I felt the heat race up into my face. Staring stonily into my monitor, I fought the urge to close my eyes and throw my head back, to free myself to absorb the singular pleasure of coming for my wife. Coming because of her.
As the pressure eased, I released her hair and touched her cheek with my fingertips.
I unmuted my microphone.
“My admin will call you in a few minutes,” I cut in, my voice hoarse, “to arrange tomorrow’s meeting. I hope we can come to an amicable agreement. Until then.”
I shut down my browser and yanked off my headset. “Come here, angel.”
My chair was shoved back and I’d hauled her out before she had the chance to come out on her own.
“You’re a machine!” she gasped, her voice as rough as mine, her lips red and swollen. “I can’t believe you didn’t even twitch! How can you— Oh!”
The tiny scrap of lace she wore as underwear dropped to the floor in pieces.
“I liked those panties,” she said breathlessly.
Lifting her, I set her bare ass on the cool glass, aligning her perfectly to take my cock. “You’ll like this more.”
Like a sleepy kitten, Eva blinked at me as I stepped out of my office washroom. “Hmm?”
I grinned at finding her still slumped in my desk chair. “I assume you’re okay.”
“Never better.” She reached up and ran a hand over her hair. “Missing the brain you just f**ked out of me, but otherwise, I’m feeling excellent, thank you very much.”
“You’re welcome.” I headed toward her with a warm damp washcloth.
“Are you trying to set a new record for most orgasms in a single day?”
“An intriguing proposition. I’m willing to give it a shot.”
She held out her hand as if to ward me off. “No more, maniac. You screw me again and I’ll be a drooling, babbling idiot.”
“Let me know if you change your mind.” I kneeled in front of her and urged her legs open. Waxed smooth and pretty pink, her cunt was lovely. Perfect.
She watched me as I cleaned her, her fingers reaching out to comb through my hair. “Don’t work too hard this weekend, okay?”
“As if there’s something else worth doing without you around,” I murmured.
“Sleep in. Read a book. Plan a party.”
My mouth quirked. “I haven’t forgotten. I’m asking the guys tonight.”
“Oh?” The laziness left her eyes. I pulled back before her legs closed. “What guys?”
“The ones you want to meet.”
“You’re calling them?
I stood. “We’re getting together.”
“To do what?”
“Drink. Hang out.” Returning to the bathroom, I tossed the washcloth in the hamper and washed my hands.
Eva followed me. “At a club?”
“Maybe. Probably not.”
She lounged against the doorjamb and crossed her arms. “Are any of them married?”
“Yes.” I slung the hand towel back on the rack. “Me.”
“That’s it? Is Arnoldo going to be there?”
“What’s up with the short answers?”
“What’s up with the interrogation?” I asked the question, but I knew. My wife was a jealous, possessive woman. Lucky for both of us, I liked it. A lot.
She shrugged, but it was a defensive gesture. “I just want to know what you’re doing, that’s all.”
“I’ll stay home if you will.”
“I’m not asking you to do that.”
There was a smudge of dark makeup beneath her eyes. I loved mussing her up and giving her that just-fucked look. No woman wore it better. “Get to the point, then.”
She made a frustrated noise. “Why won’t you tell me what you guys have planned?”
“I don’t know, Eva. Usually we meet at one of our places and drink. Play cards. Sometimes we go out.”
“Trolling. A group of hot guys who’ve got a buzz and want a good time.”
“That’s not a crime. And who said they’re attractive?”
She shot me a look. “They’re trolling with you. That means they’re either hot enough not to completely pale in your shadow or too confident to worry about it.”
I held up my left hand. The bloodred rubies in my wedding band caught the light. I never took the ring off and never would. “Remember this?”
“I’m not worried about you,” she muttered, her arms dropping to her sides. “If I’m not f**king you enough, you need help.”
“Says the wife who couldn’t wait fifteen minutes.”
She stuck her tongue out at me.
“That’s what got you f**ked right there.”
“Arnoldo doesn’t trust me, Gideon. He doesn’t really want you with me.”
“It’s not his decision to make. And some of your friends aren’t going to like me, either. I know Cary’s on the fence.”
“What if Arnoldo tells the others how he feels about me?”
“Angel.” I went to her and caught her by the hips. “Talking about feelings is predominantly female territory.”
“Don’t be sexist.”
“You know I’m right. Besides, Arnoldo knows how it is. He’s been in love before.”
She looked up at me with those uniquely beautiful eyes. “Are you in love, Mr. Cross?”
MANUEL Alcoa slapped me on the back as he rounded me. “You just cost me a thousand dollars, Cross.”
I leaned against the kitchen island and shoved my hand into the pocket of my jeans, wrapping it around my smartphone. Eva was midflight and I was alert for any word from her or Raúl. I’d never feared flying, never worried over someone’s safety while traveling. Until now.
“How so?” I asked, before taking a swig of my beer.
“You are the last man I figured would tie the knot and you turn out to be the first.” Manuel shook his head. “Kills me.”
I lowered the bottle. “You bet against me?”
“Yeah. Although I suspect someone had the inside scoop.” The portfolio manager narrowed his eyes across the island at Arnoldo Ricci, who lifted one shoulder in a shrug.
“If it’s any consolation,” I said, “I’d have bet against me, too.”
Manuel grinned. “Latinas rule, my friend. Sexy, curvy. More than a handful in bed and out. Hot tempered. Passionate.” He hummed. “Good choice.”
“Manuel!” Arash yelled from the living room. “Bring those limes over here.”
I watched Manuel leave the kitchen with the bowl of lime slices. Arash’s condo was modern and spacious with a panoramic view of the East River. There was a notable lack of walls except for those hiding the bathrooms.
Circling the granite-topped island, I approached Arnoldo. “How are you?”
“Good.” His gaze dropped to the amber liquid he swirled in a tumbler. “I’d ask you the same, but you look well. I’m glad.”
I didn’t waste time with small talk. “Eva worries that you’ve got a problem with her.”
He glanced at me. “I’ve never been disrespectful to your woman.”
“She never said you were.”
Arnoldo drank, taking a moment to savor the fine liquor before swallowing it. “I understand that you are—what’s the word?—held captive by this woman.”
“Captivated,” I provided, wondering why he didn’t just speak in Italian.
“Ah, yes.” He gave me a slight smile. “I have been there, my friend, as you know. I don’t judge you.”
I knew Arnoldo understood. I’d found him in Florence, recovering from the loss of a woman by drowning in liquor and cooking like a madman, producing so much five-star cuisine he was giving it away. I had been fascinated by the totality of his despair and unable to relate.
I’d been so certain I would never know anything like it. Like the opacity and soundproofing of the glass wall in my office, my view of life had been dulled. I knew I’d never be able to explain to Eva how she’d appeared to me the first time I saw her, so vibrant and warm. A colorful explosion in a black-and-white landscape.
“Voglio che sia felice.” It was a simple statement, but the crux of the issue. I want her to be happy.
“If her happiness depends on what I think,” he answered in Italian, “you ask too much. I will never say anything against her. I’ll always treat her with the respect I feel for you as long as you are together. But what I believe is my choice and my right, Gideon.”
I looked over at Arash, who was lining up shot glasses on the bar in the living room. As my lead attorney, he knew about both my marriage and Eva’s sex tape, and he didn’t have a problem with either one.
“Our relationship is . . . complex,” I explained quietly. “I’ve hurt her as much as she’s ever hurt me—likely more.”
“I’m not surprised to hear that, but I am sorry.” Arnoldo studied me. “You couldn’t choose one of the other women who’ve loved you and would give you no trouble? A comfortable ornament who would settle into your life without a ripple?”
“As Eva says, what would be the fun in that?” My smile faded. “She challenges me, Arnoldo. Makes me see things . . . think about things, in ways I didn’t before. And she loves me. Not like the others.” I reached for my phone again.
“You didn’t allow the others to love you.”
“I couldn’t. I was waiting for her.” A thoughtful expression crossed his face and I said, “I can’t imagine your Bianca was hassle-free.”
He laughed. “No. But my life is simple. I can use complications.”
“My life was ordered. Now, it’s an adventure.”
Arnoldo sobered, his dark eyes growing serious. “But that wildness in her that you love is what worries me most.”
“I will mention this only once, then never again. You may be angry with me for what I say, but understand that my heart is in the right place.”
My jaw tightened. “Get it off your chest.”
“I sat with Eva and Brett Kline at dinner. I observed them together. There is chemistry there, not unlike what I saw between Bianca and the man she left me for. I wish I believed Eva would ignore it, but she’s already proven that she can’t.”
I held his gaze. “She had her reasons. Reasons I gave her.”
Arnoldo took another drink. “Then I’ll pray that you don’t give her more reasons.”
“Hey,” Arash shouted. “Cut it out with the Italian and get your asses in here.”
Arnoldo touched his glass to my bottle before passing me.
I finished my beer alone, taking a moment to consider what Arnoldo had said.
Then I joined the party.
“WHAT’S GOT YOU frowning, baby girl?” Cary asked, his voice low and sleepy from the Dramamine he’d downed at takeoff.
Staring at the choices in the dropdown menu my cursor hovered over, I debated which to pick. Engaged or It’s complicated? Since Married also applied, I thought All of the above should’ve been an option.
Wouldn’t that be fun to explain?
Glancing across the luxurious cabin of Gideon’s private jet, I found my best friend sprawled along the white leather sofa with his hands tucked behind his head. Long and lean, he was a pretty picture with his shirt riding high and his cargo pants riding low, exposing the amazing abs that were helping Grey Isles to sell jeans, underwear, and other men’s clothing.