I was scared as hell to get behind the wheel.

Driving in New York was nothing like driving in Southern California. I hesitated before accepting the keys from the bow-tied attendant, debating the wisdom of just calling for a town car.

The burner phone started ringing and I fumbled for it quickly. “Hello?”

“Just do it,” Gideon purred. “Stop worrying and drive it.”

I spun around, my gaze searching for security cameras. Awareness shivered down my spine. I could feel Gideon’s gaze on me. “What are you doing?”

“Wishing I were with you. I’d love to spread you across the hood and fuck you real slow. Push my cock deep inside you. Give those shocks a workout. Umm. God, I’m hard.”

And he was making me wet. I could listen to him endlessly; I loved his voice so much. “I’m scared I’m going to screw up your pretty car.”

“I don’t give a shit about the car, only about your safety. So scratch it up all you want, just don’t get hurt.”

“If that was supposed to calm me down, it didn’t work.”

“We could have phone sex until you come, that should do it.”

I narrowed my gaze at the parking attendants, who were pretending not to watch me. “Should I be worried about what got you so horny in the short time since I was with you?”

“Thinking about you driving the DB9 turns me on.”

“Does it now?” I fought to hold back a smile. “Remind me, which one of us has the transportation fetish?”

“Slide behind the wheel,” he coaxed. “Imagine I’m in the passenger seat. My hand between your legs. My fingers fucking your soft, slick cunt.”

Stepping closer to the car on shaky legs, I muttered, “You must have a death wish.”

“I’d take my cock out and stroke it with my fist while I fingered you, get us both good and hot.”

“Your lack of respect for this vehicle’s upholstery is appalling.” I settled into the driver’s seat and spent a minute figuring out how to move it forward.

His voice rasped through the car’s sound system. “How does it feel?”

It totally figured that he’d synced my burner phone to the car’s Bluetooth. Gideon always thought of everything.

“Expensive,” I answered. “You’re crazy for letting me drive this.”

“I’m crazy about you,” he replied, sending delight skipping through me. “LaGuardia is programmed in the GPS.”

It made me feel good to know that coming home to see me had lightened his mood so much. I knew just how he felt. It meant a lot to know he felt the same way.

I pulled up the GPS, then hit the button to put the transmission into drive. “You know what, ace? I want to blow you while you’re driving this thing. Throw a pillow across this center console here and suck your cock for miles.”

“I’m going to take you up on that. Tell me how she feels.”

“Smooth. Powerful.” I waved at the attendants as I eased out of the subterranean parking garage. “Very responsive.”

“Just like you,” he murmured. “Of course, you’re my favorite ride.”

“Aw, that’s sweet, baby. And you’re my favorite joystick.” I merged carefully into traffic.

He laughed. “I better be your only joystick.”

“But I’m not your only ride,” I pointed out, loving him so much in that moment because I knew he was looking out for me, making sure I was comfortable. Back in California, driving had been like breathing to me, but I hadn’t been behind the wheel of a car since I moved to New York.

“You’re the only one I enjoy naked,” he said.

“That’s real lucky for you, because I’m very possessive.”

“I know.” His voice was filled with masculine satisfaction.

“Where are you?”

“At work.”

“Multitasking, I’m sure.” I stepped on the gas and prayed as I cut across lanes. “What’s a little calming distraction for your girlfriend in the midst of world entertainment domination?”

“I’d stop the world from spinning for you.”

That silly line oddly touched me. “I love you.”

“Liked that one, did you?”

I grinned, startled and pleased by his ridiculous sense of humor.

I was hyperaware of my surroundings. There were signs in every direction prohibiting everything. Driving in Manhattan was a fast trip to nowhere. “Hey, I can’t turn left or right. I think I’m heading for the Midtown Tunnel. I could lose you.”

“You’ll never lose me, angel,” he vowed. “Wherever you go, however far, I’ll be right here with you.”

WHEN I spotted my dad outside the baggage claim area, I lost all the confidence Gideon had instilled in me since I’d left work. Dad looked drawn and haggard, his eyes reddened and his jaw shadowed by stubble.

I felt the sting of tears as I walked toward him, but I blinked them back, determined to reassure him. Holding my arms open, I watched him drop his carry-on and then all the air left my lungs as he hugged me tightly.

“Hi, Daddy,” I said, with a tremor in my voice I hoped he missed.

“Eva.” His lips pressed hard to my temple.

“You look tired. When’s the last time you slept?”

“On the leg out of San Diego.” He pulled back and looked at me with gray eyes that were the same as mine. He searched my face.

“Do you have more luggage?”

He shook his head, still studying me.

“Are you hungry?” I asked.

“I grabbed something in Cincinnati.” Finally, he backed up and retrieved his bag. “But if you’re hungry … ?”

“Nope. I’m good. But I was thinking we could take Cary out for dinner later, if you’re up for it. He went back to work today.”

“Sure.” He paused with his bag in his hand, looking a bit lost and unsure.

“Dad, I’m okay.”

“I’m not. I want to hurt something and there’s nothing for me to hit.”

That gave me an idea.

Grabbing his hand, I started leading him out of the airport. “Hold that thought.”


“HE’S REALLY MAKING Derek work for it,” Parker noted, wiping the light sheen of sweat off his shaved head with a hand towel.

I turned to watch, seeing my father wrestling with the instructor who was twice his size, and my dad wasn’t a small guy. Standing over six feet tall and weighing in at two hundred pounds of solid, rippling muscle, Victor Reyes was a formidable opponent. Plus, he’d told me he was going to check out Krav Maga himself after I’d shared my interest in it, and it seemed he had—he had some of the moves down pat. “Thanks for letting him jump in.”

Parker looked at me, his dark eyes steady and calm in that way he had. He’d been teaching me more than just how to defend myself. He had also taught me to focus on the steps to be taken, not the fear.

“Usually I’d say class isn’t the place to bring your anger,” he said, “but Derek needed the challenge.”

Although he didn’t ask it, I could feel the unspoken question in the air. I decided it was best to answer it, since Parker was doing me a favor by letting my dad monopolize his co-instructor. “He just found out that someone hurt me a long time ago. Now it’s too late to do anything about it and he’s having a hard time with that.”

He reached down and grabbed the bottle of water sitting just off the side of the training mat. After a minute, he said, “I have a daughter. I can imagine how that feels.”

When he looked at me before taking a drink, I saw the understanding in his thickly lashed dark eyes and I was reassured that I’d brought my dad to the right place.

Parker was easygoing and had a great smile, and was genuine in a way that I’d rarely come across. But he had an air about him that warned people to tread carefully. One knew right away that it would be stupid to try to pull anything over on him. His street smarts were as obvious as his tribal tattoos.

“So you bring him here,” he said, “let him work it out and let him see you taking care of your own protection. Good idea.”

“I don’t know what else to do,” I confessed. Parker’s studio was located in a revitalizing area of Brooklyn. It was a converted warehouse, and the exposed brick and giant sliding loading-bay doors added to the atmosphere of tough chic. It was a place where I felt confident and take-charge.

“I’ve got some ideas.” He grinned and jerked his chin toward the mat. “Let’s show him what you can do.”

I dropped my towel over my water bottle and nodded. “Let’s.”

I didn’t see any of the uniformed parking attendants as we pulled into the underground garage of my apartment building. Since I wanted to do the honors myself anyway, that worked for me. I slid the DB9 into an empty slot and cut the engine. “Fabulous. Right by the elevator.”

“So I see,” my dad said. “Is this your car?”

I’d been waiting for that question. “No. A neighbor’s.”

“Friendly neighbor,” he said dryly.

“A cup of sugar. An Aston Martin. It’s all the same, right?” I glanced at him with a smile.

He looked so tired and worn, and not from the workout. The weariness came from the inside, and it was killing me.

Turning the car off, I released my seat belt and turned to look at him. “Dad. I … It’s shredding me to see you torn up over this. I can’t stand it.”

Heaving out his breath, he said, “I just need some time.”

“I never wanted you to find out.” I reached out and gripped his hand. “But I’ll be glad you did, if we can put Nathan behind us for good.”

“I read the reports—”

“God. Daddy …” I swallowed back a rush of bile. “I don’t want that stuff in your head.”


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