Did she wonder at my dry eyes? God knew I did. As crazy as my mother drove me at times, I loved her. Didn’t I? What kind of daughter didn’t feel anything when her mom died?
Angus took Gideon’s abandoned chair and began recounting what had happened in Westport.
Gideon took my hand and led me a few feet away. “I need some time with you.”
Frowning, I nodded. “Yeah, of course.”
He drew me along with him toward our bedroom.
We both turned at the sound of my father’s voice. “Yes?”
Dad stood by the living room, his face hard and his gaze heated. “We have to talk.”
“Agreed,” Gideon said with a nod. “Just give me five minutes with my wife.”
He kept going, not giving my dad a chance to object. I followed along to our bedroom, Lucky racing ahead of us. I watched Gideon as he shut the door with the three of us inside. Then he faced me, his gaze searching.
“You should take a nap,” I told him. “You look tired.” And that troubled me. I couldn’t recall when I’d ever seen him so wiped out.
“Do you see me?” he asked hoarsely. “Are you looking at me and seeing me?”
My frown deepened. I looked him over from head to toe. Oh. He’d dressed for me. Thinking of me. “Yes.”
He reached out and touched my face. His tormented gaze held mine. “I feel like I’m invisible to you.”
“I see you.”
“I …” He breathed hard, his chest working as if he’d just run miles. “I’m sorry, Eva. Sorry about Anne … about last night …”
“I know.” Of course I knew that.
He was so upset. Much more than I was. Why? My self-control was never as good as his. Except for now. From the moment I learned the truth, I’d felt an icy resolve form somewhere deep inside me. I didn’t understand it, but I used it. To deal with the police. And my dad and Cary, who needed me to be strong for them.
“Damn it.” He came to me and cupped my face in his hands. “Yell at me. Hit me. For God’s sake—”
“Why?” He stared at me as if I were crazy. “Because this is my fault! Anne was my problem and I didn’t manage her. I didn’t—”
“You’re not responsible for her actions, Gideon,” I said crossly, frustrated he would think that way. “Why would you believe you were? That doesn’t make any sense.”
His hands went to my shoulders and he gave me a little shake. “You’re not making sense! Why aren’t you mad that I didn’t tell you about your mother? You lost it when I hired Mark and didn’t tell you. You left me—” His voice broke. “You’re not leaving me over this, Eva. We’ll work through it … we’ll figure out how to get past it.”
“I’m not leaving you.” I touched his face. “You need to sleep, Gideon.”
“God.” He caught me up and took my mouth, his lips slanting over mine. I put my arms around him, stroking his back to try to calm him down.
“Where are you?” he muttered. “Come back to me.”
Cupping my jaw, he pressed gently with trembling fingers, urging my mouth to open. The moment it did, his tongue swept inside, licking desperately. With a groan, he pulled me up hard against him, urgently fucking his tongue into my mouth.
Heat bloomed inside me. The warmth of his feverishly hot skin penetrated my clothes, sinking into my flesh. Desperate for something to thaw me, I kissed him back, my tongue stroking his.
“Eva.” Gideon released me, his hands moving over me, sliding over my back and arms.
I pushed up onto the tips of my toes, deepening the contact of our mouths. My hands slid beneath his shirt and he hissed, arching into me and away from the chill of my fingers. My touch followed, caressing his skin, seeking that warmth.
“Yes,” he gasped into my mouth. “God, Eva. I love you.”
I licked across his lips, sucked his tongue when he licked me back. The sound he made was both pain and relief, his hands cupping my buttocks and pulling me up against him. I clung to him, lost in him. He was what I needed. I couldn’t think about anything else when he was holding me.
“Tell me you love me,” he breathed. “That you’ll forgive me. Next week … next year … someday …”
“I love you.”
He tore his mouth away, hugging me so tightly it was hard to breathe. My feet dangled above the floor, my temple pressed to his.
“I’ll make it up to you,” he vowed. “I’ll find a way.”
“Shh …” It was there, in the back of my mind, the dismay. The hurt. But I didn’t know whether it was because of Gideon or my mom.
I closed my eyes. Focused on the adored, familiar scent of him. “Kiss me again.”
Gideon turned his head, his lips finding mine. I craved deeper, harder, but he denied me. As ferociously passionate as his first kisses had been, this one was soft. Tender. I whimpered a protest, my hands pushing into his hair to pull him closer.
“Angel.” He nuzzled against me. “Your dad’s waiting.”
Oh, God. I loved my dad, but his agony and helpless rage were pouring off him, battering me. I didn’t know how to comfort or soothe. There was a void inside me, as if I had nothing left to give anyone. But everyone needed me.
Putting me back on my feet, Gideon searched my face again. “Let me be here for you. Don’t shut me out.”
“I’m not trying to.” I looked away, toward the bathroom. There’s a towel on the floor. Why is it there? “There’s something wrong.”
“Yes. Everything,” he said tightly. “It’s all fucked up. I don’t know what to do.”
“No. Wrong inside me.”
“Eva. How can you say that? There’s nothing wrong with you.” He cupped my face again, brought it around.
“You nicked yourself.” I touched the little spot of dried blood on his jaw. “You never do that, either.”
“What’s going on in that head of yours?” He wrapped himself around me. “I don’t know what to do,” he said again. “I don’t know what to do.”
Gideon kept my hand in his as we returned to the living room.
My father looked over from where he sat on the couch, then stood. Worn jeans. A faded UCSD T-shirt. The shadow of stubble on his strong square jaw.
Gideon had shaved. Why hadn’t I processed that when I noticed the cut from the razor? Why hadn’t I noticed that he’d changed out of his tux?
Some things came to me with strange clarity. Others were lost in the fog in my mind.
The detectives were gone. Cary was curled up against the armrest of the couch, fast asleep, his mouth hanging partway open. I could hear him snoring softly.
“We can step into my office,” Gideon said, releasing my hand to gesture down the hallway.
With a curt nod, my dad rounded the coffee table. “Lead the way.”
Gideon started walking. I fell into step behind him.
“Eva.” My dad’s voice stopped me and I turned around. “I need to speak to Cross alone.”
“I’ve got things to say that you don’t need to hear.”
I shook my head slowly. “No.”
He made a frustrated noise. “We’re not arguing about this.”
“Dad, I’m not a child. Anything you have to say to my husband has something to do with me and I think I should be involved.”
“I have no objection,” Gideon said, returning to my side.
My father’s jaw tensed, his gaze darting back and forth between us. “Fine.”
We all went to Gideon’s office. Chris was sitting at Gideon’s desk, talking on the phone. He pushed back and stood when we came in. “Whenever you’re done for the day,” he said to whomever he was talking to. “I’ll explain when I see you. All right. Talk to you then, son.”
“I need my office a minute,” Gideon told him when he hung up.
“Sure.” His concerned gaze raked all three of us. “I’ll pull out some plates and things for lunch. We all need to eat something.”
Chris left the room, which drew my eye to my dad, who was staring at the massive collage of photos on the wall. The one in the center was of me, sleeping. It was an intimate image; the kind of picture a man took to remember the things he had done with his lover before she’d fallen asleep.
I looked at the other photos, noted one of me and Gideon at an event that I now knew had been captured by Hall. I turned my head away, feeling a prickle running down my spine.
Fear? Hall had taken my mother from me, but who he’d really wanted was Gideon. I could be mourning my husband now. My stomach cramped at the thought, hunching me over.
“Angel.” He was near me in an instant, urging me to sit in one of the two chairs facing his desk.
“What’s wrong?” My dad hovered, too, his eyes wild. I couldn’t recognize my own feelings, but I saw his. He was frightened for me, more anxious than was warranted.