I jerked upright, panting, the sheet in my hands tearing violently. It took a moment for the pounding of my blood to subside as I tuned in to the incessant barking that woke me.
Scrubbing at my face, I cursed, then jumped as Lucky scrambled up the hanging comforter, pulling himself onto the bed. He leaped, tackling me in the chest.
“For fuck’s sake, calm down!”
He whined and curled into my lap, making me feel like a dick.
I caught him up, holding him against my sweaty chest. “Sorry,” I muttered, stroking his head.
Closing my eyes, I pushed back and leaned against the headboard, willing my pulse to slow. It took several minutes to get my bearings, and about that long to realize that petting Lucky was calming me down.
I laughed to myself, then reached for my phone on the nightstand. The time, a little after two in the morning, gave me pause. So did the need to be strong, to handle my own crap.
But a lot had happened since I first called Eva to talk about a nightmare. Good things.
“Hey,” Eva answered, sounding groggy and sexy. “You okay?”
“Better now that I’m hearing your voice.”
“You having puppy troubles? Or a nightmare? Maybe you’re feeling frisky?”
Calm settled over me. I’d been braced for a push. Seemed she was going to ease me into it, instead. Yet another reason for me to try harder to give her what she wanted, regardless of my first instincts about it. Because when Eva was happy, I was happy. “Maybe all of the above.”
“Okay.” Sheets rustled. “Take it from the top, ace.”
“If I latch the crate door, Lucky bitches about it and I can’t sleep.”
She laughed. “You’re a softie. He’s got your number. Did you put him in your office?”
“No. He barks in there and I still can’t sleep. I ended up just closing the crate door without locking it and he settled down.”
“He’s not going to learn to control his bladder if you don’t crate-train him.”
I looked down at the beagle curled up and sleeping in my lap. “He woke me from a nightmare. I think he did it on purpose.”
She was quiet a minute. “Tell me about it.”
I did and she listened. “He’d been trying to jump up to the bed earlier and couldn’t make it,” I finished. “He’s too little and the bed’s too high. But he hauled his ass up here to wake me.”
Her exhale drifted across the line. “Guess he can’t sleep when you’re making noise, either.”
It took me a second, then I laughed. The lingering distress from the dream dissipated like smoke in a breeze. “I feel the sudden urge to take you over my knee and spank you, angel.”
Amusement warmed her voice. “Try it, babe. See what happens.”
I knew what would happen. She was the one who couldn’t see it. Yet.
“Going back to your dream …” she murmured, “I know I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. I really think you need to bring Hugh up to your mother again. I know it’ll be painful, but I think it has to be done.”
“It won’t change anything.”
“You don’t know that for sure.”
“I do.” I shifted and Lucky gave a protesting grunt. “I didn’t get around to telling you earlier. Chris filed for divorce.”
“I’m not sure. I just heard about it today from Ireland. I talked to Chris after work, but he just went over their prenup and let me know that he wanted to make some added concessions. We didn’t discuss his reasons for wanting to end the marriage.”
“Do you think it’s because he found out about Hugh?”
I sighed, grateful I could talk to her about it. “I think it’s too much of a coincidence to be totally unrelated.”
“Wow.” She cleared her throat. “I think I really love your stepfather.”
I couldn’t say how I felt about Chris. I didn’t know. “When I think about my mother being upset about this … I can picture it, Eva. I’ve seen it before.”
“I know you have.”
“I hate it. I hated her like that. It hurt me to see her that way.”
“You love her. That’s okay.”
And I loved Eva. For her lack of judgment. Her unqualified devotion. It gave me the courage to say, “I’m also glad. What kind of asshole feels good that his mother is hurting?”
There was a long pause. “She hurt you. She’s still hurting you. It’s a natural animal instinct to want to see her wounded, too. But I think what you’re glad about is having a … champion. Someone who’s telling her it really did happen to you and it’s not okay.”
My eyes closed. If I had a champion, it was my wife.
“Do you want me to come back over?” she asked.
I almost said no. My routine after a nightmare was a long shower, followed by losing myself in work. It was what I knew, how I dealt with it. But soon she’d be living with me, sharing my life in a way I needed but wasn’t wholly prepared for. I had to start making adjustments for that.
More than the logistics, though, was that I wanted her right then. Wanted to see her, smell her, feel her close.
“I’ll come get you,” I told her. “I’ll take a quick shower and text you before I head out.”
“Okay. I’ll be ready. I love you, Gideon.”
I took a deep breath, let the words flow through me. “I love you, too, angel.”
I woke again with the sun, feeling rested despite the hours I’d spent awake. Stretching, I felt something warm and furry shift against my arm, then the lash of a friendly tongue against my biceps.
Opening one eye, I glanced at Lucky. “Can’t you keep that thing in your mouth?”
Eva rolled onto her back and smiled, her eyes still closed. “Can’t blame him. You’re extremely, lickably delicious.”
“Bring your tongue over here, then.”
Her head turned my way and her eyes opened. Her hair was mussed and her cheeks pink.
I grabbed Lucky and tucked him against my stomach as I rolled to my side. Propping my head on one hand, I took in the sight of my sleepy wife, feeling a rare contentment just from starting the day with her in my bed.
Fact was, I shouldn’t have risked it. Eva hadn’t seen the state of my sheets, since I changed them before leaving to get her, but they were only a small sample of the damage I could cause when sleeping. Neither Lucky nor my wife was safe near me while I was sleeping. It was only because I never had multiple nightmares in one night that I’d taken the chance.
And because I missed Eva fiercely. She wasn’t alone in her craving.
“I’m glad you called me,” she murmured.
Reaching over, I brushed my fingertips down her cheek. “Didn’t turn out so badly.”
She moved slightly and kissed my hand.
Eva saw the worst there was in me and loved me more each time she did. I’d stopped questioning it. I just had to deserve her and I would. I had a lifetime to work on it.
“You’re not planning any more ambushes on enemies today, are you?” I asked.
“No.” She stretched, drawing my eye to where her full tits strained against the ribbed cotton of her tank top. “But I’m ready if someone decides to ambush me.”
I dropped Lucky to the floor and snatched Eva close, rolling on top of her. Her legs widened instinctively and I settled between them, circling my hips to rock my cock against her cunt.
She gasped and grabbed my shoulders, her eyes wide. “I wasn’t talking about you, ace.”
“I’m not someone?” I buried my face in the warmth of her neck, nuzzling her. She smelled heavenly, soft and sweet. Totally sexy. Hard, I rubbed against her, feeling the heat of her through her underwear and the silk of my pants. She softened for me, melted in the way that turned me on ferociously.
“No,” she whispered, her eyes darkening. She reached down and grabbed my ass, digging her nails in, urging me on. “You’re The One. The only one for me.”
As luxurious and feminine as Eva was, she’d grown stronger through Krav Maga. That turned me on, too. My head lowered, my mouth brushing over hers. My heart pounded, struggling to accept what she meant to me. The way she made me feel was so fresh and new, yet would never get old.
Maybe that was why I’d gone through everything I had, so I would be able to appreciate her when I found her. I would never take her for granted.
A tongue that wasn’t my wife’s licked my side, tickling me. I jerked, cursing, and Eva laughed.
I glared over my shoulder at the little offender, who hopped with excitement, tail wagging madly. “Listen, Lucky. You’re not living up to your name.”
Eva giggled. “He’s helping you live up to your promise to behave.”
I turned my glare back to the wife whose nails were still firmly dug into my ass. “Which had the caveat that you behave as well.”
Pulling her hands away, Eva held them up by her head, waggling her fingers. But her gaze was hot and her lips parted with rapid breaths. She shivered beneath me, even while her skin felt feverish. Her desire for me soothed my own raging need. And her commitment to waiting, now that I knew the reason for it, gave me the strength to move away.