I curled tighter into him, my arm draping across his waist and holding on tight.
“You good?” he asked softly.
Tipping my head back, I looked at him. He was flushed and sweaty, his hair clinging to his temples and neck. His body was a well-oiled machine, used to the strenuous mixed martial arts he used to condition it. He wasn’t wiped from fucking; he could do that all night, tirelessly. It was the effort of holding back as long as he could, reining himself in until I was as wild for him as he was for me.
“You fucked my brains out.” I smiled, feeling drugged. “My toes and fingers are tingling.”
“I was rough.” He touched my hip. “I bruised you.”
“Umm … ” My eyes closed. “I know.”
I felt him shift, rising, blocking out the light.
“You like that,” he murmured.
I looked up at him leaning over me. I touched his face, tracing his brow and his jaw with my fingertips. “I love your control. It turns me on.”
He caught my fingers in his teeth, then released them. “I know.”
“But when you lose it … ” I sighed, remembering. “It drives me crazy to know I can do that to you, that you want me that much.”
His head dropped, his forehead touching mine. He tugged me closer, making me feel how hard he was again. “More than anything.”
“And you trust me.” In my arms, he let every guard down. The ferocity of his need didn’t hide his vulnerability; it revealed it.
“More than anyone.” He slid over me, covering my body from ankle to shoulder, effortlessly supporting his weight so he didn’t crush me. The sensual pressure made me hot for him all over again.
Tilting his head, Gideon brushed his lips over mine. “Crossfire,” he murmured.
Crossfire was my safeword, what I said to him when I was overwhelmed and needed him to stop whatever he was doing. When he said the word to me, he was overwhelmed, too, but he didn’t want me to stop. For Gideon, Crossfire conveyed a connection deeper than love.
My mouth curved. “I love you, too.”
Wrapping myself around a pillow, I looked toward the closet and listened to the sound of Gideon singing. I smiled ruefully. He was showered and dressing, and obviously feeling energetic despite beginning the morning by screwing me into an orgasm that left me seeing stars.
It took me a moment to recognize the song. When I did, I felt butterflies. “At Last.” Whether it was the Etta James or Beyoncé version he was hearing in his mind didn’t matter. What I heard was his voice, rich and nuanced, singing about seeing blue skies and smiles that cast a spell on him.
He stepped out knotting a charcoal tie, his vest unbuttoned and his jacket slug over his arm. Lucky scurried out after him, never far behind. After being freed from the playpen that morning, the puppy had become his shadow.
Gideon’s gaze landed on me. He flashed me a heartbreaker of a smile. “And here we are,” he crooned.
“Here I am, anyway. Leveled by hours of sex. I don’t think I can stand and you’re”—I gestured at him—“you. It’s not fair. I’m not doing something right.”
Gideon sat on the edge of the rumpled bed, looking impeccable. Bending over, he kissed me. “Remind me … How many times did I come last night?”
I shot him a look. “Not enough, apparently, since you were ready to go again when the sun came up.”
“Which proves the point that you’re doing something very right.” He brushed the hair off my cheek. “I’m tempted to stay home, but I’ve got to clear the decks so we can disappear for a month. As you can see, I’m extremely motivated.”
“You were serious about that?”
“You thought I wasn’t?” Brushing the sheet aside, he cupped my breast.
I caught his hand before he aroused me again. “A monthlong honeymoon. I’ll wear you out at least once. I’m determined.”
“Will you?” His eyes sparkled with laughter. “Only once?”
“You’re asking for it, ace. By the time I’m done, you’ll beg me to leave you alone.”
“That will never happen, angel. Not in a million years.”
His confidence challenged me.
I tugged the sheet back up again. “We’ll just see about that.”
As Angus walked into my office, I looked up from the e-mail I was reading. He held his hat in his hands and came to a stop in front of my desk.
“I went through Terrence Lucas’s office last night,” he said. “I didnae find anything.”
I hadn’t expected him to, so wasn’t surprised. “It’s possible Hugh told Anne what he knows and there are no records to be found.”
He nodded grimly. “While I was at it, I deleted all traces of Eva’s appointment on both their onsite hard drives and backups. I also wiped the video footage of you and Eva being there. I checked and he never asked security for a copy, so you should be fine if he takes his wife’s cue and files any complaints of his own.”
That was Angus, always taking all possibilities into consideration.
“Wouldn’t the police find that interesting?” I sat back. “The Lucases have as much to lose as I do.”
“They’re culpable, lad. You’re not.”
“It’s never that simple.”
“You have everything you’ve wanted and deserve. They cannae take anything from you.”
Except my self-respect and the respect of my friends and colleagues. I’d worked so hard to regain both in the aftermath of my father’s very public disgrace. Those who wanted to find weaknesses in me would be satisfied. That didn’t alarm me as much as it once would have.
Angus was right. I’d made my fortune and I had Eva.
If securing her peace of mind meant retreating from public scrutiny, I could do it. It was something I’d taken into consideration when Nathan Barker was still a threat. Eva had been willing to hide our relationship from the world to spare me from any possible scandal stemming from her past. It was a sacrifice I hadn’t been willing to make. Hiding. Sneaking moments together. Pretending for others that we weren’t falling deeply and irrevocably in love.
It was different now. She’d become as necessary as air. Protecting her happiness was more crucial than ever. I knew what it felt like to be judged for the sins of someone else and I would never put my wife through that. Contrary to her belief, I could live without having my hand in everything Cross Industries was involved in.
I wouldn’t spend my days in a damned loincloth role-playing Tarzan, but there was a comfortable medium between the two extremes.
“You warned me about Anne.” I shook my head. “I should’ve listened to you.”
He shrugged that off. “What’s done is done. Anne Lucas is a grown woman. She’s old enough to take responsibility for her decisions.”
What are you doing, lad? he’d asked, as Anne slid into the back of the Bentley that first night. In the weeks that followed, he made his disapproval more and more clear until one day, he raised his voice to me. Disgusted with myself for punishing a woman who’d done nothing to me, I’d taken it out on him, telling him to remember his place.
The brief look of pain he’d quickly hidden would haunt me to my grave.
“I’m sorry,” I said, holding his gaze. “For how I handled it.”
A small smile crinkled the lines on his face. “The apology isn’t necessary, but I accept it.”
Scott’s voice came through the speaker. “The PosIT team is here. I also have Arnoldo Ricci on the line for you. He says it won’t take long.”
I looked at Angus to see if he had anything further for me. He tapped his brow in a casual salute and left.
Speaking to Scott, I said, “Put him through.”
I waited for the red light to flash, then opened the line on speaker. “Where are you now?”
“Hello to you, too, my friend,” Arnoldo greeted, his voice accented with the notes of Italy. “I hear I missed you and Eva at the restaurant this week.”
“We had an excellent lunch.”
“Ah, it is the only kind we serve. We are not so bad with dinner, either.”
I rocked back in my chair. “You’re in New York?”
“Yes, and planning your bachelor party, which is why I’m calling. If you have plans this weekend, cancel them.”
“Eva and I will be out of town.”
“She will be out of town. In fact, out of the country, from what I understand from Shawna. And you will be out of town, too. The rest of the guys are in agreement with me. We are going to force you to leave New York for a change.”
I was so taken aback by the first part of what Arnoldo said that I hardly heard the last. “Eva isn’t leaving the country.”
“You’ll have to take that up with her and her friends,” he said smoothly. “As for us, we are going to Rio.”
I found myself standing. Damn it. Eva wasn’t in the Crossfire. I couldn’t just take an elevator and find her.
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