The icy finality in her tone made me crazed. I could deal when discussions went sideways. I could spin and switch strategy on the fly. What I couldn’t handle was when my grip on Eva slipped. When we’d said our vows, I had made the irrevocable decision to let everything go—my ambition, my pride, my heart—to hang on to her. If I couldn’t do that, I had nothing.
“Don’t throw that at me now, angel,” I warned. “Every time I’ve brought up working together you shut me down.”
“So you just bulldoze right through me?”
“I was willing to give you time! I had a plan. I was going to seduce you with the possibilities, let you decide that the best way to develop your potential was alongside me.”
“You should’ve stuck with the plan. Get out of my way.”
I held my ground. “How could I stick with any plan the last few weeks? While you’re feeling righteous, think about what I’ve dealt with. Brett, the damned tape of you with him, Chris, my brother, therapy, Ireland, my mother, Anne, Corinne, f**king Landon—”
Eva crossed her arms. “Gotta handle it all yourself, don’t you? Am I really your wife, Gideon? I’m not even your friend. I bet Angus and Raúl know more about your life than I do. Arash, too. I’m just the pretty cunt you f**k.”
“You need to get out of my way before this gets any uglier.”
“I can’t let you leave. You know I can’t. Not like this.”
Her jaw tightened. “You’re asking me to give you something I don’t have right now. I’m hollowed out, Gideon.”
“Angel . . .” I reached for her, my chest so tight I found it hard to breathe. The devastation on her face was killing me. I’d destroy anyone who put that look on her face, but this time, I had done it. “What does it matter if you would’ve made the same decision anyway?”
“You need to stop talking,” she said hoarsely. “Because every word coming out of your mouth makes me think we’re so far apart on this that we’ve got no business being married.”
If she’d stabbed me in the chest, it couldn’t have hurt worse. The air in the closet became hot and stale, drying my throat and making my eyes burn. The floor seemed to tilt beneath my feet, the foundation of my life shifting as Eva slipped further and further away.
“Tell me what to do,” I whispered.
Her eyes glistened. “Let me go for now. Give me some space to think. A few days—”
“No. No!” Panic swelled until I was forced to grip the door frame to stay upright.
“Maybe a few weeks. I need to find a new job, after all.”
“I can’t,” I gasped, panting for air. A black ring encroached on my vision, until Eva was the lone pinpoint of light. “For God’s sake, something else, Eva!”
“I have to figure out what to do now.” She rubbed at her forehead with rough fingers. “And I can’t think when you’re looking at me like that. I can’t think . . .”
She moved to pass me and I grabbed her by the arms, kissing her, groaning when I felt her soften for an instant. I tasted her, tasted her tears. Or maybe they were mine.
Her hands went to my hair, fisting it, pulling it hard. She turned her head, breaking the seal of my mouth.
“Crossfire,” she sobbed, the word cracking like a gunshot.
I released her abruptly, stumbling back, even as my mind screamed at me to hang on.
I let her go, and she left me.
THE sea breeze blows through my hair and I close my eyes, absorbing the feel as it buffets me. The rhythmic push and pull of the waves against the beach and the raucous cries of seagulls anchor me in the moment, in this place.
It’s home in a way I haven’t known for a long time, although I’ve spent less than a handful of days here. It is a place I’ve shared only with Eva, so all of my memories of here are as drenched with her as the sand is with rays of the sun. Like the sand, I’ve been crushed down into fine, tiny bits by the forces around me. And like the sun, Eva has brought joy and warmth to my existence.
She joins me on the deck, standing behind me at the railing. I feel her hand on my shoulder, then the press of her cheek against my bare back.
“Angel,” I murmur, and place my hand over hers.
This is what we needed, to come back to this place. It’s our retreat when the world closes in on us, trying to separate us. We heal each other here.
Relief washes through me. She’s back. We’re together. She understands now why I did what I did. She was so angry, so hurt. For a moment, I had felt crippling fear that I’d destroyed the most precious part of my life.
“Gideon,” she breathes, in that husky siren’s voice. One arm slides around my waist to hold me from behind.
I tilt my head back and let the power of her love pour through me. Her fingers glide over my hip, and then she’s holding my c**k in her hand. Stroking it from root to tip. I harden and thicken, ready for her. I live to serve her, to please her. How could she have doubted it?
A moan rumbles up from the very depths of my soul, the desire I always feel for her climbing through me. Pre-cum leaks from the swollen head of my dick, my balls growing heavy and full.
Her hand on my shoulder glides down my back, pressing lightly, urging me to bend forward.
I obey because I want her to see how she owns me. I want her to understand that I would do anything, give anything, to make her safe and happy.