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Page 16

“Sweet talker.” My depression lifted just from being with Gideon and knowing I was his sole focus at that moment. “You trying to get in my pants again?”

“You’re not wearing pants.”

“Is that a no?”

“That’s a yes, I want under your skirt.” His eyes darkened when I nipped his thumb with my teeth. “And inside your hot, wet, tight little cunt. I’ve wanted that all day. I want it every day. I want it now, but we’ll wait until you’re feeling better.”

“You could kiss it and make it better.”

“Kiss what, exactly?”

“Everything. Everywhere.”

I knew I could get used to having him all to myself like this. Knew I wanted to. Which was impossible, of course.

Thousands of little pieces of him were committed to thousands of people and projects and commitments. If I’d learned anything from my mother’s multiple marriages to successful businessmen, it was that wives were often mistresses, almost invariably taking second place because their husbands were also married to their work. There was a reason why a man became a captain in his chosen field—he gave it his all. The woman in his life got what was left.

Gideon tucked my hair behind my ear. “I want this. Coming home to you.”

It always startled me when it seemed like he’d read my thoughts. “Would it have been better if you’d found me barefoot in the kitchen?”

“I wouldn’t be opposed, but naked in bed would work best for me.”

“I’m a decent cook, but you just want me for my body.”

He smiled. “It’s the very delicious package holding everything else I want.”

“I’ll show you mine, if you show me yours.”

“Love to.” His fingertips slid gently down my cheek. “But first, I want to make sure you’re in the right frame of mind after the situation with your mother.”

“I’ll get over it.”

“Eva.” His tone warned me that he wouldn’t be put off.

I sighed. “I’ll forgive her, I always do. I don’t have a choice, really, because I love her and I know she means well, even if she is seriously misguided. But this thing with the watch …”

“Go on.”

I rubbed at the ache in my chest. “It broke something in our relationship. And no matter how we move forward, there’s always going to be that crack there that didn’t exist before. That’s what hurts.”

Gideon was quiet for a long time. One of his hands slid into my hair, while the other curled possessively over my hip. I waited for him to say what was on his mind.

“I broke something in our relationship, too,” he said finally, his voice somber. “I’m afraid it’s always going to be between us.”

The sadness in his eyes twisted into me, hurting me. “Let me up.”

He did, reluctantly, watching me warily as I stood. I hesitated before I unzipped my skirt. “Now I know what it feels like to lose you, Gideon. How badly it hurts. If you shut me out, it’s probably going to make me panic a little. You’ll just have to be careful of that, and I’ll just have to trust that your love is going to stick.”

He nodded his understanding and acceptance, but I could see it was eating at him.

“Magdalene came by today,” I said, to take his mind off the lingering rift between us.

He tensed. “I told her not to.”

“It’s okay. She was probably concerned about me nursing a grudge, but I think she realized I love you too much to hurt you.”

He sat up as I let my skirt drop. It pooled on the floor, revealing my garters and stockings, which earned me a slow hiss through his clenched teeth. I climbed back onto the couch and straddled his thighs, draping my arms around his neck. His breath was hot through the silk of my shirt, stirring my blood.

“Hey.” I ran both hands through his hair, nuzzling my cheek against him. “Stop worrying about us. I think we need to be worrying about Deanna Johnson. What’s the worst she could possibly dig up on you?”

His head fell back, his gaze narrowing. “She’s my problem. I’ll deal with her.”

“I think she’s after something really juicy. Calling you out as a heartless playboy isn’t going to be enough.”

“Stop worrying. The only reason I would care is because I don’t want my past shoved in your face.”

“You’re too confident.” My fingers went to his vest and began freeing the buttons. I exposed his shirt and removed his tie, draping it carefully over the back of the sofa. “Are you going to talk to her?”

“I’m going to ignore her.”

“Is that the right way to handle this?” I went to work on his shirt.

“She wants my attention; she’s not going to get it.”

“She’ll find another way, then.”

He settled deeper into the seat back, his neck tilting to look up to me. “The only way for a woman to get my attention is to be you.”

“Ace.” I kissed him, tugging at his shirttails. He shifted to make it easier for me to pull them out of his pants. “I need you to explain Deanna,” I murmured. “What set her off like this?”

He sighed. “She was a mistake in every sense. She made herself available once, and I make it a rule to avoid overly eager women a second time.”

“And that doesn’t make you sound like an asshole at all.”

“I can’t change what happened,” he said coldly.

I could tell he was embarrassed. He could be as much of a dick as any guy, but he was never proud of it.

“Deanna happened to be covering an event where Anne Lucas was making me uncomfortable,” he continued. “I used Deanna to keep Anne from approaching me. I didn’t feel good about it afterward and I didn’t handle it well.”

“I get the picture.” I pushed his shirt apart, exposing his warm, firm skin.

Remembering how he reacted after the first time we’d had sex, I could imagine how he’d handled Deanna. With me, he’d immediately shut down and shut me out, leaving me feeling used and worthless. He’d fought to win me back after that, but the reporter hadn’t been so lucky.

“You don’t want to lead her on with any contact,” I summed up. “She’s probably still digging on you.”

“I doubt that. I don’t think I said more than a dozen words to her altogether.”

“You were an ass to me, too. I fell in love with you anyway.”

My hands slid lovingly across his hard chest, caressing the light dusting of dark hair before coasting down the thin, silky trail that led below his waistband. His abs quivered beneath my touch, the tempo of his breathing changing.

Sinking to sit on his lap, I adored his body. My thumbs circled the tiny points of his nipples and I watched his reaction, waiting for him to succumb to the subtle pleasure of my touch. I lowered my head and pressed a kiss to his throat, feeling his pulse leap beneath my lips and inhaling the virile scent of his skin. Enjoying him was something I didn’t get to do enough of, because he always turned it back around on me.

Gideon groaned, his hand coming up to grip my hair. “Eva.”

“I love the way you respond to me,” I whispered, seduced by having such an unabashedly sexual male completely at my mercy. “Like you can’t help yourself.”

“I can’t.” He let the sleep-tousled strands sift through his fingers. “You touch me like you worship me.”

“I do.”

“I feel it in your hands … your mouth. The way you look at me.” His throat worked on a swallow and I followed the movement with my eyes.

“I’ve never wanted anything more.” I caressed his torso, tracing muscled pecs, then the line of every rib. Like a connoisseur admiring the perfection of a priceless work of art. “Let’s play a game.”

His tongue did a slow sweep along the curve of his lip, making my sex clench with jealousy. He knew it, too. I saw it in the way his eyes glittered dangerously. “Depends on the rules.”

“Tonight, you’re mine, ace.”

“I’m always yours.”

I unbuttoned my blouse and shrugged out of it, exposing my white lace demi-bra and matching thong.

“Angel,” he breathed, his gaze so hot I felt it slide over my bared flesh. His hands moved to touch and I caught his wrists, staying him.

“Rule number one: I’m going to suck you, stroke you, and tease you all night long. You’re going to come until you can’t see straight.” I cupped him through his slacks, massaging his rigid length with my palm. “Rule number two: You’re just going to lie back and enjoy it.”

“No returning the favor?”

“No.”

“Not happening,” he said decisively.

I pouted. “Pretty please.”

“Angel, getting you off is ninety-nine percent of the fun for me.”

“But then I’m so busy coming I don’t get to enjoy you!” I complained. “Just for once—one night—I want you to be selfish. I want you to let go, be an animal, come just because it feels good and you’re ready.”

His lips thinned. “I can’t do that with you. I need you with me.”

“I knew you’d say that.” Because I’d once told him that feeling used by a man for his pleasure was a trigger for me. I needed to feel loved and wanted, too. Not as an interchangeable female body to ejaculate into, but as Eva, an individual woman who needed genuine affection with sex. “But this is my game and it’s played by my rules.”

“I haven’t agreed to play.”

“Hear me out.”

Gideon exhaled slowly. “I can’t do it, Eva.”

“You could do it with other women,” I argued.

“I wasn’t in love with them!”

I melted. I couldn’t help it. “Baby … I want this,” I whispered. “Real bad.”

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