“Okay,” she breathed.
The undercurrents of arousal and surrender in her voice sent my blood humming. She swayed into me, her body softening. “I’d like to come now, actually.”
“I am, as always, at your service.”
The shock of hearing panic in Eva’s voice reverberated through me. My body jolted, jerking me out of the deepest sleep. Rolling to my side with a low moan, I struggled awake, shoving my hair out of my face to find her kneeling on the edge of the bed.
A heavy, inescapable sense of dread had my heart racing and cold sweat coating my skin.
I pushed up onto one elbow. “What’s wrong?”
Moonlight slanted through the room and haloed her. She’d come to me in our bedroom in the apartment next door to hers. Something had woken her, and I was afraid. Fear chilled me to the bone.
“Gideon.” She slid into me in a rush of silken skin and shining hair. Curled against me, she reached up and touched my face. “What were you dreaming about?”
The stroke of her fingertips left a trail of wet across my skin. Startled, horrified, I scrubbed at my eyes and smeared more tears across my cheek. In a corner of my mind, I sensed the lingering shadow of a dream.
The brush of memory had me shivering, spiraling further downward.
I rolled into her and pulled her tight against me, hearing her gasp as I squeezed too hard. Her skin was cool to the touch, but her flesh was warm beneath and I absorbed her heat, breathed in her scent, felt the terrible lingering grief inside me ease with her nearness.
I couldn’t grasp the dream I’d had, but it refused to let go of me.
“Shh,” she crooned, her fingers pushing through the sweat-damp roots of my hair, her hand stroking up and down my back. “It’s okay. I’m here.”
I couldn’t breathe. I fought for air and a horrible sound ripped from my burning lungs.
A sob. Christ. Then another. I couldn’t stop the violent contractions.
“Baby.” She hugged me harder, her legs tangling with mine. She rocked us gently, whispering words I couldn’t hear over the pounding of my heartbeat and the outcry of my phantom pain.
I wrapped myself around her, holding on to the love that could save me.
Eva’s back arched as I thrust hard, my knees spreading her thighs wide, my c**k tunneling deep. Her wrists were pinned by my hands, her head thrashing as I f**ked her hard.
Some days I woke her with tenderness. Today wasn’t one of those mornings.
I’d woken to a throbbing erection, the head of my dick wet with pr**cum against the curve of Eva’s ass. I aroused her hungrily, impatiently, sucking her ni**les to hard points, slickening her cunt with the demanding drive of my fingers. She’d ignited to my touch, gave herself over to me, gave herself to me.
God. I loved her so much.
The need to come was like a vise around my balls, the pressure exquisite. She was tight, so amazingly snug, and so wet. I couldn’t get enough. Couldn’t get deep enough, even when I felt the end of her clasping at the head of my cock.
She thrashed beneath my pounding drives, her heels sliding across the sheets, her tits rocking with the force of my thrusts. She was so small, so soft, and I was f**king her lush body with everything I had in me.
Take me. Take all of me. The good and the bad. Everything. Take it all.
The headboard banged into the shared wall between our two apartments in a hard-driving rhythm that screamed crazed sex to anyone listening. As did the growls spilling from my throat, the animalistic sounds of my pleasure I didn’t try to hold back. I loved f**king my wife. Craved it. Needed it. And I didn’t care who knew what she did to me.
Eva arched up, sinking her teeth into my biceps, her bite sliding over my sweat-slick skin. The mark of possession drove me wild, had me thrusting so hard I shoved her up the bed.
She cried out. I hissed as she tightened around me like a greedy fist.
“Come,” I bit out, my jaw clenched against the urge to do the same, to let go and pump every drop I had into her.
Rolling my hips, I ground against her clit, pleasure sizzling up my spine when she moaned my name and cl**axed around me in pulsing ripples.
I kissed her roughly, drinking in her taste, spilling into her with a shuddering groan.
EVA stumbled a little as I helped her out of the back of the Bentley in front of the Crossfire.
A hot flush spread across her face and she shot me a look. “You suck.”
My brows rose questioningly.
“I’m shaky and you’re not, sex machine.”
I smiled innocently. “I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re not.” Her wry smile faded as she glanced down the street. “Paparazzi,” she said grimly.
I followed her gaze and spotted the photographer aiming a camera out of the open passenger window of his car. Gripping her by the elbow, I led her into the building.
“If I have to start actually styling my hair every day,” she muttered, “you’re dealing with morning wood on your own.”
“Angel,” I tugged her into my side and whispered, “I’d hire a full-time hairdresser for you before I gave up your cunt every morning.”
She elbowed me in the ribs. “God, you’re crude, you know that? Some women take offense to that word.”
She went ahead of me through the security turnstiles and joined the mass of bodies waiting for the next elevator car.
I stood close behind her. “You’re not one of them. However, I might be willing to revise. I recall orifice being a favorite of yours.”
“Oh God. Shut up,” she said, laughing.
We separated when she exited on the twentieth floor and I went up to Cross Industries without her. I wouldn’t be doing so for long. Someday, Eva would be working with me, helping to build our future as a team.
I was debating the myriad avenues to achieving that goal when I rounded the corner on approach to my office. My stride slowed when I saw the willowy brunette waiting by Scott’s desk.
I steeled myself to deal with my mother again.
Then her head turned and I saw it was Corinne.
“Gideon.” She rose gracefully to her feet, her eyes brightening with a look I’d come to recognize, having seen it on Eva’s face.
It gave me no pleasure to see that warmth in Corinne’s eyes. Unease slid down my spine, stiffening my back. The last time I had seen her had been shortly after she’d tried to kill herself.
“Good morning, Corinne. How are you feeling?”
“Better.” She came toward me and I took a step back, causing her to slow and her smile to waver. “Do you have a moment?”
I gestured to my office.
With a deep breath, she turned and preceded me. I glanced at Scott. “Give us ten.”
He nodded, his gaze sympathetic.
Corinne walked to my desk and I joined her, hitting the button that closed the door behind us. I kept the glass clear and didn’t remove my jacket, sending her every signal that she shouldn’t settle in for long.
“I’m sorry for your loss, Corinne.” Saying the words wasn’t enough, but they were all I could give her. The memories of that night in the hospital would be with me for a while.
Her lips whitened. “I still can’t believe it. All these years of trying . . . I thought I couldn’t get pregnant.” She picked up the photo of Eva on my desk. “Jean-François told me you called a couple times asking about me. I wish you’d called me. Or returned my calls.”
“I don’t think that’s appropriate, under the circumstances.”
She looked at me. Her eyes weren’t the same shade of blue as my mother’s, but they were close, and their sense of style was similar. Corinne’s elegant blouse and trousers were notably like something I’d once seen my mother wear.
“You’re getting married,” Corinne said.
It wasn’t a question, but I answered anyway. “Yes.”
Her eyes closed. “I’d hoped Eva was lying.”
“I’m very protective when it comes to her. Tread lightly.”
Opening her eyes, she set the picture down hard. “Do you love her?”
“That’s none of your business.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“I don’t owe you one, but if you need to hear it, she’s everything to me.”
The tightness of her mouth softened with a quiver. “Would it make a difference if I told you I’m getting divorced?”
“No.” I exhaled roughly. “You and I will never be together again, Corinne. I don’t know how many times or in how many ways I can say it. I could never be what you want me to be. You dodged a bullet when you broke our engagement.”
She flinched, her hair sliding over her shoulder to flow down to her waist. “Is that what’s keeping us apart? You can’t forgive me for that?”
“Forgive you? I’m thankful.” My voice softened when tears filled her eyes. “I don’t mean to be cruel. I can guess how painful this might be. But I didn’t want you to have hope when there isn’t any.”
“What would you do if Eva said these things to you?” she challenged. “Would you just give up and walk away?”
“It’s not the same.” I raked a hand through my hair, struggling to find the words. “You don’t understand what I have with Eva. She needs me as much as I need her. For both our sakes, I wouldn’t ever give up trying.”
“I need you, Gideon.”
Frustration made me curt. “You don’t know me. I played a role for you. I let you see only what I wanted you to see, what I thought you could accept.” And in return, I saw only what I wanted to see in her, the girl she’d once been. I had stopped paying real attention long ago, and so I’d failed to see how she had changed. She’d been a blind spot for me, but no longer.
She stared at me in shocked silence for a moment. “Elizabeth warned me that Eva was rewriting your past. I didn’t believe her. I’ve never known you to be swayed by anyone, but I guess there’s a first time for everything.”
“My mother believes what she wants and you’re welcome to join her.” They were similar in that way, too. Good at believing what they wanted and ignoring any proof to the contrary.
It was a revelation to realize I had been comfortable with Corinne because I’d known she wouldn’t pry. I’d been able to fake normalcy with her and she never dug deeper. Eva had changed that for me. I wasn’t normal and I didn’t need to be. Eva accepted me the way I was.
I wasn’t going to reveal my past to everyone, but my days of playing along with the lies were over.
Corinne reached a hand out to me. “I love you, Gideon. You used to love me, too.”
“I was grateful to you,” I corrected. “And I will always be. I was attracted to you, had fun with you, for a time I even needed you, but it would never have worked out between us.”
She dropped her hand back to her side.
“I would have found Eva eventually. And I would’ve wanted her, given up everything to have her. I would have left you to be with her. The end was inevitable.”
Corinne turned away. “Well . . . at least we’ll always be friends.”
It was an effort to strip any apology out of my tone. I wouldn’t encourage her. “That won’t be possible. This is the last time you and I will speak to each other.”
Her shoulders shook with a ragged indrawn breath, and I turned my head, fighting with discomfort and regret. She’d been important to me once. I would miss her, but not in the way she wanted me to.
“What do I have to live for if I don’t have you?”
I turned at her question and barely caught her when she ran into me, holding her at bay with a grip on her upper arms.