“I feel married,” I murmured, realizing that I hadn’t truly felt that way before. We had the rings and the vows, but those were the trappings of marriage, not the reality of it.
“You should,” he replied, with a familiar note of arrogance, “since you are and will be for the rest of your life.”
I looked at him as we settled on the sofa. “Do you?”
His gaze went to the playpen by the fireplace where Lucky slept. “Are you asking if I feel domesticated?”
“That will never happen,” I said dryly.
Gideon looked at me, searching. “Do you want me to be?”
I ran my hand down his thigh, because I couldn’t help myself. “No.”
“Tonight … You liked having Arash here.”
I shot him a look. “You’re not jealous of your lawyer, are you? That would be ridiculous.”
“I don’t like it, either.” He scowled. “But that’s not what I meant. You like having people over.”
“Yes.” I frowned. “Don’t you?”
He looked away, his lips pursed. “It’s fine.”
I stilled. Gideon’s home was his sanctuary. Before me, he’d never brought any women here. I’d assumed he had entertained his guy friends, but maybe not …? Maybe the penthouse was where he retreated from everyone.
I reached for his hand. “I’m sorry, Gideon. I should’ve asked you first. I didn’t think about it and I should have. It’s your home—”
“Our home,” he corrected, focusing back on me. “What are you apologizing for? You have every right to do whatever you like here. You don’t have to ask me for permission for anything.”
“And you shouldn’t feel invaded in your own home.”
“Our home,” he snapped. “You need to grasp that concept, Eva. Quickly.”
I jerked back from his sudden flare of temper. “You’re mad.”
He stood and rounded the coffee table, his body vibrating with tension. “You went from feeling married to acting like you’re a guest in my house.”
“Our house,” I corrected. “Which means we share it and you have the right to say you’d rather we didn’t entertain here.”
Gideon shoved a hand through his hair, a sure sign of his increasing agitation. “I don’t give a shit about that.”
“You’re certainly acting like you do,” I said evenly.
“For fuck’s sake.” He faced me, his hands on his lean hips. “Arash is my friend. Why would I care if you cook him dinner?”
Were we circling back to jealousy? “I cooked dinner for you, and invited him to join us.”
“It doesn’t seem fine, ’cuz you’re pissed.”
“Well, I’m confused and that’s starting to make me pissed.”
His jaw tightened. He turned away, walking to the fireplace and looking at the family photos I’d placed on the mantel.
I suddenly regretted doing that. I would be the first to admit that I pushed him into change faster than I should, but I understood the need for a haven, a quiet place to let your guard down. I wanted to be that for him, wanted our home to be that for him. If I made it a place he wanted to avoid—if he ever found it easier to avoid me—then I would effectively be jeopardizing the very marriage I valued more than anything.
“Gideon. Please talk to me.” Maybe I’d made that difficult, too. “If I’ve crossed a line, you have to tell me.”
He faced me again, frowning. “What the hell are you talking about?”
“I don’t know. I don’t understand why you’re upset with me. Help me understand.”
Gideon heaved a sigh of frustration, then focused on me with the laserlike precision that had exposed every secret I’d had. “If there weren’t anyone else on earth, just you and me, I’d be okay with that. But that wouldn’t be enough for you.”
I sat back, startled. His mind was a labyrinth I would never map. “You would be okay with just me and no one else—indefinitely? No competitors to squash? No global domination to plan?” I snorted. “You’d be bored out of your mind.”
“Is that what you think?”
“That’s what I know.”
“What about you?” he challenged. “How would you manage with no friends to invite over and no one else’s life to meddle in?”
My gaze narrowed. “I don’t meddle.”
He gave me a patient look. “Would I be enough for you, if there were no one else?”
“There is no one else.”
“Eva. Answer the question.”
I had no idea where he was coming from, but that only made it easier for me to answer him. “You fascinate the fuck out of me, you know that? You’re never boring. A lifetime alone with you wouldn’t be long enough to figure you out.”
“Could you be happy?”
“Having you all to myself ? That would be heaven.” My mouth curved. “I have a Tarzan fantasy. You Tarzan, me Jane.”
The tension in his shoulders visibly eased and a faint smile touched his mouth. “We’ve been married a month. Why am I just now hearing about this?”
“I figured I’d give it a few months before I whipped out the freaky.”
Gideon flashed me a rare, wide smile and fried my brain in the process. “How does the fantasy go?”
“Oh, you know.” I waved one hand carelessly. “Tree house, loincloth. Weather hot enough to put a sheen of sweat on you, but not too hot. You’d be seething with the need to fuck but have no experience doing it. I’d have to show you how.”
He stared at me. “You have a sexual fantasy in which I’m a virgin?”
It took a lot of effort not to laugh at his incredulity. “In every way,” I said, with utmost seriousness. “You’ve never seen breasts or a woman’s pussy before mine. I have to show you how to touch me, what I like. You catch on quick, but then I’ve got a wild man on my hands. You can’t get enough.”
“That’s reality.” He headed toward the kitchen. “I have something for you.”
He answered over his shoulder. “How about what goes in it?”
My mouth curved. I half expected him to come back out with wine. I straightened when I saw that he had something small and bright red in his hand, a color and shape I recognized as Cartier. “A present?”
Gideon crossed the distance between us with his confident, sexy stride.
Excited, I rose onto my knees. “Gimme, gimme.”
He shook his head, holding his hand aloft as he sat. “You can’t have what I haven’t given you yet.”
I sank back down, putting my hands on my thighs.
“In answer to your questions …” He brushed his fingertips across my cheek. “Yes, I feel married.”
My pulse fluttered.
“Coming home to you,” he murmured, his gaze on my mouth, “watching you whip up dinner in our kitchen. Even having damned Arash here. That’s what I want. You. This life we’re building.”
“Gideon …” My throat burned.
He looked down at the red suede pouch in his hand. He flipped open the button that kept it closed and poured two platinum crescents into the palm of his hand.
“Wow.” My hand went to my throat.
He caught my left wrist and pulled it gently into his lap, sliding one half of the bracelet beneath it. The other half he held up to me, so I could see that he’d inscribed something inside.
ALWAYS MINE. FOREVER YOURS. —GIDEON
“Oh, boy,” I breathed, watching as my husband fit the top half of the bracelet to the bottom. “This is sooo getting you laid.”
His soft laugh made me fall deeper in love with him.
The bracelet had a screw motif that circled the entire band, with two actual screws on the sides that he secured with a small screwdriver.
“This,” he held up the screwdriver, “is mine.”
I watched him tuck it into his pocket, understanding that I wouldn’t be able to get the bracelet off without him. Not that I’d want to. I already treasured it—and the proof of his romantic soul.
“And this”—I straddled his hips, draping my arms over his shoulders—“is mine.”
His hands gripped my waist, his head tipping back to expose his throat to my questing lips. It wasn’t surrender. It was indulgence, and that was just fine with me.
“Take me to bed,” I whispered, my tongue rimming the shell of his ear.
I felt his muscles bunch, then flex effortlessly as he stood while holding me as if I weighed nothing at all. I gave a throaty purr of appreciation and he swatted my ass, hitching me higher before carrying me out of the living room.
I was panting, my heart racing. My hands were everywhere, sliding through his hair and over his shoulders, unknotting his tie. I wanted to get to his skin, to feel him flesh to flesh. My lips roved over his face, kissing everywhere I could reach.