"Arizona is where your business is?" "Unfortunately."


Uh .


whoa.


Instead of risking my shot at coffee, I postponed arguing and continued on to the kitchen.


I passed through Gideon's spacious apartment with its stunning prewar architecture and slender arched windows, my heels alternately clicking over gleaming hardwood and muffled by Aubusson rugs.


Decorated in dark woods and neutral fabrics, the luxurious space was brightened by jeweled accents.


As much as his place screamed money, it managed to remain warm and welcoming, a comfortable place to relax and feel pampered.


When I reached the kitchen, I wasted no time in shoving a travel mug under the one-cup coffeemaker.


Gideon joined me with his jacket draped over one arm and his cell phone in his hand.


I put another portable mug under the spout for him before I went to the fridge for some half-and-half.


"It might be fortunate after all."


I faced him and reminded him of my roommate issue.


"I need to knock heads with Cary this weekend."


Gideon dropped his phone in the inner pocket of his jacket, then hung the garment off the back of one of the bar stools at the island.


"You're coming with me, Eva."


Exhaling in a rush, I added half- and-half to my coffee.


"To do what? Lie around naked, waiting for you to finish work and fuck me?" His gaze held mine as he collected his mug and sipped his steaming coffee with too-calm deliberation.


"Are we going to argue?" "Are you going to be difficult? We talked about this.


You know I can't leave Cary after what happened last night."


The multibody tangle I'd found in my living room gave new meaning to the word clusterfuck.


I put the carton back in the fridge and absorbed the sensation of being drawn to him inexorably by the force of his will.


It'd been that way from the beginning.


When he chose to, Gideon could make me feel his demands.


And it was very, very difficult to ignore the part of me that begged to give him whatever he wanted.


"You're going to take care of business and I'm going to take care of my best friend, then we'll go back to taking care of each other."


"I won't be back until Sunday night, Eva."


Oh .


I felt a sharp twinge in my belly at hearing we'd be apart that long.


Most couples didn't spend every free moment together, but we weren't like most people.


We both had hang- ups, insecurities, and an addiction to each other that required regular contact to keep us functioning properly.


I hated being apart from him.


I rarely went more than a couple of hours without thinking of him.


"You can't stand the thought, either," he said quietly, studying me in that way he had that saw everything.


"By Sunday we'll both be worthless."


I blew on the surface of my coffee, then took a quick sip.


I was unsettled at the thought of going the entire weekend without him.


Worse, I hated the thought of him spending that amount of time away from me.


He had a world of choices and possibilities out there, women who weren't so screwed up and difficult to be with.


Still, I managed to say, "We both know that's not exactly healthy, Gideon."


"Says who? No one else knows what it's like to be us."


Okay, I'd give him that.


"We need to get to work," I said, knowing this impasse was going to drive both of us crazy all day.


We'd sort it out later, but for now we were stuck with it.


Resting his hip against the counter, he crossed his ankles and stubbornly settled in.


"What we need is for you to come with me."


"Gideon."


My foot began to tap against the travertine tile.


"I can't just give up my life for you.


If I turn into arm candy, you'll get bored real quick.


Hell, I'd get sick of myself.


It shouldn't kill us to spend a couple days straightening out other parts of our lives, even if we hate doing it."


His gaze captured mine.


"You're too much trouble to be arm candy."


"Takes a troublemaker to know one."


Gideon straightened, shrugging off his brooding sensuality and instantly capturing me with his severe intensity.


So mercurial - like me.


"You've gotten a lot of press lately, Eva.


It's no secret that you're in New York.


I can't leave you here while I'm gone.


Bring Cary with us if you have to.


You can butt heads with him while you're waiting for me to finish work and fuck you."


"Ha."


Even as I acknowledged his attempt to lighten the strain with humor, I realized what his real objection to being apart from me was  - Nathan.


My former stepbrother.


The living nightmare from my past that Gideon seemed to fear might reappear in my present.


It frightened me to concede that he wasn't totally wrong.


The shield of anonymity that had protected me for years had been shattered by our highly public relationship.


God .


we totally didn't have the time to get into that mess, but I knew it wasn't a point Gideon would concede on.


He was a man who claimed his possessions utterly, fought off his competitors with ruthless precision, and would never allow any harm to come to me.


I was his safe place, which made me rare and invaluable to him.


Gideon glanced at his watch.


"Time to go, angel."


He fetched his jacket, then gestured for me to precede him through his luxurious living room, where I grabbed my purse and the bag holding my walking shoes and other necessities.


A few moments later, we'd finished the descent to the ground floor in his private elevator and slid into the back of his black Bentley SUV.


"Hi, Angus," I greeted his driver, who touched the brim of his old- fashioned chauffeur's hat.


"Good morning, Miss Tramell," he replied, smiling.


He was an older gentleman, with a liberal sprinkling of white in his red hair.


I liked him for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was the fact that he'd been driving Gideon around since grade school and genuinely cared for him.


A quick glance at the Rolex my mother and stepfather had given me told me I'd make it to work on time .


if we didn't get boxed in by traffic.


Even as I thought this, Angus slid deftly into the sea of taxis and cars on the street.


After the tense quiet of Gideon's apartment, the noise of Manhattan woke me as effectively as a jolt of caffeine.


The blaring of horns and the thud of tires over a manhole cover invigorated me.


Rapid-moving streams of pedestrians flanked both sides of the clogged street, while buildings stretched ambitiously toward the sky, keeping us in shadow even as the sun climbed.


God, I seriously loved New York.


I took the time every day to absorb it, to try to draw it into me.


I settled into the leather seat back and reached for Gideon's hand, giving it a squeeze.


"Would you feel better if Cary and I left town for the weekend? Maybe a quick trip to Vegas?" Gideon's gaze narrowed.


"Am I a threat to Cary? Is that why you won't consider Arizona?" "What? No.


I don't think so."


Shifting in the seat, I faced him.


"Sometimes it takes an all-nighter before I can get him to open up."


"You don't think so?" he repeated my answer, ignoring everything but the first words out of my mouth.


"He might feel like he can't reach out to me when he needs to talk because I'm always with you," I clarified, steadying my mug with two hands as we drove over a pothole.


"Listen, you're going to have to get over any jealousy about Cary.


When I say he's like a brother to me, Gideon, I'm not kidding.


You don't have to like him, but you have to understand that he's a permanent part of my life."


"Do you tell him the same thing about me?" "I don't have to.


He knows.


I'm trying to reach a compromise here - " "I never compromise."


My brows rose.


"In business, I'm sure you don't.


But this is a relationship, Gideon.


It requires give and - " Gideon's growl cut me off.


"My plane, my hotel, and if you leave the premises you take a security team with you."


His sudden, reluctant capitulation surprised me silent for a long minute.


Long enough for his brow to arch over those piercing blue eyes in a look that said take it or leave it.


"Don't you think that's a little extreme?" I prodded.


"I'll have Cary with me."


"You'll forgive me if I don't trust him with your safety after last night."


As he drank his coffee, his posture made it very clear that the conversation was done in his mind.


He'd given me his acceptable options.


I might've gotten bitchy about that kind of high-handedness if I didn't understand that taking care of me was his motivation.


My past had vicious skeletons, and dating Gideon had put me in a media spotlight that could bring Nathan Barker right to my door.


Plus, controlling everything around him was just part of who Gideon was.


It came with the package and I had to make accommodations for that.


"Okay," I agreed.


"Which hotel is yours?" "I have a few.


You can take your pick."


He turned his head to look out the window.


"Scott will e-mail you the list.


When you've decided, let him know and he'll make the arrangements.


We'll fly out together and return together."


Leaning my shoulder into the seat, I took a drink of my coffee and noted the way his hand was fisted on his thigh.


In the tinted window's reflection, Gideon's face was impassive, but I could feel his moodiness.


"Thank you," I murmured.


"Don't.


I'm not happy about this, Eva."


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