The hair on my nape prickled.
Megumi glanced at me, and I shook my head.
I knew better than to look directly at him.
I couldn't be sure I wouldn't do something rash or desperate.
I craved him so deeply, and it had been too long since he'd held me.
I used to have the right to touch him, to reach for his hand, to lean into him, to sift my fingers through his hair.
It was a horrible ache inside me that I wasn't allowed to do those things anymore.
I had to bite my lip to stifle a moan of agony at being this close to him again.
I kept my head down, but I felt Gideon's eyes on me.
I continued talking to my co-workers, forcing myself to focus on the discussion of furniture and the compromises necessary for cohabiting with someone of the opposite sex.
As the car continued its ascent and frequent stops, the number of people in the car dwindled.
I was acutely attuned to where Gideon was, aware that he never took elevators this crowded, suspecting and hoping and praying that he'd just wanted to see me, be with me, even if it was only in this terribly impersonal way.
When we arrived on the twentieth floor, I took a deep breath and prepared to step out, hating the inevitable separation from the one thing in the world that made me feel truly alive.
The doors opened.
My eyes closed.
I was stopped by the softly rasped command.
I knew I should keep going as if I hadn't heard him.
I knew it was just going to hurt so much worse if I gave him any more of myself, even a minute more of my life.
But how could I possibly resist? I'd never been able to when it came to Gideon.
I stepped aside so that my co- workers could exit.
Will frowned when I didn't follow, confused, but Megumi tugged him out.
The doors closed.
I moved into the corner, my heart pounding.
Gideon waited on the opposite side, radiating expectation and demand.
As we climbed to the top floor, my body responded to his near- tangible need.
My breasts swelled and became heavy; my sex grew slick and swollen.
I was greedy for him.
My breathing quickened.
He hadn't even touched me and I was nearly panting with desire.
The elevator glided to a stop.
Gideon pulled the key out of his pocket and plugged it into the panel, suspending the car.
Then he came to me.There were only inches between us.
I kept my head bowed and stared at his gleaming oxfords.
I heard his breathing, deep and quick like mine.
I smelled the subtly masculine scent of his skin, and my pulse leaped.
"Turn around, Eva."
A shiver moved through me at the familiar and beloved authoritative tone.
Closing my eyes, I turned, then gasped as he immediately pressed against my back, flattening me to the wall of the car.
His fingers linked with mine, holding my hands up by my shoulders.
"You're so beautiful," he breathed, nuzzling into my hair.
"It hurts to look at you."
What are you doing?" I felt his hunger pouring off him, enveloping me.
His powerful frame was hard and hot, and vibrating with tension.
He was aroused, his thick cock a firm pressure I couldn't stop myself from grinding into.
I wanted him.
I wanted him inside me.
I'd been so empty without him.
He took a deep shuddering breath.
His fingers flexed restlessly between mine, as if he wanted to touch me elsewhere but restrained himself.
I felt the ring I'd given him digging into my flesh.
I turned my head to look at it and tensed when I saw it, confused and agonized.
"Why?" I whispered.
"What do you want from me? An orgasm? You want to fuck me, Gideon? Is that it? Blow your load inside me?" His breath hissed out at having those crude words thrown back in his face.
"Don't call it what it is?" I closed my eyes.
Just do it.
But don't put that ring on and act like this is something it's not."
"I never take it off.
His right hand released mine and he reached into his pocket.
I watched as he slid the ring he'd given me back onto my finger, and then he lifted my hand to his mouth.
He kissed it, then pressed his lips - quick, hard, angry - to my temple.
"Wait," he snapped.
Then he was gone.
The car began its descent.
My right hand curled into a fist and I backed away from the wall, breathing hard.
When I exited the elevator on the twentieth floor, I was dry-eyed and determined.
Megumi buzzed me through the security doors and pushed to her feet.
"Is everything all right?" I stopped by her desk.
"I have no fucking clue.
That man is a total head trip."
Her brows rose.
"Keep me posted."
"I should just write a book," I muttered, resuming my walk back to my cubicle and wondering why in hell everyone was so interested in my dating life.
When I got to my desk, I dropped my purse in the drawer and sat down to call Cary.
"Hey," I said, when he answered.
"If you get bored - " "If?" He snorted.
"Remember that folder of information you compiled on Gideon? Can you make me one of those on Dr.
Terrence Lucas?" "Okay.
Do I know this guy?" "No.
He's a pediatrician."
There was a pause, then, "Are you pregnant?" "No! Jeez.
And if I were, I'd need an obstetrician."
Spell his name for me."
I gave Cary what he needed, then looked up Dr.
Lucas's office and made an appointment to see him.
"I won't need to fill out any new-patient paperwork," I told the receptionist.
"I just want a quick consult."
After that, I called Vidal Records and left a message for Christopher to call me.
When Mark came back from lunch, I went over and knocked on his open door.
I need to ask for an hour in the morning for an appointment.
Is it all right if I come in at ten and stay 'til six?""Ten to five is fine, Eva."
He looked at me carefully.
"Everything okay?" "Getting better every day."
"I'm really glad to hear that."
We dived back into work, but thoughts of Gideon weighed heavily on my mind.
I kept staring at my ring, remembering what he had said when he'd first given it to me: The Xs are me holding on to you.
For him? For him to come back to me? Why? I couldn't understand why he'd cut me off the way he had, then expected me to take him back.
Especially with Corinne in the picture.
I spent the rest of the afternoon going over the last few weeks in my mind, recalling conversations I'd had with Gideon, things he'd said or done, searching for answers.
When I left the Crossfire at the end of the day, I saw the Bentley waiting out front and waved at Angus, who smiled back.
I had issues with his boss, but Angus wasn't to blame for them.
It was hot and muggy outside.
I went to the Duane Reade around the corner for a bottle of cold water to drink on the walk home and a bag of mini chocolates to enjoy once I got through my Krav Maga class.
When I left the drugstore, Angus was waiting just outside the door at the curb, shadowing me.
As I turned the corner back toward the Crossfire to start the trip home, I saw Gideon step out to the street with Corinne.
His hand was at the small of her back, leading her toward a sleek black Mercedes sedan I recognized as one of his.
She was smiling.
His expression was inscrutable.
Horrified, I couldn't move or look away.
I stood there in the middle of the crowded sidewalk, my stomach twisting with grief and anger and a terrible, awful feeling of betrayal.
He looked up and saw me, freezing in place just as I had.
The Latino driver I'd met the day my father arrived opened the back door and Corinne disappeared into the car.
Gideon remained where he was, his gaze locked with mine.
There was no way he missed me lifting my hand and flipping him the bird.Abruptly, I was struck by a thought.
I turned my back to Gideon and moved off to the side, digging into my purse for my phone.
When I found it, I speed-dialed my mom, and when she answered, I said, "That day we went out to lunch with Megumi, you freaked out on the walk back to the Crossfire.
You saw him, didn't you? Nathan.
You saw Nathan at the Crossfire."
"Yes," she admitted.
"That's why Richard decided it would be best to just pay him what he wanted.
Nathan said he'd stay away from you as long as he had the money to leave the country.
Why do you ask?" "It didn't hit me until just now that Nathan was the reason why you reacted the way you did."
I faced forward again and started walking quickly toward home.
The Mercedes was gone, but my temper was rising.
"I have to go, Mom.
I'll call you later."
"Is everything all right?" she asked anxiously.
"Not yet, but I'm working on it."
"I'm here for you, if you need me."
I love you."
When I got home, Cary was sitting on the couch with his laptop on his thighs and his bare feet on the coffee table.
"Hey," he called, his gaze still on his screen.
I dumped my stuff and kicked off my shoes.
"You know what?" He looked up at me from beneath a lock of hair that had fallen over his eyes.
"What?" "I thought Gideon took a hike because of Nathan.
Everything was fine and then it wasn't, and shortly after that the police were telling us about Nathan.
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