Chapter 9

We hit the cellular store first. The associate who helped us seemed highly susceptible to Gideon's magnetic pull. She practically fell all over herself the minute he showed the slightest interest in anything, quickly launching into detailed explanations and leaning into his personal space to demonstrate.

I tried separating from them and finding someone who'd actually help me, but Gideon's grip on my hand wouldn't let me move more than touching distance away. Then we argued over who was going to pay, which he seemed to think should be him even though the phone and account were mine.

"You got your way with picking the service provider," I pointed out, pushing his credit card aside and shoving mine at the girl.

"Because it's practical. We'll be on the same network, so calls to me are free." He swapped the cards deftly.

"I won't be calling you at all, if you don't put your damn credit card away!"

That did the trick, although I could tell he was unhappy about it. He'd just have to get over it.

Once we got back in the Bentley, his mood seemed restored.

"You can head to the gym now, Angus," he told his driver, settling back in the seat. Then he pulled his smartphone out of his pocket. He saved my new number into his contact list; then he took my new phone out of my hand and programmed my list with his home, office, and cell numbers.

He'd barely finished when we arrived at CrossTrainer. Not surprisingly, the three-story fitness center was a health enthusiast's dream. I was impressed with every sleek, modern, top-of-the-line inch of it. Even the women's locker room was like something out of a science fiction movie.

But my awe was totally eclipsed by Gideon himself when I finished changing into my workout clothes and found him waiting for me out in the hallway. He'd changed into long shorts and a tank, which gave me my first look at his bare arms and legs.

I came to an abrupt halt and someone coming out behind me bumped into me. I could barely manage an apology; I was too busy visually devouring Gideon's smokin' hot body. His legs were toned and powerful, flawlessly proportional to his trim hips and waist. His arms made my mouth water. His biceps were precisely cut and his forearms were coursing with thick veins that were both brutal looking and sexy as hell. He'd tied his hair back, which showed off the definition of his neck and traps, and the sculpted angles of his face.

Christ. I knew this man intimately. My brain couldn't wrap itself around that fact, not while faced with the irrefutable evidence of how uniquely beautiful he was.

And he was scowling at me.

Straightening away from the wall where he'd been leaning, he came toward me, and then circled me. His fingertips ran along my bare midriff and back as he made the revolution, sending goose bumps racing over my skin. When he stopped in front of me, I threw my arms around his neck and pulled his mouth down for a quick, playfully smacking kiss.

"What the hell are you wearing?" he asked, looking marginally appeased by my enthusiastic greeting.


"You look naked in that top."

"I thought you liked me naked." I was secretly pleased with my choice, which I'd made that morning before I'd known he'd be with me. The top was a triangle with long straps at the shoulders and ribs that secured with Velcro and could be worn in a variety of ways to allow the wearer to determine where her breasts needed the most support. It was specially designed for curvy women and was the first top I'd ever had that kept me from bouncing all over the place. What Gideon objected to was the nude color, which coordinated with the racing stripes on the matching black yoga pants.

"I like you naked in private," he muttered. "I'll need to be with you whenever you go to the gym."

"I won't complain, since I'm very much enjoying the view at the moment." Plus, I was perversely excited by his possessiveness after the hurt he'd inflicted with his withdrawal Saturday night. Two very different extremes - the first of many, I was sure.

"Let's get this over with." He grabbed my hand and led me away from the locker rooms, snatching two logo'd towels off a stack as we passed them. "I need to fuck you."

"I need to be fucked."

"Jesus, Eva." His grip on my hand tightened to the point that it hurt. "Where to? Free weights? Machines? Treadmills?"

"Treadmills. I want to run a bit."

He led me in that direction. I watched the way women followed him with their gazes, then their feet. They wanted to be in whatever section of the gym he was, and I couldn't blame them. I was dying to see him in action, too.

When we reached the seemingly endless rows of treadmills and bikes, we found that there weren't two treadmills free adjacent to each other.

Gideon walked up to a man who had two open on either side of him. "I'd be in your debt if you'd move over one."

The guy looked at me and grinned. "Yeah, sure."

"Thanks. I appreciate it."

Gideon took over the man's treadmill and motioned me to the one beside it. Before he programmed his workout, I leaned over to him. "Don't burn off too much energy," I whispered. "I want you missionary-style the first time. I've been having this fantasy of you on top, banging the hell out of me."

His gaze burned into me. "Eva, you have no idea."

Nearly giddy with anticipation and a lovely surge of feminine power, I got on my treadmill and started at a brisk walk. While I warmed up, I set my iPod shuffle to random and when "Sexy Back" by Justin Timberlake came on I hit my stride and went full-out. Running was both a mental and physical exercise for me. Sometimes I wished just running fast could get me away from whatever was troubling me.

After twenty minutes I slowed, then stopped, finally risking a glance at Gideon who was running with the fluidity of a well-oiled machine. He was watching CNN on the overhead screens, but he flashed a grin at me as I wiped the sweat off my face. I swigged from my water bottle as I moved to the machines, picking one that give me a clear view of him.

He went a full thirty on the treadmill; then he moved to free weights, always keeping me in his line of sight. As he worked out, quickly and efficiently, I couldn't help thinking how virile he was. It helped that I knew exactly what was in his shorts, but regardless, he was a man who worked behind a desk, yet kept his body in combat shape.

When I grabbed a fitness ball to do some crunches, one of the trainers came up to me. As one would expect in a top-of-the-line gym, he was handsome and very nicely built.

"Hi," he greeted me, with a movie star smile that showcased perfect white teeth. He had dark brown hair and eyes of nearly the same color. "First-timer, right? I haven't seen you in here before."

"Yes, first time."

"I'm Daniel." He extended his hand, and I gave him my name. "Are you finding everything you need, Eva?"

"So far so good, thanks."

"What flavor smoothie did you go for?"

I frowned. "Excuse me?"

"Your free orientation smoothie." He crossed his arms and his thick biceps strained the narrow cuffs of his uniform polo shirt. "You didn't get one from the bar downstairs when you signed up? You're supposed to."

"Ah, well." I shrugged sheepishly, thinking it was a nice touch all the same. "I didn't have the usual orientation."

"Did you get the tour? If not, let me take you around." He touched my elbow lightly and gestured toward the stairs. "You also get a free hour of personal training. We could do that tonight or make an appointment for later in the week. And I'd be happy to take you down to the health bar and scratch that off the list, too."

"Oh, I can't really." My nose wrinkled. "I'm not a member."

"Ah." He winked. "You're here on a temp pass? That's fine. You can't be expected to make up your mind if you don't get the full experience. I can assure you, though, that CrossTrainer is the best gym in Manhattan."

Gideon appeared at Daniel's shoulder. "The full experience is included," he said, coming around and behind me to slide his arms around my waist, "when you're the owner's girlfriend."

The word "girlfriend" reverberated through me, sending a crazy rush of adrenaline through my system. It was still sinking in that we had that level of commitment, but that didn't stop me from thinking the designation had a nice ring to it.

"Mr. Cross." Daniel straightened and took a step back; then extended his hand. "It's an honor to meet you."

"Daniel has me sold on the place," I said to Gideon, as they shook hands.

"I thought I'd done that." His hair was wet with sweat and he smelled divine. I'd never known a sweaty man could smell so damn good.

His hands stroked down my arms and I felt his lips on the crown of my head. "Let's go. See you later, Daniel."

I waved good-bye as we walked away. "Thanks, Daniel."


"I bet," Gideon muttered. "He couldn't keep his eyes off your tits."

"They're very nice tits."

He made a low growling noise. I hid my amusement.

He smacked my butt hard enough to send me forward a step and leave behind a hot sting even through my pants. "That damned Band-Aid you call a shirt doesn't leave much to the imagination. Don't take long in the shower. You're just going to get sweaty again."

"Wait." I caught his arm before he passed the women's locker room on the way toward the men's. "Would it gross you out if I told you I didn't want you to shower? If I said I want to find someplace really close by where I could jump you while you're still dripping sweat?"

Gideon's jaw tightened and his gaze darkened dangerously. "I'm beginning to fear for your safety, Eva. Grab your stuff. There's a hotel around the corner."

Neither of us changed and we were outside in five minutes. Gideon walked briskly and I hurried to keep up. When he stopped abruptly, turned, and dipped me back in a lavish heated kiss on the crowded sidewalk, I was too stunned to do more than hold on. It was a soul-wrenching melding of our mouths, full of passion and sweet spontaneity that made my heart ache. Applause broke out around us.

When he straightened me again, I was breathless and dizzy. "What was that?" I gasped.

"A prelude." He resumed our dash to the nearest hotel, one I didn't catch the name of as he pulled me past the doorman and crossed straight to the elevator. It was clear to me that the property was one of Gideon's even before a manager greeted him by name just before the elevator doors closed.

Gideon dropped his duffel on the car floor and busied himself with figuring out how to extricate me from my sports top. I was slapping his hands away when the doors opened and he scooped up his bag. There was no one waiting on our floor and no one in the hallway. He pulled a master key out of somewhere and a moment later we were in a room.

I pounced, pushing my hands up beneath his shirt to feel his damp skin and the hardness of the muscles beneath it. "Get naked. Like now."

He laughed as he toed off his sneakers and yanked his tank over his head.

Oh my God...seeing him in the flesh - all of him, as his shorts hit the floor - was synapse frying. There wasn't an ounce of excess flesh on him anywhere, just hard slabs of honed muscle. He had washboard abs and that super sexy V of muscle on his pelvis that Cary called the Loin of Apollo. Gideon didn't wax his chest like Cary did, but he groomed with the same care he showed to the rest of his body. He was pure primal male, the embodiment of everything I coveted, fantasized about, and wished for.

"I've died and gone to heaven," I said, staring unabashedly.

"You're still dressed." He attacked my clothes, whipping my loosened top off before I took a full breath. My pants were wrestled down and I kicked my shoes off in such a hurry that I lost my balance and fell on the bed. I barely caught my breath before he was on me.

We rolled across the mattress in a tangle. Everywhere he touched me left trails of fire behind. The clean, hardworking scent of his skin was an aphrodisiac and intoxicant at once, spurring my desire for him until I felt like I was about to lose my mind.

"You're so beautiful, Eva." He plumped one breast in his hand before taking my nipple into his mouth.

I cried out at the scorching heat and the lash of his tongue, my core tightening with every soft suck. My hands were greedy as they slid over his sweat-damp skin, stroking and kneading, searching for the spots that made him growl and moan. I scissored my legs with his and tried to roll him, but he was too heavy and too strong.

He lifted his head and smiled down at me. "It's my turn this time."

What I felt for him in that moment, seeing that smile and the heat in his eyes, was so intense it was painful. Too fast, I thought. I was falling too fast. "Gideon - "

He kissed me deeply, licking into my mouth in that way of his. I thought he could really make me come with just a kiss, if we stayed at it long enough. Everything about him turned me on, from the way he looked and felt beneath my hands to the way he watched me and touched me. His greed and the silent demands he made on my body, the forcefulness with which he pleasured me and took his pleasure in return, drove me wild.

I ran my hands through the wet silk of his hair. The crisp hairs on his chest teased my tightened nipples and the feel of his rock-hard body against mine was enough to make me wet and needy.

"I love your body," he whispered, his lips moving across my cheek to my throat. His hand caressed the length of my torso from breasts to hip. "I can't get enough of it."

"You haven't had very much of it yet," I teased.

"I don't think I'll ever have enough." Nibbling and licking across my shoulder, he slid down and caught my other nipple between his teeth. He tugged and the tiny dart of pain had my back arching on a soft cry. He soothed the sting with a soft suck; then kissed his way downward. "I've never wanted anything this badly."

"Then do me!"

"Not yet," he murmured, moving lower, rimming my navel with the tip of his tongue. "You're not ready yet."

"What? Ah, God...I can't get any readier." I tugged on his hair, trying to pull him up.

Gideon caught my wrists and pinned them to the mattress. "You have a tight little cunt, Eva. I'll bruise you if I don't get you soft and relaxed."

A violent shiver of arousal moved through me. It turned me on when he talked so bluntly about sex. Then he slid lower and I tensed. "No, Gideon. I need to shower for that."

He buried his face in my cleft and I struggled against his hold, flushed with sudden shame. He nipped at my inner thigh with his teeth. "Stop it."

"Don't. Please. You don't have to do that."

His glare stilled my frantic movements. "Do you think I feel differently about your body than you do mine?" he asked harshly. "I want you, Eva."

I licked my dry lips, so crazily turned on by his animal need that I couldn't form a single word. He growled softly and dove for the slick flesh between my legs. His tongue pushed into me, licking and parting the sensitive tissues. My hips churned restlessly, my body silently begging for more. It felt so good I could've wept.

"God, Eva. I've wanted my mouth on your cunt every day since I met you."

As the velvet softness of his tongue flickered over my swollen clit, my head pressed hard into the pillow. "Yes. Like that. Make me come."

He did, with the gentlest of suction and a hard lick. I writhed as the orgasm jolted through me, my core tensing violently, my limbs shaking. His tongue thrust into my sex as it convulsed, rippling along the shallow penetration, trying to pull him deeper. His groans vibrated against my swollen flesh, goading the climax to roll on and on. Tears stung my eyes and coursed down my temples, the physical pleasure destroying the wall that kept my emotions at bay.

And Gideon didn't stop. He circled the trembling entrance to my body with the tip of his tongue and lapped at my throbbing clit until I quickened again. Two fingers pushed inside me, curving and stroking. I was so sensitive I thrashed against the onslaught. When he drew on my clit with steady, rhythmic suction, I came again, crying out hoarsely. Then he had three fingers in me, twisting and opening me.

"No." My head tossed from side to side, every inch of my skin tingling and burning. "No more."

"Once more," he coaxed hoarsely. "Once more, then I'll fuck you."

"I can't..."

"You will." He blew a slow stream of air over my wet flesh, the coolness over fevered skin reawakening raw nerve endings. "I love watching you come, Eva. Love hearing the sounds you make, the way your body quivers..."

He massaged a tender spot inside me and an orgasm pulsed through me in a slow, heated roll of delight, no less devastating for being gentler than the two before it.

His weight and heat left me. In a distant corner of my dazed mind, I heard a drawer opening, followed swiftly by the sound of foil tearing. The mattress dipped as he returned, his hands rough now as he yanked me down to the center of the bed. He stretched himself on top of me, pinning me, tucking his forearms on the outside of my biceps and pressing them to my sides, capturing me.

My gaze was riveted to his austerely beautiful face. His features were harsh with lust, his skin stretched tight over his cheekbones and jaw. His eyes were so dark and dilated they were black, and I knew I was staring into the face of a man who'd passed the limits of his control. It was important to me that he'd made it that far for my benefit and that he'd done so to pleasure and prepare me for what I knew would be a hard ride.

My hands fisted in the bedspread, anticipation building. He'd made sure I got mine, over and over again. This would be for him.

"Fuck me," I ordered, daring him with my eyes.

"Eva." He snapped out my name as he rammed into me, sinking balls-deep in one fierce drive.

I gasped. He was big, hard as stone, and so damn deep. The connection was startlingly intense. Emotionally. Mentally. I'd never felt so completely...taken. Possessed.

I wouldn't have thought I could bear to be restrained during sex, not with my past being what it was, but Gideon's total domination of my body ratcheted my desire to an outrageous level. I'd never been so hot for it in my life, which seemed insane after what I'd experienced with him so far.

I clenched around him, relishing the feel of him inside me, filling me.

His hips ground against mine, prodding as if to say, Feel me? I'm in you. I own you.

His entire body hardened, the muscles of his chest and arms straining as he pulled out to the tip. The rigid tightening of his abs was the only warning I got before he slammed forward. Hard.

I cried out and his chest rumbled with a low, primitive sound. "Christ...You feel so good."

Tightening his hold, he starting fucking me, nailing my hips to the mattress with wildly fierce drives. Pleasure rippled through me again, pushing through me with every hot shove of his body into mine. Like this, I thought. I want you just like this.

He buried his face in my neck and held me tightly in place, plunging hard and fast, gasping raw, heated sex words that made me crazed with desire. "I've never been so hard and thick. I'm so deep in you...I can feel it against my stomach...feel my dick pounding into you."

I'd thought of this round as his, and yet he was still with me, still focused on me, swiveling his hips to stroke pleasure through my melting core. I made a small, helpless sound of need and his mouth slanted over mine. I was desperate for him, my nails digging into his pumping hips, struggling with the grinding urge to rock into the ferocious thrusts of his big cock.

We were dripping in sweat, our skin hot and slicked together, our chests heaving for air. As an orgasm brewed like a storm inside me, everything tightened and clenched, squeezing. He cursed and shoved one hand beneath my hip, cupping my rear and lifting me into his thrusts so that his cock head stroked over and over the spot that ached for him.

"Come, Eva," he ordered harshly. "Come now."

I climaxed in a rush that had me sobbing his name, the sensation enhanced and magnified by the way he'd confined my body. He threw his head back, shuddering.

"Ah, Eva!" He clasped me so tightly I couldn't breathe, his hips pumping as he came long and hard.

I've no idea how long we lay like that, leveled, mouths sliding over shoulders and throats to soothe and calm. My entire body tingled and pulsed.

"Wow," I managed finally.

"You'll kill me," he muttered with his lips at my jaw. "We're going to end up fucking each other to death."

"Me? I didn't do anything." He'd controlled me completely and how freakin' sexy was that?

"You're breathing. That's enough."

I laughed, hugging him.

Lifting his head, he nuzzled my nose. "We're going to eat, and then we'll do that again."

My brows lifted. "You can do that again?"

"All night." He rolled his hips and I could feel that he was still semi-hard.

"You're a machine," I told him. "Or a god."

"It's you." With a soft sweet kiss, he left me. He removed the condom, wrapped it in a tissue from the nightstand, and tossed the whole in the wastebasket by the bed. "We'll shower, then order from the restaurant downstairs. Unless you want to go down?"

"I don't think I can walk."

The flash of his grin stopped my heart for a minute. "Glad I'm not the only one."

"You look fine."

"I feel phenomenal." He sat back on the side of the bed and brushed my hair back from my forehead. His face was soft, his smile warmly affectionate.

I thought I saw something else in his eyes and the possibility closed my throat. It scared me.

"Shower with me," he said, running his hand down my arm.

"Gimme me a minute to find my brain, then I'll join you."

"Okay." He went into the bathroom, giving me a prime view of his sculpted back and perfect ass. I sighed with pure female appreciation of a prime male specimen.

The water came on in the shower. I managed to sit up and slide my legs over the side of the bed, feeling exquisitely shaky. My gaze caught on the slightly open bedside drawer and I saw condoms through the gap.

My stomach twisted. The hotel was too upscale to be the kind that provided condoms along with the requisite Bible.

With a slightly trembling hand, I pulled the drawer out further and found a sizable quantity of prophylactics, including a bottle of feminine lubrication and spermicidal gel. My heart started pounding all over again. In my mind, I backtracked through our lust-fueled trip to the hotel. Gideon hadn't asked which rooms were available. Whether he had a master key or not, he'd need to know which rooms were occupied before he took one...unless he'd known beforehand that this particular room would be empty.

Clearly it was his room - a fuck pad outfitted with everything he'd need to have a good time with the women who served that purpose in his life.

As I pushed to my feet and walked over to the closet, I heard the glass shower door open in the bathroom, then close. I caught the two knobs of the louvered walnut closet doors and pushed them apart. There was a small selection of men's clothes hanging on the metal rod, some business shirts and slacks, as well as khakis and jeans. My temperature dropped and a sick misery spread through my orgasmic high.

The right side dresser drawers held neatly folded T-shirts, boxer briefs, and socks. The top one on the left side held sex toys still in their packages. I didn't look at the drawers below that one. I'd seen enough.

I pulled on my pants and stole one of Gideon's shirts. As I dressed, my mind went through the steps I'd learned in therapy: Talk it out. Explain what triggered the negative feelings to your partner. Face the trigger and work through it.

Maybe if I'd been less shaken by the depth of my feelings for Gideon, I could have done all that. Maybe if we hadn't just had mind-blowing sex, I would have felt less raw and vulnerable. I'd never know. What I felt was slightly dirty, a little bit used, and a whole lot hurt. This particular revelation had hit me with excruciating force, and like a child, I wanted to hurt him back.

I scooped up the condoms, lube, and toys, and tossed them on the bed. Then, just as he called out my name in an amused and teasing voice, I picked up my bag and left him.