“Detective Graves.” She was dressed for work in dark slacks and a red jersey top. She wore a black blazer that didn’t hide either her badge or her firearm. Her boots were scuffed and no-nonsense, much like her attitude.
“Spotted you on my way out. Heard about your engagement. Congratulations.”
My stomach flipped a little. Part of Gideon’s alibi—if one could call it that—was that we’d been broken up when Nathan was killed. Why would a powerful, upstanding public figure kill a guy over an ex he’d left behind without looking back?
Getting engaged so quickly had to look suspicious. Graves had told me she and her partner had moved on to other cases, but I understood what kind of cop she was. Shelley Graves believed in justice. She believed Nathan had gotten his, but I knew something inside her questioned whether Gideon had something to pay for, too.
“Thank you,” I replied, pulling my shoulders back. In this, Gideon and I were a team. “I’m a lucky girl.”
She glanced at the bleachers. At Raúl. “Where’s Ben Clancy?”
I frowned. “I don’t know. Why?”
“Just curious. You know, one of the feds I talked to about Yedemsky also has the last name Clancy.” Her gaze bored into me. “You think they’re any relation?”
The blood drained out of my head at the mention of the Russian mobster whose corpse had been sporting Nathan’s bracelet. I swayed a little with a sudden rush of dizziness. “What?”
She nodded, as if she’d expected as much. “Probably not. Anyway, I’ll see you later.”
I watched her walk away, her attention on Raúl. Then, she paused and faced me again. “You inviting me to the wedding?”
I fought through the buzzing in my head to say, “The reception. We’re keeping the wedding small, just family.”
“Really? Didn’t expect that.” Something like a smile transformed her thin face. “He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”
I couldn’t even begin to decipher what that meant. I was too busy trying to process everything else she’d said. I didn’t even realize I’d chased after her until I had her elbow in my hand.
She stopped, her body taut in a way that told me to let go. Which I did. Immediately.
I stared at her for a beat, trying to pull my thoughts together. Clancy. Gideon. Nathan. What the hell did it mean? Where was she going with it?
Most of all, why did I feel as if she were helping me? Looking out for me. For Gideon.
What I ended up saying startled me. “I’m looking to support an organization that does good work for abuse survivors.”
Her brows rose. “Why are you telling me?”
“I don’t know where to start.”
She shot me a look. “Try Crossroads,” she said dryly. “I’ve heard good things about that one.”
I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom’s sitting room when Gideon came home. He walked in wearing loose-legged jeans and a V-neck white T-shirt, the keys to my place spinning around his finger.
I stared. I couldn’t help it. Would he always stop my heart? I hoped so.
The room was small and girly, decorated by my mother with antiques, such as the silly escritoire I was supposed to use as a desk. Gideon infused a drugging dose of testosterone into the space, making me feel soft and feminine and eager to be ravished.
“Hi, ace.” The love and longing he inspired were exposed in those two words.
The keys were caught in his hand abruptly and he came to a stop, looking down at me much as he had that first day in the Crossfire lobby. His eyes took on the brooding fierceness I found wildly exciting.
For some reason I would probably never understand, he felt the same about me.
“Angel mine.” He dropped gracefully into a crouch, his hair sliding briefly along his cheekbones in a loving caress. “What are you working on?”
His fingers rifled through the papers scattered on the floor around me. Before my research into his Crossroads Foundation distracted him, I caught his hand and squeezed it.
I blurted out what I knew, as abruptly as the info had been sprung on me. “It was Clancy, Gideon. Clancy and his brother in the FBI planted Nathan’s bracelet on that mobster.”
He nodded. “I figured.”
“You did? How?” I smacked him on the shoulder. “Why didn’t you say something? I’ve been worried sick.”
Gideon settled on the floor in front of me, crossing his long legs in a pose mirroring mine. “I don’t have all the answers yet. Angus and I have been narrowing it down. Whoever was responsible was either watching Nathan or me and following our movements, so we started there.”
“Or watching both of you.”
“Precisely. Who would do that? Who had a stake in it? In you?”
“Jesus.” I searched his face. “Detective Graves knows. The FBI. Clancy—”
“She brought it up at Parker’s studio tonight. Tossed it at me in passing just to see how I’d take the news.”
His gaze narrowed. “Either she’s f**king with you or she wants you to stop worrying. My bet is on the latter.”
I almost asked why, but then I realized I’d come to the same conclusion. The detective was tough as nails, but she had a heart. I had caught glimpses of it during the few times we’d interacted with one another. And she was good at her job, obviously.
“We have to trust her, then?” I asked, crawling over the brochures and paperwork to curl into his lap.
He pulled me into him, fitting me into the hard planes of his body as if I were meant to be there always. I felt that way when he held me. Safe. Treasured. Adored.
His lips touched my forehead. “I’m going to talk to Clancy just to be sure, but he’s no fool. He wouldn’t leave anything to chance.”
My hand tightened around a fistful of his T-shirt, hanging on to him with everything I had. “Don’t keep things like this from me, Gideon. Stop trying to protect me.”
“I can’t.” His grip on me tightened, too. “Maybe I should have said something, but we have only a few hours alone every day and I want them to be perfect.”
“Gideon. You’ve got to let me in.”
His chest expanded beneath my cheek, his heart beating strong and sure. “I’m working on it, Eva.”
That was all I could ask for.
THE next morning I padded into the kitchen on bare feet to find Gideon pouring coffee. I could say the smell of java is what added a spring to my step, but it was the sight of my husband, freshly shaved and dressed with his vest hanging open, that did it. I loved seeing him a little undone.
He looked me over as I went to him, my heels rapping on the marble, his face impassive and his eyes warm. Did he get the same kick when he caught sight of me ready to tackle my day? I doubted it. I was convinced men just saw hot . . . or not.
Wrapping my fingers around his wrist, I led his hand around me and up the back of my skirt to cup the undercurve of my buttock.
A smile teased the corners of his lips. “Hello to you, too, Mrs. Cross.”
He snapped the back of my garter against my thigh. I jumped at the sting and gasped as warmth spread outward from the spot.
“Hmm . . . you like that.” He smirked.
My lower lip stuck out in a pout. “It hurt.”
Gideon shifted to lean back against the counter and pulled me between his spread legs, both of his hands lightly gripping the back of my thighs. He nuzzled his nose against my temple and massaged the place that burned. “I’m sorry, angel.”
Then he snapped my garter on the other side.
I arched in surprise, my body aligning with his. He was hard. Again. A low moan escaped me. “Stop it.”
“It’s turning you on,” he murmured in my ear.
“It hurts!” I complained, even as I rubbed against him. He’d woken me with soft kisses and provocative hands. I had thanked him in the shower with my mouth. Still, he could go again. I could, too. We were addicted to each other.
“Want me to kiss it and make it better?” His fingers slid between my thighs and found me warm and ready. He groaned. “Christ. What you do to me, Eva. I’ve got so much to do . . .”
God, he felt good. Smelled even better. My arms wrapped around his neck. “We have to go to work.”
He yanked me up to my toes, grinding me against his erection. “We’re playing with these garters later.”
I kissed him. I put my open mouth over his and devoured him, my tongue touching his. Stroking it greedily. Sucking.
Gideon’s hand fisted in my ponytail, holding me in place as he took over the kiss, f**king my mouth, drinking me in. In an instant, I was hot, my skin humid with perspiration.
His lips were firm yet soft against my own, his grip angling me just the way he wanted, his teeth scraping gently across my lower lip. The taste of him, flavored delectably with a hint of rich black coffee, intoxicated me. Drunk on him, I clutched his hair in my hands, holding on, my toes flexing to push me closer. Always closer. But never close enough.
“Whoa.” Cary’s voice broke me out of the sensual spell Gideon had cast. “Don’t forget we eat in here.”
I started to pull away from my husband, but he held me tight, allowing me only to break the kiss. My gaze met his. His eyes were sharply alert beneath heavy lids, his lips softened and damp.
“Good morning, Cary,” he said, his attention shifting to my best friend as Cary joined us by the coffeemaker.
“For you two, maybe.” Cary opened the cupboard that held the mugs and pulled one out. “Sadly, I’m too tired to get turned on by the show. Not making me feel too optimistic about the rest of the day.”
He was dressed in skinny jeans and a navy T-shirt, his hair skillfully arranged in a trendy pompadour. I pitied the single Manhattanites who’d see him out and about that day. He was such a striking man, both physically and in the false confidence he exuded.
“Do you have a shoot today?” I asked.
“No. Tat does, and she wants me there. She’s got morning sickness and shit, so I’m going to be around to help her out if she’s not feeling well.”
I reached out and rubbed his biceps in sympathy. “That’s awesome, Cary. You’re the best.”
His lips twisted wryly as he lifted his steaming cup to his mouth. “What else can I do? I can’t get sick for her, and she’s got to work as long as she can.”
“You’ll let me know if there’s anything I can do?”
He shrugged. “Sure.”
Gideon’s hand stroked up and down my back, offering wordless support. “If you’ve got the time, Cary, I’d like you to be there for the appointment with the designer who’s renovating our place on Fifth Avenue.”
“Yeah, I’ve been thinking about that.” Cary cocked his hip into the counter. “I haven’t totally worked things out with Tat, but I figure we’ll be shacking up together at some point. You guys aren’t going to want a screaming baby next door. When you’re ready for that, you’ll have your own, not put up with mine.”
“Cary . . .” My best friend rarely looked beyond the next fifteen minutes of his life. To hear him stepping up to the plate so solidly made me love him all the more.
“Both sections of the penthouse are fully soundproofed,” Gideon said, his voice holding the firm note of command that reassured everyone who heard it. “We can make anything work, Cary. You just tell me what concerns you have and we’ll address them.”
Cary looked into his mug, his beautiful face suddenly looking worn and tired. “Thanks. I’ll talk to Tat about it. It’s hard, you know? She doesn’t want to think about what’s next and I can’t stop thinking about it. There’s going to be this person who’s totally dependent on us, and we need to be prepared for that. Somehow.”