“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 semen beneath my robe, since I was the lucky girl who woke up to his desire.
“Only for you.”
“Ooh, right answer.”
He smirked. His cock 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.
“Eva.” The timbre of Brett’s now-famous voice hit me as forcefully as it always had, but not in the same way. I loved the way he sang, but that love wasn’t intimate anymore. It wasn’t personal. I admired him the way I did a dozen other singers. “Damn it, I’ve been trying to reach you for a week!”
“I know. I’m sorry, I’ve been busy. How are you?”
“I’ve been better. I need to see you.”
My brows rose. “When are you coming to town?”
He laughed harshly, a humorless sound that rubbed me the wrong way. “Incredible. Listen, I don’t want to get into it on the phone. Can we get together today? We need to talk.”
“You’re in New York? I thought you were on tour . . . ?”
Gideon’s rapid-fire typing didn’t slow and he didn’t look at me, but I could feel his energy shift. He was paying attention, and he knew who was on the line.
“I’ll tell you what’s going on when I see you,” Brett said.
I frowned out the window as we idled at a light, my gaze on the flood of pedestrians crossing the street. New York was teeming with life and frenetic energy, gearing up to do world-changing business. “I’m on my way to work. What’s going on, Brett?”
“I can meet you for lunch. Or after you get off for the day.”
I debated saying no, but the determination in his tone gave me pause. “Okay.”
Reaching over, I set my hand on Gideon’s thigh. The toned muscle was hard beneath my palm, even though he was at rest. The tailored suits polished his form into civility, but I knew the truth about the vigorously fit body that was only hinted at underneath. “I can see you at lunch, if we stick close to the Crossfire Building.”
“All right. What time should I be there?”
“A little before noon would be best. I’ll meet you in the lobby.”
We hung up and I dropped the phone back into my purse. Gideon’s hand captured mine. I glanced at him, but he was reading a lengthy e-mail, his head bent slightly so that the ends of his hair brushed his sculpted jaw.
The warmth of his touch soaked into me. I looked down at the band he wore on his finger, the one that told the world he belonged to me.
Did his business associates pay attention to his hands? They weren’t those of a man who pushed paper and tapped on keyboards all day. They were the hands of a fighter, a warrior who practiced mixed martial arts and pounded out his aggression with both boxing bags and sparring partners.
Kicking off my shoes, I curled my legs under me and leaned into Gideon’s side, setting my other hand on top of his. I ran my splayed fingers between his knuckles and fingers, forward and back, carefully resting my head against his shoulder so that I didn’t mess up his pristine black jacket with my makeup.
I breathed him in, feeling the effect of him—his nearness, his support—permeate my being. The smell of his soap was muted now, the naturally seductive scent of his skin altering the fragrance into something richer and more delicious.
When I was restless, he settled me.
“There’s nothing for him,” I whispered, needing him to know that. “I’m too filled with you.”
His chest expanded abruptly, his sharp inhalation audible. He pushed the tray table up and away, then patted his lap in invitation. “Come here.”
I crawled into his lap, sighing happily when he shifted me into a spot that felt made for me. Every peaceful moment we had with each other was treasured. Gideon deserved the respite, and I longed to be that for him.
His lips touched my forehead. “You okay, angel mine?”
“I’m in your arms. Life doesn’t get better than this.”
I spotted three paparazzi outside the Crossfire when we arrived.
With a hand at the small of my back, Gideon ushered me through the entrance ahead of him, escorting me quickly but unhurriedly into the cool lobby.
“Vultures,” I muttered.
“Can’t be helped that we’re such a photogenic couple.”
“You’re such a humble man, Gideon Cross.”
“You make me look good, Mrs. Cross.”
We stepped into the elevator with a few other people and he took the rear corner, hooking me to him with an arm around my waist, his hand pressed flat against my belly, his chest warm and hard against my back.
I savored those few minutes with him, refusing to think about work or Brett until we parted on the twentieth floor.
Megumi was already at her desk when I approached the glass security doors, and the sight of her made me smile. She’d trimmed her hair since I’d seen her Friday night and polished her nails a bright red. It was good to see the small signs that she was reclaiming her spirit.
“Hey, you,” she greeted me after buzzing me in, pushing to her feet.
“You look great.”
Her smile widened. “Thanks. How’d it go with Gideon’s sister?”
“Awesome. She’s a lot of fun. It makes me melt seeing Gideon with her.”
“He makes me melt, period. You lucky bitch. Anyway, I put a call through to your line earlier. They wanted to leave a message.”
I shifted on my feet, thinking of Brett. “Was it a guy?”
“No, a woman.”
“Hmm, I’ll go check it out, thanks.”
I headed back to my desk and got settled in, my gaze coming to rest on the collage of photos of Gideon and me. I still needed to talk to him about Crossroads. There hadn’t been a good time over the weekend. We’d had enough on our plates having Ireland over.
He hadn’t slept Saturday night. I’d hoped he would but hadn’t really expected him to. It was hard for me, thinking of his inner struggle, his worry and fear. He carried shame, too, and an inherent belief that he was broken. Damaged goods.
He didn’t see in himself what I saw—a generous soul who wanted so much to belong to something greater than himself. He didn’t recognize what a miracle he was. When he didn’t know what to do in a given situation, he let instinct and his heart take over. Despite all he’d been through, he had such an amazing capacity to feel and to love.
He’d saved me, in so many ways. I was going to do whatever needed to be done to save him, too.
I listened to my messages. When Mark came in, I stood, and met him with a grin and bouncing anticipation.
His brows rose. “What’s got you so excited?”
“A gal from LanCorp called this morning. They want to meet with us sometime this week to talk a bit more about what they’re hoping to achieve with the launch of the PhazeOne system.”
His dark eyes took on a familiar sparkle. He’d become a happier man overall since he and Steven had become engaged, but there was a whole different energy to him when he was eager about a new account. “You and me, kid, we’re going places.”
I hopped a little on my feet. “Yeah. You’ve got this. Once they meet with you in person, you’ll have them eating out of your hand.”
Mark laughed. “You’re good for my confidence.”
I winked at him. “I’m good for you, period.”
We spent the morning working on the PhazeOne RFP, putting together comps to better grasp how we might position the new gaming system against its competition. I had a momentary pause when I realized how much buzz surrounded the upcoming release of the next-generation GenTen console—which happened to be a product of Cross Industries, making it PhazeOne’s primary rival in the marketplace.
Pointing the situation out to Mark, I asked, “Is it going to be a problem? I mean, could LanCorp possibly see a conflict of interest with me working for you on this?”
He straightened in his chair, leaning back. He’d shucked his coat earlier but remained smartly attired in a white dress shirt, bright yellow tie, and navy slacks. “It shouldn’t be an issue, no. If our proposed positioning wins out over the other RFPs they’re collecting, the fact that you’re engaged to Gideon Cross isn’t going to make a damn bit of difference. They’re going to make their decision based on our ability to deliver their vision.”