"Why didn’t you just give in to temptation?" she said.
"After raising my siblings, I thought I was done with personal responsibilities for a lifetime, and getting involved with the boss’s daughter would definitely have been complicated."
She propped herself on an elbow. "Monica filled me in a little recently about just how involved you were in raising her and Josh," she said. "Before that, as far as I could see, you were just my father’s enforcer. The guy who looked down on me and my job."
"I enjoyed teasing you," he admitted. "I got an adrenaline rush out of butting heads with you. But ever since I saw you in action for Occasions by Design, I’ve known just how good you are at what you do."
She smiled, and then bit her lip. "About Tremont REH…"
He cocked a brow and bent an arm behind his head. "What about it? You grew up thinking you were in competition with Tremont REH for your father’s attention. That explains your aversion to the real estate business."
She looked at him in surprise. "You knew?"
"It was hard to miss," he said dryly. "And I have to admit, I’ve come to realize Marcus probably didn’t do himself any favors."
"For years, I thought you were just like my father."
"Have I ever made you feel like you’re taking a backseat to something else?" he countered. "No…"
It was true, she realized. In fact, Griffin had surprised her by how often he’d been home waiting for her. Wanting to be with her.
A teasing light entered his eyes. "Now about that Mr. Fix-It nickname…"
With a deft move, he rolled her onto her back. "Let’s try coming up with something else, shall we?"
"How about Mr. Everything?" she offered. "You know, as in you are my everything."
"Nice try, kitten," he growled, "but I was thinking of something a little more manly."
She laughed, and then Griffin’s lips met hers.
Griffin looked down at the infant daughter in his arms and felt his heart expand.
They’d come home from the hospital yesterday, and today they were hosting a gathering at their house in Pacific Heights so that relatives and close friends could meet the new arrivals.
He and Eva had named their daughter Millicent Audrey, after their two mothers. She’d been born four days ago with a shock of dark hair and midnight eyes.
Griffin looked across the living room to where Eva stood cradling Andrew Marcus, who’d been born two minutes before his twin. Like his sister, he was named after his grandparents. But unlike Millicent, Drew had just a stubble of dark hair and dark blue eyes whose ultimate color was anyone’s guess.
Griffin thought back over the long path to today. Ultimately Eva had required a myomectomy to treat her fibroids, and they’d been unsure of the long-term results of the surgery.
He and Eva had been overjoyed to discover, after two years of marriage, that she was carrying twins.
Griffin felt a hand clap him on the shoulder, and turned to see that Marcus had come to stand beside him.
The older man held an unlit cigar in one hand and looked as if he was enjoying the prop mightily.
"It’s a pink and blue cigar kind of day," Marcus said heartily, pointing to the two different color bands around the cigar.
Griffin looked down at his daughter, whose eyes remained closed but who blew a bubble fitfully. "Don’t worry. Millicent here is taking care of blowing rings for you."
Just then, Eva walked up to them, rocking and cooing to Drew.
"I never thought I’d see the day," Marcus remarked.
"That you’d see grandchildren?" Eva guessed.
Marcus waved his cigar. "No, I mean the day you and Griffin became parents together. I knew you were meant for each other."
Eva lifted her brows. "Yes, your scheming saw to that, didn’t it?"
Griffin suppressed a smile. Marcus had come clean—sort of—about misleading Eva into thinking Griffin had accepted a stake in Tremont REH in exchange for marrying her. Eva’s father had conceded his words could have been subject to misinterpretation.
"It all turned out for the best, didn’t it?" Marcus countered, a twinkle in his eye. "Can’t argue with results, my girl."
Eva rolled her eyes. "That’s just like you, to think the end justifies the means. But don’t worry, I didn’t offer Griffin ownership in Occasions by Design on the condition that he take you on as a father-in-law."
Griffin unsuccessfully stifled a laugh.
"Quick with the barb, just like your father," Marcus grumbled, though it was clear nothing could dampen his jovial mood. "Still, unlike me, you don’t need Griffin to help you with your business."
Eva smiled, and a moment of connection seemed to pass between father and daughter.
Teasing and the occasional verbal sparring aside, Griffin knew a deep bond existed between father and daughter. Eva had forgiven Marcus for interfering in her life for a second time with his purposely misleading remarks about bribing Griffin to marry her. And now the issue of Tremont REH was also no longer such a touchy subject.
Eva had realized both her father and her husband respected her choice of career and her business judgment. Though, these days, she had delegated a lot of responsibility at Occasions by Design so she could take a maternity leave and spend time with her children.
As Eva and Marcus continued to talk, Griffin reflected on the fact that he had everything he wanted.
After his siblings had grown, he’d spent years thinking that the last thing he needed was more personal commitments and responsibilities. In retrospect, he realized it was because he took his responsibilities so seriously that he’d avoided any more of them.
But ultimately, instead of feeling free of obligations, he’d felt unconnected. He’d been adrift until he’d opened himself up to Eva.
He’d also found himself looking forward to becoming a father more than he’d thought possible. It was as if the wait—and the struggle—to conceive had just cemented his determination about what he wanted out of his life.
Eva. Kids. A home life that had been shattered with a plane crash, and that he’d spent years devoted to recreating for his siblings.
"Why are you smiling?" Eva asked.
He looked over at her. "It’s impossible not to smile."
Eva couldn’t agree more. If someone had said to her three years ago that she’d find herself married to Griffin Slater and the mother of twins, she’d have laughed.
Griffin’s ties to Tremont REH and her father had prevented her from seeing him for what he was: husband material. Instead she’d embarked on a futile path with Mr. Wrong.