In jeans or Fioravanti, Gideon Cross was not a man to be taken lightly.
He was at the car almost before Raúl pulled to a complete stop, yanking the door open and then freezing in place, staring at me with such scorching hunger and possessiveness that I found it hard to breathe.
I swallowed past the lump in my throat, my equally ravenous gaze sliding all over him. He was unbelievably more beautiful, the expertly sculpted planes of his face honed further by his torment. How had I lived the past few days without seeing that face?
He held his hand out to me and I reached for it, my own trembling in anticipation of his touch. The brush of his skin against mine sent tingles of awareness racing through me, my bruised heart surging with life at being in contact with him again.
He helped me out, then pushed the door closed, rapping twice on the roof to send Raúl away. As the Benz left us, we stood barely a foot apart, the air crackling with tension between us. A taxi raced by, honking its horn as another car turned onto Broadway without looking. The harsh sound jolted Gideon and me both.
He took a step toward me, his eyes dark and hot beneath the brim of his hat. “I’m going to kiss you,” he said roughly.
Then he cupped my jaw and tilted his head, fitting his mouth over mine. His lips, so soft and firm and dry, pressed mine open. His tongue slid deep and rubbed, withdrew, slid deep again. He groaned as if he were in the greatest pain. Or pleasure. For me, it was both. The hot stroke of his tongue into my mouth was like a sweet, slow f**king. Smoothly rhythmic, skilled, with just the perfect tease of leashed passion.
I moaned as euphoria sparkled through me like champagne, the ground shifting beneath my feet so that I clung to him for balance, my hands wrapping around his wrists.
I whimpered in protest when he pulled away, my lips feeling achy and swollen, my sex wet with desire.
“You’ll make me come,” he murmured, unable to resist brushing his lips over mine one last time. “I’m right there.”
“I don’t care.”
His mouth curved and chased the shadows away. “The next time I come will be inside you.”
I sucked in a shaky breath at the thought. I wanted that, and yet I knew it would be too soon now. That we’d fall too easily back into the unhealthy pattern we had established. “Gideon . . .”
His smile turned rueful. “Guess we’ll settle for coffee and a croissant for now.”
I loved him so much in that moment. Impulsively, I pulled off his hat and gave him a great big smacking kiss on the mouth.
“God,” he breathed, his gaze so tender it made me feel like crying again. “I’ve missed you so damn much.”
I slid the hat back on his head and grabbed his hand, leading him around the little metal fences cordoning off an outside seating area from the pedestrian traffic. We entered the café and settled at a table by the window, Gideon on one side and me on the other. But we didn’t stop holding hands, our fingers stroking and rubbing, each of us touching the other’s wedding bands.
We ordered when the server walked over with the menus, then turned our attention back to each other.
“I’m not even hungry,” I told him.
“Not for food, anyway,” he rejoined.
I shot him a mock glare that made him smile. Then I told him about the retention offer Waters Field & Leaman had made Mark.
It seemed wrong to talk about something so practical, so mundane, when my heart was giddy with love and relief, but we had to keep talking. Reconnecting wasn’t enough; I wanted a full and total reconciliation. I wanted to move into the renovated penthouse with him, start our life together. To do that, we had to keep communicating about the things we’d spent our relationship avoiding.
Gideon nodded grimly when I finished. “I’m not surprised. An account like that should be handled by one of the partners. Mark’s good, but he’s a junior manager. LanCorp would’ve had to push to get him. And you. The request is unusual enough to give the partners cause for concern.”
I thought about Kingsman Vodka. “You did the same thing.”
“I did, yes.”
“I don’t know what he’s going to do.” I looked at our joined hands. “But I told him I couldn’t work on the PhazeOne campaign even if he stayed to manage it.”
Gideon’s grip tightened on mine.
“You have good reasons for doing the things you do,” I said quietly, “even if I don’t like them.”
He took a slow, deep breath. “Will you come with him to Cross Industries if he moves?”
“I’m not sure yet. I’m feeling pretty resentful right now. Unless that changes, it wouldn’t be a healthy working relationship for either of us.”
He nodded. “Fair enough.”
The server came back with our order. Gideon and I released each other by necessity to give her room to put the plates on our settings. When she walked away, a heavy silence descended between us. There was so much to say, but so much that had to be figured out first.
He cleared his throat. “Tonight—after Dr. Petersen—could I take you out to dinner?”
“Yes.” I accepted eagerly, grateful to move past the awkwardness into action. “I’d like that.”
I could see similar relief soften the hard line of his shoulders and wanted to do my share to build it. “Will asked if we’d be up for grabbing a drink with him and Natalie this week.”
A hint of a smile touched Gideon’s mouth. “I think that’d be great.”
Small steps. We would start with those and see where they took us.
I pushed back from the table and stood. Gideon pushed to his feet quickly, eyeing me warily. I rounded the table and took the seat next to him, waiting until he sat again so that I could lean into him.
His arm came around me and he settled me into the crook of his neck. A soft sound escaped him when I snuggled in.
“I’m still mad at you,” I told him.
“And I’m still in love with you.”
“Thank God.” His cheek rested against the top of my head. “We’ll figure out the rest. We’ll get back on track.”
We sat together and watched the city rouse from sleep. The sky lightened. The pace of life quickened.
It was a new day, bringing with it a new chance to try again.