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“How pretty,” she said, as we followed the hostess to our seats, her gaze taking in the pale blue walls and subdued pendant lighting.

When we reached our table, I scanned the space as I pulled the chair out for her. She was attracting attention, as she always did. Eva was a stunner by any measure, but her sex appeal was something you had to witness firsthand. It was there in the way she moved, the way she carried herself, in the curve of her smile.

And she was mine. The glance I spared the other diners made that patently clear.

I took the seat opposite her, admiring the way the light of the candle on the table gilded her golden skin and hair. The gloss on her lips invited long, deep kisses, as did the look in her eyes. No one had ever looked at me the way she did, with total acceptance and understanding blended in with the love and desire.

I could tell her anything and she would believe me. Such a simple gift, but so rare and precious. Only my silence could push her away, never the truth.

“Angel.” I took her hand. “I’m going to ask you again, and then I’ll let it go. Are you sure you want to quit your job? You won’t hold it against me twenty years from now? There’s nothing we can’t fix or undo, if you just say the word.”

“Twenty years from now, you might be working for me, ace.” Her husky laugh floated through the air and stirred my hunger for her. “Don’t worry, okay? It was actually kind of a relief. I’ve got a lot on my plate: packing, moving, planning. When that’s all behind us, I’ll figure out what’s next.”

I knew her well. If she’d had doubts, I would have sensed them. What I picked up on instead was something different. Something new.

There was a fire inside her.

I couldn’t take my eyes off her, even as I ordered wine.

After the server walked away, I lounged back, enjoying the simple pleasure of staring at my gorgeous wife.

Eva wet her lips with a teasing swipe of her tongue and leaned forward. “You are so insanely hot.”

My mouth quirked. “Am I now?”

Her calf rubbed mine. “You are—by far—the hottest man in the room, which makes this really fun. I like showing you off.”

I gave an exaggerated sigh. “You still just want me for my body.”

“Totally. Who cares about your billions? You’ve got better assets.”

I trapped her wandering leg between my ankles. “Like my wife. She’s the most valuable thing I own.”

Her brows rose with amusement. “Own, huh?”

She smiled at the server when he returned with our bottle. As he poured, Eva’s foot drifted up to tease me, her eyes heavy-lidded and hot. I pushed the glass toward her, watched her swirl the dark red wine, lift the glass to her nose, then take a swallow. The hum of pleasure she made as she approved my choice sent a surge of heat through me, which was certainly her intent. The slow stroking along my leg was maddening. I grew harder by the minute, already more than primed by days of deprivation.

I hadn’t known sex could quench a deeper thirst, until Eva.

Taking a sip out of my freshly poured glass, I waited until the server walked away. “Have you changed your mind about waiting?”

“No. Just keeping things interesting.”

“Two can play,” I warned.

She grinned. “That’s what I’m counting on.”

3

“Where will you go from here?” I asked Gideon as he escorted me into the lobby of my apartment building. The Upper West Side was my home—for now. Gideon’s penthouse was on the Upper East. The vast green expanse of Central Park divided us, one of the few things between us that was easily crossed.

I waved at Chad, one of the night staff at the front desk. He smiled back at me and gave a polite nod to Gideon.

“I’m going up with you,” Gideon replied, his hand pressed lightly against the small of my back.

I was hyperaware of that touch. It conveyed possession and control effortlessly, and made me so hot. Which only made it harder for me to deny us both when we reached the elevator. “We need to say good-bye right here, ace.”

“Eva—”

“I don’t have the willpower,” I confessed, feeling the pull of his need. He’d always been able to lure me in just by the force of his will. It was one of the things I loved about him, one of the ways I knew we were meant to be. The connection we had, it was soul-deep. “You and me with a bed nearby is a bad idea.”

He stared down at me with a wry curve to his lips that was sexy as hell. “That’s what I’m counting on.”

“Count down instead—to our wedding. That’s what I’m doing. Minute by minute.” And it was excruciating. My physical connection to Gideon was as vital to me as our emotional one. I loved him. Loved touching him, soothing him, giving him what he needed … My right to do so meant everything to me.

I gripped his forearm, gently squeezing the rock-hard muscle beneath his sleeves. “I’m missing you, too.”

“You don’t have to miss me.”

Pulling him aside, I lowered my voice. “You say when, you say how,” I murmured, repeating the basic tenet of our sex life. “And part of me really wants you to say when right now. But there’s something I want more than that. I’ll call you later tonight, after I talk to Cary a bit, and tell you what that is.”

The smile faded. His gaze turned avid. “You can just come next door and tell me now.”

I shook my head. When Nathan had been a threat, Gideon had taken up residence in the apartment directly beside mine, watching over me and ensuring I was safe, even though I didn’t know it. He could do that sort of thing because he owned the building, one of many that belonged to him in the city.

“You need to go to the penthouse, Gideon. Just relax and enjoy that beautiful place we’ll be sharing soon.”

“It’s not the same without you there. It feels empty.”

That hit me hard. Before I’d come along, Gideon had structured his life so he could be alone in every way—work interspersed with occasional hookups and avoidance of his family. I’d changed that, and I didn’t want him to regret it.

“Now’s your chance to get rid of all the things you don’t want me to find when I move in,” I teased, still trying to keep things light.

“You know all my secrets.”

“Tomorrow, we’ll be together in Westport.”

“Tomorrow’s too far away.”

Pushing up onto my tiptoes, I kissed his jaw. “You’ll sleep through some of it and work through the rest.” Then I whispered, “We could sext. You can see how creative I can be.”

“I prefer the original over reproductions.”

I dropped my voice to a purr. “Video, then. With sound.”

He turned his head and caught my lips, taking my mouth in a long, deep kiss. “This is love,” he murmured. “Agreeing to this.”

“I know.” I smiled and pulled back to hit the button for the elevator. “You could send me naughty pics, too, you know.”

His eyes narrowed. “You want pictures of me, angel, you’ll have to take them yourself.”

Backing into the elevator, I wagged a finger at him. “Spoilsport.”

The doors started to close. I had to grip the handrail to stop myself from dashing back out to him. Happiness came in so many forms. Mine was Gideon.

“Miss me,” he ordered.

I blew him a kiss. “Always.”

When I opened the door to my apartment, I was hit with two things at once: the smell of recent cooking and the sounds of Sam Smith.

It felt like home. But I was abruptly struck with sadness that it wouldn’t be home for much longer. Not that I doubted the future I’d accepted when I married Gideon, because I didn’t. I was so excited about the thought of living with him, being his wife in private and public, sharing my days—and nights—with him. Still, change was harder when you were happy with the pre-change version of your life.

“Honey, I’m home!” I called out, dropping my bag on one of the teakwood bar stools at the breakfast bar. My mom had decorated the entire apartment in a modern traditional style. I probably wouldn’t have gone with some of her choices, but I liked the result.

“I’m right here, sweet cheeks,” Cary drawled, drawing my attention across the open floor plan to where he lay sprawled on our living room sofa in board shorts and no T-shirt. He was lean and tanned, his abs as beautifully defined as Gideon’s. Even off duty, he looked like the super hot male model he was. “How was dinner?”

“Good.” I headed over to him, kicking off my heels on the way. I figured I should enjoy doing that while I could. I couldn’t picture myself leaving shoes strewn around Gideon’s penthouse. I thought it might drive him a little crazy. And since I was sure there were other things I’d drive him crazy with, it was probably best to pick my vices carefully. “How was yours? Smells like you cooked.”

“Pizza. Semi-homemade. It’s what Tat was craving.”

“Who doesn’t crave pizza?” I said, plopping gracelessly onto the couch. “Is she still here?”

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