“Umm …” He purred, sliding his cock deep. “You’re so creamy with my cum. I love the way you feel when I’ve been at you all night. A lifetime of this, Eva. I’ll never stop.”

I draped my leg over his hip, holding him in me. “Kiss me.”

His wickedly curved mouth brushed over mine.

“Love me,” I demanded, my nails digging into his hips as he flexed inside me.

“I do, angel,” he whispered, his smile widening. “I do.”

WHEN I woke, he was gone.

I stretched in a tangle of sheets that smelled of sex and Gideon and breathed in the salt-tinged breeze drifting through the open patio doors.

I lay there for a while, thinking over the night and the day before. Then the weeks before, and the few months since I’d met Gideon. Then beyond that. Back to Brett and others I had dated. Back to a time when I’d been so certain I would never find a man who loved me for who I was, with all my emotional scars and baggage and neediness.

What else could I say besides yes, now that by some miracle I’d found him?

Rolling out of bed, I felt a flutter of excitement at the thought of finding Gideon and agreeing to marry him without reservation. I loved the idea of eloping with him, of our first vows spoken in private, with no one watching who harbored doubts or dislike or bad wishes. After all we’d both been through, it made perfect sense for our new beginning to be filled with nothing but love and hope and happiness.

I should’ve known he’d plan it all perfectly, from the privacy to the exclusive locale. Of course we’d get married on a beach. Beaches held fond memories for both of us, not the least of which was our last time away at the Outer Banks.

When I saw the breakfast tray on the coffee table in the bedroom’s seating area, I smiled. There was a white silk robe draped over the back of the chair, too.

Gideon never missed a trick.

I pulled the robe on and reached to pour myself a cup of coffee, wanting a caffeine boost before I searched for him in the suite and gave him my answer. That was when I saw the prenuptial agreement tucked beneath the covered breakfast plate.

My hand froze halfway to the carafe. The agreement was tastefully arranged beneath the single red rose in a slender white vase, with the silverware gleaming from an artfully folded cloth napkin.

I don’t know why I was so surprised and … crushed. Of course, Gideon would’ve planned everything down to the last detail—starting with the prenup. After all, hadn’t he tried to start our relationship with an agreement?

All of my giddy happiness left me in a rush. Deflated, I turned away from the tray and headed into the shower instead. I took my time washing up, moving in slow motion. I decided I’d rather say no than read a legal document that put a price on my love. A love that was precious and priceless to me.

Still, I feared it was too late, that the damage was already done. Just knowing he’d had a prenup drafted changed everything and I couldn’t blame him for that. For God’s sake, he was Gideon Cross. One of the twenty-five richest men in the world. It was inconceivable that he wouldn’t demand a prenuptial agreement. And I wasn’t na?ve. I knew better than to dream of Prince Charming and castles in the sky.

Showered and clothed in a light sundress, I pulled my hair back in a wet ponytail and went for the coffee. I poured a cup, added cream and sweetener, then slid the prenup free and stepped out to the patio.

Down on the beach, preparations were under way for the wedding. A flower-covered arch had been placed by the shoreline and braided white ribbon had been draped across the sand to mark an impromptu aisle.

I chose to sit with my back to the view, because it hurt to look at it.

I took a sip of coffee, let it soak into me, then took another. I was halfway done with my cup when I gathered enough courage to read the damn legalese. The opening few pages detailed the assets we owned separately prior to marriage. Gideon’s holdings were staggering. When did he find time to sleep? I thought the dollar amount attributed to me was wrong, until I considered how long the principal had been sitting in investments.

Stanton had taken my five million and doubled it.

It struck me then how stupid I was for just sitting on it, instead of investing it where it could help those who needed it. I’d been acting like that blood money didn’t exist when I should’ve been putting it to work. I made a mental note to tackle that project as soon as I got back to New York.

After that, the reading got interesting.

Gideon’s first stipulation was that I take the Cross name as my own. I could keep Tramell as an additional middle name, but with no hyphenation as a surname. Eva Cross—it was nonnegotiable. And so very like him. My domineering lover made no apologies for his caveman tendencies.

His second stipulation was that I accept ten million from him upon the wedding, doubling my personal estate just for saying I do. Every year thereafter, he gave me more. I would receive bonuses for each child we had together, be paid for going to couples therapy with him. I agreed to counseling and mediation in the event of a divorce. I agreed to share a residence with him, bimonthly vacations, date nights …

The more I read, the more I understood. The prenup didn’t protect Gideon’s assets at all. He gave them freely, going so far as to stipulate up front that fifty percent of everything he acquired from our marriage onward was irrefutably mine. Unless he cheated. If that happened, it cost him severely.

The prenup was designed to protect his heart, to bind me and bribe me to stay with him no matter what. He was giving everything he had.

He joined me on the terrace when I flipped to the last page, strolling out in a pair of partially buttoned jeans and nothing else. I knew his perfectly timed arrival wasn’t coincidental. He’d been watching me from somewhere, gauging my reaction.

I brushed the tears from my cheeks with studied nonchalance. “Good morning, ace.”

“Morning, angel.” He bent and pressed a kiss to my cheek before taking the chair at the end of the table to my left.

A member of the staff came out with breakfast and coffee, arranging the place settings quickly and efficiently before disappearing as swiftly as he’d appeared.

I looked at Gideon, at the way the tropical breeze adored him and played with that sexy mane of hair. Sitting there as he was, so virile and casual, he wasn’t at all the cut-and-dried presentation of dollar signs I’d seen in the prenup.

Allowing the pages to flip back to the first page, I set my hand on top of it and said, “Nothing in this document can keep me married to you.”

He took a quick, deep breath. “Then we’ll revisit and revise. Name your terms.”

“I don’t want your money. I want this,” I gestured at him. “Especially this.” I leaned forward and placed my hand over his heart. “You’re the only thing that can hold me, Gideon.”

“I don’t know how to do this, Eva.” He caught my hand and held it pressed flat to his chest. “I’m going to fuck up. And you’ll want to run.”

“Not anymore,” I argued. “Haven’t you noticed?”

“I noticed you running into the ocean last night and sinking like a damn stone!” Leaning forward, he held my gaze. “Don’t argue the prenup on principle. If there are no deal breakers for you in it, live with it. For me.”

I sat back. “You and I have a long way to go,” I said softly. “A document can’t force us to believe in each other. I’m talking about trust, Gideon.”

“Yeah, well—” He hesitated. “I don’t trust myself not to fuck this up, and you don’t trust that you’ve got what I need. We trust each other just fine. We can work on the rest together.”

“Okay.” I watched his eyes light up and knew I was making the right decision, even if I was still partially convinced that it was a decision we were making too soon. “I do have one revision.”

“Name it.”

“You just did. The name issue.”

“Nonnegotiable,” he said flatly, with an empathic swipe of his hand for good measure.

I arched a brow. “Don’t be a fucking Neanderthal. I want to take my dad’s name, too. He’s wanted that and it’s bothered him my whole life. This is my chance to fix it.”

“So, Eva Lauren Reyes Cross?”

“Eva Lauren Tramell Reyes Cross.”

“That’s a mouthful, angel,” he drawled, “but do what makes you happy. That’s all I want.”

“All I want is you,” I told him, leaning forward to offer him my mouth for a kiss.

His lips touched mine. “Let’s make it official.”

I married Gideon Geoffrey Cross barefoot on a Caribbean beach with the hotel manager and Angus McLeod as witnesses. I hadn’t realized Angus was there, but I was pleased that he was.

It was a quick, beautifully simple ceremony. I could tell from the beaming smiles of the reverend and Claude that they were honored to officiate over Gideon’s nuptials.

I wore the prettiest dress I’d found in the closet. Strapless and ruched from breasts to hips, with petals of organza floating down to my feet, it was a sweet yet sexy romantic gown. My hair was up in an elegantly messy knot with a red rose tucked into it. The hotel provided a bouquet of white-ribboned jasmine.

Gideon wore graphite gray slacks and an untucked white dress shirt. He went barefoot, too. I cried when he repeated his vows, his voice strong and sure, even while his eyes betrayed a heated yearning.

He loved me so much.

The entire ceremony was intimate and deeply personal. Perfect.

I missed my mom and dad and Cary. I missed Ireland and Stanton and Clancy. But when Gideon bent to seal our marriage with a kiss, he whispered, “We’ll do this again. As many times as you want.”

I loved him so much.

Angus stepped up to kiss me on both cheeks. “It does me good to see you both so happy.”

“Thank you, Angus. You’ve taken good care of him for a long time.”

He smiled, his eyes glistening as he turned to Gideon. He said something so heavily accented by his Scottish heritage, I couldn’t be sure it was any form of English at all. Whatever it was, it made Gideon’s eyes shine, too. How much of a surrogate father had Angus been to Gideon over the years? I would always be grateful to him for giving Gideon support and affection when he desperately needed it.


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