Even now, a smile graced his lips as he thought of days when life had seemed less complicated. Before he had met the very woman who’d turned him inside out. Now he was consumed by the blatant need to love her in every way possible. He dared any man to entrench on his territory or Ria to forget whom she belonged to.
“The papers are claiming Ria left because she and her mother couldn’t get any money out of you,” Willie replied, handing him a copy of the papers that contained her signature. She looked into his eyes, searching. “I know that’s a lie.”
Garrison didn’t have to think about the answer; the hypocrisy of it strummed through his body like an electric current. The constant erection he’d had to contend with nightly was sign enough he missed his woman. “As do I. I know who my wife is and who she isn’t.”
“The show was only meant to be a marketing ploy.” Willie shook her head. “I never wanted either of you hurt.”
“The ploy worked. Core is one of the leading women’s publications in the market, and you gained readers.”
“Garrison, not everything is about crunching numbers or market shares. This is about Ria Phillips—”
Garrison leaned back in his chair, his eyebrows burrowing down on his forehead. “Ria Phillips Fox.”
“You’ll never lose that Fox spirit.” Wilhemina grinned. “However, you’ve only known your wife for a short time. This is about matters of the heart.”
“She belongs by my side and I love her, time notwithstanding.”
“I know.” Willie sighed, crossing her arms. “I think Ria is wonderful, hardworking, and spunky. She won’t give in easily. You’ll be lucky to get her back.”
Garrison chuckled at her chagrin. “Thanks!”
“I think she’s just the kind of woman to keep you on your toes—that is, if you can catch her.”
“There’s only one way to catch a Fox, Willie.”
“You have to be fast enough.” Garrison thought of the last night he’d seen her. Ria had been crying. Pain had sliced through him, undeniably strong. He was going to do his best to rectify the wrongs between them.
“I think in this case, you’ll have to be fast enough to catch her.”
Garrison sighed. “That’s not a problem.”
Willie laughed. “Oh sweetheart, have you got a lot to learn about your wife.”
Garrison had never been a man of patience, but he figured now was as good a time as any to start giving in to the worrisome virtue.
Willie was quiet then and looked into his eyes. “How do you think she’ll react to this?”
Garrison smiled. “How would any woman deal with opposition?”
“Most of those women are not your wife.”
“And that’s a fact.”
“I think you’ll have quite the battle on your hands, Fox.”
“Don’t worry, Willie. I promise to take it easy on her.”
“You call buying her place of employment easy? Where she works every day and hasn’t the slightest clue she’ll be seeing your face every morning—that’s taking it easy?”
Garrison stood, brought his lips to her hand and grinned. “Well, maybe not that easy.”
* * * * *
Ria Phillips Fox wasn’t the type of woman who waited to learn what surprises lurked around the corner. She’d arrived early and had tried to find out what was going on from several co-workers of the magazine as the conference room began to fill. She loved being back in New York. Working at Core had been her dream job back when she’d worked for a smaller publication and signed on for Core’s Soul Mates. She’d never expected to fall in love with Garrison. The thought of her husband made her heart ache.
She’d left him in Chicago, hoping that she could start fresh in New York and away from the daily drama of the Fox family. She’d been naïve when marrying Garrison, having no idea what being a wife of such a man would be like.
Ria turned her attention back to the people around her. There was no use contemplating him. They were better off without one another.
Anticipation for the arrival of owner and editor in chief of the magazine, Wilhelmina Townsend, clicked through Ria’s veins. She had only been employed at the magazine for five months and finally felt like she’d found her place in the world, working as a fashion editor.
Gone were the camera flashes that caught her during her morning run, or the captions that exposed scandal like it was second nature. She didn’t have to worry about who had said what to whom, or that her fashion sense didn’t match what all the celebrities were wearing this season. She’d always had her own style, and she refused to change it for people who entered her life only for a nanosecond.