My mother didn’t want to mend fences; she wanted an agreement to pretend the fences were sound.
We said good-bye, and then I slid into the driver’s seat. Eva and I took off, leaving the estate behind us. We hadn’t gone far when she said, “When did your mother talk to you?”
Damn it. I knew what that bite in her tone signified.
Reaching over, I set my hand on her knee. “I don’t want you worrying about my mother.”
“You don’t want me worrying about anything! That’s not the way this is gonna work. You don’t get to deal with all the crap alone.”
“What my mother says or does isn’t important, Eva. I don’t give a shit and neither should you.”
She twisted in the seat to face me. “You need to start sharing stuff. Especially things that have to do with me, like your mother saying things behind my back!”
“I won’t have you getting pissed off over an irrelevant opinion.” The road curved. I accelerated out of the turn.
“That would be better than me getting pissed off at you!” she snapped. “Pull over.”
“What?” I glanced at her.
“Pull the damn car over!”
Cursing inwardly, I removed my hand from her leg and gripped the wheel. “Tell me why.”
“Because I’m mad at you, and you’re sitting there looking all hot and sexy driving and you need to stop.”
Amusement warred with exasperation. “Stop what? Looking hot and sexy? Or driving?”
“Gideon . . . don’t push me right now.”
Resigned, I eased off the gas and pulled to a stop on the narrow shoulder. “Better?”
She got out of the car and went around the hood. I stepped out, giving her a questioning glance.
“I’m driving,” she announced when she was standing in front of me. “At least until we get to the city.”
“If that’s what you want.”
I knew next to nothing about relationships, but it was a no-brainer to make concessions when your woman was mad at you. Especially when you entertained hopes of getting laid in a few hours, which I most definitely was. After spending the weekend with friends and Ireland, I was feeling a renewed need to show my wife just how much I appreciated her.
“Don’t look at me like that,” she muttered.
“Like what?” I raked her with a glance, admiring how pretty she looked in a strappy white sundress. The evening was hot and muggy, but she looked airy and fresh. I wanted to strip off my clothes and press up against her, cool off a little before heating things up.
“Like I’m a ticking time bomb ready to go off!” Her arms crossed. “I am not being irrational.”
“Angel, that’s not the look I’m giving you.”
“And don’t try to distract me with sex,” she bit out, her jaw clenched. “Or you won’t get any for a week!”
My arms crossed, too. “We’ve already talked about issuing ultimatums like that. You can bitch at me all you like, Eva, but I’ll have you when I want you. Period.”
“Never mind whether I want you?”
“Asks the wife who gets wet watching me drive a damn car,” I drawled.
Her gaze narrowed. “I may just leave you here on the side of the road.”
Clearly, I wasn’t navigating the situation well. So I switched tactics, taking the offensive position.
“You don’t tell me everything,” I countered. “What about Kline? Has he completely stopped communicating with you since San Diego?”
I’d been holding back the question all weekend, wondering how Kline was going to handle Eva.
I was torn about how I wanted him to proceed. If he approached her about the tape he no longer possessed, it would hurt her but also drive her closer to me. If he walked away for her sake, it would betray deeper feelings for her than I was comfortable with. I hated that he wanted her, but I feared he might actually love her.
She gasped. “Oh my God. Have you been looking at my phone again?”
“No.” My reply was swift and decisive. “I know how you feel about that.”
I followed her every move, knew where she was and who she was with at every moment of the day, but she’d set a hard limit with her cell phone and I honored it, even though it drove me crazy.
Eva studied me a minute but must have seen the truth on my face. “Yes, Brett has sent me a few texts. I was going to talk to you about it, so don’t even try to say it’s the same thing. I totally intended to tell you. You had absolutely no intention of telling me.”
A car rushed by on the road, turning my concern toward her safety. “Get in and drive. We’ll talk in the car.”
I waited until she climbed into the seat, and then I shut the door behind her. By the time I settled in the passenger side, she’d adjusted the mirrors and seat to suit her and put the car in gear.
The minute she was fully merged in the lane, she started in on me again. I was vaguely aware of her speaking, my attention more focused on the way she handled the Bentley. She drove fast and with confidence, her grip light and easy on the wheel. She kept her gaze on the road, but I couldn’t take my eyes off her. My California girl. On an open road, she was fully in her element.
I found myself pleasantly aroused by watching Eva handle the powerful SUV. Or maybe it was that she was chastising me, challenging me.
“Are you listening to me?” she demanded.
“Not really, angel. And before you get more riled, it’s entirely your fault. You’re sitting there looking hot and sexy, and I’m distracted.”
Her hand whipped out and smacked my thigh. “Seriously? Stop cracking jokes!”
“I’m not kidding. Eva . . . you want me to share, so you can support me. I get it. I’m working on it.”
“Not hard enough apparently.”
“I’m not going to share things that aggravate you unnecessarily. There’s no point.”
“We have to be straight with each other, Gideon. Not just occasionally, but all the time.”
“Really? I don’t expect the same from you. For example, feel free to keep all the unflattering comments your father and Cary make about me to yourself.”
Her lips pursed. She chewed on that for a bit, then, “Using that logic, wouldn’t it be okay for me to not say anything about Brett?”
“No. Kline impacts our relationship. My mother does not.”
“I’m right about this,” I said evenly.
“Are you telling me that your mom talking crap about me doesn’t bother you?”
“I don’t like it. That said, it doesn’t change how I feel about you or her. And telling you won’t change your feelings about her, either. Since the result is the same either way, I choose the path of least disruption.”
“You’re thinking like a guy.”
“I should hope so.” I reached over and brushed the hair off her shoulder. “Don’t let her cause trouble between us, angel. She’s not worth it.”
Eva glanced at me. “You’re pretending that what your mom says and does has no effect on you, but I know that’s not true.”
I debated denying it, just to shut down the topic, but my wife saw everything I’d rather hide. “I don’t let it affect me.”
“But it does. It hurts and you push it into that place where you push everything you don’t want to deal with.”
“Don’t analyze me,” I said tightly.
Her hand touched my thigh. “I love you. I want to stop the pain.”
“You already have.” I gripped her hand. “You’ve given me everything she took away. Don’t let her take any more.”
With her eyes on the winding road, Eva lifted our joined hands and kissed my wedding band. “Point taken.”
She gave me a quick smile that told me she was done—for now—and drove us home.
I DARED ANYONE to come up with a more awe-inspiring sight than Gideon Cross taking a shower.
It amazed me that he could be so matter-of-fact about running his hands over all that taut, tanned skin and those perfectly defined slabs of muscle. Through the misted glass of my bathroom shower, I watched the rivulets of soapy water run down the hard ridges of his abdomen and the length of his strong legs. His body was a work of art, a machine he kept in prime shape. I loved it. Loved looking at it, touching it, tasting it.
Reaching out, he swiped a hand through the condensation, revealing that breathtaking face. One darkly winged brow arched in silent query.
“Just enjoying the show,” I explained. The scent of his soap teased senses that had become trained to recognize the fragrance as belonging to my mate. The man who stirred and pleasured my body to delirium.
I licked my lips when he casually stroked the heavy length of his cock. He’d once told me he used to masturbate every time he took a shower, a release he had considered as routine as brushing his teeth. I could see why, knowing how powerful his sexual appetite was. I would never forget the way he’d looked when he had jacked off in the shower for me, so virile and potent and hungry for orgasm.
Since he’d met me, he didn’t pleasure himself anymore. Not because he couldn’t still satisfy me if he did, and not because I took care of him enough to make the effort redundant. For both of us, being ready for sex with each other was never a problem, because the hunger we felt was deeper than physical.
Gideon teased me by saying he saved himself to satisfy my insatiability, but I saw the self-restraint for what it was—he gave me the right to his pleasure. It was mine and mine alone. He had none without me, which was a tremendous gift. Especially in light of his past, when sexual release had been used as a weapon against him.
“It’s an interactive exhibition,” he said, his eyes warm with amusement. “Join me.”
“You’re an animal.” My thighs were wet with his se**n beneath my robe, since I was the lucky girl who woke up to his desire.
“Only for you.”
“Ooh, right answer.”
He smirked. His c**k lengthened. “You should reward me.”
I moved away from the threshold and stepped closer. “How would you suggest I do that?”
“Any way you like.”
That was a gift, too. Gideon rarely relinquished control, and then only to me.
“I don’t have enough time to do you justice, ace. I’d hate to cut things short when they’re just getting interesting.” I set my hand on the glass. “How about we revisit after my workout tonight? You, me, and whatever I want to do to you?”
He shifted and faced me head on, his hand lifting to press against mine through the glass. His gaze slid over my face in a heated caress that was damn near tangible. His face was impassive, a strikingly handsome mask that revealed nothing. But his eyes . . . those stunning blue depths . . . they exposed tenderness and love and vulnerability.
“I’m all yours, angel,” he said, his words so quiet I saw them more than heard them.
I pressed a kiss to the cool glass. “Yes,” I agreed. “You are.”
NEW week. Same ultrafocused Gideon. He started working as soon as the Bentley pulled away from the curb, his fingers flying across the keyboard built into a dropdown tray table. I watched him, finding his intense concentration and confidence extremely sexy. I was married to a powerful, driven man, and watching him flex that ambition was a major turn-on.
I was so into watching him that I jumped when my smartphone vibrated in my purse against my hip.
“Jeez,” I muttered, digging it out.
Brett’s name and photo appeared on the lock screen. Knowing I needed to deal with him at some point if I expected him to stop calling, I answered.
“Hey,” I answered cautiously.