“Better.” His green eyes glittered wickedly. “How ’bout you?” “Better.” He crossed his arms over his bare chest. “Is that thanks to whoever was knocking boots with you last night?” Closing the drawer with my hip, I shot back, “Seriously? I can’t hear you in your room. How come you can hear me in mine?” He tapped his temple. “Sex radar. I has it.” “What does that mean? That I don’t have sex radar?” “More like Cross blew your circuits during one of his sexathons. Still can’t get over that man’s stamina. Wish he’d swing my way and wear me out.” I threw my sports bra at him. He caught it deftly, laughing. “So? Who was it?” I bit my lip, not wanting to lie to the one person who always gave it to me straight, even when it hurt. But I had to. “A guy who works in the Crossfire.” His smile fading, Cary stepped into the room and shut the door behind him. “And you just up and decided to bring him home and fuck his brains out all night? I thought you went to your Krav Maga class.” “I did. He lives near here and I ran into him after class. One thing led to another …” “Should I be worried?” he asked quietly, studying my face as he handed my sports bra back to me. “You haven’t had a random screw in a long time.” “It’s not like that.” I forced myself to hold Cary’s gaze, knowing that if I didn’t, he’d never believe me. “I’m … seeing him. We’re having dinner tonight.” “Am I going to meet him?” “Sure. Not today, though. I’m going to his place.” His lips pursed. “You’re not telling me something. Spit it out.” I sidestepped the question. “I saw you kissing Trey in the kitchen this morning.” “Okay.” “Things going good with you two?” “Can’t complain.” Yikes. When Cary was on to something, he wouldn’t let it go. I sidestepped again. “I talked to Brett today,” I said as casually as possible, trying not to make a big deal out of it. “He called me at work. And no, he wasn’t the guy from last night.” His brows rose. “What’d he want?” Kicking off my shoes, I headed to the bathroom to wash off what was left of my makeup. “He’s coming back to New York for the debut of a music video for ‘Golden.’ He asked me to go with him.” “Eva—” he began, in that low warning tone parents save for bratty children. “I want you to come with.” That set him back a bit. “As a chaperone? Don’t you trust yourself?” I looked at his reflection in the mirror. “I’m not getting back together with him, Cary. Not that we were ever really together to begin with, so stop worrying about that. I want you there because I think you’ll have fun and I don’t want to lead Brett on. He agreed we’d go as friends, but I think the concept needs to be drummed into him, just to be safe. And fair.” “You should’ve said no.” “I tried.” “No is no, baby girl. Not that difficult.” “Shut up!” I scrubbed at one eye with a makeup remover towelette. “It’s bad enough I got guilted into going! You thought it’d be funny for me to attend that concert without knowing who I’d see there. I don’t need shit from you.” Because I was sure to get enough of that from Gideon … Cary scowled. “What the hell do you have to feel guilty for?” “Brett got his ass kicked because of me!” “Nooo, he got an ass-kicking because he kissed a beautiful girl without thinking about the consequences. He should’ve expected you to be taken. And what burrowed up your anal cavity and rotted?” “I don’t need a lecture about Brett, okay?” What I needed was Cary’s take on my relationship with Gideon and the concerns I had, but I couldn’t reach out to my best friend. That made everything going wrong in my life even more unsettling. I felt totally alone and adrift. “I’ve told you, I’m not taking that road again.” “Glad to hear it.” I told him what I could of the truth, because I knew he wouldn’t judge. “I’m still in love with Gideon.” “Of course you are,” he agreed simply. “For what it’s worth, I’m sure your breakup is eating at him, too.” I hugged him. “Thank you.” “For what?” “Being you.” He snorted. “I’m not saying you should wait for him. Whatever Cross’s deal is doesn’t matter—he snoozes, he loses. But I don’t think you’re ready to jump into some other dude’s bed. You can’t do casual sex, Eva. It means something to you; that’s why you get so fucked up when you just give it away.” “It never works,” I agreed, stepping away to finish cleaning my face. “Will you go with me to the video premiere?” “Yeah, I’ll go.” “Want to bring Trey or Tatiana?” Shaking his head, he turned to the mirror and arranged his hair with practiced sweeps of his hands. “Then it’d be like a double date. Better if I’m the third wheel. More impact.” I watched his reflection, my mouth curving in a soft smile. “I love you.” He blew me a kiss. “Then take care of yourself, baby girl. That’s all I need.” MY favorite housewarming gift was Waterford martini glasses. To me, it was just the right blend of luxury, fun, and usefulness. I’d given a set to a college friend who had no idea what Waterford crystal was but loved appletinis, and I’d given a set to my mother, who didn’t drink martinis but loved Waterford. It was a gift I’d even feel comfortable giving to Gideon Cross, a man who had more money than was comprehensible. But stemware wasn’t what I clutched in my hands as I knocked on his door. Nervous, I shifted on my feet and ran a hand down my hip to smooth my dress. I’d dolled myself up after getting back from the gym, taking the time to really work my New Eva hairstyle and smoky eye shadow. My pale pink lipstick was smudgeproof and I wore a little black dress that was a halter with a low draping neckline and an even lower back. The short dress showed a lot of leg, which I accentuated with peep-toe Jimmy Choos. I wore the diamond hoops I’d chosen for our first date and the ring he’d given me, a striking piece that had interlacing gold ropes hugged by diamond Xs—the Xs representing Gideon holding on to the various threads of me. The door opened and I swayed a little on my feet, struck by the gorgeous, sexy-as-sin man who greeted me. Gideon must have been feeling sentimental, too. He had on the same black sweater he’d worn to the nightclub where we’d first really hung out together. It looked amazing on him—the perfect blend of casual and elegant sexiness. Paired with graphite gray dress slacks and bare feet, the effect on me was pure, white-hot desire. “Christ,” he growled. “You look amazing. Next time warn me before I open the door.” I smiled. “Hello, Dark and Dangerous.” 5 GIDEON’S MOUTH CURVED in a devastating grin as he held his hand out to me. When my fingers touched his palm, he caught me and drew me inside, pulling me close to place his lips softly over mine. The door shut behind me and he reached past me to lock it, shutting the world out. My hand clenched around a fistful of his sweater. “You’re wearing my favorite sweater.” “I know.” Abruptly, he sank into a graceful crouch, taking my hand that he held and placing it on his shoulder. “Let’s make you comfortable, angel. You won’t need these heels until you’re ready for me to fuck you.” My core clenched with anticipation. “What if I’m ready now?” “You’re not. You’ll know when the time comes.” As Gideon removed my shoes, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. “Will I? How?” He glanced up at me with those intensely blue eyes. He was nearly on his knees, taking my shoes off, yet he was undeniably in command of himself and of me. “I’ll be pushing my cock inside you.” I shifted on my feet for a different reason. Yes, please … Straightening, he once again loomed over me. His fingertips drifted across my cheek. “What’s in the bag?” “Oh.” I mentally shook off the sexual spell he had me under. “Housewarming gift.” I looked around. The space was a mirror image of my own. The apartment was lovely and comfortably inviting. I’d partly expected a semi-lived-in space, mostly bare with only the essentials. Instead, it was very much a home. One that was lit only by candlelight, which cast a warm golden glow on furniture I recognized because it was Gideon’s and mine. Stunned, I barely noticed when he took the gift bag and my purse from my fingers. Barefoot, I skirted him, seeing my coffee and end tables placed around his sofa and side chairs; my entertainment center holding his knickknacks and framed photos of the two of us together; my drapes with his unlit floor and table lamps. On the wall, where my flat-screen TV would be hanging, was a massive photo of me blowing him a kiss, a much larger version of the photo I’d given him that he kept on his desk in his Crossfire office. I turned slowly, trying to take it all in. He’d shocked me like this once before, when he’d re-created my bedroom in his penthouse, giving me a familiar place to run when things got too intense. “When did you move in here?” I loved it. The mix of my modern traditional with his old-world elegance was oddly perfect. He’d blended just the right pieces to create a space that was … us. “The week Cary was in the hospital.” I glanced at him. “Are you serious?” That was when Gideon had begun pulling away from me, cutting me off. He’d started hanging out with Corinne again and become difficult to reach.