“Tell me how to handle this,” I said hoarsely, circling her wrists and exerting gentle pressure. “Tell me what to do.”
“Handle me, you mean?” Her shoulders went back. “Because I’m what’s wrong here. I knew Brett during a time in my life when I hated myself but wanted other people to love me. And now he’s acting the way I wanted him to back then and it’s giving me a head trip.”
“Christ, Eva.” I pressed harder, flattening my body against her. “How am I not supposed to feel threatened by that?”
“You’re supposed to trust me. I told you because I didn’t want you to get weird vibes and jump to conclusions. I wanted to be honest about it so you wouldn’t feel threatened. I know I’ve got some stuff to work out in my head. I’m going to see Dr. Travis this weekend and—”
“Shrinks aren’t a cure-all!”
“Don’t yell at me.”
I fought the urge to slam my fist into the plaster behind her. My wife’s blind faith in the healing properties of therapy frustrated the hell out of me. “We’re not running to a damned doctor every time we’ve got a problem. It’s you and me in this marriage. Not the goddamned psychiatric community!”
Her chin lifted, her jaw taking on the determined slant that drove me crazy. She never gave me an inch unless my c**k was inside her. Then she gave me everything.
“You may think you don’t need help, ace, but I know I do.”
“What I need is you.” I cupped her head in my heads. “I need my wife. And I need her thinking about me and not some other guy!”
“You’re making me wish I hadn’t said anything.”
My lip curled in a sneer. “I knew how you felt. I’ve seen it.”
“God. You jealous, crazy . . .” She moaned softly. “Why don’t you understand how much I love you? Brett’s got nothing on you. Nothing. But honestly, I don’t want to be around you right now.”
I felt her resistance, the pushback of her trying to get away. I clutched her like a lifeline. “Can’t you see what you’re doing to me?”
Eva softened in my arms. “I don’t get you, Gideon. How can you just flip a switch and turn your feelings off? Knowing how I feel about Corinne, how could you throw her in my face like that?”
“You’re the reason I breathe, I can’t turn it off.” I slid my mouth across her cheek. “I think of nothing but you. All day. Every day. Everything I do, I do with you in mind. There’s no room for anyone else. It kills me that you have room for him.”
“You’re not listening.”
“Just stay the hell away from him.”
“That’s avoidance, not a solution.” Her fingers dug into my waist. “I’m broken, Gideon, you know that. I’m piecing myself back together.”
I loved her just the way she was. Why wasn’t that enough?
“Thanks to you I’m stronger than I’ve ever been,” she went on, “but there are still cracks, and when I find them, I have to figure out what made them and how to seal them up. Permanently.”
“What the f**k does that mean?” My hands pushed beneath her top, seeking her bare skin.
She stiffened and pushed at me, rejecting me. “Gideon, no . . .”
I sealed my mouth over hers. Lifting her off her feet, I took her to the floor. She struggled and I growled, “Don’t fight me.”
“You can’t just screw our problems away.”
“I just want to screw you.” My thumbs hooked into the waistband of her shorts and shoved them down. I was frantic to be in her, possessing her, feeling her surrender. Anything to drown out the voice in my head telling me I’d f**ked up. Again. And this time, I wouldn’t be forgiven.
“Let me go.” She rolled onto her stomach.
My arms banded around her h*ps when she tried to crawl away. She could throw me off as she’d been trained to and she could cut me off with a word. Her safe word . . .
Eva froze at the sound of my voice and the one word meant to convey the riot of emotions she shattered me with.
It was in that eye of the storm that something snapped. A fierce and familiar quiet exploded within me, silencing the panic shaking my confidence. I stilled, absorbing the sudden absence of turmoil. It had been a long time since I’d last felt the dizzying switch between chaos and control. Only Eva could rock me so deeply, sending me hurtling back to a time when I’d been at the mercy of everything and everyone.
“You’re going to stop fighting me,” I told her calmly. “And I’m going to apologize.”
She went lax in my arms. Her submission was total and swift. I had the upper hand again.
I pulled her up and back, so that she was sitting on my thighs. Eva needed me in control. When I was reeling, she scattered, which only shook me more. It was a vicious cycle and I had to get a better grip on it.
“I’m sorry.” Sorry for hurting her. Sorry for losing my command of the situation. I’d been edgy after the nightmare—something she’d intuited—and getting hit with Kline immediately after hadn’t given me time to get my shit together.
I would deal with him. I’d keep a tight grasp on her. Period. There were no other options.
“I need your support, Gideon.”
“I need you to tell him you’re married.”
She leaned her temple against my cheek. “I’m going to.”
I shifted her to sit across my lap and leaned back against the wall, cradling her close. Her arms wrapped around my neck and my world righted itself again.
Her hand slid down my chest. “Ace . . .”
The coaxing note in her voice was one I knew well. I was hard in an instant, my blood hot and thick. Submitting to me turned Eva on, and that reaction from her fired me up like nothing else.
I pushed my hand into her hair and fisted the soft gold strands, watching the way her eyes grew heavy-lidded at the feel of the gentle tug. She was restrained and at my mercy, and she loved it. Needed it, just as much as I did.
I took her mouth.
Then I took her.
WHILE Angus drove Eva and me to work, I scrolled through my appointment calendar and thought of my wife’s eight-thirty flight.
I glanced at her. “You’ll take one of the jets to California.”
She had been looking out the window of the Bentley, city-scoping with her usual eager interest. She turned her gaze to me.
I was born in New York. I’d grown up in and near the city and eventually began to make it my own. At some point, I’d stopped noticing it. But Eva’s fascination and delight with my hometown had reintroduced it to me. I didn’t study the city with the intensity she did, but I saw it with fresh eyes all the same.
“Will I?” she challenged, her eyes betraying her countering attraction to me.
Her f**k-me look kept me redlined constantly.
“Yes.” I closed my tablet case. “It’s faster, more comfortable, and safer.”
Her mouth curved. “All right.”
That hint of teasing amusement captivated me, made me want to do everything wicked and raw to her until only complete surrender remained.
“You get to tell Cary,” she went on, switching the cross of her legs and revealing the lacy edge of her stockings and a peek of her garter.
She was wearing a red sleeveless shirt and a white skirt with strappy heels. A perfectly acceptable businesslike outfit that was elevated by the body inside it to understated sexiness. Electricity arced between us, the instinctive recognition that we had been made to fit together perfectly.
“Ask me to come with you,” I said, hating the thought of her being away from me for an entire weekend.
Her smile faded. “I can’t. If I’m going to start telling people we’re married, I have to start with Cary, and I can’t do that with you around. I don’t want him to feel like he’s on the outside of a life I’m creating with you.”
“I don’t want to be on the outside, either.”
She linked her fingers with mine. “Spending private time with friends doesn’t make us any less of a couple.”
“I prefer to spend time with you. You’re the most interesting person I know.”
Her eyes widened and she stared at me. Then she exploded into movement, hitching up her skirt and straddling me before I realized what she was doing. Cupping my face in her hands, she pressed her gloss-slick lips to mine and kissed me senseless.
“Umm,” I moaned, as she pulled away breathlessly. My fingers flexed into the generous curve of her gorgeous ass. “Do that again.”
“I’m so hot for you right now,” she breathed, rubbing my lips clean with her thumb.
“I’m good with that.”
Her husky laugh slid all around me. “I feel so awesome right now.”
“Better than you did in the hallway?” Her joy was infectious. If I could’ve stopped time, I would have at that moment.
“That’s a different kind of awesome.” Her fingertips tap-danced on my shoulders. She was . . . radiant when she was happy, and her pleasure brightened everything around her. Even me. “That was the best compliment, ace. Especially coming from the Gideon Cross. You meet fascinating people every day.”
“And wish they’d go away so I can get back to you.”
Her eyes glistened. “God, I love you so much it hurts.”
My hands shook and I dug them into the backs of her thighs to hide it from her. My gaze wandered, trying to latch on to something that would anchor me.
If she only knew what she did to me with those three little words.
She hugged me. “I want you to do something for me,” she murmured.
“Let’s have a party.”
Seizing the opportunity to move on to other topics . . . “Great. I’ll set up the swing.”
Pulling back, Eva shoved at my shoulder. “Not that kind of party, fiend.”
I sighed. “Bummer.”
She gave me a wicked smile. “How about I promise the swing in return for the party?”
“Ah, now we’re talking.” I settled back, enjoying her immensely. “Tell me what you have in mind.”
“Booze and friends, yours and mine.”
“All right.” I considered the possibilities. “I’ll see you your booze and friends, and raise you a quickie in a dark corner somewhere during.”
Her throat worked on a quick swallow and I smiled inwardly. I knew my angel well. Indulging her closet exhibitionism was a complete 360 turnaround for me, and though it still amazed me when I thought about it, I didn’t mind in the least. There was nothing I wouldn’t do for those moments when the only thing that mattered to her was being filled with my cock.
“You drive a hard bargain,” she said.
“Exactly my intention.”
“Okay, then.” She licked her lips. “I’ll see you your quickie and raise you a hand job under the table.”
My brows rose. “Clothed,” I countered.
Something that sounded like a purr rumbled in the air between us. “I think you need to revisit and revise, Mr. Cross.”
“I think you’ll need to work harder to convince me, Mrs. Cross.”
She was, as always, the most invigorating negotiation of my day.
WE separated on the twentieth floor, where she exited the elevator into the Waters Field & Leaman foyer. I was determined to get her on my team and working for me. It was an objective I strategized every day.
When I reached my office, my assistant was already at his desk.
“Good morning,” Scott greeted me, standing as I approached. “PR called a few minutes ago. They’re fielding an unusual amount of inquiries about a rumored engagement between you and Miss Tramell. They’d like to know how to respond.”