One who’d probably hit his brother over the head with a tray of hors d’oeuvres if she ever heard him calling her a responsibility.
The image made Griffin smile.
"Yes," Josh continued thoughtfully, "but she’s also a woman who’s desperate to have a kid. And where there are kids, there are responsibilities."
Griffin reflected that, as far as his siblings were concerned, his and Eva’s was a conventional marriage, but with an element of convenience on both sides: her desire for a baby, and his willingness to marry and have a child that would inherit both REH and Evkit.
He certainly hadn’t gone into details about his role in bringing about an end to Eva and Carter’s couple-dom. Still, he knew his siblings would be curious, particularly since Monica was aware Eva had been dating Carter until recently.
"Frankly Monica and I had been hoping for something more salacious," Josh joked. "It would have been a lot more interesting if you’d married Eva after beating out another guy. Anything to spice up your image."
His brother didn’t know how close to home he was hitting.
"Sorry to disappoint," he quipped. "But hey, have you thought about life as a comic?"
Josh grinned, and then held up his hands. "What? And waste these surgeon’s hands? Or worse, risk having some irate comedy club patron break a finger or two?"
Griffin arched a brow. "I recall saving those million-dollar hands of yours from the irate brother of your high school girlfriend."
"Face it, Grif," Josh parried, unwilling to back down. "You’re just the responsible type. It’s time to quit running from your nature. You see a damsel in distress, you have to jump in."
"Shut up, Josh," he grumbled.
His brother cocked his head. "You know, Monica and I initially had some doubts when you told us you were planning to wed Eva Tremont."
"I figured you would."
"Monica was worried you’ve been at loose ends lately."
Griffin shrugged. "Maybe I thought it was time to settle down like the two of you have."
He tossed off the explanation, but his brother regarded him keenly.
"Yeah," Josh said, "but it helps when it’s the right woman."
He and Josh looked across the room at Eva.
"At least she’s not a pushover for your arrogant rear end," his brother remarked.
"Thanks," Griffin grumbled. "Your vote of confidence overwhelms me."
Josh grinned. "On second thought, after seeing the wedding kiss, I don’t think Monica and I have anything to worry about."
* * *
Mrs. Griffin Slater.
Eva was still getting used to the name on her tongue as they pulled up to Griffin’s getaway home in Napa Valley.
They’d left her parents’ estate as soon as the wedding reception was over, still in their wedding clothes.
Emerging from the car, she drank in the sight of Griffin’s house.
It was a charming two-story structure with a red terra-cotta-tiled roof, whitewashed walls and distressed green shutters.
Griffin came up beside her. "Like it? I bought it a couple of years ago."
She glanced at him. "I’m starting to realize you made a lot of changes a couple of years ago."
"Come on," he said smoothly. "I’ll show you around. We’ll unload the luggage from the car later."
Grasping the hem of her floor-length gown in one hand, she followed him over the gravelly driveway.
After Griffin opened the old-fashioned, planked-wood front door, Eva found herself stepping directly into the cottage’s living room. It was made up in masculine colors of maroon and brown that would have made Marcus Tremont instantly comfortable. In fact, Eva could almost picture her father relaxing in the nail head recliner in one corner.
Following the living room was a dining room centered around a large wood table whose planks, she learned from Griffin, were stained alternately with red and white wine. The chairs were cast iron with woven leather seats and backs.
The kitchen rounded out the first floor. It had clay tile floors, Viking appliances and old-fashioned country cupboards. And, of course, a large wine rack. Copper pots hung from a ceiling rack and glazed ceramics adorned various shelves.
Outside, visible through sliding doors, was a deck and an outdoor kitchen.
As they retraced their steps, Eva reflected that the lower level of the house displayed a very Napa style.
When they reached the front of the house again, they ascended an old-fashioned staircase with an ornate wood balustrade.
"There are three bedrooms up here, each with its own bath," Griffin said.
"Do you often have houseguests?"
He tossed her a look. "No, unless you count a couple of visits from my siblings, but I’ve only owned the house for a couple of years. Of course, if you’d like to entertain here, I wouldn’t be opposed to it."
She’d love to entertain here, Eva thought. Griffin’s house was made for entertaining.
After they’d peeked into the two guest suites, Griffin led her through the double doors to the master suite at the end of the hall.
Immediately she got an impression of bold splashes of color. The walls were painted a forest-green, but what really caught he attention was the king-size bed with wine-red satin bedding and an ornately carved dark wood headboard.
It would be like making love in an arbor, or, she thought, as her eyes went to the view of verdant hills visible from the large paned-glass windows, among vineyards and grape-stained ground.
She became acutely aware of Griffin standing next to her.
"Well? What do you think?" he asked.
"Do you arrange all your tours so they end up in your bedroom?" she said, her flippant tone belying her sudden tension.
Griffin smiled slowly. "You noticed."
She felt the air grow thick. "Yes."
"Most women would catch on to the maneuver fast," Griffin murmured. "And since you’re not stupid or unobservant, I’ve got to assume you’re here because you want to be."
She tilted her head. "Maybe. Have you tried this with many women?"
"You’re the only one who’s fallen for the ploy."
He gave her a wolfish look, and she pretended to look offended.
When she would have moved away, however, he slipped his arm around her waist, drawing her to him.
The contact was electric.
He searched her face, his expression suddenly solemn. "You’re also the only woman I’ve tried the tactic with."
H e wanted to make love to her so badly, Griffin felt as if he might come out of his skin. "I’ve always thought only a tough man could take you on."