Thursday, September 5, 2013

Entwined with You - Chapter 23

I WAS IN my room, sliding the strapless gown up over my matching bustier, when Gideon came in. I
literally stopped breathing, my gaze drinking in his reflection in my cheval mirror. Standing behind
me in a tuxedo tailored just for him, with a lovely gray tie that matched my dress so well, he was
dazzling. I’d never seen him look so gorgeous.
“Wow,” I breathed, entranced. “You are so getting laid tonight.”
His mouth quirked. “Does that mean I can skip zipping you up?”
“Does that mean we can skip going to this thing?”
“Not a chance, angel. I’m showing off my wife tonight.”
“No one knows I’m your wife.”
“I know it.” He came up behind me and secured my zipper. “And soon—really soon—the world
will know it.”
I leaned back into him, admiring our joint reflection. We took great pictures together.
Which made me think of other pictures …
“Promise me,” I said, “that you’ll never watch the video.”
When he didn’t answer me, I turned to look at him directly. When I saw the closed-off look on his
face, I started freaking out. “Gideon. Did you watch it already?”
His jaw tightened. “A minute or two. Nothing explicit. Just enough to prove validity.”
“Oh my God. Promise me you won’t watch it.” My voice rose and grew sharp as panic spread
through me. “Promise me!”
His hands encircled my wrists and squeezed hard enough to make my breath catch. I stared at him,
wide-eyed, confused by the sudden aggression.
“Calm down,” he said quietly.
The oddest rush of warmth spread outward from where he touched me. My heart beat faster, but
also steadier. I stared at our hands, my attention catching on his ruby ring. Red. Like the cuffs he’d
bought for me. I felt similarly captured and bound now. And it soothed me in a way I didn’t
But Gideon obviously did.
That was why I’d been afraid to marry him so quickly, I realized. He was taking me on a journey
that had an unknown destination and I had agreed to follow him blindfolded. It wasn’t about where
we’d end up as a couple, because that was never in question. We were obsessed, dependent on each
other in the unrelenting way of addicts. Where I would end up, who I’d be at the end, was what I
didn’t know.
Gideon’s transformation had been almost violent, happening in a moment of sharp clarity when
he’d comprehended that he wouldn’t—couldn’t—live without me. My change was more gradual, so
painstakingly measured that I’d believed I wouldn’t have to change at all.
I was wrong.
Swallowing past the lump in my throat, I spoke more steadily. “Gideon, listen. Whatever’s on that
video, it’s nothing compared to what you and I have. The only memories I want in your head are ones
we make. What we’ve got together … that’s the only thing that’s real. The only thing that matters. So
please … promise me.”
He closed his eyes briefly, then nodded. “All right. I promise.”
I breathed out a sigh of relief. “Thank you.”
Lifting my hands to his mouth, he kissed them. “You’re mine, Eva.”
BY silent, mutual agreement, we refrained from mussing each other up in the limo before our first
public appearance as a married couple. I was nervous, and while an orgasm or two would help
alleviate that, looking less than perfect would only make it worse. And people would notice. Not only
was my silver gown eye-catching, with its brilliant sheen and short train, but my arm-candy husband
was an impossible-to-miss accessory.
Attention would be on us, and Gideon seemed determined to keep it that way. He helped me out of
the limo when we arrived at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, taking a moment to slide his lips
across my temple. “That dress is going to look amazing on my bedroom floor.”
I laughed at the cheesy line, which I knew he’d intended, and camera flashes went off in a storm of
blinding light. Once he turned away from me, all warmth left his face, the beautiful planes settling into
a closed expression that gave nothing away. He set his hand at the small of my back and led me across
the red carpet and into Cipriani’s.
Once inside, he found a spot he approved of and we stayed there for an hour as business associates
and acquaintances circled around us. He wanted me at his side and he wanted to be at mine as well,
something he proved a short while later when we were headed to the dance floor.
“Introduce me,” he said simply and I followed his gaze to where Christine Field and Walter
Leaman, of Waters Field & Leaman, were laughing along with the group of people they were standing
with. Christine looked restrained and elegant in a black beaded dress that covered her from throat to
wrists to ankles except for the plunging back, and Walter, who was a large man, looked successful
and confident in a nicely cut tuxedo and bow tie.
“They know who you are,” I pointed out.
“Do they know who I am to you?”
I wrinkled my nose a little, knowing my world was going to change drastically once my single-girl
self was subsumed by my identity as Eva Cross. “Come on, ace.”
We headed over there, weaving through round tables covered in white linens and decorated with
candelabras wrapped in floral garlands that lent a wonderful fragrance to the room.
My bosses spotted Gideon first, of course. I don’t think they even recognized me until Gideon quite
obviously deferred to me by letting me speak first.
“Good evening,” I said, shaking Christine’s and Walter’s hands. “I know you’re both familiar with
Gideon Cross, my …”
I paused, my brain grinding to a halt.
“Fiancé,” Gideon finished, shaking hands.
Congratulations were exchanged; smiles got bigger, eyes brighter.
“This doesn’t mean we’re losing you, does it?” Christine asked, diamond drop earrings glinting in
the soft light of the chandeliers.
“No. I’m not going anywhere.”
That earned me a sharp pinch on my butt from Gideon.
We were going to have to deal with the work issue at some point, but I figured I could hold him off
at least until our next wedding.
We talked a bit about the Kingsman Vodka campaign, which was mostly a way to emphasize what a
good job Waters Field & Leaman had done so the agency could hook more Cross Industries business.
Gideon knew the game, of course, and played it well. He was polite, charming, and clearly not a man
who could be easily influenced.
After that, we ran out of things to talk about. Gideon made our excuses.
“Let’s dance,” he murmured in my ear. “I want to hold you.”
We moved onto the dance floor, where Cary was drawing attention with a stunning redhead.
Flashes of a pale, shapely leg could be seen through the risqué slit in her emerald green dress. He
moved her into a spin, then a dip. Undeniably suave.
Trey hadn’t been able to come because of an evening class, and I was sorry about that. I was sorry,
too, that I was glad Cary hadn’t brought Tatiana instead. Thinking that way made me feel bitchy, and I
seriously disliked catty bitches.
“Look at me.”
I tilted my head at Gideon’s command and found his eyes on me. “Hi, ace.”
With his hand at my back and my hand in his, we swept casually around the dance floor.
“Crossfire,” he whispered, his gaze hot on my face.
I touched his cheek with my fingertips. “We’re learning from our mistakes.”
“You read my mind.”
“It feels good.”
He smiled, his eyes so blue and his hair so damn sexy I wanted to run my fingers through it right
then and there. He pulled me closer. “Not as good as you feel.”
We stayed on the dance floor through two songs. Then the music ended when the bandleader turned
to the mic and made an announcement: Dinner was about to be served. Seated at our table were my
mother and Richard, Cary, a plastic surgeon and his wife, and a guy who said he’d just wrapped up
shooting the pilot episode to a new television show he hoped would be picked up for a full-season
run. The meal was some sort of Asian fusion and I ate everything, because it was good and the portions
weren’t that big. Gideon had his hand on my thigh beneath the table, his thumb rubbing lightly in small
circles that made me squirm.
He leaned over. “Sit still.”
“Stop it,” I whispered back.
“Keep wiggling and I’ll put my fingers inside you.”
“You wouldn’t dare.”
He smirked. “Try me and see.”
Because I wouldn’t put it past him, I sat still, even though it killed me.
“Excuse me,” Cary said abruptly, pushing back from the table.
I watched him walk away and caught his gaze lingering on a nearby table. When the redhead in
green followed him out of the room a few moments later, I wasn’t too surprised, but I was very
disappointed. I knew the situation with Tatiana was stressing him out and I knew mindless sex was
Cary’s cure-all, but it also fucked with his self-esteem and led to more problems than it fixed.
It was good that we were only a couple days away from seeing Dr. Travis.
Leaning into Gideon, I whispered, “Cary and I are going to San Diego this weekend.”
His head swiveled toward me. “You’re telling me this now?”
“Well, between your exes and my ex, my parents, Cary, and everything else, it keeps slipping my
mind! I figured I’d better tell you before I forgot again.”
“Angel …” He shook his head.
“Hang on.” I pushed to my feet. I needed to remind him that Brett had a tour stop in San Diego at the
same time, but I had to catch Cary first.
He looked at me quizzically as he stood.
“Be right back,” I told him, adding very quietly, “Got some cockblocking to do.”
I heard the warning in his tone and ignored it, lifting my skirt and hurrying after Cary. I’d just made
it past the ballroom entrance, when I ran into a familiar face.
“Magdalene,” I said in surprise, stopping. “I didn’t know you were here.”
“Gage was wrapped up in a project, so we ran a little late. Missed dinner entirely, but at least I got
my hands on one of those chocolate mousse things they served for dessert.”
“Kick-ass,” I agreed.
“Totally.” Magdalene smiled.
I thought to myself that she looked really good. Softer, sweeter. Still stunning and sultry in a oneshouldered
red lace dress, her dark hair framing a delicate face and crimson lips. Getting away from
Christopher Vidal had done her a lot of good. And having a new man in her life surely helped. I
remembered her mentioning a guy named Gage when she’d visited me at work a couple weeks before.
“I saw you with Gideon,” she said. “And I noticed your ring.”
“You should’ve come over and said hi.”
“I was eating that dessert.”
I laughed. “A girl’s got to have her priorities.”
Magdalene reached out and touched my arm briefly. “I’m happy for you, Eva. Happy for Gideon.”
“Thank you. You should stop by our table and tell him that.”
“I will. Catch you later.”
She walked off and I stared after her for a minute, still wary but thinking she might not be so bad
after all.
The one negative about running into Magdalene was losing Cary. By the time I resumed chasing
after him, he’d already ducked out of sight somewhere.
I headed back to Gideon, mentally preparing the ass-chewing I was going to give Cary. Elizabeth
Vidal halted me in my tracks.
“Excuse me,” I said, when I nearly bumped into her.
She grabbed me by the elbow and pulled me over to a dark corner. Then she caught my hand and
looked at my gorgeous Asscher diamond. “That’s my ring.”
I tugged free. “It was your ring. It’s mine now. Your son gave it to me around the time he asked me
to marry him.”
She looked at me with those blue eyes that were so like her son’s. So like Ireland’s. She was a
beautiful woman, glamorous and elegant. As much a head-turner as my mother, really, but she had
Gideon’s iciness.
“I won’t let you take him away from me,” she bit out between brilliantly white teeth.
“You’ve got it all wrong.” I crossed my arms. “I want to get you two together, so we can put
everything out in the open.”
“You’re filling his head with lies.”
“Oh my God. Seriously? The next time he tells you what happened—and I’ll make sure he does—
you’re going to believe him. And you’re going to apologize, and find some fucking way to make it
easier for him to bear. Because I want him healed and healthy and whole.”
Elizabeth stared at me, clearly fuming. She obviously wasn’t on board with that plan.
“Are we done?” I asked, disgusted with her deliberate blindness.
“Not even close,” she hissed, leaning into me. “I know about you and that lead singer. I’m on to
I shook my head. Had Christopher talked to her? What would he have said? Knowing what he’d
done to Magdalene, I believed him capable of pretty much anything. “Unbelievable. You believe the
lies and ignore the truth.”
I started walking away but stopped. “What I think is really interesting is that after I confronted you
last time, you didn’t ask Gideon about what happened. ‘Hey, son, your crazy girlfriend told me this
crazy story.’ I can’t figure out why you didn’t ask him. I don’t suppose you’d want to explain?”
“Fuck you.”
“Yeah, I didn’t think you would.”
I left her behind before she opened her mouth again and ruined my night.
Unfortunately, when I started heading toward my table, I saw Deanna Johnson sitting in my seat,
talking to Gideon.
“Are you kidding me?” I muttered, my gaze narrowing at the way the reporter kept putting her hand
on his forearm as she talked. Cary was off doing what he shouldn’t be doing; my mom and Stanton
were on the dance floor. And Deanna had slid in like a snake.
Whatever Gideon thought, it was obvious to me that her interest in him was as hot as ever. And
while he offered no encouragement aside from listening to whatever she was saying, just the fact that
he was giving her attention was watering that weed.
“She must be great in bed. He fucks her a lot.”
I stiffened and turned toward the woman talking to me. It was Cary’s redhead, who had the flushed,
bright-eyed look of a woman who’d just had a very nice orgasm. Still, she was older than I’d first
thought from a distance.
“You should watch out for him,” she said, looking at Gideon. “He uses women. I’ve seen it happen.
More than it should.”
“I can handle myself.”
“They all say that.” Her sympathetic smile rubbed me the wrong way. “I know of two women
who’ve experienced severe depression over him. Certainly, they won’t be the last.”
“You shouldn’t listen to gossip,” I snapped.
She walked away with an irritatingly serene smile, reaching up to pat her hair as she skirted tables
on the way to her own.
It wasn’t until she was halfway across the room that I placed her face.
I hurried back to Gideon. He stood when I reached him.
“I need you real quick,” I said briskly, before shooting a look at the brunette in my chair. “Deanna,
always a pleasure.”
She ignored the dig. “Hi, Eva. I was just leaving—”
But I’d already tuned her out. I caught Gideon’s hand and tugged. “Come on.”
“All right, hang on.” He said something to Deanna, but I didn’t catch it, pulling him along instead.
“Christ, Eva. What the hell is the rush?”
I stopped by the wall and looked out over the room, searching for green and red. Seemed to me he
would have noticed his former lover—unless she’d been deliberately avoiding him. Of course she
looked so different without her former pixie haircut, and I hadn’t seen her white-haired husband,
which would have made it easier to identify her sooner. “Do you know if Anne Lucas is here?”
His hand tightened on mine. “I haven’t seen her. Why?”
“Emerald green dress, long red hair. Seen that woman?”
“She was dancing with Cary earlier.”
“I wasn’t paying attention.”
I looked at him, getting aggravated. “Jesus, Gideon. It was hard to miss her.”
“Forgive me for having eyes only for my wife,” he said dryly.
I squeezed his hand. “I’m sorry. I just need to know if it was her.”
“Explain why. Did she come up to you?”
“Yeah, she did. Shoveled some shit my way, then wandered off. I think Cary sneaked off with her,
too. You know, for a quickie.”
Gideon’s face turned hard. He turned his attention to the room, sweeping it from one side to the
other, with a slow searching glance. “I don’t see her. Or anyone like you described.”
“Isn’t Anne a therapist?”
A sense of foreboding made me restless. “Can we go now?”
He studied me. “Tell me what she said to you.”
“Nothing I haven’t heard before.”
“That’s reassuring,” he muttered. “Yes, let’s go.”
We went back to our table for my clutch and to say good-bye to everyone.
“Can I hitch a ride with you?” Cary asked, after I hugged my mom good-bye.
Gideon nodded. “Come on.”
ANGUS shut the door of the limo.
Cary, Gideon, and I settled back into the bench seats, and just a couple of minutes later we pulled
away from Cipriani’s and into traffic.
My best friend shot me a look. “Don’t start.”
He hated when I laid into him about his behavior, and I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t his mother. But I
was someone who loved him and wanted good things for him. I knew how self-destructive he could
be when left unchecked.
But that wasn’t my biggest concern at that moment.
“What was her name?” I asked, praying he knew so I could identify the redhead once and for all.
“Who cares?”
“Jesus.” My hands flexed restlessly around my clutch. “Do you know it or not?”
“I didn’t ask,” he retorted. “Drop it.”
“Watch the tone, Cary,” Gideon admonished quietly. “You’ve got a problem, fine. Don’t take it out
on Eva for giving a shit about you.”
Cary’s jaw tightened and he looked out the window.
I sat back and Gideon drew me into the curve of his shoulder, his hand running up and down my
bare arm.
No one said another word on the ride home.
WHEN we reached my apartment, Gideon headed into the kitchen to grab a bottle of water and ended
up on the phone, his gaze meeting mine across the breakfast bar and the several feet separating us.
Cary stalked off to his bedroom, then turned abruptly at the hallway and came back to hug me.
With his face in the curve of my shoulder, he whispered, “Sorry, baby girl.”
I hugged him back. “You deserve better than the way you treat yourself.”
“I didn’t do her,” he said quietly, pulling back to look at me. “I was going to. I thought I wanted to.
But when it came down to it, it hit me that I have a kid coming. A kid, Eva. And I don’t want him—or
her—growing up thinking of me the way I do my mom. I gotta get my shit straight.”
I hugged him again. “I’m proud of you.”
“Yeah, well.” He pulled back, looking sheepish. “I still rubbed her off, since I’d taken it that far,
but my dick stayed tucked in my pants.”
“TMI, Cary,” I said. “Totally TMI.”
“We still heading out to San Diego tomorrow?” His hopeful look twisted my heart.
“Hell, yeah. I’m looking forward to it.”
His grin was tinged with relief. “Good. I’ve got us flying out at eight thirty.”
Gideon rejoined us just then, and the look he gave me told me we weren’t done talking about my
going away for the weekend. But when Cary headed down the hallway to his room, I grabbed Gideon
and kissed him hard, delaying that conversation. As I’d hoped, he didn’t hesitate to pull me in and
take over, his mouth eating at mine with lush, deep licks.
Moaning, I let him sweep me away. The world could go crazy by itself for a night. Tomorrow was
soon enough to face it and everything we had to deal with.
I grabbed him by the tie. “Tonight, you’re mine.”
“I’m yours every night,” he said in that warm, raspy voice that stirred the hottest fantasies.
“Start now.” I walked backward, pulling him toward my room. “And don’t stop.”
He didn’t. Not ’til morning.

Entwined with you - Chapter 22

GIDEON DIDN’T COME home that night. When I checked his apartment on my way out to work, I found
the beds neatly made.
Wherever he’d spent the night, it hadn’t been near me. After the revelation of Corinne’s pregnancy,
I was stunned that I’d been left on my own with no explanation. I felt like this huge bomb had
exploded in front of me and I was left standing in the rumble, alone and confused.
Angus and the Bentley were waiting for me downstairs when I stepped outside. Irritation
simmered. Every time Gideon pulled away from me, he sent Angus in as a surrogate.
“I should’ve married you, Angus,” I muttered, as I slid into the backseat. “You’re always there for
“Gideon makes sure of it,” he said, before shutting the door.
Always loyal, I thought bitterly.
When I got to work and learned that Megumi was still out sick, I was equally concerned about her
and relieved for me. It wasn’t like her to miss work—she was always at her desk early—so the
repeated absences told me something was really wrong with her. But not having her there meant she
couldn’t catch my mood and ask questions I didn’t want to answer. Couldn’t answer, actually. I had
no idea where my husband was, what he was doing or feeling.
And I was angry and hurt about it. The one thing I wasn’t was scared. Gideon was right about
marriage fostering a settled feeling. I had a grip on him he’d have to work to break. He couldn’t just
disappear or ignore me forever. No matter what, he would have to deal with me at some point. The
only question was: When?
Focusing on work, I willed the hours to rush by. When I got off at five, I still hadn’t heard from
Gideon and I hadn’t reached out to him, either. As far as I was concerned, he needed to bridge the gap
he’d created between us.
I headed to my Krav Maga class after work, where Parker worked one-on-one with me for an hour.
“You’re on fire tonight,” he said, when I threw him to the mat for the sixth or seventh time.
I didn’t tell him I was imagining Gideon in his place.
When I got home, I found Cary and Trey hanging out in the living room. They were eating torpedo
sandwiches and watching a comedy show.
“We’ve got plenty,” Trey said, pushing half of his sandwich toward me. “There’s beer in the
fridge, too.”
He was a great guy, with an awesome personality to match. And he loved my best friend. I looked
at Cary and for a second, he let me see his confusion and pain. Then he hid it behind his bright,
gorgeous smile. He patted the cushion next to him. “Come sit, baby girl.”
“Sure,” I agreed, partly because I couldn’t bear the thought of being alone in my room with my
thoughts driving me crazy. “Just let me take a shower first.”
Once I was freshly scrubbed and cozy in worn sweats, I joined the two men on the couch. I
brooded over getting a “not found” error when I tried to track Gideon’s smartphone with the
instructions he’d given me.
I ended up sleeping in the living room, preferring the couch to a bed that might smell like my
missing husband.
I woke up to the smell of him anyway, and the feel of his arms around me as he lifted me. Weary, I
rested my head against Gideon’s chest and listened to the sound of his heart beating strong and sure.
He carried me to my bedroom.
“Where have you been?” I muttered.
I jolted. “What?”
He shook his head. “We’ll talk in the morning.”
“Gideon …”
“In the morning, Eva,” he said sternly, putting me to bed and pressed a rough kiss to my forehead.
I caught his wrist as he straightened. “Don’t you dare leave me.”
“I haven’t slept in damn near two days.” There was an edge to his voice that set off alarms.
Pushing onto my elbows, I tried to see his face in the semidarkness, but it was too hard and I was
still trying to shrug off sleep. I could tell he was wearing jeans and a long-sleeved shirt, and that was
about it. “So? Got a bed right here.”
He heaved out an exasperated, weary breath. “Lie down. I’ll get my prescription.”
It wasn’t until he’d been gone too long that I remembered he kept a bottle of his pills in my
bathroom. He’d left for no other reason than to leave. I shoved the blankets off me and stumbled out of
the room, making my way through my darkened living room to find my keys. I went to Gideon’s
apartment and let myself in, nearly tripping over a suitcase left carelessly by the door.
He must have taken just enough time to drop it off before coming to me. And yet he hadn’t intended
to spend the night in my bed. Why had he come? Just to see me sleep? To check up on me?
Fuck. Would I ever understand him?
I searched for him and found him sprawled facedown on the master bed, his head on my pillow and
his clothes still on. His boots lay a few feet apart from each other at the end of the bed, as if he’d
kicked them off in a rush, and his smartphone and wallet were tossed on the nightstand.
The phone was irresistible.
I picked it up, typed in angel as the password, and scrolled through it without shame. If he caught
me doing it, I wouldn’t care. If he wasn’t going to give me answers, I had every right to search for
them myself.
The last thing I expected to find were so many pictures of me in his photo album. There were
dozens: some of us together taken by paparazzi, others that he’d taken with his phone when I was
unaware. Candid shots that afforded me the opportunity to see myself through his eyes.
I stopped worrying. He loved me. Adored me. No man could take the pictures he did of me
otherwise, with messy hair and no makeup, doing nothing more interesting than reading something or
standing in front of an open refrigerator contemplating what I wanted. Pictures of me sleeping and
eating and frowning in concentration … Boring, commonplace things.
His phone log showed mostly calls placed between him and Angus, Raúl, or Scott. There were
voice mails from Corinne I refused to torture myself by listening to, but I could see he hadn’t
answered her or called her in a while. There were calls between him and business associates—a
couple with Arnoldo, and several with his attorneys.
And three calls exchanged between him and Deanna Johnson.
My gaze narrowed. Those ranged from several minutes long to a quarter of an hour.
I checked his text messages and found the one he’d sent to Angus when we were at the hospital.
I need her out of here.
Sinking into the armchair in the corner of the room, I stared at the message. Need, not want. For
some reason, the word choice changed my perception of what happened. I still didn’t get it
completely, but I didn’t feel quite so … pushed aside.
There were also texts between him and Ireland, which made me happy. I didn’t read them but could
see that the last one had come in on Monday.
Returning the phone to its former spot, I watched the man I loved sink into the deep sleep of
exhaustion. Sprawled as he was, dressed as he was, he looked his age. He carried so much
responsibility and he made it look so effortless … so innately artless, that it was easy to forget he was
as vulnerable to being overworked and stressed out as anyone.
It was my job as his wife to help him deal with it. But that was impossible for me to do if he shut
me out. In saving me worry, he took more onto himself.
We’d be talking about that as soon as he caught some sleep.
I woke with a crick in my neck and the lingering sense that something was wrong. Moving gingerly so
as not to pull something, I unfolded from my curled-up position in the armchair and noted that the
dawn was well on its way. Pinkish-orange light was visible through the windows, and a quick glance
at the bedside clock told me it was creeping into morning.
Gideon groaned and I stilled, dread sliding through me at the sound. It was a terrible noise, the
sound of a creature wounded in both body and soul. A chill swept over me as he moaned again,
everything in me reacting violently to his torment.
Rushing to the bed, I climbed on it, kneeling as I pushed at his shoulder. “Gideon. Wake up.”
He flinched away from me, curling around my pillow and squeezing it. His body jerked as a sob
escaped him.
I spooned behind him, wrapping one arm around his waist. “Shh, baby,” I whispered. “I’ve got you.
I’m here.”
I rocked him as he cried in his sleep, my tears wetting his shirt.
“WAKE up, angel mine,” Gideon murmured, his lips brushing over my jaw. “I need you.”
I stretched, feeling lingering aches from the last two nights of hard training and the few hours I’d
spent sleeping in the armchair before moving to the bed and joining him.
My T-shirt was pushed up, exposing my breasts to his avid, hungry mouth. A hand pushed beneath
the waistband of my sweats and then my panties, finding my cleft and expertly coaxing me to a swift
“Gideon …” I could feel the need in his touch, the desire that was far more than skin deep.
He took my mouth, hushing me with a kiss. My hips arched as his fingers pushed into me, fucking
me gently. Eager to answer his silent demand for more, I pushed at my sweats, kicking restlessly until
I got them off.
I reached for the button fly of his jeans, yanking it open and shoving the denim and cotton boxer
briefs out of the way.
“Put me inside you,” he whispered against my lips.
I circled his thick erection with my fingers, positioning him and then lifting to take the first inch of
him inside me.
Burying his face in my neck, he thrust, sinking into me, moaning with pleasure as I closed tight
around him. “Christ, Eva. I need you so much.”
My arms and legs caged him, holding him tight.
Time and everything else in the world ceased to matter. Gideon renewed all the promises he’d
made to me on the sands of a Caribbean beach, and I tried to heal him, hoping to give him the strength
he needed to face another day.
I was putting on my makeup when Gideon joined me in the bathroom, setting a steaming mug of
creamy sweet coffee on the marble counter next to me. He wore nothing but pajama pants, so I
guessed he wasn’t going into the office or at least not right away.
Eyeing him in the mirror, I searched for signs that he remembered his dreams. I’d never seen him so
deeply troubled, as if his heart were breaking.
“Eva,” he said quietly, “we need to talk.”
“I’m on board with that.”
Leaning back against the counter, he held his mug in both hands. He stared down into his coffee for
a long minute before asking, “Did you make a sex tape with Brett Kline?”
“What?” I faced him, my hand tightening on the handle of my makeup brush. “No. Fuck no. Why
would you ask me that?”
He held my gaze. “When I came back from the hospital the other night, Deanna caught up with me in
the lobby. After the situation with Corinne, I knew brushing her off was the wrong approach.”
“I told you that.”
“I know. You were right. So I took her to the bar up the street, bought her a glass of wine, and
“You took her out for wine,” I repeated.
“No, I took her out to tell her I’m sorry for how I treated her. I bought her the wine so we had a
reason to be sitting in the damn bar,” he said irritably. “I figured you’d prefer a public place over
bringing her up to the apartment, which would have been more convenient and private.”
He was right, and I appreciated his thinking of how I’d react and making accommodations for it.
But I was still annoyed that Deanna had snagged a pseudo date with him.
Gideon must have known what I was feeling because his lips tilted up on one side. “So possessive,
angel. You’re lucky I like it so much.”
“Shut up. What does Deanna have to do with a sex tape? Did she tell you there was one? It’s a lie.
She’s lying.”
“She’s not. My apology smoothed things over enough for her to throw me a bone. She told me about
the tape and that an auction for it was imminent.”
“I’m telling you, she’s full of shit,” I argued.
“You know a guy named Sam Yimara?”
Everything stopped. Anxiety pooled in the pit of my stomach. “Yes, he was the band’s wannabe
“Right.” He took a sip of his coffee, his eyes hard as they looked at me over the rim of his mug.
“He apparently set up remote cameras at some of the band’s shows to gather backstage material. He
claims to have re-created the ‘Golden’ video with actual explicit footage.”
“Oh my God.” I covered my mouth, feeling sick.
It was bad enough thinking about strangers watching Brett and me fucking, but it was a million
times worse imagining Gideon seeing it. I could still picture the look on his face when he’d watched
the music video, and that had been terrible. He and I would never be the same if he viewed the real
deal. I knew I’d never be able to scrub images of him and another woman out of my mind. And over
time, they’d eat at me like acid.
“That’s why you went to California,” I whispered, horrified.
“Deanna gave me what information she had, and I secured a temporary injunction barring Yimara
from licensing or selling the video.”
I couldn’t get a clue about what he was thinking or feeling from his body language. He was closed
tight and restrained, rigidly in control. While I felt like I was coming apart at the seams. “You can’t
stop it from getting out,” I whispered.
“We have a temporary seal on the court proceedings.”
“That video hits one of those file-sharing sites and it’ll spread like the plague.”
He shook his head, the ends of his inky hair brushing over his shoulders. “I’ve got an IT team
dedicated to nothing but looking twenty-four-seven for that file on the Internet, but Yimara won’t make
any money giving the footage away. It’s only worth something as an exclusive. He’s not going to fuck
that up before he exhausts all other options—including selling it to me.”
“Deanna will tell. It’s her job to expose secrets, not keep them.”
“I offered her a forty-eight-hour exclusive on our wedding photos, if she keeps a lid on this.”
“And she was okay with that?” I asked skeptically. “That woman’s hot for you. She can’t have been
happy about you being off the market. Permanently.”
“There is a point at which it becomes clear there’s no hope,” he said dryly. “I think I managed to
make that point. Trust me, she was happy enough with the money to be made on the wedding
I moved to the toilet, dropped the lid down, and sat. The reality of what he’d told me sank in. “I’m
sick over this, Gideon.”
He set his coffee down next to mine and came to crouch in front of me. “Look at me.”
I did as he ordered, but it was hard.
“I will never let anyone hurt you,” he said. “Do you understand? I will take care of this.”
“I’m sorry,” I breathed. “I’m so sorry you have to deal with this. And with everything else you have
going on—”
Gideon caught my hands. “Someone violated your privacy, Eva. Don’t apologize for that. As for
dealing with this … that’s my right. My honor. You’ll always come first.”
“It didn’t seem like I came first at the hospital,” I argued, needing to get the resentment out before it
festered. And needing him to explain why he was always pushing me away when he was trying to
protect me. “Everything went to hell and you shoved me at Angus when I wanted to be there for you.
You took off to another state and didn’t call … didn’t say anything.”
His jaw tightened. “And I didn’t sleep. It took every minute I had and too many favors to count to
get that injunction done in the time I had to work with. You have to trust me, Eva. Even if you don’t
understand what I’m doing, trust that I’m always thinking of you and doing what’s best for you. For
I looked away, hating that answer. “Corinne’s pregnant.”
He exhaled harshly. “She was, yes. Four months along.”
One word chilled me. “Was?”
“She miscarried as the doctors were treating the overdose. I’m choosing to believe she didn’t know
about the baby.”
I searched his face and tried to hide the pitiful relief on my own. “Four months? The baby was
Giroux’s, then.”
“I would hope so,” he said curtly. “He seems to think it was his, and that I’m responsible for her
losing it.”
Gideon’s head dropped to my lap, his cheek resting on my thigh. “She had to be clueless. She
couldn’t risk a baby over something so stupid.”
“I won’t let you blame yourself for this, Gideon,” I told him sternly.
He wrapped his arms around my waist. “Christ. Am I cursed?”
I hated Corinne so much in that moment I felt violent. She’d known Gideon’s father had committed
suicide. If she knew Gideon at all, she would know how much her attempt would devastate him.
“You are not responsible for this.” I ran my fingers through his hair, offering comfort. “Do you hear
me? Only Corinne is responsible for what happened. She’ll have to live with what she’s done, not
you and me.”
“Eva.” He hugged me, his breath warm through the silk of my robe.
A quarter hour after Gideon left me in the bathroom to take a call from Raúl, I was still standing at the
vanity, staring into the sink.
“You’ll be late for work,” he said gently, joining me and hugging me from behind.
“I’m thinking about just calling in.” I never did that, but I was tired and feeling worn out. I couldn’t
imagine pulling it together enough to give my job the focus it deserved.
“You could, but it won’t look good when you’re photographed at the gala tonight.”
I looked at him in the mirror. “We’re not going!”
“Yes, we are.”
“Gideon, if that footage of me and Brett gets out, you don’t want your name linked to mine.”
His body went stiff, and then he turned me around to face him. “Say that again.”
“You heard me. The Cross name has been through enough, don’t you think?”
“Angel, I’m as close as I’ve ever been to taking you across my knee. Luckily for you, I don’t play
rough when I’m mad.”
His gruff teasing didn’t distract me from the fact that he was determined to protect the girl I’d been,
the girl I was ashamed of. He was willing to stand between me and scandal, shielding me as best he
could and taking the hit alongside me, if it came to that.
I didn’t think it was possible to love him more than I did, but he kept proving me wrong.
He cupped my face in his hands. “Whatever we face, we face together. And you’ll do it with my
“I can’t tell you how proud I am for you to have it.” He brushed his mouth across my brow. “How
much it means to me that you’ve taken it and made it yours.”
“Oh, Gideon.” I pushed onto my tiptoes and surged into him. “I love you so much.”
I was a half hour late to work and found a temp at Megumi’s desk. I smiled and said hi, but worry ate
at me. I popped my head into Mark’s office and apologized profusely for being late. Then I called
Megumi’s cell when I got to my cubicle, but she didn’t answer. I headed over to Will’s.
“Got a question for you,” I said, when I reached him.
“Let’s hope I have the answer,” he shot back, swiveling in his chair to look up at me through his
stylish glasses.
“Who does Megumi call to say she’s sick?”
“She reports to Daphne for everything. Why?”
“I’m just worried. She hasn’t called me back. I’m wondering if I pissed her off somehow.” I shifted
on my feet. “I hate not knowing or being able to help.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, Daphne said she sounds horrible.”
“That sucks. But thanks.”
I headed back to my cubicle. Mark gestured me into his office as I walked by.
“They’re hanging the six-story banner for Tungsten scarves today.”
He grinned. “Want to go check it out?”
“Really?” As scattered as I was feeling, getting out in the muggy August heat was preferable to
sitting at my cool desk. “That’d be awesome!”
He grabbed his jacket off the back of his chair. “Let’s go.”
WHEN I got home shortly after five o’clock, I found my living room taken over by a team of whitecoated
beauty technicians. Cary and Trey were kicked back on the couch with green goop on their
faces and towels under their heads to protect the white upholstery. My mother was chatting away
while her hair was styled in a sexy cap of waves and curls.
I took a quick shower, then joined them. In an hour, they managed to take me from bedraggled to
glamorous, affording me the time to think about everything I’d ruthlessly suppressed all day—the
video, Corinne, Giroux, Deanna, and Brett.
Someone was going to have to tell Brett. That someone was me.
When the beautician came toward me with a lip brush, I held up my hand. “Red, please.”
She paused a minute, her head canting as she examined me. “Yes, you’re right.”
I was holding my breath through a finishing blast of hair spray when my smartphone vibrated in the
pocket of my robe. Seeing Gideon’s name on the screen, I answered. “Hi, ace.”
“What color are you wearing?” he asked, without a hello.
“Really?” His voice took on a warm purr that made my toes flex. “I can’t wait to see you in it. And
out of it.”
“You won’t be waiting,” I admonished. “You’d better have your fine ass over here in about ten
“Yes, ma’am.”
My eyes narrowed. “Hurry up or we won’t have any limo time.”
“Umm … I’ll be there in five.”
He hung up and I held my phone for a minute, smiling.
“Who was that?” my mom asked, coming up beside me.
Her eyes lit up. “He’s escorting you tonight?”
“Oh, Eva.” She hugged me. “I’m so glad.”
With my arms around her, I figured it was as good a time as any to start spreading the engagement
news. I knew Gideon wasn’t going to wait long before insisting on sharing our marriage with the
I said quietly, “He asked Dad for permission to marry me.”
“Did he?” When she pulled back, she was smiling. “He talked to Richard, too, which I think is such
a nice touch, don’t you? I’ve already started planning. I was thinking June, at the Pierre, of course.
“I suggest December, at the latest.”
My mother gasped, her eyes widening. “Don’t be ridiculous. There’s no way to pull off a wedding
in that amount of time. It’s impossible.”
I shrugged. “Tell Gideon you’re thinking of June next year. See what he says.”
“Well, I have to wait until he actually proposes first!”
“Right.” I kissed her cheek. “I’m going to get dressed.”

Entwined with You - Chapter 21

GIDEON AND I were sitting on the floor of my living room eating pizza in our sweats when Cary came
in a little after ten o’clock. Tatiana was with him. I reached across Gideon for a packet of Parmesan
cheese and whispered, “Baby mama.”
He winced. “She’s trouble. Poor guy.”
That was my thought exactly as the tall blonde walked in and wrinkled her nose rudely at our pizza.
Then she caught sight of Gideon and flashed a come-hither smile.
I took a deep breath and told myself to let it go.
“Hey, Cary,” Gideon greeted my best friend before tossing his arm over my shoulder and burying
his face in my neck.
“Hey,” Cary said. “What are you guys watching?”
“End of Watch,” I answered. “It’s really good. You two want to join us?”
“Sure.” Cary caught Tatiana’s hand and led her toward the couch.
She didn’t have the grace to hide her disapproval of the idea.
They sat on the couch and settled into a comfortable tangle that was obviously familiar for them.
Gideon pushed the pizza box their way. “Help yourselves, if you’re hungry.”
Cary snagged a slice, while Tatiana complained about him jostling her. I was bummed that she
couldn’t be more comfortable hanging out. If she was going to have Cary’s baby, she was going to be
in my life, and I hated the thought of that relationship being awkward.
In the end, they didn’t stay in the living room long. She insisted that the handheld camera shots in
the movie made her queasy, and Cary took her back to his room. A short while later, I thought I heard
her laughing, making me think her biggest problem was the need to keep Cary all to herself. I could
understand that insecurity. I was intimately familiar with it myself.
“Relax,” Gideon murmured, urging me to lean into his chest. “We’ll work it out with them. Give it
some time.”
I caught his left hand hanging over my shoulder and toyed with his ring.
He pressed his lips to my temple and we finished watching the movie.
ALTHOUGH Gideon slept in his apartment next door, he came over early enough to zip me into a sheath
dress and fix me some coffee. I’d just finished putting on some pearl earrings and was stepping into
the hallway when Tatiana appeared heading from the direction of the kitchen with two water bottles
in her hands.
She was buck naked.
My temper almost boiled over, but I kept my tone calm. The pregnancy certainly didn’t show, but
knowing about it was reason enough to skip the shouting match. “Excuse me. You need to have clothes
on if you’re going to walk around my apartment.”
“It’s not just your apartment,” she shot back, tossing her tawny mane over her shoulder as she
moved to pass me.
I thrust my arm across the hallway, blocking her way. “You don’t want to play games with me,
“Or what?”
“You’ll lose.”
She stared at me for a long minute. “He’ll pick me.”
“If it came to that, he’d resent you and you’d lose anyway.” I dropped my arm. “Think about that.”
Cary’s door opened behind me. “What the fuck are you doing, Tat?”
Turning my head, I saw my best friend filling his doorway wearing only his boxers. “Giving you a
good excuse to buy her a nice robe, Cary.”
His jaw tightened and he waved me off, opening his door wider in a silent order for Tatiana to get
her bare ass back in there.
I resumed my trek to the kitchen, my teeth grinding together. My mood worsened when I found
Gideon in the kitchen, leaning back into the counter and leisurely drinking his coffee. He wore a black
suit and pale gray tie and looked unbearably handsome.
“Enjoy the show?” I asked tightly. I hated that he’d seen another woman naked. And not just any
woman, but a model with the lean, willowy body type he’d been known to prefer.
He lifted one shoulder in a careless shrug. “Not especially.”
“You like ’em tall and skinny.” I reached for the cup of coffee waiting for me on the counter beside
him. Gideon set his left hand over mine. The rubies on his wedding band sparkled in the bright kitchen
lights. “Last I checked, the wife I can’t resist was petite and voluptuous. Spectacularly so.”
I closed my eyes, trying to push past my jealousy. “Do you know why I chose your ring?”
“Red is our color,” he said quietly. “Red dresses in limos. Red fuck-me heels at garden parties. A
red rose in your hair when you married me.”
That he understood soothed me. I turned into him, pressing my body to his.
“Umm,” he purred, hugging me close. “You’re a soft, delicious little handful, angel.”
I shook my head, my anger melting into exasperation.
He nuzzled his nose against my cheek. “I love you.”
“Gideon.” Tilting my head back, I offered my mouth and let him kiss my bad mood away.
The feel of his lips on mine never stopped making my toes curl. I was slightly dazed when he
pulled back and murmured, “I have my appointment with Dr. Petersen tonight. I’ll call you when I’m
finished and we’ll see what we want to do about dinner.”
He smiled at my blissfully nonchalant reply. “I can set up an appointment for us to see him
“Make it for next Thursday, please,” I said, sobering. “I hate to miss any more therapy, but Mom
wants me and Cary to go to a charity gala this Thursday. She bought me a dress and everything. I’m
afraid if I don’t go, she’ll take it the wrong way.”
“We’ll go together.”
“Yeah?” Gideon in a tuxedo was an aphrodisiac to me. Of course, Gideon in anything or nothing
turned me on, too. But in a tux … Dear God, he was sizzling.
“Yes. It’s as good a time as any to be seen out together again. And to announce our engagement.”
I licked my lips. “Can I take advantage of you in the limo?”
His eyes laughed at me. “By all means, angel mine.”
WHEN I got to work, Megumi wasn’t at her desk so I didn’t get to see how she was faring. It kind of
gave me an excuse to call Martin, though, and see if things with him and Lacey had panned out after
our wild night at Primal.
I pulled out my smartphone to program a reminder and saw that my mom had left a voice mail the
night before. I listened to it on the way to my desk. She wanted to see if I wanted hair and makeup
done before the dinner on Thursday, suggesting that she come over with a beauty crew and we could
get dolled up together.
When I reached my desk, I texted her back, letting her know I loved the idea, but time would be
tight, since I wouldn’t be getting off work until five.
I was settling in for the day when Will stopped by.
“Got plans for lunch?” he asked, looking cute in a plaid shirt only he could pull off so well and a
solid navy tie.
“Not another carb feast, please. My butt can’t take it.”
“No.” He grinned. “Natalie’s past the brutal phase of her diet, so it’s getting better. I was thinking a
soup and salad bar.”
I smiled. “I’m game for that. Want to see if Megumi wants to come?”
“She’s not here today.”
“Oh? Is she sick?”
“Don’t know. I only heard about it because I was the one who had to call the temp agency for
someone to cover for her.”
I sat back with a frown. “I’ll give her a call on my break and see how she’s feeling.”
“Tell her I said hi.” He drummed a beat on the top of my cubicle wall and headed off.
THE rest of the day passed in a blur. I left a message for Megumi on my break, then tried to reach her
again after work as Clancy drove me to Brooklyn for my Krav Maga class. “Have Lacey call me back
if you’re feeling too sick,” I said in my voice mail message. “I just want to know you’re okay.”
I killed the call, then sat back and appreciated the grandeur of the Brooklyn Bridge. Going through
the massive stone arches soaring over the East River always felt like traveling to a different world.
Below, the waterway was dotted with commuter ferries and a lone sailboat heading out into the busy
New York harbor.
We reached the long off-ramp in less than a minute and I turned my attention back to my phone.
I called Martin.
“Eva,” he answered cheerfully, clearly recognizing my number from his contact list. “I’m glad to
hear from you.”
“How are you?”
“I’m good. You?”
“Hanging in there. We should get together sometime.” I smiled at a cop who was artfully directing
traffic at the hugely complicated intersection on the Brooklyn side. She kept things moving with a
whistle between her teeth and fluid hand gestures that had serious sass to them. “We could grab a
drink after work or double-date for dinner.”
“I’d like that. Are you seeing someone in particular?”
“Gideon and I are working things out.”
“Gideon Cross? Well, if anyone can hook him, it’d be you.”
I laughed and wished I had my ring on. I didn’t wear it around during the day the way Gideon wore
his. He didn’t care who knew he was taken or by whom, but I still had everyone in my life to tell.
“Thanks for the vote of confidence. What about you? You seeing anyone?”
“Lacey and I are dabbling. I like her. She’s a lot of fun.”
“That’s great. I’m glad to hear it. Listen, if you talk to her today, can you ask her to let me know
how Megumi’s doing? She’s out sick and I just want to make sure she’s all right and doesn’t need
“Sure thing.” The receiver filled with a sudden rush of noise, the unmistakable sound of him
stepping outside. “Lacey’s out of town, but she’s supposed to give me a call tonight.”
“Thank you. I appreciate it. You’re on the move, so I’ll let you go. Let’s plan on getting together
next week and we’ll work out the details in the next couple of days.”
“Sounds good. I’m glad you called.”
I smiled. “Me, too.”
We hung up and because I felt like reaching out, I sent a text to Shawna and another to Brett. Just
quick hellos with smiley faces.
When I looked up, I caught Clancy looking at me in the rearview mirror.
“How’s Mom?” I asked.
“She’ll be fine,” he said, in his usual no-nonsense way.
I nodded and looked out the window, catching sight of a gleaming steel bus stop shelter displaying
Cary’s billboard. “Family is so hard sometimes, you know.”
“I know.”
“You have any brothers or sisters, Clancy?”
“One of each.”
What were they like? Were they tough as nails and deadly like Clancy? Or was he the black sheep?
“Are you close, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“We’re tight. My sister lives out of state, so I don’t see her much, but we talk on the phone once a
week at least. My brother’s in New York, so we catch up more often.”
“Cool.” I tried to picture a relaxed Clancy tossing back beers with someone who resembled him,
but couldn’t pull it off. “Does he work security, too?”
“Not yet.” His mouth did that little lip twitch, almost-smile thing. “He’s with the FBI for now.”
“Is your sister in law enforcement?”
“She’s in the Marines.”
“Whoa. Awesome.”
“Yes, she is.”
I studied him and his military crew cut. “You were in the service, too, weren’t you?”
“I was.” He didn’t volunteer any more than that.
When I opened my mouth to pry further, we turned a corner and I realized we’d reached the former
warehouse where Parker had his studio.
I grabbed my gym bag and got out before Clancy could open the door for me. “See you in an hour!”
“Knock ’em out, Eva,” he said, watching me until I got inside.
The door had barely closed behind me when I saw a familiar brunette I would’ve rather not seen
again. Ever. She stood to the side, just off the training mats, with her arms crossed. She was dressed
in black workout pants with a bright blue stripe down the sides that matched her fitted long-sleeve
shirt. Her brown curly hair was scraped back into an unforgiving ponytail.
She turned. Cool blue eyes raked me from head to toe.
Facing the inevitable, I took a deep breath and approached her. “Detective Graves.”
“Eva.” She gave me a curt nod. “Great tan.”
“Cross take you away for the weekend?”
Not exactly a casual question. My back went up. “I had some time off.”
Her thin mouth quirked on one side. “Still cautious. Good. What does your dad think of Cross?”
“I believe my dad trusts my judgment.”
Graves nodded. “I’d keep thinking about Nathan Barker’s bracelet if I were you. But then, loose
ends make me twitchy.”
A shiver of unease ran down my back. The whole thing made me twitchy, but who could I talk to
about it? No one but Gideon, and I knew him too well to doubt that he was doing everything in his
considerable power to solve that mystery.
“I need a sparring partner,” the detective said suddenly. “You’re up.”
“Uh, what?” I blinked at her. “Is that … ? Can we … ?”
“The case has gone cold, Eva.” She stalked onto the mat and began to stretch. “Hurry up. I don’t
have all night.”
GRAVES kicked my ass. For such a rail-thin, wiry woman, she packed some strength. She was focused,
precise, and ruthless. I actually learned a lot from her over the hour and a half we sparred, most
especially never to let down my guard. She was lightning quick and swift to exploit any advantage.
When I stumbled into my apartment a little after eight, I headed straight to the bathtub. I soaked in
vanilla-scented water, surrounded by candles, and hoped Gideon would show up before I pruned.
He ended up coming in just as I was wrapping a towel around me, his damp hair and jeans telling
me he’d showered after a visit with his trainer.
“Hi, ace.”
“Hi, wife.” He came up to me, tugged open my towel, and lowered his head to my breast.
My breath left me when he sucked a nipple into his mouth, drawing rhythmically until it hardened.
Straightening, he admired his handiwork. “God, you’re sexy.”
I lifted onto my tiptoes and kissed his chin. “How’d things go tonight?”
He looked at me with a wry curve to his lips. “Dr. Petersen congratulated us, then went on about
how important couples therapy would be.”
“He thinks we got married too soon.”
Gideon laughed. “He didn’t even want us having sex, Eva.”
Wrinkling my nose, I resecured my towel and grabbed a comb for my wet hair.
“Let me,” he said, taking the comb and leading me to the wide lip of the tub. He urged me to sit.
As he combed my hair, I told him about seeing Detective Graves at my Krav Maga class.
“My lawyers tell me the case has been shelved,” Gideon said.
“How do you feel about that?”
“You’re safe. That’s all that matters.”
There was no inflection in his voice, which told me it mattered to him more than he’d tell me. I
knew that somewhere, deep down inside him, Nathan’s murder was haunting him. Because I was
haunted by what Gideon had done for me and we were two halves of the same soul.
That was why Gideon had wanted us to get married so badly. I was his safe place. I was the one
person who knew every dark, tormented secret he had, and I loved him desperately anyway. And he
needed love more than anyone I’d ever met.
There was a vibration against my shoulder and I teased, “Is that a new toy in your pocket, ace?”
“Should’ve turned the damn thing off,” he muttered, digging his phone out. He looked at the screen,
then answered with a clipped, “Cross.”
I heard a woman’s agitated voice coming through the receiver, but I couldn’t make out the words.
“When?” After hearing the answer, he asked, “Where? Yes. I’m on my way.”
He hung up and raked a hand through his hair.
I stood. “What’s wrong?”
“Corinne’s in the hospital. My mother says it’s bad.”
“I’ll get dressed. What happened?”
Gideon looked at me. Goose bumps swept across my skin. I’d never seen him look so … shattered.
“Pills,” he said hoarsely. “She swallowed a bottle of pills.”
WE took the DB9. While we waited for the attendant to bring the car to us, Gideon called Raúl, telling
him to meet us at the hospital to take over the Aston Martin when we arrived.
When Gideon slid behind the wheel, he drove with tight focus; every turn of the wheel and press of
the accelerator was skilled and precise. Enclosed in the small space with him, I knew he’d shut
down. Emotionally, he was unreachable. When I placed my hand on his knee to offer comfort and
support, he didn’t even twitch. I wasn’t sure he even felt it.
Raúl was waiting for us when we pulled up to the emergency room. He opened the door for me,
then rounded the hood and took the driver’s seat after Gideon got out. The gleaming car was moved
out of the drop-off driveway before we walked through the automatic doors.
I took Gideon’s hand, but I wasn’t sure he felt that, either. His attention was riveted on his mother,
who stood when we entered the private waiting area we’d been directed to. Elizabeth Vidal barely
glanced at me, going straight to her son and hugging him.
He didn’t hug her back. But he also didn’t pull away. His grip on my hand tightened.
Mrs. Vidal didn’t even acknowledge me. Instead, she turned her back to me and gestured at the
couple seated together nearby. They were clearly Corinne’s parents. They’d been talking to Elizabeth
when Gideon and I came in, which seemed odd to me since Jean-François Giroux was standing alone
by the window, looking as much like an outsider as Elizabeth was making me feel.
Gideon’s hold on my hand slackened as his mother pulled him toward Corinne’s family. Feeling
awkward standing in the doorway alone, I went to Jean-François.
I greeted him softly. “I’m very sorry.”
He looked at me with dead eyes, his face seeming to have aged a decade since we’d met at the
wine bar the day before. “What are you doing here?”
“Mrs. Vidal called Gideon.”
“Of course she did.” He looked over to the seating area. “One would think he was her husband and
not I.”
I followed his gaze. Gideon was crouched in front of Corinne’s parents, holding her mother’s hand.
A sick feeling of dread spread through me, making me cold.
“She would rather be dead than live without him,” he said tonelessly.
I looked back at him. Suddenly, I understood. “You told her, didn’t you? About our engagement.”
“And look how well she took the news.”
Jesus. I took a shaky step toward the wall, needing the support. How could she not know what a
suicide attempt would do to Gideon? She couldn’t be that blind. Or had his reaction, his guilt, been
her aim all along? It made me sick to think of anyone being that manipulative, but there was no
denying the result. Gideon was back at her side. At least for now.
A doctor entered the room, a kind-looking woman with cropped silvery blond hair and faded blue
eyes. “Mr. Giroux?”
“Oui.” Jean-François stepped forward.
“I’m Dr. Steinberg. I’m treating your wife. Could we speak privately for a moment?”
Corinne’s father stood. “We’re her family.”
Dr. Steinberg smiled gently. “I understand. However, it’s Corinne’s husband I need to speak with. I
can tell you that Corinne will be fine after a few days’ rest.”
She and Giroux stepped out of the room, which effectively cut off the sound of their voices, but they
were still visible through a glass wall. Giroux towered over the much shorter doctor, but whatever
she said to him had him crumbling visibly. The tension in the waiting room ratcheted up to an
unbearable degree. Gideon stood beside his mother, his attention snared by the heartrending scene
unfolding before us.
Dr. Steinberg reached out and placed a hand on Jean-François’s arm, still speaking. After a
moment, she stopped and left him. He just stood there, staring at the floor, his shoulders slumped as if
a great weight pressed down on them.
I was about to go to him, when Gideon moved first. The moment he stepped outside the waiting
room, Giroux lunged at him.
The thud as the two men collided was teeth-rattling in its violence. The room shook as Gideon
slammed into the thick glass wall.
Someone shouted in surprise, then yelled for security.
Gideon threw Giroux off and blocked a punch. Then he ducked, avoiding a blow to the face. Jean-
François bellowed something, his face contorted with fury and pain.
Corinne’s father rushed out at the same moment security arrived with stun guns drawn and aimed.
Gideon shoved Jean-François off again, defending himself without once throwing a punch of his own.
His face was stony, his eyes cold and nearly as lifeless as Giroux’s.
Giroux shouted at Gideon. With the door left open by Corinne’s father, I caught part of what was
said. The word enfant needed no translation. Everything inside me went deathly still, all sound lost to
the buzzing in my ears.
Everyone rushed out of the room as both Gideon and Giroux were flex-cuffed and hustled toward a
service elevator by the guards. I blinked when Angus appeared in the doorway, certain I was
imagining him.
“Mrs. Cross,” he said softly, approaching me carefully with his cap in his hands.
I could only imagine how I looked. I was stuck on the word baby and what that could possibly
mean. After all, Corinne had been in New York as long as I’d known Gideon … but her husband
hadn’t been.
“I’ve come to take you home.”
I frowned. “Where’s Gideon?”
“He texted me and asked me to come get you.”
My confusion turned into a sharp pain. “But he needs me.”
Angus took a deep breath, his eyes filled with something that looked like pity. “Come with me,
Eva. It’s late.”
“He doesn’t want me here,” I said flatly, latching on to the one thing I was beginning to
“He wants you home and comfortable.”
My feet felt rooted to the floor. “Is that what the text said?”
“That’s what he’s thinking.”
“You’re being kind.” I started to walk, running on autopilot.
I passed one of the orderlies picking up the mess made when Giroux had been shoved into a cart of
supplies. The way he avoided looking at me seemed to confirm the harsh reality.
I’d been set aside.

Entwined with You - Chapter 20

IT WAS WEIRD going to work on Monday morning and having no one realize my life was profoundly
different. Who knew how much saying a few words and slipping on a ring of metal could change a
person’s perception of themselves?
I wasn’t just Eva, the New York newbie trying to make it on her own in the big city with her best
friend. I was a mogul’s wife. I had a whole new set of responsibilities and expectations. Just thinking
about it intimidated me.
Megumi stood as she buzzed me through the security doors at Waters Field & Leaman. She was
dressed with unusual sedateness in a black sleeveless dress with an asymmetrical hemline and bright
fuchsia heels. “Wow. You’ve got an amazing tan! I’m so jealous.”
“Thanks. How’d your weekend go?”
“Same old, same old. Michael stopped calling.” Her nose wrinkled. “I miss the harassment. Made
me feel wanted.”
I shook my head at her. “You’re nuts.”
“I know. So tell me where you went. And did you go with the rock star or Cross?”
“My lips are sealed.” Although I was tempted to reveal everything. The only thing that held me
back was that I hadn’t told Cary yet and he needed to come first.
“No way!” Her dark eyes narrowed. “Are you seriously not going to tell me?”
“Of course I will.” I winked. “Just not right now.”
“I know where you work, you know,” she called after me as I headed down the hallway to my
When I reached my desk, I got ready to type a quick text to Cary and discovered that he’d sent me a
few over the weekend that hadn’t come through until later. They certainly hadn’t been there when I’d
placed my usual Saturday call to my dad.
Wanna have lunch? I texted.
When I didn’t get a reply right away, I silenced my phone and set it in my top drawer.
“Where did you spend the weekend?” Mark asked me as he came in to work. “You’ve got a great
“Thanks. I lazed it up in the Caribbean.”
“Really? I’ve been scoping out the islands for possible honeymoon spots. Would you recommend it
for that, wherever you stayed?”
I laughed, happier than I’d been in long time. Maybe in forever. “Absolutely.”
“Get me the deets. I’ll add the spot to the list of possibilities.”
“You have honeymoon scouting duty?” I stood so we could grab coffee together before we started
the day.
“Yep.” Mark’s mouth quirked on one side. “I’ll leave the wedding stuff to Steven, since he’s been
planning for so long. But the honeymoon is mine.”
He sounded so happy, and I knew just how he felt. His good mood made the start of my day even
THE smooth sailing ended when Cary called my desk phone shortly after ten o’clock.
“Mark Garrity’s office,” I answered. “Eva Tramell—”
“—needs an ass-kicking,” Cary finished. “I can’t remember the last time I was this mad at you.”
I frowned, my stomach tightening. “Cary, what’s wrong?”
“I’m not going to talk about important shit on the phone, Eva, unlike some people I know. I’ll meet
you for lunch. And just so you’re aware, I turned down a go-see this afternoon to set you straight,
because that’s what friends do,” he said angrily. “They make time in their schedule to talk about
things that matter. They don’t leave cutesy voice-mail messages and think that handles it!”
The line went dead. I sat there, shocked and a bit scared.
Everything in my life ground to a screeching halt. Cary was my anchor. When things weren’t right
with us, I scattered real quick. And I knew it was the same for him. When we were out of touch, he
started fucking up.
I dug out my cell phone and called him back.
“What?” he snapped. But it was a good sign that he’d answered.
“If I screwed up,” I said quickly, “I’m sorry and I’ll fix it. Okay?”
He made a rough sound. “You fucking piss me off, Eva.”
“Yeah, well, I’m good at pissing people off, if you haven’t noticed, but I hate when I do it to you.” I
sighed. “It’s going to drive me nuts, Cary, until we can work it out. I need us solid, you know that.”
“You haven’t acted like it matters lately,” he said gruffly. “I’m an afterthought and that fucking
“I’m always thinking about you. If I haven’t shown it, that’s my bad.”
He didn’t say anything.
“I love you, Cary. Even when I’m messing up.”
He exhaled into the receiver. “Get back to work and don’t stress about this. We’ll deal with it at
“I’m sorry. Really.”
“See you at noon.”
I hung up and tried to concentrate, but it was hard. It was one thing having Cary angry with me; it
was totally another to know I’d hurt him. I was one of the very few people in his life he trusted not to
let him down.
AT eleven thirty, I received a small pile of interoffice envelopes. I was thrilled when one of them
revealed a note from Gideon.
My feet tapped out a little happy dance beneath my desk. My skewed day righted itself a little.
I wrote him back.
Dark and Dangerous,
I’m madly in love with you.
Your ball and chain,
Mrs. X
I tucked it in an envelope and dropped it in my out-box.
I was drafting a reply to the artist working on a gift card campaign when my desk phone rang. I
answered with my usual greeting and heard a reply in a familiar French accent.
“Eva, it’s Jean-François Giroux.”
Sitting back in my chair, I said, “Bonjour, Monsieur Giroux.”
“What time is best for us to meet today?”
What the hell did he want from me? I supposed if I wanted to know, I’d have to follow through.
“Five o’clock? There’s a wine bar not too far from the Crossfire.”
“That would be fine.”
I gave him directions and he hung up, leaving me feeling somewhat whiplashed by the call. I
swiveled in my chair, thinking. Gideon and I were trying to move forward with our lives, but people
and issues from our pasts were still trying to hold us back. Would the announcement of our marriage,
or even an engagement, change that?
God, I hoped so. But was anything ever that easy?
Glancing at the clock, I refocused on work and returned to writing my e-mail.
I was down in the lobby by five after noon, but Cary hadn’t arrived yet. As I waited for him, my
nerves started getting to me. I’d gone over my brief conversation with Cary again and again and knew
he was right. I had convinced myself he’d be okay with having Gideon join our living arrangements
because I couldn’t imagine facing the alternative—having to choose between my best friend and my
And now there was no choice. I was married. Ecstatically so.
Still, I found myself grateful that I’d tucked my wedding ring into the zippered pocket of my purse.
If Cary felt a growing distance between us, finding out I’d gotten hitched over the weekend wouldn’t
My stomach twisted. The secrets between us were mounting. I couldn’t stand it.
I jerked out of my thoughts at the sound of my best friend’s voice. He was striding toward me
wearing loose-fitting cargo shorts and a V-neck T-shirt. He kept his shades on, and with his hands
shoved in his pockets, he seemed distant and cool. Heads turned as he walked by and he didn’t notice,
his attention on me.
My feet moved. I was hurrying toward him before I thought of it, then ran straight into him so hard,
his breath left him with a grunt. I hugged him, my cheek pressed to his chest.
“I missed you,” I said, meaning it with all my heart, even though he wouldn’t know exactly why.
He muttered something under his breath and hugged me. “Pain in the ass sometimes, baby girl.”
Pulling back, I looked up at him. “I’m sorry.”
He linked his fingers with mine and led me out of the Crossfire. We went to the place with the great
tacos that we’d gone to the last time he had met me for lunch. They also had great slushy virgin
margaritas, which were perfect on a steamy summer day.
After waiting in line about ten minutes, I ordered only two tacos, since I hadn’t hit the gym in way
too long. Cary ordered six. We snagged a table just as its former occupants cleared away, and Cary
inhaled a taco before I’d barely taken the wrapper off my straw.
“I’m sorry about the voice mail,” I said.
“You don’t get it.” He swiped a napkin across lips that turned sane women into giggling girls when
he smiled. “It’s the whole situation, Eva. You leave me a message telling me to think about sharing a
place with Cross, after you tell your mom that it’s a done deal and before you fall off the face of the
earth for the weekend. I guess however I feel about it means jack shit to you.”
“That’s not true!”
“Why would you want a roommate when you’re living with a boyfriend anyway?” he asked, clearly
getting warmed up. “And why would you think I’d want to be a third wheel?”
“I don’t need any fucking handouts, Eva.” His emerald eyes narrowed. “I’ve got places I can crash,
other people I can room with. Don’t do me any favors.”
My chest tightened. I wasn’t ready to let Cary go yet. Someday in the future, we’d be heading our
separate ways, maybe only seeing each other on special occasions. But that time wasn’t now. It
couldn’t be. Just thinking about it screwed with my head.
“Who says I’m doing it for you?” I shot back. “Maybe I just can’t bear the thought of not having you
He snorted and ripped a bite out of his taco. Chewing angrily, he swallowed his food down with a
long draw on his straw. “What am I, your three-year chip marking your recovery? Your celebratory
token for Eva Anonymous?”
“Excuse me.” I leaned forward. “You’re mad, I get it. I’ve said I’m sorry. I love you and I love
having you in my life, but I’m not going to sit here and get kicked because I fucked up.”
I pushed away from the table and stood. “I’ll catch you later.”
“You and Cross getting married?”
Pausing, I looked down at him. “He asked. I said yes.”
Cary nodded, as if that were no surprise, and took another bite. I grabbed my purse from where it
hung on the back of my chair.
“Are you afraid of living alone with him?” he asked around his chewing.
Of course he’d think that. “No. He’ll be sleeping in his own bedroom.”
“Has he been sleeping in a separate room the last few weekends you’ve been shacking up with
I stared. Did he know for a fact that Gideon was the “loverman” I’d been spending time with? Or
was he just fishing? I decided I didn’t care. I was tired of lying to him. “Mostly, yes.”
He set his taco down. “Finally, some truth out of you. I was beginning to think you’d forgotten how
to be honest.”
“Fuck you.”
Grinning, he gestured at my vacant chair. “Sit your ass back down, baby girl. We’re not done
“You’re being a jerk.”
His smile faded and his gaze hardened. “Being lied to for weeks makes me cranky. Sit down.”
I sat and glared at him. “There? Happy?”
“Eat. I’ve got shit to say.”
Exhaling my frustration, I slung my purse over the chair again and faced him with my brows raised.
“If you think,” he began, “that being sober and working steadily broke my bullshit meter, now you
know better. I knew you were nailing Cross again from the moment you started back up.”
Biting into my taco, I shot him a skeptical look.
“Eva honey, don’t you think that if there were another man in New York who could bang it out all
night like Cross, I would’ve found him by now?”
I coughed and nearly spit out my food.
“No one’s lucky enough to find two guys like that in a row,” he drawled. “Not even you. You
should’ve had a dry spell or at least a couple of really bad lays first.”
I threw my wadded-up straw wrapper at him, which he dodged with a laugh.
Then he sobered. “Did you think I would judge you for getting back together with him after he
jacked up?”
“It’s more complicated than that, Cary. Things were … a mess. There was a lot of pressure. Still
is, with that reporter stalking Gideon—”
“Stalking him?”
“Totally. I just didn’t want …” You exposed. Vulnerable. Open to accusation as an accomplice
after the fact. “I just had to let it play out,” I finished lamely.
He let that sink in, then nodded. “And now you’re going to marry him.”
“Yes.” I took a drink, needing to loosen the lump in my throat. “But you’re the only one who knows
that besides us.”
“Finally, a secret you let me in on.” His lips pursed for a few seconds. “And you still want me to
live with you.”
I leaned forward again, holding out my hand for his. “I know you can do something else, go
somewhere else. But I’d rather you didn’t. I’m not ready to be without you yet, married or not.”
He gripped my hand so tightly, my bones pressed together. “Eva—”
“Wait,” I said quickly. He was far too serious all of a sudden. I didn’t want him to cut me off
before I put everything out there. “Gideon’s penthouse has an adjacent one-bedroom apartment he
doesn’t use.”
“A one-bedroom apartment. On Fifth Avenue.”
“Yeah. Great, right? All yours. Your own space and entrance and view of Central Park. But still
connected to me. The best of both worlds.” I rushed on, hoping to say something he’d latch on to.
“We’ll stay on the Upper West Side for a bit, while I make changes to the penthouse. Gideon says we
can have whatever changes you want made to your apartment done at the same time.”
“My apartment.” He stared at me, which made me even more nervous. A man and a woman tried to
squeeze between our table and the back of an occupied chair that was pushed too far out into the
walkway, but I ignored them.
“I’m not talking about a handout,” I assured him. “I’ve been thinking that I’d like to put that money
I’ve been sitting on to work. Create a foundation or something to decide how to use it in support of
causes and charities we believe in. I need your help. And I’ll pay you for it. Not just for your input,
but for your face. I want you to be the foundation’s first spokesperson.”
Cary’s grip on my hand slackened.
Alarmed, I tightened mine. “Cary?”
His shoulders sagged. “Tatiana’s pregnant.”
“What?” I felt the blood drain from my face. The little restaurant was hopping, and the shouting of
orders behind the counter and the clatter of trays and utensils made it hard to hear, but I’d caught the
two words that fell out of Cary’s mouth as if he’d shouted them at me. “Are you kidding?”
“I wish.” He pulled his hand away and scooped back the bangs that draped over one eye. “Not that
I don’t want a kid. That part’s cool. But … fuck. Not now, you know? And not with her.”
“How the hell did she get pregnant?” Cary was religious about protecting himself, knowing damn
well he lived a high-risk lifestyle.
“Well, I shoved my dick in her and pushed it around—”
“Shut up,” I bit out. “You’re careful.”
“Yeah, well, putting a sock on it isn’t guaranteed protection,” he said wearily, “and Tat doesn’t
take the pill because she says it makes her break out and eat too much.”
“Jesus.” My eyes stung. “Are you sure it’s yours?”
He snorted. “No, but that doesn’t mean it’s not. She’s six weeks along, so it’s possible.”
I had to ask. “Is she going to keep it?”
“I don’t know. She’s thinking it over.”
“Cary …” I couldn’t hold back the tear that slid down my cheek. My heart was aching for him.
“What are you going to do?”
“What can I do?” He slumped back in his chair. “It’s her decision.”
His powerlessness had to be killing him. After his mother had given birth to him, unwanted, she’d
used abortion as birth control. I knew that haunted him. He’d told me so. “And if she decides to go
through with the pregnancy? You’ll have a paternity test done, right?”
“God, Eva.” He looked at me with reddened eyes. “I haven’t thought that far ahead yet. What the
hell am I supposed to say to Trey? Things are just starting to smooth out between us and I’ve got to hit
him with this? He’s going to dump me. It’s over.”
Sucking in a deep breath, I straightened in my chair. I couldn’t let Cary and Trey fall apart. Now
that Gideon and I were good, it was time to fix all the other areas of my life I’d been neglecting.
“We’ll take it a step at a time. Figure things out as we go. We’ll get through this.”
He swallowed hard. “I need you.”
“I need you, too. We’ll stick together and work it out.” I managed a smile. “I’m not going anywhere
and neither are you. Except to San Diego this weekend,” I amended hastily, reminding myself to talk
to Gideon about that.
“Thank God.” Cary sat forward again. “What I wouldn’t give to shoot hoops at Dr. Travis’s right
“Yeah.” I didn’t play basketball, but I knew I could use a one-on-one with Dr. Travis myself.
What would he say when he learned how far off the rails we’d slid in the few months we’d been in
New York? We had spun some big dreams the last time we’d all sat down together. Cary had wanted
to star in a Super Bowl ad and I’d wanted to be the one behind the scenes of that ad. Now he was
facing the possibility of a baby and I was married to the most complicated man I had ever met.
“Dr. Trav’s gonna flip,” Cary muttered, reading my mind.
For some reason, that made us both laugh ’til we cried.
WHEN I got back to my desk, I found another small pile of interoffice envelopes. Catching my lower
lip between my teeth, I searched each one until I found the one I was hoping for.
Some of the dark clouds from lunch floated away.
AFTER Cary’s mind-blowing revelation, meeting Giroux after work barely registered on my whatelse-
could-possibly-go-wrong-next scale.
He was already at the wine bar when I arrived. Dressed in perfectly pressed khakis and white
dress shirt rolled up at the sleeves and open at the throat, he looked good. Casual. But that didn’t
make him seem more relaxed. The man was strung tight as a bow, vibrating with tension and whatever
else was eating at him.
“Eva,” he greeted me. With that overt friendliness I hadn’t liked the first time, he kissed me on both
cheeks again. “Enchanté.”
“Not too blond for you today, I take it?”
“Ah.” He gave me a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “I deserved that.”
I joined him at his table by the window and we were served shortly after.
The place had the look of an establishment that had been around a long time. Tin tiles covered the
ceiling, while the aged hardwood floors and intricately carved bar suggested the place had been a pub
at some point in its history. It had been modernized with chrome fixtures and a wine rack behind the
bar that could have been an abstract sculpture.
Giroux openly studied me as the server poured our wine. I had no idea what he was looking for, but
he was definitely searching for something.
As I took a sip of a lovely shiraz, he settled comfortably in his chair and swirled his wine around
in his glass. “You’ve met my wife.”
“I have, yes. She’s very beautiful.”
“Yes, she is.” His gaze dropped to his wine. “What else did you think of her?”
“Why does it matter what I think?”
He looked at me again. “Do you see her as a rival? Or a threat?”
“Neither.” I took another drink and noticed a black Bentley SUV easing into a tight spot at the curb
just outside the window I sat beside. Angus was behind the wheel and apparently uncaring of the No
PARKING sign he was camping out in front of.
“You are that certain of Cross?”
My attention returned to Giroux. “Yes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wish you would pack up your
wife and take her back to France with you.”
His mouth quirked on one side in a grim smile. “You are in love with Cross, yes?”
That made me smile. “If you think you can figure out what Corinne sees in him by what I see in him,
forget it. He and I, we’re … different with each other than we are with other people.”
“I saw that. With him.” Giroux took a drink, savoring it before swallowing.
“Forgive me, but I don’t know why we’re sitting here. What do you want from me?”
“Are you always so direct?”
“Yes.” I shrugged. “I get impatient with being confused.”
“Then I will be direct as well.” He reached out and caught my left hand. “You have a tan line from
a ring. A sizable one, it appears. An engagement ring, perhaps?”
I looked at my hand and saw he was right. There was a square-sized spot on my ring finger that was
a few shades lighter than the rest of my skin. Unlike my mother, who was pale, I’d inherited my
father’s warm skin tone and I tanned easily.
“You’re very perceptive. But I would appreciate you keeping your speculations to yourself.”
He smiled and for the first time, it was genuine. “Perhaps I will get my wife back after all.”
“I think you could, if you tried.” I sat up, deciding it was time to leave. “You know what your wife
told me once? She said you’re indifferent. Instead of waiting for her to come back, you should just
take her back. I think that’s what she wants.”
He stood when I did, standing over me. “She has chased Cross. I do not think a woman who chases
will find a man chasing her attractive.”
“I don’t know about that.” I pulled a twenty out of my pocket and set it on the table, despite his
scowl at the sight of it. “She said yes when you asked her to marry you, didn’t she? Whatever you did
before, do it again. Good-bye, Jean-François.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but I was already halfway out the door.
ANGUS was waiting beside the Bentley when I exited the wine bar.
“Would you like to go home, Mrs. Cross?” he asked, as I slipped into the back.
His greeting made me grin. Combined with my recent conversation with Giroux, it sparked an idea.
“Actually, I’d like to make a stop, if you don’t mind.”
“Not at all.”
I gave him directions, then sat back and relished the building anticipation.
IT was half past six when I was ready to call it a day, but when I asked Angus where Gideon was, I
learned he was still in his office.
“Will you take me to him?” I asked.
“Of course.”
Returning to the Crossfire after hours was weird. Although there were still people moving through
the lobby, it had a different feel from the daytime. When I reached the top floor, I found the glass
security doors to Cross Industries propped open and a cleaning crew at work emptying trash cans,
wiping down the glass, and vacuuming.
I headed directly to Gideon’s office, noting the number of empty desks, which included that of
Scott, his assistant. Gideon stood behind his, an earpiece in his ear, and his jacket hung on the coat
rack in the corner. His hands were on his hips and he was talking, his lips moving rapidly and his face
a mask of concentration.
The wall across from him was covered in flat screens streaming news from around the world. To
the right of that was a bar with jeweled decanters on lighted glass shelves that were the only spot of
color in the office’s cool palette of black, white, and gray. Three distinct seating areas offered
comfortable spaces for less formal meetings, while Gideon’s black desk was a miracle of modern
technology, serving as the conduit for all the electronics in the room.
Surrounded by his expensive toys, my husband looked nothing short of edible. The beautifully
tailored lines of his vest and pants showed off the perfection of his body, and the sight of him at his
command center, wielding the power that had built his empire, did crazy things to my heart. The floorto-
ceiling windows that surrounded him on two sides allowed the view of the city to make an
imposing backdrop, yet the vista didn’t diminish him in any way.
Gideon was master of all he surveyed, and it showed.
Reaching into my purse, I unzipped the small pocket and drew out the rings inside it, slipping mine
on. Then I stepped closer to the glass wall and double doors that separated him from everyone else.
His head swiveled toward me and his gaze heated at the sight of me. He hit a button on his desk,
and the double doors swung open automatically. A moment later, the glass turned opaque, ensuring
that no one lingering in the office would be able to see us.
I went in.
“I agree,” he said, to whomever he was talking to. “Get it done and report back to me.”
As he pulled off his earpiece and dropped it on his desk, his gaze never left me. “You’re a
welcome surprise, angel. Tell me about your meeting with Giroux.”
I shrugged. “How did you know?”
His mouth tilted up on one side and he shot me a look that said, Really? You’re going to ask?
“Are you here for a while?” I queried.
“I have a conference call with the Japanese division in half an hour, then I’m done. We’ll go to
dinner afterward.”
“Let’s get something to take home and eat with Cary. He’s having a baby.”
Gideon’s brows shot up. “Come again?”
“Well, he might be having a baby.” I sighed. “He’s messed up over it and I want to be there for
him. Plus, he should get used to having you around again.”
He raked me with an assessing glance. “You’re messed up over it, too. Come here.” He rounded
the desk and opened his arms. “Let me hold you.”
I dropped my purse on the floor, kicked off my heels, and walked right into him. His arms came
around me, and his lips, so firm and warm, pressed against my forehead.
“We’ll figure it out,” he murmured. “Don’t worry.”
“I love you, Gideon.”
His embrace tightened.
Leaning back, I looked up into his gorgeous face. His eyes were so blue, seemingly even more so
with the touch of sun he’d gotten during our trip away. “I have something for you.”
I backed up, catching his left hand before it dropped away from me. Holding it, I slid the ring I’d
just bought him onto his finger, twisting it to fit over his last knuckle. He was still the entire time.
When I released his hand so he could get a better look, it didn’t move at all from where it’d been
when I was holding it, as if he’d frozen in place.
Canting my head, I admired the ring on him, thinking it had just the effect I was looking for. But
when a moment passed without a word from him, I looked up and saw him staring at his hand as if
he’d never seen it before.
My heart sank. “You don’t like it.”
His nostrils flared on a deep breath and he turned over his hand to look at the backside, which was
the same. The design I’d chosen wrapped continuously around.
The platinum wedding band was very much like the ring he wore on his right hand. It had the same
beveled grooves cut into the precious metal, which gave it a similar industrial, masculine look. But
the wedding band was garnished with rubies, making it impossible to miss. The bloodred hue stood
out against his tanned skin and dark suits, a conspicuous sign of my possession.
“It’s too much,” I said quietly.
“It’s always too much,” he said hoarsely. And then he was on me, his hands cupping my head and
his lips on mine, kissing me fiercely.
I grabbed his wrists, but he moved too quickly, lifting me up by the waist so my feet left the floor,
and then carrying me to the same couch where he’d first laid his body over mine so many weeks ago.
“You don’t have time for this,” I gasped.
He sat me down with my butt on the edge of the sofa. “This won’t take long.”
He wasn’t kidding. Reaching beneath my skirt, he slid my panties down my legs, then spread them
wide and lowered his head.
There in his office, where I’d just admired his power and commanding presence, Gideon Cross
knelt between my thighs and ate me with ruthless skill. His tongue fluttered over my clit until I
writhed with the need to come, but it was the sight of him—in his suit, in his office, servicing me so
thoroughly—that brought me to climax with a cry of his name.
I was shivering with pleasure while he licked inside me, the sensitive tissues trembling around the
shallow plunges of his wickedly knowledgeable tongue. When he opened his fly and freed his
erection, I was desperate for him, my body arching toward him in a shameless silent plea.
Gideon took the heavy length of his cock in hand and stroked the thick crest through my cleft,
coating himself in the slickness of my orgasm. The fact that we were both still dressed except for
what we needed to get out of the way made it all the hotter.
“I want you to submit,” he said darkly. “Bend over and spread wide. I’m going to fuck you deep.”
A whimper escaped me at the thought and I scrambled to obey. Aware of how tall he was, I moved
to the side of the couch and folded over the armrest, reaching behind me to pull up my skirt.
He didn’t hesitate. With a powerful thrust of his hips, he was inside me, stretching me. “Eva.”
Gasping, I clawed at the sofa cushions. He was thick and hard and so, so deep. With my stomach
pressed over the curve of the couch arm, I swore I could feel him pressing outward from the inside.
Folding over me, he wrapped his arms around me and sank his teeth into the side of my neck. The
primitive claiming made my sex clench around him, caressing him.
He growled and ran his lips over me, lightly abrading me with the hint of evening stubble on his
jaw. “You feel so good,” he said hoarsely. “I love fucking you.”
“Give me your hands.”
Unsure of what he wanted, I slid my arms closer to my body and he circled my wrists with his
fingers, pulling my hands gently around to the small of my back.
Then he was fucking me. Pounding into my sex with relentless drives, using my arms to pull me
back to meet the thrusts of his hips. His heavy sac smacked against my clitoris, the rhythmic slaps
spurring me toward another orgasm. He grunted on every plunge, mirroring my cries.
His race to orgasm was wildly exciting, as was his complete control of my body. I could only lie
there and take it, take his lust and hunger, servicing him as he had me. The friction of his thrusts was
delicious, a steady rubbing and pulling that made me crazed with desire.
I wished I could see him; see his eyes when they lost their focus and pleasure took him, his face a
grimace of agonized ecstasy. I loved that I could affect him so fiercely, that my body felt so good to
him, that sex with me shattered his defenses.
He shuddered and cursed. His cock lengthened, thickening as his balls tightened and drew up. “Eva
… Christ. I love you.”
I felt the lash of his semen inside me, pumping hot and thick. I bit my lip to stem my cry. I was so
hot for him, so close.
Releasing my wrists, he wrapped me up, the fingers of one hand sliding into my cleft and rubbing
my swollen clit. I came while he was still pumping, my sex milking his spurting cock as he emptied
himself inside me. His lips were on my cheek, his breath gusting hot and moist across my skin, low
rumbles spilling from his chest as he came hard and long.
We were both panting as our orgasms eased, leaning heavily on each other.
Swallowing hard, I spoke breathlessly. “I guess you like the ring.” His rough laugh filled me with joy.
FIVE minutes later, I lay wilted and sated on the couch, unable to move. Gideon sat at his desk looking
pristine and perfect, radiating the health and vitality of a well-fucked male.
He went through the teleconference without a hitch in his stride, speaking mostly English, but
opening and closing with conversational Japanese, his voice deep and smooth. His gaze slid over me
now and again, his mouth curving in a ghost of a smile laced with undeniable masculine triumph.
I supposed he was entitled to it, considering I had so many postorgasmic endorphins floating
through my system I felt almost drunk.
Gideon finished his call and stood, shrugging out of his jacket again. The gleam in his eyes told me
Mustering the energy to raise my brows, I asked, “We’re not leaving?”
“Of course we are. But not yet.”
“Maybe you should cut back on those vitamins, ace.”
His lips twitched as he freed the buttons of his vest. “I’ve spent too many days fantasizing about
fucking you on that couch. We haven’t covered even half of those fantasies yet.”
I stretched, deliberately enticing him. “Can we still be naughty now that we’re married?”
From the spark that lit his amazing eyes, I could guess his views on that.
By the time we left the Crossfire at nearly nine o’clock, Gideon had answered the question