They’d both looked bright and cheerful—that is, Eva thought, until she’d dropped her bombshell.
Eva wondered now how her parents hadn’t spotted something was wrong the minute she’d walked into the room. She was exhausted, having had two sleepless nights.
After her conversation with Griffin two days ago, she’d gathered some of her personal belongings and headed to Russian Hill, where she’d been able to bawl her eyes out in the privacy of her old bedroom.
Her father now pushed back his chair and stood. "You can’t get a divorce! You just got married, for God’s sake! Or have you forgotten?"
"I haven’t forgotten anything."
Sarcasm was usually a good indication of how agitated her father was, but she was too weary to rise to the bait.
Her father frowned. "Are you trying to compete with some of those starlets down in L.A. for the shortest marriage on record? Two hours, thirty-seven seconds?" he demanded. "If so, I’ll remind you that I prefer to keep the Tremont name respectable."
"Oh, Marcus," her mother interrupted, rising from her seat. "Can’t you see Eva’s upset enough as it is?"
"Upset?" her father echoed, his voice ringing out. "This—" he stabbed a finger at his chest "—is what upset looks like."
Eva watched her mother come over to her, and in the next instant, she was enveloped in a comforting hug.
"I knew my happiness was too good to last," her father grumbled, and then lowered his eyebrows. "How could you possibly want to divorce Griffin?"
Eva reluctantly pulled away from her mother’s embrace. "I’m glad you got around to asking the question."
Her father said with sudden suspicion, "He didn’t cheat on you, did he?"
What could she say? I’m in love with Griffin but I can’t stay married to him.
It was too complicated to explain, so she sighed, and said wearily, "Does it really matter?"
"You can’t divorce him," her father shot back. "I offered him a chunk of Tremont REH if he married you!"
A stunned silence followed her father’s words.
"What?" she said incredulously. "I can’t believe you!"
"Marcus!" her mother exclaimed, looking similarly shocked. "How could you do something like that?"
Her father looked at the two of them shrewdly. "They were some of my shares, Audrey."
Eva felt her temper ignite. "How does accepting ownership of Tremont REH in exchange for marrying me make Griffin any less of a gold digger than Carter?"
Her father’s jaw set. "Griffin earned a stake in Tremont REH. He’s been drawing a nominal salary as CEO, but his knack for investing is what put Tremont REH in the enviable position it’s in today."
"Why not just offer him ownership in the company then?" she asked. "Why tie it to marrying me?"
"The company’s name is Tremont REH for a good reason," her father said stubbornly, "and it’s going to stay in Tremont hands as long as I draw breath."
She compressed her lips. "That’s less likely now than ever."
"Of course it is! You’re thinking of divorcing Griffin!"
She wondered what her father would say if she told him about her visit to the doctor, but she figured she’d handed him enough of a shock already.
"How could you?" she demanded. "How could you bribe Griffin?"
Her gaze clashed with her father’s, and then she turned on her heel and walked out of the house.
Rather than head home or to the office, however, she got in her car and headed back to the mansion in Pacific Heights.
Griffin was used to staring down opposing parties in business negotiations, but he hadn’t yet had to deal with the full wrath of a Tremont.
W hen she arrived in Pacific Heights an hour later, she had a full head of steam.
Eva let herself into the house with her key and slammed the door behind her.
She had only a few seconds to wait before Griffin appeared in the archway at the end of the entry hall that led to the back of the house.
She’d assumed he’d be home at this hour because it was Saturday and he didn’t need to be at the office. He should also have had a chance to sleep in, but she noted peripherally that he looked a little beat.
"You miserable, rotten…" She trailed off, incoherent with rage.
He stared at her until the side of his mouth finally quirked up in sardonic amusement.
"Well, I have to give you credit for a refreshing response," he drawled. "You ask for a divorce, and I’m a miserable, rotten jerk."
"Thank you for supplying an appropriate name. Though jerk may be too good a word for you." She crossed her arms as he came closer. "How about liar? Or, wait—" she unfolded her arms and snapped her fingers, as if she’d just had a flash of insight "—how about gold digger, heiress hunter, or one of those other choice words that apply to Carter?"
Griffin’s brows snapped together. "Don’t put me in the same sentence as Newell."
"If the shoe fits," she returned sweetly.
"What are you talking about?"
She dropped her arms, growing impatient. "Come on, Griffin. My father told me."
"Told you what?"
"About how he offered you a sizable share of Tremont REH if you married me. Not content that our child—" she almost stumbled over the word "—would inherit the company, you decided to grab some for yourself, hmm?"
In a fit of anger two days ago, she’d suggested he work out something with her father for ownership of Tremont REH. Little had she known he’d already taken care of that small detail!
Emotions flitted across Griffin’s face. It was a few moments before he answered.
"Bothered you, did it?" he said equably.
"What do you think?" she retorted. "How are you any different from Carter?"
"Because I didn’t cheat on you?" he offered.
"Wrong answer," she said, his tongue-in-cheek response incensing her.
He cocked his head. "It bothered you that I might have been bribed to marry you? I wonder why, but I have a theory."
She gave a humorless laugh. "This should be good."
Hitting him with a serving tray or stabbing him with a dessert fork would be too good for him, she thought. Roasting him over a fondue flame, now there was an idea….
Griffin nodded thoughtfully and came closer, apparently unaware of how she nearly vibrated with anger.
"Want to hear my theory?" he said.
"I can’t wait."