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Then she twisted in a way that sent us both tumbling into the water. I felt her hand cup my cock and give it a gentle squeeze. She wriggled away as I came up for air, laughing as she pulled her sunglasses off and tried to run onto the beach.

I caught her by the waist and took us both down, absorbing the fall onto the sand on my back. Her squeal of surprise was my reward, as was the feel of her cool, sleek body writhing against my own.

Turning, I pinned her down. My hair hung around my face, dripping water onto hers. She stuck her tongue out at me.

“The things I’d do to you if we didn’t have an audience,” I told her.

“We’re newlyweds. You can kiss me.”

Looking up, I saw all eyes on us.

I also spotted Ben Clancy and Angus closing in on a house two lots down. Even at this distance, the glint of light from the patio betrayed a camera’s lens.

I started to sit up, but Eva’s legs tangled with mine and held me down.

“Kiss me like you love me, ace,” she challenged. “I dare you.”

I remembered saying those words to her and how she’d kissed my breath away.

Lowering my head, I sealed my mouth over hers.

5

I’d been dozing more than sleeping when I heard my bedroom door open. After spending a weekend at the beach, the sounds of energetic Manhattan filtering into the apartment had both soothed and excited me. I had a long way to go before I could call myself a New Yorker, but the city already felt like home to me now.

“Rise and shine, baby girl!” Cary shouted. A moment later, he bounded onto my bed, nearly bouncing me off.

Sitting up, I shoved the hair back from my face. Then I shoved him. “I’m sleeping in, if you hadn’t noticed.”

“It’s after nine o’clock, lazybones,” he drawled, settling on his stomach with his heels kicked up behind him. “I know you’re unemployed, but don’t you have a shit-ton of stuff to get done?”

As I drifted in and out of sleep, I’d been thinking about everything on my to-do list. There was so much to scratch off, it was overwhelming. “Yeah.”

“Such enthusiasm.”

“I need coffee for that. What about you?” I looked at him, noting that he was dressed in olive cargo pants and a charcoal V-neck T-shirt. “What’s on your agenda today?”

“I’m supposed to take it easy, so I can be ready to hit the catwalk tomorrow. For now, I’m all yours.”

Reaching behind me, I propped my pillows up and scooted back against them. “I need to call the wedding planner, the interior designer, and get the invitation thing sorted out.”

“You also need a dress.”

“I know.” I wrinkled my nose. “That’s not on my list today, though.”

“Are you kidding? Even if you bought a dress off the rack—which we both know you can’t—if it needs any alterations whatsoever, Mrs. Big Boobs and Voluptuous Ass, you’re pushing it timewise.”

Cary was right. I’d realized I had to find something custom after photos of Gideon and me kissing on the beach had spread all over the Internet on Sunday. The number of “steal this look” blog posts on my beachwear boggled my mind. Since the bikini I’d worn had been discontinued, prices for used ones on resale sites were staggering.

“I don’t know what to do, Cary,” I admitted. “It’s not like I have any designers on speed dial.”

“Lucky for you, it’s Fashion Week.”

That woke me up and sent my thoughts racing around in circles. “No shit? How did I miss that?”

“You’ve been mostly wallowing in misery,” he reminded dryly. “You know your mom will be hitting a few shows, rubbing elbows and spending thousands. Go with her.”

I rubbed the sleep out of my eyes. “I’m afraid to talk to her about anything after she flipped out yesterday.”

He made a face. “Yeah, she had a full-on Monica Meltdown.”

“I swear we just had a conversation about her turning my wedding into a publicity op and now she’s acting like any press is a nightmare.”

“Well, to be fair, she was specific about tabloid coverage.”

“Is there any other kind nowadays?” I sighed, knowing I was due for another talk with my mother. That wouldn’t be fun. “I don’t know what she’s so upset about. I couldn’t have asked for a better picture of Gideon and me if I’d tried. It’s perfect for making Corinne Giroux look desperate.”

“True.” His grin faded. “And honestly, it’s good to see Gideon so into you. He had a stick up his ass most of the weekend. I was starting to think he was cooling off.”

“Too late for that.” I kept my tone light, but it had torn me up to see how uncomfortable Gideon was with any sign of affection. Friendship seemed to be the closest connection he could tolerate outside our marriage. “It wasn’t personal, Cary. Remember how he acted at the Vidal Records party at his parents’ house?”

“Vaguely.” He shrugged. “Not my problem anyway. Do you want me to reach out to some friends and see if we can’t put the word out while we’re strutting our stuff this week? Your bikini blew up the Internet. I can’t imagine any designer turning down the chance to design your wedding dress.”

I groaned. How amazing would it be to knock Gideon’s socks off with a glamorous, made-just-for-me dress? “I don’t know. It would suck royally if word got out about how soon it’s all going down. I don’t want a media circus. It’s bad enough we can’t even go out of town for the weekend without some creepy photographer following us.”

“Eva. You have to do something.”

Wincing, I confessed, “I haven’t told Mom about the September twenty-second date.”

“Get on it. Now.”

“I know.”

“Baby girl”—he blew his bangs out of his face—“you could have the best wedding planner in the world, but your mom is the only woman who can pull off an epic wedding—an Eva-worthy wedding—in a matter of days.”

“We can’t agree on style!”

Cary hopped off the bed. “Hate to point it out, but Momma knows best. She decorated this place and buys you clothes. Her style is your style.”

I glared at him. “She likes shopping more than I do.”

“Sure thing, sweet cheeks.” He blew me a kiss. “I’ll fix you a cup of coffee.”

Throwing back the covers, I got out of bed. My best friend had a point. Sort of. But I pulled outfits together my own way.

I reached for my phone on the nightstand to call my mom when Gideon’s face lit up my screen. “Hey,” I answered.

“How’s your morning so far?”

It tickled me to hear his clipped, businesslike tone. My husband’s head was in the game, but he was still thinking of me.

“I just rolled out of bed, so I can’t really say. How’s yours? You finish buying up everything in Manhattan?”

“Not quite. Have to leave something for the competition. Otherwise, where’s the fun?”

“You do love your challenges.” I headed into the bathroom, my gaze sliding over the tub before pausing on the shower. Just thinking about my husband naked and wet made me hot. “What do you think would’ve happened if I hadn’t resisted you to begin with? What if I’d just fallen into bed with you when you asked?”

“You would’ve blown my mind, just as you did. That was inevitable. Have lunch with me.”

I smiled. “I’m supposed to be planning a wedding.”

“I hear a yes in there. It’s a business lunch, but you’ll enjoy it.”

Looking in the mirror, I saw wildly tousled bedhead and creases in my cheeks from the pillow. “What time?”

“Noon. Raúl will be waiting for you downstairs shortly before.”

“I should be responsible and say no.”

“But you won’t. I miss you.”

My breath caught. He tossed that out there nonchalantly, the way some men would say I’ll call you. But Gideon wasn’t the type of man to say anything he didn’t mean.

Still, I craved to feel the emotion behind the words. “You’re too busy to miss me.”

“It’s not the same,” he said. There was a pause. “It doesn’t feel right not having you here in the Crossfire.”

I was glad he couldn’t see me smile. There was an unmistakable trace of perplexity in his voice. It shouldn’t make a difference to him that I wasn’t working floors below his office, where he couldn’t see me. But it did.

“What are you wearing?” I asked.

“Clothes.”

“Duh. A three-piece suit?”

“Is there any other kind?”

Not for him, there wasn’t. “What color?”

“Black. Why?”

“It makes me hot thinking about it.” Which was true, but not why I was asking. “What color tie?”

“White.”

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