It killed me to sleep away from her. I knew it hurt her, too.
Lifting the edge of the blankets, I slid in beside her. She gave a soft little moan and rolled toward me, her lush warm body wriggling into place against me.
I was instantly hard. Desire simmered in my blood; awareness tingled along my skin. It was combustible sexual chemistry but also something more. Something deeper. A strange, wonderful, frightening recognition.
She filled an emptiness in me I hadn’t known was there.
Eva buried her face in my throat and hummed softly, her legs tangling with mine, her hands gliding over my back. “Hard and yummy all over,” she purred.
“All over,” I agreed, cupping her ass and pulling her tighter against my hard-on.
Her shoulders shook with a silent laugh. “We have to be quiet.”
“I’ll cover your mouth.”
“Me?” She nipped at my throat. “You’re the noisy one.”
She wasn’t wrong. As rough and impatient as I could get when aroused, I’d never been loud . . . until her. It was a struggle to be discreet when situations called for it. She felt too good, made me feel too much.
“So we’ll take it slow,” I murmured, my hands roaming greedily over her silky skin. “Ireland will be sleeping for hours; there’s no rush.”
“Hours, huh?” Laughing, she pulled back and rolled away from me, reaching for the nightstand drawer. “Overachiever.”
Tension stretched across my shoulders as she dug out the breath mints she kept handy. I was reminded of similar situations, when women had reached into the nightstand drawer for condoms.
Eva and I had used condoms only twice. Before her, I’d never f**ked a woman without one. Avoiding pregnancy was something I’d religiously adhered to.
Yet since those first two times with Eva, we’d gone bare, relying on her birth control to prevent conception.
It was a risk. I knew that. And considering how often I had her—at least two, sometimes three or four times a day—the risk was not inconsiderable.
I thought of it sometimes. I questioned my control, my selfishness in putting my own pleasure above the consequences. But the reason for my recklessness wasn’t as simple as pleasure. If it were, I could deal. Be responsible.
No, it was much more complicated.
The need to come inside her was primitive. It was a conquest and surrender in one.
I had wanted to f**k her raw before I’d even had her the first time, before I knew definitively how explosive it would be between us. I’d gone so far as to warn her prior to our first date that I needed it, needed her to give me that, something I’d never wanted with anyone else.
“Don’t move,” I said roughly, sliding over her while she was still stretched out on her stomach. My hand pushed between her hip and the bed, reaching between her legs to cup her cunt in my palm. She was moist and warm. My stroking fingers made her slick and hot.
She muffled a moan.
“I want you just like this,” I told her, brushing my lips across her cheek.
Reaching for my pillow with my free hand, I yanked it over and then shoved it under her, lifting her h*ps to an angle that would let me sink balls-deep.
“Gideon . . .” The way she said my name was a plea, as if I wouldn’t get down on my knees and beg for the privilege of having her.
I shifted, urging her legs apart and pinning her wrists beside her head. Holding her down, I thrust into her. She was ready for me, plush and tight and wet. My teeth gritted together to restrain the growl that surged from my throat, a tremor racking my body from head to toe. My chest heaved against her back, my violent exhalations ruffling her hair lying across the pillow.
Just like that, just by taking me, she had me right on the edge.
“God.” My h*ps churned without volition, screwing my c**k into her, pushing me deeper until I was in her to the hilt. I could feel her all around me, from root to tip, clenching in ripples that milked me like a greedy little mouth. “Angel—”
The pressure at the base of my dick was insistent, but I was capable of staving it off. It wasn’t a question of control, but of will.
I wanted to come inside her. Wanted it enough to consider the risk—as terrifying as it was—acceptable.
Closing my eyes, I dropped my forehead to her cheek. I inhaled the scent of her and let go, coming hard, my ass flexing as I filled her up in thick, hot spurts.
Eva whimpered, writhing under me. Her cunt tightened, then trembled around my cock. She cl**axed with a soft, sweet moan.
I growled her name, searingly aroused by her orgasm. She came because I did, because my pleasure turned her on as much as my touch. I would reward her for that, show her the depth of my gratitude. She would get hers, over and over again, as many times as she could take it.
“Eva.” I rubbed my damp cheek against hers. “Crossfire.”
Her fingers tightened their grip on mine. Her head turned, her lips seeking.
“Ace,” she breathed into the kiss. “I love you, too.”
IT was shortly after five in the evening when I drove the Bentley through the gates of the Vidal estate in Dutchess County and into the circular drive out front.
“Aw, you drove too fast,” Ireland complained from the backseat. “We’re here already.”
I put the SUV in park and left it idling. One look at the house, and a knot tightened in my gut. Eva reached over, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze. I focused on her steely gray eyes instead of the Tudor-style mansion at her back.
She didn’t say a word, but she didn’t have to. I felt her love and support and saw the glimmer of anger in her eyes. Just knowing she understood gave me strength. She knew every dark and dirty secret I had, and yet she believed and loved me anyway.
“I want to stay over again sometime,” Ireland said, poking her head between the two front seats. “It was fun, right?”
I looked at her. “We’ll do it again.”
Her smile more than made the promise worth what it would cost me in sleep and anxiety. I’d stayed away from her for many reasons, but the main one was that I didn’t know what I could offer her of any value. I’d channeled everything into keeping Vidal Records afloat for her well into the future, taking care of her the only way I knew I wouldn’t screw up.
“You’ll have to help me out,” I told her honestly. “I don’t know how to be a brother. You will probably have to forgive me. Frequently.”
The smile left Ireland’s face, transforming her from a teenager to a young woman. “Well, it’s like being a friend,” she said somberly. “Except you have to remember birthdays and holidays, you have to forgive me for everything, and you should introduce me to all your hot, rich guy friends.”
My brow lifted. “Where’s the part about me picking on you and giving you a hard time?”
“You missed those years,” she shot back. “No do-overs.”
She meant to tease, but the words struck home. I had missed years and I couldn’t get them back.
“You get to pick on her boyfriends instead,” Eva said, “and give them a hard time.”
Our eyes met and I knew she understood exactly what I was thinking. My thumb stroked over her knuckles.
Behind her, the front door opened and my mother stepped out. She stood on the wide top step dressed in a white tunic and matching pants. Her long, dark hair hung loosely around her shoulders. From a distance, she looked so much like Ireland, more of a sister than a parent.
My grip on Eva’s hand tightened.
Ireland sighed and opened her door. “I wish you guys didn’t have to work tomorrow. I mean, what’s the point of being a gazillionaire if you can’t play hooky when you want?”
“If Eva worked with me,” I said, looking at my wife, “we could.”
She stuck her tongue out. “Don’t start.”
I lifted her hand to my mouth and kissed the back. “I haven’t stopped.”
Opening my door, I stepped out of the car and hit the hatch release. I rounded the back of the car to retrieve Ireland’s bag and found my arms full of her instead. She hugged me tightly, her slender arms wrapped around my waist. It took me a moment to unfreeze from my surprise, and then I hugged her back, my cheek coming to rest on the crown of her head.
“I love you,” she mumbled into my chest. “Thanks for having me over.”
My throat closed tight, preventing me from saying anything. She was gone as quickly as she’d come at me, her duffel in hand as she met Eva on the passenger side and hugged her, too.
Feeling as winded as if I’d been punched, I closed the hatch and watched as my mother met Ireland halfway across the blue-gray gravel drive. I was about to return to the wheel and leave, when she signaled at me to wait.
I glanced at Eva. “Get in the car, angel.”
She looked as if she might argue, and then she nodded and slid back into the front passenger seat and closed the door.
I waited until my mother came to me.
“Gideon.” She caught me by the biceps and lifted onto her tiptoes to press a kiss to my mouth. “Won’t you and Eva come in? You drove all this way.”
I took a step backward, breaking her hold. “And we have to drive back.”
Her gaze reflected her disappointment. “Just for a few minutes. Please. I’d like to apologize to both of you. I haven’t handled the news of your engagement well and I’m sorry about that. This should be a happy time for our family, and I’m afraid I’ve been too worried about losing my son to appreciate it.”
“Mom.” I caught her arm when she moved toward the passenger side. “Not now.”
“I didn’t mean all those things I said about Eva the other day. It was just a shock, seeing the ring your father gave me on another woman’s hand. You didn’t give the ring to Corinne, so I was surprised. You can understand that, can’t you?”
“You antagonized Eva.”
“Is that what she told you?” She paused. “I never meant to, but— Never mind. Your father was very protective, too. You’re so like him.”
I looked away, gazing absently at the trees beyond the drive. I never knew how to take comparisons to Geoffrey Cross. Were they meant as praise or a backhanded compliment? There was no telling with my mother.
“Gideon . . . please, I’m trying. I said some things to Eva I shouldn’t have, and she responded as any woman would under the circumstances. I just want to smooth things over.” She set her hand over my heart. “I’m happy for you, Gideon. And I’m so glad to see you and Ireland spending time together. I know it means so much to her.”
I pulled her hand away gently. “It means a lot to me, too. And Eva made it possible in ways I won’t explain. Which is just one of the reasons I won’t have her upset. Not now. She has to work in the morning.”
“Let’s make plans for lunch this week, then. Or dinner.”
“Will Chris be there?” Eva asked through the window before pushing the door open again and stepping out. She stood there, so small and bright against the dark hulking SUV, formidable in the way her shoulders were set.
My wife would fight the world for me. It was miraculous to know that. When no one else had fought for me, I’d somehow found the one soul who would.
My mother’s lips curved. “Of course. Chris and I are a team.”
I noted the brittleness of her smile and doubted her, as I so often did. Still, I conceded. “We’ll make plans. Call Scott tomorrow and we’ll work something out.”
My mother’s face brightened. “I’m so glad. Thank you.”
She hugged me and I braced myself, my body stiff with the need to push her away. When she approached Eva with her arms outstretched, Eva thrust out her hand between them to shake instead. The interaction was awkward, with both women so obviously on the defensive.