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My lips pursed. Because I wanted him to look at me when he was saying stuff like that, I untied my robe and let the silk whisper off my shoulders. I turned away to hang it by the closet door, stepping over Lucky, who’d passed out right in the middle of the floor. I arched my back as I reached for the hook, giving Gideon a prime view of the ass he loved.

As I had come to expect of my husband, he’d gifted me with a new dress for the occasion, a gorgeous dove gray gown with a beaded bodice and lightly layered diaphanous skirt that drifted like smoke when I moved.

Because of the plunging neckline—which I knew from experience would bring out his inner caveman—I’d chosen a bra designed to put my boobs on display. Together with the matching underwear, smoky eyes, and glossy lips, I looked like expensive sex.

When I faced him again, my husband was just how I wanted him—frozen in place with his eyes on me.

“I need you to promise me something, ace.”

He raked me from head to toe with a scorching glance. “At the moment, I’ll promise you anything.”

“Just this moment?” I pouted.

He muttered something and walked over to me, cupping my face in his hands. Finally, he was with me. One hundred percent. “And the next, and the next after that.” His gaze caressed my face. “What do you need, angel mine?”

I caught him by the hips, searched his eyes. “You. Just you. Happy and whole and madly in love with me.” The elegant arch of his brows lifted slightly, as if being happy seemed like a dubious proposition. “You’re so sad. It’s killing me.”

A soft sigh left him and I watched the tension drain away with it. “I don’t know why I wasn’t better prepared. She’s incapable of accepting what happened. If she can’t do it to save her marriage, she sure as hell won’t do it for me.”

“There’s something missing in her, Gideon. Something essential. Don’t you dare believe this has anything to do with you.”

His mouth twisted wryly. “Between her and my dad … Not the greatest gene pool, is it?”

Sliding my fingers into the tailored waistband of his trousers, I yanked him closer. “Listen, ace. Your parents both buckled under pressure and put themselves first. Reality is something they can’t face. But guess what? You didn’t get any of their flaws. Not a single one.”

“Eva—”

“You, Gideon Geoffrey Cross, are the distillation of what’s best about them. Individually, they don’t amount to much. But together … Man, did they hit it out of the park with you.”

Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t need this, Eva.”

“I’m not bullshitting you. You don’t have any problem with reality. You face it head on and tackle that bitch to the ground.”

He huffed out a laugh.

“You’ve got a right to be hurt and pissed, Gideon. I’m pissed, too. They’re not worthy of you. That doesn’t make you less, it makes you more. I wouldn’t have married you if you weren’t a good man, someone I respect and admire. You inspire me, don’t you know that?”

His hand slid through my hair to my nape. “Angel.” His forehead touched mine.

I caressed his back, feeling the warm hard muscle beneath his shirt. “Grieve if you have to, but don’t close up and blame yourself. I won’t let you.”

“No, you won’t.” He nudged my head back and kissed the tip of my nose. “Thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me for anything.”

“You were right. I needed to get it out and confront her. I never would have, if not for you.”

“You don’t know that.”

Gideon looked at me with such love, my breath caught. “Yes, I do.”

His smartphone chimed with an incoming text. He pressed his lips to my forehead, then moved to the dresser to read the message. “Raúl’s on his way with Cary.”

“I better get dressed, then. I need you to fasten me up.”

“Always my pleasure.”

Pulling the gown off its hanger, I stepped into it and slid my arms into the heavily beaded straps. My husband made quick work of the hook-and-eye fastening that rested just above the small of my back. I watched in the full-length mirror, biting my lower lip as the bodice tightened and settled into place where I’d thought it would. The neckline plunged to a spot halfway between my cleavage and my navel.

It was outrageously sexy, the kind of revealing style smaller-breasted women pulled off easily. On me, it was risqué, although the rest of the gown covered everything except my back and arms. I’d decided against jewelry to tone down the effect as much as I could. Still, it was a beautiful dress and we were a young couple. We could pull it off.

Gideon’s gaze met mine in the mirror. I gave him my best innocent look and waited for him to see how much of my assets he’d put on display.

The storm started brewing with a faint line between his brows. That quickly progressed into a full-on scowl. He tugged at the straps from the back.

“Is there a problem?” I asked sweetly.

His gaze narrowed. Reaching around with both hands, he slid his fingers into my cleavage and tried pushing my breasts apart to hide the curves beneath the thick straps.

I hummed and leaned against him.

Taking my shoulders, he straightened me up so he could study the fit. “It didn’t look like that in the photo.”

Deliberately misunderstanding him, I told him, “I haven’t put my heels on yet. It won’t drag on the ground when I do.”

“I’m not worried about the bottom,” he said tightly. “We need to put something in that middle part.”

“Why would we do that?”

“You know damned well why.” He prowled over to the dresser and yanked a drawer open. A moment later, he came back and thrust a white handkerchief toward me. “Put that in there.”

I laughed. “Oh my God. You’re kidding.”

But he wasn’t. Reaching around from behind me, he shoved the unfolded cloth into my bodice, tucking it into either side.

“No,” I told him crossly. “That looks ridiculous.”

When his hands fell away, I gave him a second to see how stupid it looked. “Forget it. I’ll wear something else.”

“Yeah,” he agreed, nodding and shoving his hands in his pockets.

I tugged the handkerchief out.

“Something like this,” he murmured.

Sparks of fire shot out of his hands as he reached over my head and wrapped a dazzling diamond choker around my neck. At least two inches wide, it hugged the base of my throat and glittered as if lit from within.

“Gideon.” I touched it with trembling fingers as he fastened it securely. “It’s … gorgeous.”

His arms wrapped around my waist, his lips touching my temple. “You’re gorgeous. The necklace is just pretty.”

I turned in his embrace and looked up at him. “Thank you.”

The quick flash of his smile made my toes curl into the carpet.

Smiling back, I said, “I thought you were serious about my boobs.”

“Angel, I take your tits very seriously. So tonight, when someone ogles them, they’ll realize you’re much too expensive and they couldn’t possibly afford you.”

I smacked his shoulder. “Shut up.”

He grabbed my hand and pulled me to the dresser. He reached into the open drawer and pulled out a diamond cuff. I watched, stunned, as he slid it around my wrist. That was followed by a velvet box, which he opened to show me the diamond teardrop earrings inside. “You should put these on yourself.”

I gaped at them, then at him.

Gideon just smiled. “You’re priceless. The necklace alone wasn’t going to get the message across.”

Staring at him, I couldn’t find the words to say anything.

My silence turned his smile into a wicked grin. “When we get home, I’m going to fuck you while you’re wearing diamonds and nothing else.”

The erotic image that popped into my mind sent a shiver through me.

Catching my shoulders, he turned me around and swatted my ass. “You look sensational. From every angle. Now, stop distracting me and let me get ready.”

I grabbed my sparkly heels off the shoe rack and left the closet, more dazzled by my husband than by the jewels he’d given me.

“You look like a million dollars.” Cary pulled back from my hug and checked me out. “Actually, I think you’re wearing a million dollars. Jesus. I was so blinded by your bling I almost missed that you’d let your girls come out and play.”

“That’s Gideon’s point,” I said dryly, giving a turn to set the skirt of my gown drifting around my legs. “You, of course, are gorgeous.”

He gave me his famous bad-boy grin. “I know.”

I had to laugh. I thought most men looked good in a tuxedo. Cary, however, looked amazing. Very dapper. Like a Rock Hudson or Cary Grant. The combination of his roguish charm and stunning good looks made him irresistible. He’d put on a little weight. Not enough to change his clothing size, but enough to fill out his face a little more. He looked good and healthy, which was rarer than it should be.

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