He pressed forward, urging me to stretch out on the couch. Coming over me, he whispered, “I’m in love with you.”


With everything going wrong, that was the one thing that was totally right.


It was enough.


WE fell asleep on the couch, wrapped up in each other. I drifted in and out of consciousness, plagued by anxiety and thrown off my schedule by our earlier long nap. I was awake enough to sense the change in Gideon, hear his fast breathing, followed by the tightening of his grip on me. His body jerked powerfully, shaking me. His whimper pierced my heart.


“Gideon.” I wriggled around to face him, my agitated movements waking him. We’d drifted off with the lights on and I was grateful that he woke to the brightness.


His heart was pounding beneath my palm, a fine mist of sweat blooming on his skin. “What?” he gasped. “What’s wrong?”


“You were slipping into a nightmare, I think.” I pressed soft kisses over his hot face, wishing my love could be enough to banish the memories.


He tried to sit up and I clung tighter to hold him down.


“Are you okay?” He ran a hand over me, searching. “Did I hurt you?”


“I’m fine.”


“God.” He fell back and covered his eyes with his forearm. “I can’t keep falling asleep with you. And I forgot to take my prescription. Goddamn it, I can’t be this careless.”


“Hey.” I propped myself up on my elbow and ran my other hand down his chest. “No harm done.”


“Don’t make light of this, Eva.” He turned his head and looked at me, his gaze fierce. “Not this.”


“I would never.” God, he looked so weary, with dark smudges under his eyes and deep grooves framing that wickedly sensual mouth.


“I killed a man,” he said grimly. “It’s never been safe for you to be with me when I’m sleeping, and that’s even truer now.”


“Gideon …” I suddenly understood why he’d been having his nightmares more frequently. He could rationalize what he’d done, but that didn’t alleviate the weight on his conscience.


I brushed the thick strands of hair off his forehead. “If you’re struggling, you need to talk to me.”


“I just want you safe,” he muttered.


“I never feel safer than when I’m with you. I need you to stop beating yourself up for everything.”


“It’s my fault.”


“Wasn’t your life perfectly uncomplicated before I came along?” I challenged.


He shot me a wry look. “I seem to have a taste for complicated.”


“Then stop bitching about it. And don’t move, I’ll be right back.”


I went to the master bedroom and swapped my garters, stockings, and bra for an oversized Cross Industries T-shirt. Pulling the velour throw off the foot of the bed, I went to Gideon’s room and grabbed his medicine.


His gaze followed me as I dropped off the throw and prescription before heading to the kitchen for a bottle of water. In short order, I had him settled in, the both of us huddled together beneath the blanket and the majority of the lights turned off.


I snuggled closer, hooking my leg over his. The medication prescribed for Gideon’s parasomnia was no cure, but he was religious about taking it. I loved him all the more for that dedication, because he did it for me. “Do you know what you were dreaming about?” I asked.


“No. Whatever it was, I wish it were you instead.”


“Me, too.” I laid my head on his chest, listening to his heartbeat slow. “If it had been a dream about me, what would it be like?”


I felt him relax, sinking into the sofa and into me.


“It would be a cloudless day on a Caribbean beach,” he murmured. “A private beach, with a cabana on the white sand, enclosed on three sides with the view in front of us. I’d have you spread out on a chaise longue. Naked.”


“Of course.”


“You’d be sun-warmed and lazy, your hair blowing in the breeze. You’d be wearing that smile you give me after I’ve made you come. We would have nowhere to go, no one waiting. Just the two of us, with all the time in the world.”


“Sounds like paradise,” I murmured, feeling his body growing heavier by the moment. “I hope we swim naked.”


“Umm …” He yawned. “I need to go to bed.”


“I want a bucket of iced beer, too,” I said, hoping to detain him long enough that he’d fall asleep in my arms. “With lemons. I’d squeeze the juice over your eight-pack and lick it off.”


“God, I love your mouth.”


“You should dream about that, then. And all the naughty things it can do to you.”


“Give me some examples.”


I gave him plenty, talking in a low soothing voice, my hands stroking over his skin. He slipped away from me with a deep exhalation.


I held him close until long after the sun rose.


GIDEON slept until eleven. I’d been strategizing for hours by then and he found me in his office, his desk littered with my notes and drawings.


“Hey,” I greeted him, lifting my lips for his kiss as he rounded the desk. He looked sleep-mussed and sexy in his boxer briefs. “Good morning.”


He looked over my work. “What are you doing?”


“I want you caffeinated before I explain.” I rubbed my hands together, excited. “Want to grab a quick shower while I make you a cup of coffee? Then we’ll dig in.”


His gaze slid over my face and he gave me a bemused smile. “All right. However, I suggest I grab you in the shower. Then we’ll have coffee and dig in.”


“Save that thought—and your libido—for tonight.”


“Oh?”


“I’m going out, remember?” I prodded. “And I’m going to drink too much, which makes me horny. Don’t forget to take your vitamins, ace.”


His lips twitched. “Well, then.”


“Oh, yeah. You’ll be lucky if you can crawl out of bed tomorrow,” I warned.


“I’ll make sure to stay hydrated, then.”


“Good idea.” I returned my attention to his tablet, but had to look when he walked his very fine ass out of the room.


When I saw him again, he was damp-haired and wearing black sweats that hung low enough on his hips that I knew he was commando underneath. Forcing myself to focus on my plans, I gave him the desk chair and stood next to him.


“Okay,” I began, “following the adage that the best defense is a good offense, I’ve been taking a look at your public image.”


He took a sip of his coffee.


“Don’t look at me like that,” I admonished. “I didn’t pay any attention to your personal life, since I’m your personal life.”


“Good girl.” He gave me an approving pat on my behind.


I stuck my tongue out at him. “I’m mostly thinking of how to combat a smear campaign focused on your temper.”


“It helps that I haven’t previously been known as having one,” he said dryly.


Until you met me … “I’m a terrible influence on you.”


“You’re the best thing that ever happened to me.”


That earned him a quick, smacking kiss to the temple. “It took me a ridiculous amount of time to find out about the Crossroads Foundation.”


“You didn’t know where to look.”


“Your search optimization really blows,” I countered, pulling up the website. “And there’s only this splash page, which is pretty, but ridiculously bare. Where are the links and info about the charities that have benefited? Where’s the About page on the foundation and what you hope to accomplish?”


“A packet detailing all of that information is sent out to charities, hospitals, and universities twice a year.”


“Great. Now, let me introduce you to the Internet. Why isn’t the foundation tied to you?”


“Crossroads isn’t about me, Eva.”


“The hell it isn’t.” I met his raised brows with my own and shoved a to-do list in front of him. “We’re defusing the Deanna bomb before it blows. This website needs to be overhauled by Monday morning, with the addition of these pages and the information I’ve outlined.”


Gideon took a cursory glance at the paper, then picked up his mug and leaned back in his chair. I studiously focused on the mug and not his amazing torso.


“The Cross Industries site should cross-link with the foundation from your Bio page,” I continued. “Which also needs an overhaul and updating.”


I slid another paper in front of him.


He picked it up and began reading the biography I’d drafted. “This was clearly written by someone in love with me.”


“You can’t be shy, Gideon. Sometimes you just have to be blunt and say, ‘I rock.’ There’s so much more to you than a gorgeous face, hot body, and insane sex drive. But let’s focus on the stuff I don’t mind sharing with the world.”


Flashing a grin, Gideon asked, “How much coffee have you had this morning?”


“Enough to take you to the mat, so watch out.” I bumped my hip into his arm. “I also think you should consider a press release announcing the acquisition of La Rose Noir, so that your name and Giroux’s are linked. Remind people that Corinne—who you’ve been seen around with so much lately—has a husband, so Deanna can’t paint you as a total bad guy for cutting Corinne off. If she decides to go that route.”


He caught me unawares and pulled me into his lap. “Angel, you’re killing me. I’ll do whatever you want, but you need to understand that Deanna has nothing. Ian Hager isn’t going to risk a nice settlement to publicize his story. He’ll sign the necessary releases, take the money, and go away.”


“But what about—”


“Six-Ninths isn’t going to want their ‘Golden’ girl linked with another guy. Ruins the love story of the song. I’ll be speaking to Kline and we’ll get on the same page.”

***

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