to take care of himself, especially matters of the heart. He didn’t need anyone to tell him that he should just walk away, that he and the present Mrs. Garrison Fox couldn’t be more different than cats and dogs. He was a man who knew what he wanted, knew what he desired. He was determined to make Ria see it too. The attraction between them was real and immediate from the first time he’d laid eyes on her.
He’d wanted Ria then, and he wouldn’t stop his pursuit of her now.
Garrison unbuttoned his suit jacket, angling his six-foot-four-inch frame into the conference chair. He only had a moment to gather his wits before his willing accomplice entered the room.
“Right on time, I see,” Wilhelmina Townsend proclaimed, placing a hand on her ample hips. “Are you sure you want to go through with this? Your mother would probably stop speaking to me if she knew what we were doing. Not that she was pleased when you did the game show either.”
Willie’s secretive smile drew Garrison out of his private musings. Despite her sixty-plus years, she didn’t look a day over fifty. Her salt-and-pepper Afro, copper complexion and jovial figure made him think of all the corresponding attributes of Willie’s character. Her tough but gentle demeanor and all-seeing eyes had often caught a younger, more mischievous Garrison in many tirades.
“Morning, Willie. There is no pleasing my mother.” Garrison’s lips twisted into a cynical smile as he winked at his family’s old friend. “My mother would understand that her best friend is just looking out for her son’s best interests.”
“Or something like that.” Willie laughed. “I must say, there are not many men like you.”
“Some would consider that a blessing.” Garrison turned his attention from the older woman’s intent gaze, drawing a pen out of his suit jacket pocket as she handed him a thick bundle of legal documents. He looked down at the papers that would take him one step closer, a breath nearer to the woman who had left him cold and hungry for her touch and love.
He signed his normal scrawl on all the spots that required his John Hancock and then returned the papers to Willie. Her loyalty to their family and her business acumen assured Garrison’s trust, besides the fact that Willie had changed one or two of his diapers.
Garrison looked up to find her curious gaze upon him. “What are you thinking?”
“I’m thinking there are many women who would be willing to put up with your stubbornness and iron-clad tenacity.”
“I’m sure the price tags attached to my name wouldn’t hurt in attracting those women.” Garrison smiled. “I’m only concerned with one.”
Willie smiled back at him. “Yes, I know. You must really love her to be doing things this way.” She sat pensively beside him. “Have you talked to Ria about this?”
“You’re willing to take that big of a risk?”
“She’s worth it.” Garrison was more than willing to take on the challenge of pursuing his wife. He thrived off of risks. This time, though, it was more than money or some piece of prime real estate on the line.
He conceded that Ria had stolen a piece of his heart and run away with it, despite their whirlwind courtship on Soul Mates, an ultimate bachelor show sponsored by Core magazine. Garrison had only done the show as a favor to Willie. He hadn’t expected to fall in love with or marry one of the contestants.
Forgiveness had never come easy for Garrison. He could count on one hand how many people he had given a second chance. But things between him and Ria were different. His usual opponent was a business adversary. He’d never thought he’d do battle with the woman he loved. Right now, the scale was tilting heavily on her side. But he was determined to change that.