“I am not a dog,” Arnoldo shot back. He looked at me with amusement. “He has been pining for you. Now, you can release him from his torment.”
My anxiety faded. He was warmer toward me than he’d been recently, more like he’d been when we were first introduced. “It’s really good to see you, too, Arnoldo.”
Arash came up next. When he lifted both hands to touch my face, Gideon’s arm shot out between us.
“Don’t even think about it,” he warned.
“That’s not fair.”
I blew him a kiss.
Manuel was sneakier. He came up behind me and lifted me off my feet, smacking his lips against the side of my face. “Good morning, beautiful.”
“Hello, Manuel,” I said with a laugh. “Having fun yet?”
“Don’t you know it.” Setting me down, he winked at me.
Gideon seemed to have calmed down somewhat. He shook Cary’s hand and asked briefly about Ibiza.
His friends met my mother, who instantly turned on the charm and got the expected results—they seemed captivated.
Gideon took my hand in his. “You have your passport?”
“Good. Let’s go.” He walked off briskly.
Hurrying to keep up with his stride, I looked back over my shoulder at the group we’d left behind. They were heading in a different direction.
“They’ve had their weekend with us,” he said, in answer to my unspoken question. “Today is ours.”
He ushered me through an expedited customs process, then back out to the tarmac where a helicopter waited.
The rotor blades began to revolve as we approached. Raúl abruptly appeared and opened the rear door. Gideon helped me up into the back, climbing in directly behind me. I reached for the safety belt, but he brushed my hands aside, securing me in quickly before settling back. He handed me a headset, then slipped on his own.
“Let’s go,” he told the pilot.
We were lifting into the air before Gideon had his seat belt on.
I was breathless when we reached the hotel, still awed by the sight of Rio sprawled beneath us, its beaches dotted with high rises and its hills covered in colorfully painted favelas. Cars packed the roads below, the traffic impressively dense even considered against the commutes I experienced in Manhattan. The famous Christ the Redeemer statue glistened on Corcovado Mountain in the distance to my right, as we rounded Sugarloaf and followed the coastline up to Barra da Tijuca.
It would have taken hours by car to get to the hotel from the airport. Instead, the trip took minutes. We were entering Gideon’s suite before my jet-lagged brain fully appreciated that I’d been in three countries in as many days.
Vientos Cruzados Barra was as luxurious as all the Crosswinds properties I had seen but with a local flavor that made it unique. Gideon’s suite was as large as the one I’d had in Ibiza and his view as impressive.
I paused to admire the beach from the balcony, noting the endless rows of coconut stands and the golden bodies on the beach. Samba music drifted through the air, earthy and sexy and upbeat. I took a picture, then uploaded both it and the one of the guys on the tarmac to my Instagram account. The view from here … #RioDeJaneiro
I tagged everyone and discovered that Arnoldo had snapped a picture of Gideon and me kissing passionately at the airport. It was a great photo, sexy and intimate. Arnoldo had a few hundred thousand followers and the photo already had dozens of comments and likes.
Dear friends enjoying #RioDeJaneiro and each other.
Gideon’s smartphone rang and he excused himself. I heard him speaking in another room and followed. We hadn’t said a word since we left the airport, as if we were saving them for intimate conversation. Or maybe we just didn’t need to say anything. Let the world talk and spread lies. We knew what we had. It didn’t need to be qualified, justified, or expressed.
I found him in an office, standing in front of a U-shaped desk covered in photos and notes, some of which had spilled onto the floor. The place was a mess, so unlike the rigid order my husband usually maintained. It took a moment to register that the photos were of the inside of a club and that they matched the background I’d seen in the photo of Gideon on Cinco de Mayo.
It was kind of eerie that we’d come to the same idea. It was also kind of awesome.
I turned to leave.
I glanced at him.
“Tomorrow morning is better,” he said to whoever was on the other end of the call. “Text me when it’s confirmed.”
Gideon hung up and silenced his phone, setting it down by his sunglasses. “I want you to see these.”
Shaking my head, I told him, “You don’t have to prove anything to me.”
He stared at me. Without his shades, I saw the shadows under his eyes.
“You didn’t sleep last night.” It wasn’t a question. I should have known he wouldn’t.
“I’m going to fix this.”
“I heard you over the phone,” he said tightly.
I leaned into the doorjamb. I knew how he’d felt when I kissed Brett—murderous. They’d fought like beasts. A violent physical confrontation hadn’t been an option for me. My body had purged my jealousy the only way it could.
“Do what you have to do,” I murmured. “But I don’t need anything. I’m good. You and me—us—we’re good.”
Gideon took a deep breath. Let it out. Then he reached up behind him and yanked his shirt over his head. He kicked off his sandals while he unfastened his shorts, letting them drop to the floor. He wore nothing underneath.
I watched him prowl toward me naked, noting the darker tan lines and the rigidness of his cock. He was impossibly hard, his balls already drawn up tight. Every muscle flexed as he moved. His powerful thighs, his washboard abs, his thick biceps.
I didn’t move, barely breathed, hardly blinked. It amazed me that I could take him. He was nearly a foot taller and close to a hundred pounds heavier. And strong. So very strong.
When we made love, it turned me on to lie beneath him and feel all of that incredible power focused solely on pleasuring my body and taking pleasure in it.
Gideon reached me and pulled me into his arms. He lowered his head to take my mouth in a lush, deep kiss. Savoring and unhurried. Soft licks and coaxing lips. I didn’t realize he’d untied my top until it slipped down my arms. He slid his thumbs beneath the waistband of my shorts, gliding them back and forth across the sensitive skin, until he halted the kiss to crouch and help me step out of my clothes. I whimpered, wanting more.
“Let’s leave the heels on,” he murmured, straightening to his full height. His eyes were so brilliantly blue they reminded me of the water we’d skinny-dipped in when we married.
I wrapped my arms around his shoulders and he lifted me, carrying me to the bedroom.
“And some of those little round cheese puff breads,” I told Gideon, who relayed the addition to room service in Portuguese.
Lying prone on the bed facing the open sliding doors to the balcony, I kicked my legs up behind me, still wearing the fuck-me shoes. But nothing else. I rested my chin on my crossed arms. The warm ocean breeze felt good on my skin, cooling the sweat that covered every inch of me. The fan over the bed, with its mahogany blades carved into the shape of palm fronds, swirled lazily above.
I took a deep breath and smelled sex and Gideon.
Hehung up and the mattress dipped as he moved toward me, his lips brushing over my ass, then along my spine to my shoulder. He sprawled beside me, propping his head in one hand. The other stroked up and down my back.
I turned to look at him. “How many languages do you know?”
“A little of many and a lot of a few.”
“Hmm.” I arched into his touch.
He kissed my shoulder again. “I’m glad you’re here,” he murmured. “Glad I stayed.”
“I occasionally have good ideas.”
“So do I.” The lascivious gleam in his eyes told me exactly what he was thinking about.
He hadn’t slept all night, then super-slow-fucked me for nearly two hours. He’d come three times, the first time so hard he’d growled. Loudly. I knew the sound must have carried out the open windows. I’d orgasmed just hearing it. And he was ready to go again. He was always ready. Lucky me.
I rolled to my side, facing him. “Does it take two women to wear you out?”
Gideon’s face shuttered instantly. “I’m not going there.”
I touched his face. “Hey. It was a joke, baby. A bad one.”
He rolled to his back and grabbed a pillow, putting it between us. Then he turned his head toward me, a frown between his brows. “There used to be this … emptiness. Inside me,” he said quietly. “You called it a void. Said you filled it. You did.”
Listening, I just waited. He was talking. Sharing. It was hard for him and he didn’t like it. But he loved me more.
“I was waiting for you.” He brushed the hair back from my cheek. “A dozen women couldn’t have done what you did. But … Christ.” He ran both hands through his hair. “Distractions made it easier not to think about it.”