“The connection,” he answered. “There’s this moment. She opens and I . . . I open, and we’re there. Together. I need that.”
“You need it rough?”
Gideon looked at him. “Sometimes. There are times when she holds back. But I can get her there. She wants me to get her there, needs it like I do. I have to push. Carefully. With control. When I don’t have the control, I need to back off.”
“How do you push?” Dr. Petersen asked quietly.
“I have my ways.”
Dr. Petersen turned his attention to me. “Has Gideon ever gone too far?”
I shook my head.
“Do you ever worry that he might?”
His gaze was soft and capped with a frown. “You should, Eva. You both should.”
I was stirring vegetables and cubed chicken into a curry mix on the stove when I heard the front door opening. Curious, I waited to see who came into view, hoping Cary had come home alone.
“Smells good,” he said, walking up to the breakfast bar to watch me. He looked cool and casual in an oversized white V-neck T-shirt and khaki shorts. Sunglasses hung off his collar and wide brown leather cuffs hugged each forearm, hiding the threadlike cuts I’d spotted the night before.
“Got enough for me?” he asked.
He smiled his cocky smile, but I saw the tightness around his mouth. “Yep.”
“Then I’ve got enough, if you pour the wine.”
“You got yourself a deal.”
Joining me in the kitchen, he looked over my shoulder and into the pot. “White or red?”
“White it is, then. Where’s Cross?”
I watched him head to the wine fridge. “With his trainer, working out. How was your day?”
He shrugged. “Same shit as always.”
“Cary.” I lowered the heat and turned to him. “Just a few weeks ago, you were so happy to be here in New York and getting jobs. Now . . . you’re so unhappy.”
Pulling a bottle out, he shrugged again. “That’s what I get for fucking around.”
“I’m sorry I haven’t been here for you.”
He glanced at me as he dug out the bottle opener. “But . . . ?”
I shook my head. “No buts. I’m sorry. I will say that you’ve had company most nights I’m home, so I figured that’s why we weren’t talking as much, but that doesn’t excuse me from not reaching out when I know you’re going through a difficult time.”
Cary sighed, his head bowing. “It wasn’t fair to dump everything on you last night. I know Cross has got his own shit to wade through and you’re dealing with that.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m not here for you.” I put my hand on his shoulder. “Anytime you need me, just let me know and I’ll be there.”
Turning abruptly, he caught me up in a powerful hug, squeezing the air out of me. Sympathy did the rest of the work, squeezing my heart.
I hugged him in return, one hand stroking the back of his head. His dark brown hair was as soft as silk, his shoulders as hard as granite. I guessed they’d have to be to hold up the weight of the stress he was carrying. Guilt made me hold him even tighter.
“God,” he muttered. “I’ve fucked this all up to hell and back.”
“What’s going on?”
He set me down, then turned back to the bottle to open it. “I don’t know if it’s hormones or what, but Tat is a raging fucking bitch right now. Nothing is good enough. Nothing makes her happy, especially being pregnant. What shot has the poor kid got with me as a father and a self-centered diva who hates him as his mother?”
“Maybe it’s a girl,” I said, handing over the wineglasses I’d pulled out of the cupboard.
“Jesus. Don’t say that. I’m panicked enough as it is.” He poured two hefty glasses, slid one over to me, and drank deep from his own. “And I feel like an asshole talking about the mother of my baby that way, but it’s the truth. God help us, it’s the damned truth.”
“I’m sure it’s just the hormones. It’ll all settle in, and then she’ll get that glow and be happy.” I took a sip, hoping like hell everything I was saying would come true. “Have you told Trey yet?”
Cary shook his head. “He’s the one sane thing I’ve got going on right now. I lose him, I’ll lose my mind.”
“He’s stayed with you so far.”
“And I have to work for it, Eva. Every day. I’ve never worked so hard. And I’m not talking about fucking.”
“I didn’t think you were.” I pulled two clean bowls out of the dishwasher, along with spoons. “What I think is that you’re an amazing guy and anyone would be lucky to have you. I’m pretty sure Trey feels the same way.”
“Don’t. Please.” His gaze met mine. “I’m trying to be real here. I don’t need you to blow smoke at me.”
“I’m not. Maybe what I said wasn’t deep, but it’s true.” I paused in front of the rice cooker. “Gideon doesn’t tell me what’s going on with him a lot of the time. He says he’s trying to protect me, but what he’s really doing is protecting himself.”
And it took saying the words aloud to really make them sink in for me.
“He’s afraid that the more he tells me, the more reason he gives me to walk away. But it’s just the opposite, Cary. The more he doesn’t say, the more I don’t feel like he trusts me, and that’s hurting us. You and Trey have been together as long as Gideon and I have.” I reached out and touched his arm. “You have to tell him. If he finds out about the baby some other way—and he will—he might not forgive you.”
Cary sagged against the island, suddenly looking so much older and so tired. “I feel like if I just had more time to get a handle on things, I could deal with Trey.”
“Waiting isn’t helping,” I said gently, scooping rice into the bowls. “You’re backsliding.”
“What else have I got?” His voice came hard with anger. “I don’t fuck around anymore. A monk gets off more than I do.”
I winced, knowing Cary was a man who exemplified what Dr. Petersen had talked about. When Cary had sex, he could turn his brain off and let his body make him feel good, if only for a little while. He didn’t have to think or feel beyond the sensory. It was a coping mechanism he’d had to perfect back when he was the one being fucked, long before he was old enough to even want to.
“You’ve got me,” I countered.
“Baby girl, I love you, but you’re not always what I need to get by.”
“Cutting yourself and banging everyone who’ll let you isn’t getting you by, either. They certainly don’t help you feel good about yourself.”
“Something has to.”
I poured curry over the rice and passed the bowl over along with a spoon. “Taking care of yourself will do it. Trusting the people you love will help, too. Being honest with yourself and with them. Sounds simple, but we both know it’s not. Still, it’s the only way, Cary.”
He flashed me a quick, sad smile and took the food I handed him. “I’m scared.”
“There,” I said softly, returning his smile. “That was honest. Would it help if I’m with you when you talk to Trey?”
“Yeah. I’ll feel like a pussy for not doing it alone, but yeah, it’d help.”
“Then I’ll be there.”
Cary caught me in a hug from behind, his cheek resting against my shoulder. “You really are always there for me. I love you for that.”
Reaching back, I ran my fingers through his hair. “I love you, too.”
THE comforter lifted away from my skin, waking me, and then the mattress shifted under the weight of the man sliding into my bed.
Eyes closed, I turned to him. Breathing deep, I inhaled the scent of his skin. My hands found the cool strength of his body, slid over him, pulled him close to warm him.
He took my mouth in a deep, urgent kiss. The shock of his hunger woke me the rest of the way; the greed in his touch sent my heart racing. He slid over me, then down, his mouth searing my nipples, then my belly, then my sex.
I gasped and arched. He tongued my clit with demanding focus, driving me higher, his hands pinning my hips as I writhed under the lash of his tongue.
I came hard, crying out. He wiped his lips on my inner thigh and rose, a seductive looming shadow in the dark of night. He mounted me, thrust hard inside me.
Over my moan, I heard him growl my name as if the pleasure of taking me were too great to bear. I gripped his waist; he gripped the sheets. His hips surged and rolled, stroking that magnificent penis deep and tirelessly inside me.
When I woke again the sun was up, and the place beside me in the bed was cold and empty.
I WAS FIXING a cup of coffee for Eva the next morning when my smartphone started ringing. Leaving the half-and-half on the counter, I crossed to the bar stool where I’d hung my coat and pulled my phone out of the pocket.
Steeling myself, I answered, “Good morning, Mother.”
“Gideon. I’m sorry to cancel on such short notice”—she took a shaky breath—“but I won’t be able to make lunch this afternoon.”
I returned to my coffee, knowing I’d need it for the long day ahead. “That’s fine.”
“I’m sure you’re relieved,” she said bitterly.
I took a drink, wishing it were something stronger though it was barely past eight. “Don’t. If I didn’t want to have lunch with you, I would’ve canceled.”
She was quiet a minute, then asked, “Have you seen Chris lately?”
I took another sip, my gaze on the hallway as I waited for Eva. “I saw him Tuesday.”
“That long ago?” There was a note of fear in her voice. It gave me no pleasure to hear it.
Eva rushed into the living room in bare feet, her body encased in a pale beige sheath dress that managed to be professional while still hugging all her curves. I’d picked it out for her knowing the color would showcase the color of her skin and the paleness of her hair.
Pleasure at the sight of her slid through my veins like the liquor I’d wished were in my coffee. She could do that to me, intoxicate and captivate me.
“I have to go,” I said. “I’ll call you later.”
“You never do.”
I set my mug down to pick up Eva’s. “I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it.”
Ending the call, I shoved the phone in my pocket and handed the coffee to my wife. “You look stunning,” I murmured, bending to press a kiss to her cheek.
“For a man who claims not to know a damn thing about women, you sure know how to dress one,” she said, eyeing me over the lip of her mug as she took a sip.
A low moan of pleasure escaped her as she swallowed, a sound very similar to the one she made when I slid my cock inside her. Coffee, I’d learned, was one of Eva’s addictions.
“I’ve made mistakes, but I’m learning.” I leaned back against the counter and pulled her between my spread legs. Had she noticed one less Vera Wang dress in the closet? I’d removed it from her wardrobe after realizing just how much of her luscious tits it exposed.
She held the mug up. “Thank you for this.”
“My pleasure.” I brushed my fingertips across her cheek. “I have to talk to you about something.”
“Oh? What’s up, ace?”
“Do you still have a Google alert on me?”
She looked into her mug. “Is this when I should plead the Fifth?”
“That won’t be necessary.” I waited until she looked up at me again. “Corinne has sold a book about our time together.”
“What?” Her eyes darkened from pale gray to slate.
I cupped her nape and stroked over her racing pulse with my thumb. “From what I read in the press release, she kept a diary during that time. She’s also sharing personal photos.”
“Why? Why would she sell that stuff for people to paw through?”
The hand holding her mug trembled, so I took it from her and set it back on the counter. “I don’t think she knows why.”
“Can you stop it?”
“No. However, if she lies outright and I can prove it, I can go after her for that.”
“But only after it’s released.” Her hands came to rest on my chest. “She knows you’ll have to read it. You’ll have to see all the photos and read about how much she loves you. You’ll read about things you did that you don’t even remember now.”
“And it won’t matter.” I pressed my lips to her forehead. “I never loved her, not the way I do you. Looking back on that time isn’t going to make me suddenly wish I were with her and not you.”