Chapter 16

Gideon folded over me, his hair falling forward to tickle my chest, his lungs heaving. "God. I can't go days without this. Even the hours at work are too long."

I ran my fingers through the sweat-damp roots of his hair. "I missed you, too."

He nuzzled my breasts. "When you're not with me, I feel - Don't run anymore, Eva. I can't take it."

He pulled me up to stand in front of him, keeping his cock in me until the soles of my heels touched the hardwood floor. "Come home with me now."

"I can't leave Cary."

"Then we'll drag him out of here with us. Shh...Before you complain, whatever he hopes to get out of this party, I can make happen. Being here accomplishes nothing."

"Maybe he's having fun."

"I don't want you here." He suddenly seemed distant, his tone far too controlled.

"Do you know how badly it hurts me when you say that?" I cried softly, my chest tight with the pain of it. "What's wrong with me that you don't want me around your family?"

"Angel, no." He hugged me, his hands roaming my back in soothing caresses. "There's nothing wrong with you. It's this place. I don't - I can't be here. You want to know what's in my dreams? It's this house."

"Oh." My stomach knotted with worry and confusion. "I'm sorry. I didn't know."

Something in my voice lured him to press a kiss between my eyebrows. "I've been rough with you today. I'm sorry. I'm edgy and agitated being here, but that's no excuse."

I cupped his face and stared into his eyes, seeing the tumultuous emotions he was so used to hiding. "Don't ever apologize for being yourself with me. It's what I want. I want to be your safe place, Gideon."

"You are. You don't know how much, but I'll find a way to tell you." He rested his forehead against mine. "Let's go home. I bought some things for you."

"Oh? I love gifts." Especially when they came from my self-professed unromantic boyfriend.

Cautiously, he began to pull out of me. I was shocked to feel how wet I was, how copiously he'd come. The final few inches of his cock slid out in a rush and semen slicked my inner thighs. A moment later, two audacious droplets fell to the hardwood floor between my spread legs.

"Oh, shit." He groaned. "That's so damn hot. I'm getting hard again."

I stared at the brazen display of his virility and felt warm. "You can't go again after that."

"Hell if I can't." Cupping my sex in his hand, he rubbed the slickness all over me, coating the outer lips and massaging it into the folds. Euphoria spread through me like the warmth of fine liquor, a sense of contentment that came solely from the knowledge that Gideon found gratification in me and my body.

"I'm an animal with you," he murmured. "I want to mark you. I want to possess you so completely there's no separation between us."

My hips began to move in tiny circles as his words and touch reignited the desire he'd goaded with the thrusts of his cock. I wanted to come again, knew I'd be miserable if I had to wait until we reached his bed. I was a sexual creature with him, too, so physically attuned to him and so positive that he would never physically hurt me, that I

I encircled his wrist with my fingers and gently directed his hand around my hip to reach for me from behind. Nipping his jaw with my teeth, I gathered the courage he inspired in me and whispered, "Touch me here with your fingers. Mark me there."

He froze, his chest lifting and falling rapidly. "I don't" - his voice strengthened - "I don't do anal play, Eva."

Looking into his eyes, I saw something dark and volatile. Something very painful.

Of all the things for us to have in common...

The raw passion of our lust gentled into the warm familiarity of love. With my heart breaking, I confessed, "I don't either. At least not voluntarily."

"Then...why?" The confusion in his voice moved me deeply.

I hugged him, pressing my cheek to his shoulder and listening to the slightly panicked beat of his heart. "Because I believe your touch can erase Nathan's."

"Oh, Eva." His cheek pressed to the crown of my head.

I snuggled closer. "You make me feel safe."

We held each other for long moments. I listened to his heartbeat slow and his breathing smooth out. I inhaled deeply, relishing the mix of his personal scent mixed with the scent of hard lust and harder sex.

When the tip of his middle finger slid gossamer-soft over the pucker of my anus, I stilled and pulled back to look at him. "Gideon?"

"Why me?" he asked softly, his beautiful eyes dark and stormy. "You know I'm fucked up, Eva. You saw what I...that night you woke me...You saw, damn it. How can you trust me with your body this way?"

"I trust my heart and what it tells me." I smoothed the frown line between his brows. "You can give my body back to me, Gideon. I believe you're the only one who can."

His eyes closed and his damp forehead touched mine. "Do you have a safeword, Eva?"

Startled, I pulled back again to study his face. A few members of my therapy group had talked about Dom/sub relationships. Some required total control to feel safe during sex. Others fell on the opposite side of the line, finding that bondage and humiliation satisfied their deep-seated need to feel pain to experience pleasure. For those who practiced that lifestyle, a safeword was an unambiguous way to say "stop." But I couldn't see how that had any relevance to me and Gideon. "Do you?"

"I don't need one." Between my legs, the gentle stroke of his finger became less tentative. He repeated his question, "Do you have a safeword?"

"No. I've never needed one. Missionary, doggy style, B.O.B.... that's about the extent of my mad skills in the sack."

That brought a touch of amusement to his otherwise severe face. "Thank God. I wouldn't survive you otherwise."

And still that fingertip massaged me, spurring a dark yearning. Gideon could do that to me, make me forget everything that happened before. I had no negative sexual triggers with him, no hesitation or fears. He'd given that to me. In return, I wanted to give him the body he'd freed from my past.

The long case clock near the door began to chime the hour.

"Gideon, we've been gone a long time. Someone will come looking for us."

He put the slightest pressure against my sensitive rosette, barely pressing. "Do you really care if they do?"

My hips arched into the touch. Anticipation was making me hot all over again. "I don't care about anything but you when you're touching me."

His free hand lifted to my hair and held it at the roots, keeping my head still. "Did you ever enjoy anal play? Accidentally or by deliberation?"


"And yet you trust me enough to ask me for this." He kissed my forehead as he drew the slickness of his semen back to my rear.

I gripped his waistband. "You don't have to - "

"Yes, I do." His voice had that wickedly assertive bite to it. "If you crave something, I'll be the one to give it to you. All of your needs, Eva, are mine to fulfill. Whatever it costs me."

"Thank you, Gideon." My hips shifted restlessly as he continued to lubricate me gently. "I want to be what you need, too."

"I've told you what I need, Eva - control." He brushed his parted lips back and forth over mine. "You're asking me to lead you back into painful places and I will, if that's what you need. But we have to be extremely careful."

"I know."

"Trust is hard for both of us. If we break it, we could lose everything. Think of a word you associate with power. Your safeword, angel. Choose it."

The pressure of that single fingertip became more insistent. I moaned, "Crossfire."

"Umm...I like it. Very fitting." His tongue dipped into my mouth, barely touching mine before retreating. His finger rimmed my anus over and over, pushing his semen into the puckered hole, a soft growl escaping him as it flexed in a silent plea for more.

The next time he pressed against the ring, I pushed out and he slipped his fingertip inside me. The feeling of penetration was shockingly intense.

Just as before, surrender weighted my body, leaving me languid.

"Are you okay?" Gideon asked harshly as I sagged against him. "Should I stop?"

"No...Don't stop."

He pushed fractionally deeper and I clenched around him, a helpless reaction to the feel of something gliding across tender tissues. "You're snug and scorching hot," he murmured. "And so soft. Does it hurt?"

"No. Please. More."

Gideon withdrew to his fingertip; then slid in to the knuckle, slow and easy. I quivered in delight, astonished by how good it felt, that teasing bit of fullness in my rear.

"How's that?" he asked hoarsely.

"Good. Everything you do to me feels good."

He withdrew again, glided deep again. Leaning forward, I thrust my hips back to give him easier access and pressed my breasts against his chest. His fist in my hair tightened, pulling my head back so he could take my mouth in a lush, wet kiss. Our open mouths slid across each other, growing more frantic as my arousal built. The feel of Gideon's finger in that darkly sexual place, thrusting in that gentle rhythm, had me rocking backward to meet his inward drives.

"You're so beautiful," he murmured, his voice infinitely gentle. "I love making you feel good. Love watching an orgasm move through your body."

"Gideon." I was lost, drowning in the powerful joy of being held by him, loved by him. Four days alone had taught me how miserable I'd be if we couldn't work things out, how dull and colorless my world would be without him in it. "I need you."

"I know." He licked across my lips, making my head spin. "I'm here. Your cunt's trembling and tightening. You're going to come for me again."

With shaking hands, I reached between us for his cock, finding it hard. I lifted the layers of my underskirts so I could insert him into my drenched sex. He slid in a few inches, our standing positions preventing deeper penetration, but the connection alone was enough. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders, burying my face in his neck as my knees weakened. His hand left my hair, his arm clasping my back and holding me close.

"Eva." The tempo of his finger thrusts quickened. "Do you know what you do to me?"

His hips nudged against mine, the wide crest of his penis massaging a sweetly tender spot. "You're milking the head of my dick with those hungry little squeezes. You're going to make me come for you. When you go off, I'm going with you."

I was distantly aware of the helpless noises spilling from my throat. My senses were overloaded by Gideon's scent and the heat of his hard body, the feel of his cock rubbing inside me and his finger pumping into my rear. I was surrounded by him, filled with him, blissfully possessed in every way. A climax was building in force, pounding through me, pooling in my core. Not just from the physical pleasure but from the knowledge that he'd been willing to take a risk. Once again. For me.

His finger stilled and I made a sound of protest.

"Hush," he whispered. "Someone's coming."

"Oh God! Magdalene came in earlier and saw us. What if she told - "

"Don't move." Gideon didn't let me go. He stood just as he was, filling me front and back, his hand caressing the length of my spine and smoothing my dress down. "Your skirts hide everything."

With my back to the room's entrance, I pressed my flaming face into his shirt.

The door opened. There was a pause then, "Is everything all right?"

Christopher. I felt awkward being unable to turn around.

"Of course," Gideon said smoothly, coolly in control. "What do you want?"

To my horror, he resumed the push and withdrawal of his finger. Not with the deep strokes of before, but slow shallow thrusts that didn't disturb my skirts. Already aroused to a fever pitch and hovering on the verge of orgasm, my nails dug into his neck. The tension in my body from having Christopher in the room only ramped up the erotic sensations.

"Eva?" Christopher asked.

I swallowed hard. "Yes?"

"Are you okay?"

Gideon adjusted his stance, which moved his cock inside me and bumped his pelvis against my pulsing clit.

"Y-yes. We're just...talking. About. Dinner." My eyes closed as Gideon's fingertip grazed the thin wall separating his penis from his touch. If he nudged my clit again, I'd come. I was too wound up to stop it.

Gideon's chest vibrated against my cheek as he spoke. "We'd be done sooner if you'd go, so tell me what you need."

"Mom's looking for you."

"Why?" Gideon shifted again, rocking into my clit at the same moment he gave a quick, deep thrust of his finger into my rear.

I climaxed. Afraid of the wail of pleasure that wanted out of me, I sank my teeth into Gideon's hard pectoral. He grunted softly and started coming, his cock jerking as it pumped thick spurts of scorching semen into me.

The rest of the conversation was lost beneath the roar of my blood. Christopher said something, Gideon replied, and then the door shut again. I was lifted to sit on the armrest and Gideon started thrusting between my spread thighs, using my body to rub out the rest of his orgasm, growling in my mouth as we finished off the rawest, most exhibitionistic sexual encounter of my life.

Afterward, Gideon led me by the hand to a bathroom, where he lightly soaped a washcloth and cleansed between my legs before he paid the same attention to his cock. The way he took care of me was sweetly intimate, demonstrating yet again that as primal as his desire for me was, I was precious to him.

"I don't want us to fight anymore," I said quietly from my perch on the counter.

He tossed the washcloth down a concealed laundry chute and refastened his fly. Then he came to me, brushing his cool fingertips down my cheek. "We don't fight, angel. We just have to learn not to scare the hell out of each other."

"You make it sound so easy," I grumbled. To call either of us virgins would be ridiculous, yet emotionally that's just what we were. Fumbling in the dark and too eager, completely out of our depths and self-conscious, trying to impress and missing all the subtle nuances.

"Easy or hard, doesn't matter. We'll get through this because we have to." He pushed his fingers through my hair, restoring order to the disheveled strands. "We'll discuss when we get home. I think I've discovered the crux of our problem."

His conviction and determination soothed the restlessness I'd been feeling the last few days. Closing my eyes, I relaxed and enjoyed the tactile delight of having my hair played with. "Your mother seemed startled that I'm a blonde."

"Did she?"

"My mother was, too. Not about me being a blonde," I qualified. "That you'd be interested in one."

"Was she?"


"Hmm?" He kissed the end of my nose and ran his hands down my arms.

"I'm not the type you usually go for, am I?"

His brow arched. "I have one type: Eva Lauren Tramell. That's it."

I rolled my eyes. "Okay. Whatever."

"What does it matter? You're the woman I'm with."

"It doesn't matter. I'm just curious. People don't usually stray from their preferred type."

Stepping between my legs, he put his arms around my hips. "Lucky for me that I fit your type."

"Gideon, you don't fit any type," I drawled. "You're in a class by yourself."

His eyes sparkled. "Like what you see, do you?"

"You know I do, which is why we really should get out of here before we start screwing like minks again."

Pressing his cheek to mine, he murmured, "Only you could blow my mind in a place that's always made my skin crawl. Thank you for being exactly what I want and need."

"Oh, Gideon." I wrapped my arms and legs around him, holding him as close to me as possible. "You came here for me, didn't you? To take me away from this place you hate."

"I'd walk into hell for you, Eva, and this is pretty damn close." He exhaled harshly. "I was about to go to your apartment and drag you away with me when I learned you'd come here. You have to stay away from Christopher."

"Why do you keep saying that? He seems very nice."

Gideon pulled back, sifting my hair through his fingers. His eyes stayed fiercely locked to mine. "He takes sibling rivalry to the extreme, and he's unstable enough to make him dangerous. He's reaching out to you because he knows he can hurt me through you. You have to trust me on this."

Why was Gideon so suspicious of his half-brother's motives? He had to have a good reason. It was yet another thing he didn't fully share with me. "I do trust you. Of course I do. I'll keep my distance."

"Thank you." Catching me by the waist, he lifted me off the counter and set me on my feet. "Let's grab Cary and get the hell out of here."

We made our way back outside with my hand in his. I was uncomfortably aware that we'd been gone a very long time. The sun was going down. And I was panty-less. My ruined boy shorts were presently stuffed into the front pocket of Gideon's jeans.

He glanced at me as we entered the marquee. "I should've told you before. You look gorgeous, Eva. That dress is amazing on you and so are those fuck-me red heels."

"Well, clearly they work." I bumped my shoulder into him. "Thank you."

"For the compliment? Or the fucking?"

"Hush," I admonished, flushing.

His dark velvet laugh turned every female head in hearing distance and some of the men's, too. Placing our linked hands at the small of my back, he pulled me close and smacked a kiss on my mouth.

"Gideon!" His mother glided toward us with sparkling eyes and a wide smile on her lovely face. "I'm so happy you're here."

She looked like she might hug him, but his posture altered subtly, charging the air around him with an invisible field of power that encompassed me as well.

Elizabeth drew to an abrupt halt.

"Mother," he greeted her with all the warmth of an arctic storm. "You can thank Eva for my being here. I've come to take her away."

"But she's having a good time, aren't you, Eva? You should stay for her sake." Elizabeth looked at me with a plea in her eyes.

My fingers flexed around Gideon's hand. He came first, that was never in question, but I couldn't help but wish I knew the story behind his coldness toward a mother who seemed to love him. Her adoring gaze slid over the face that had shades of her own, drinking in every feature hungrily. How long had it been since the last time she'd seen him in person?

Then I wondered if maybe she'd loved him too much...

Revulsion made my spine stiffen.

"Don't put Eva on the spot," Gideon said, rubbing his knuckles against my tense back. "You've gotten what you wanted - you've met her."

"Perhaps you'll both come to dinner later this week?"

His only answer was an arched brow. Then his gaze lifted, luring my attention to follow it. I found Cary emerging from what appeared to be a hedgerow maze with a very recognizable pop princess on his arm. Gideon gestured him over.

"Oh, not Cary, too!" Elizabeth protested. "He's the life of the party."

"I thought you might like him." Gideon bared his teeth in something that was too sharp to be a smile. "Just remember that he's Eva's friend, Mother. That makes him mine as well."

I was hugely relieved when Cary joined us, breaking the tension in his easygoing way.

"I was looking for you," he said to me. "I was hoping you'd be ready to go. I got that call I was expecting."

Looking into his sparkling eyes, I knew Trey had reached him. "Yes, we're ready."

Cary and I walked around to say our good-byes and offer our thanks. Gideon remained at my side like a possessive shadow, his demeanor calm but markedly aloof.

We were all walking toward the house when I spotted Ireland off to the side staring at Gideon. I stopped and looked up at him. "Go get your sister so we can say good-bye."


"She's standing to your left." I looked to our right to hide my prodding from the young girl whom I suspected might hero-worship her eldest brother.

He gestured Ireland over with a brusque wave of his hand. She took her time ambling over, her pretty face schooled into an expression of militant boredom. I looked at Cary with a shake of my head, remembering those days all too well.

"Listen." I squeezed Gideon's wrist. "Tell her you're sorry you two didn't get to catch up while you were here and she should call you sometime, if she wants."

Gideon shot me an arch look. "Catch up on what?"

Rubbing his biceps, I said, "She'll do all the talking if given a chance."

He scowled. "She's a teenage girl. Why would I give her a chance to talk my ear off?"

I pushed onto my tiptoes and whispered in his ear, "Because I'll owe you one."

"You're up to something." He eyed me warily for a moment; then pressed a hard kiss to my lips with a growl. "So we'll leave it open and say you owe me more than one. Quantity to be determined."

I nodded. Cary rocked back on his heels and twirled one index finger around another in a sign meaning wrapped around your finger.

Only fair, I thought, since he was wrapped around my heart.

I was surprised when Gideon accepted the keys to the Bentley SUV from one of the valets. "You drove? Where's Angus?"

"Day off." He nuzzled against my temple. "I missed you, Eva."

I settled into the front passenger seat, and he shut the door behind me. As I secured my seat belt, I saw him pause by the hood, making eye contact with two men dressed in black who waited beside a sleek black Mercedes sedan at the end of the drive. They nodded and got in the Benz. When Gideon pulled out of the Vidal driveway, they followed directly behind us.

"Security detail?" I asked.

"Yes. I took off fast when I was told you were here, and they lost the tail for a while."

Cary went home with Clancy, so Gideon and I headed straight to the penthouse. I found myself getting turned on from watching Gideon drive. He handled the luxury vehicle the way he handled everything - confidently, aggressively, and with skillful control. He drove fast but not recklessly, weaving easily over the curves and straightaways of the scenic route back to the city. There was almost no traffic until we hit the gridlock of Manhattan.

When we arrived at his apartment, we both went straight into the master bathroom and undressed for a shower. As if he couldn't stop touching me, Gideon washed me from head to toe; then he dried me with a towel and wrapped me in a new robe of embroidered teal silk with kimono sleeves. He finished by pulling a pair of similarly hued drawstring silk pants out of a drawer for himself.

"Don't I get panties?" I asked, thinking about my drawer of sexy underwear.

"No. There's a phone hanging on the wall in the kitchen. Hit speed dial one and tell the man who answers that I want him to pick up double my usual dinner order from Peter Luger."

"All right." I headed out to the living room and made the call; then I had to search for Gideon. I found him in his home office, a room I hadn't been in before.

I didn't get a good look at the space at first because the only lighting came from an angled picture light on the wall and a barrister's lamp on his polished wood desk. Plus my eyes were more interested in focusing on him. He looked utterly sensual and compelling sprawled in his big black leather chair. He held a tulip glass of some liquor that he warmed between his hands and the beauty of his flexing biceps sent tingles racing through me, as did the tight lacing of muscles on his abdomen.

His gaze was on the wall illuminated by the picture light, which snagged my attention, too. I was startled when I saw the art - a huge collage of blown-up photos of him and me: the picture of our kiss on the street outside the gym...a shot of us from the press gauntlet at the advocacy dinner...a candid of the tender aftermath of our fight in Bryant Park...

The focal point was the image in the center that had been taken while I slept in my own bed, lit only by the candle I'd left burning for him. It was an intimate voyeuristic shot, one that said more about the photographer than it did the subject.

I was deeply touched by the proof that he'd been falling along with me.

Gideon gestured at the drink he'd poured for me in advance and set on the edge of his desk. "Have a seat."

I complied, curious. There was an edge to him that was new, a sense of purpose and calm determination paired with laser-precise focus.

What brought on his mood? And what did it mean for the rest of our evening?

Then I saw the small photo collage frame lying on the desktop next to my drink and my worry faded. The frame was very similar to the one already on my desk, but this one held three photos of Gideon and me together.

"I want you to take that to work," he said quietly

"Thank you." For the first time in days, I was happy. I hugged the frame to my chest with one hand, and picked up my glass with the other.

His eyes glittered as he watched me take a seat. "You blow kisses at me all day from your picture on my desk. I think it's only fair that you be equally reminded of me. Of us."

I exhaled in a rush, my heartbeat not quite steady. "I never forget about you or us."

"I wouldn't let you if you tried." Gideon took a deep drink, his throat working on a swallow. "I think I've figured out where we made our first misstep, the one that's led to all the stumbles we've had since."


"Take a drink of your Armagnac, angel. I think you'll need it."

I took a cautious sip of the liquor, feeling the instantaneous burn, followed by recognition that I liked the flavor. I took a bigger drink.

Rolling his glass between his palms, Gideon took another drink and eyed me thoughtfully. "Tell me which was hotter, Eva: sex in the limo when you were in charge or sex in the hotel when I was?"

I shifted restlessly, unsure of where the conversation was leading. "I thought you enjoyed what happened in the limo. While it was happening, I mean. Obviously not later."

"I loved it," he said with quiet conviction. "The image of you in that red dress, moaning and telling me how good my cock feels inside you, will haunt me as long as I live. If you'd like to top me again in the future, I'm definitely game."

My stomach tensed. The muscles in my shoulders began to knot. "Gideon, I'm starting to freak out a little. All this talk of safewords and feels like this conversation is leading somewhere I can't go."

"You're thinking of bondage and pain. I'm talking about a consensual power exchange." Gideon studied me intently. "Would you like more brandy? You're very pale."

"You think?" I set the drained glass down. "It sounds like you're telling me you're a Dominant."

"Angel, you knew that already." His mouth curved in a soft, sexy smile. "What I'm telling you is that you're submissive."