Bared to You (Crossfire #1)

222,042
07.03.2019

Gideon opened his and read, "Prosperity will knock on your door soon."

I snorted.

Cary shot me a look. "I know, right? You snatched someone else’s cookie, Cross."

"He better not be anywhere near someone else’s cookie," I said dryly.

Reaching over, Gideon plucked half of mine out of my fingers. "Don’t worry, angel. Your cookie is the only one I want." He popped it in his mouth with a wink.

"Gag," Cary muttered. "Get a room." He cracked his fortune with a flourish, and then scowled. "What the f**k?"

I leaned forward. "What’s it say?"

"Confucius say," Gideon ad-libbed, "man with hand in pocket feel cocky all day."

Cary threw half his cookie at Gideon, who caught it deftly and grinned.

"Give me that." I snatched the fortune out from between Cary’s fingers and read it. Then laughed.

"Fuck you, Eva."

"Well?" Gideon prodded.

"Pick another cookie."

Gideon smiled. "Pwned by a fortune."

Cary threw the other half of his cookie.

I was reminded of similar evenings spent with Cary when I was attending SDSU, which made me try and picture what Gideon had been like in college. From the articles I’d read, I knew he’d attended Columbia for his undergraduate studies, then left to focus on his expanding business interests.

Had he associated with the other students? Did he go to frat parties, screw around and/or drink too much? He was such a controlled man, I had a hard time picturing him that carefree, and yet here he was being exactly that with me and Cary.

He glanced at me then, still smiling, and my heart turned over in my chest. He looked his age for once, young and seriously fine and so very normal. At that moment, we were just a twenty-something couple relaxing at home with a roommate and a remote control. He was just my boyfriend, hanging out. It was all so sweet and uncomplicated, and I found the illusion a poignant one.

The intercom buzzed and Cary leaped to his feet to answer it. He glanced at me with a smile. "Maybe it’s Trey."

I held up a hand with my fingers crossed.

But when Cary answered the door a few minutes later, it was the leggy blonde from the other night who came in.

"Hey," she said, taking in the remnants of dinner on the table. She eyed Gideon appraisingly as he politely unfolded and stood in that powerfully graceful way of his. She shot me a smirk; then unleashed a dazzling supermodel smile on Gideon and held out her hand. "Tatiana Cherlin."

He shook her hand. "Eva’s boyfriend."

My brows lifted at his introduction. Was he protecting his identity? Or his personal space? Either way, I liked his response.

Cary came back into the room with a bottle of wine and two glasses. "Come on," he said, gestured down the hallway to his bedroom.

Tatiana gave a little wave and preceded Cary out. I mouthed behind her back to Cary, What are you doing?

He winked and whispered, "Picking another cookie."

Gideon and I called it a night shortly after and headed to my room. As we got ready for bed, I asked him something I’d wondered about earlier. "Did you have a f**k pad in college, too?"

His T-shirt cleared his head. "Excuse me?"

"You know, like the hotel room. You’re a randy guy. I just wondered if you’d had some kind of setup even then."

He was shaking his head as I ogled his divinely perfect torso and lean hips. "I’ve had as much sex since I met you as I’ve had in the last two years combined."

"No way."

"I work hard and I work out harder, both of which keep me pleasantly exhausted most of the time. Occasionally, I might’ve gotten an offer I didn’t refuse, but otherwise I could take or leave sex until I met you."

"Bullshit." I found that impossible to believe.

He shot me a look before he headed toward the bathroom with a black leather toiletry bag. "Keep doubting me, Eva. See what happens."

"What?" I followed him, enjoying the sight of his delectable ass. "You’re going to prove that you can take or leave sex by doing me again?"

"It takes two." He opened his bag and pulled out a new toothbrush that he extricated from its packaging and dropped into my toothbrush holder. "You’ve initiated sex between us as much as I have. You need the connection as much as I do."

"You’re right. It’s just…"

"Just what?" He pulled open a drawer, frowned at finding it full, and moved on to pull open another.

"Other sink," I said, smiling at his presumption that he would get drawers at my place, too, and his scowl when he couldn’t find them. "They’re all yours."

Gideon moved over to the second sink and began unpacking his bag into the drawers. "Just what?" he repeated, taking shampoo and body wash over to my shower.

Leaning my hip into the sink and crossing my arms, I watched him stake his claim all over my bathroom. There was no doubt that’s what he was doing, just as there was no doubt that anyone walking into the room would know right away there was a man in my life.

It struck me then that I had a similar claim on his private space. His household staff had to know their boss was in a committed relationship now. The thought gave me a little thrill.

"I was thinking about you in college earlier," I went on, "when we were eating dinner, imagining what it would be like to see you around on campus. I would’ve been obsessed with you. I would have gone out of my way to see you around just to enjoy the view. I would’ve tried to get in the same classes as you, so I could daydream during lectures about getting into your pants."

"Sex maniac." He kissed the tip of my nose as he passed me and went to brush his teeth. "We both know what would’ve happened once I saw you."

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