I exhaled in a rush. She’d always been able to see right through me. I wasn’t sure I would ever get used to it.
I stroked the pad of my thumb over the damp cotton clinging to her nipple. “I’d rather talk about the wet dreams you’re inspiring right now.”
“What was it about?”
My lips thinned at her persistence. “I don’t remember.”
“Drop it, angel.”
Eva stiffened. “I just want to help you.”
“You know how to do that.”
She snorted. “Sex fiend.”
I cuddled her closer. I couldn’t find the words to tell her how she felt in my arms, so I nuzzled her neck, breathing in the well-loved scent of her skin.
Something in the tone of her voice set me on edge. I pulled back slowly, my gaze gliding over her face. “Talk to me.”
“About San Diego . . .” Her eyes dropped and she caught her lower lip between her teeth.
I stilled, waiting to see where the conversation would go.
“Six-Ninths is going to be there,” she said finally.
She hadn’t tried to hide what I’d already known, which was a relief. But a different kind of tension flooded me instead.
“You’re telling me that’s a problem.” My voice remained steady, but I was anything but calm.
“No, it’s not a problem,” she said softly. But her fingers were tangling restlessly in my hair.
“Don’t lie to me.”
“I’m not.” She took a deep breath and then held my gaze. “Something’s not right. I’m confused.”
“About what, exactly?”
“Don’t be like that,” she said quietly. “Don’t get all icy and freeze me out.”
“You’ll have to forgive me. Listening to my wife tell me she’s confused over another man doesn’t put me in a good mood.”
She squirmed out of my lap and I let her, so I could watch her—gauge her—with some distance between us. “I don’t know how to explain it.”
I deliberately ignored the cold knot in my gut. “Try.”
“It’s just—” Looking down, she chewed on her lower lip. “There’s something . . . not finished.”
My chest grew tight and hot. “Does he turn you on, Eva?”
She stiffened. “It’s not like that.”
“Is it the voice? The tattoos? His magic dick?”
“Stop it. It’s not easy talking about this. Don’t make it harder.”
“It’s damned hard for me, too,” I snapped, pushing to my feet.
I raked her from head to toe, wanting to f**k her and punish her at the same time. I wanted to tie her up, lock her up, safe from anyone who could threaten my grip on her. “He treated you like shit, Eva. Did seeing the ‘Golden’ video make you forget that? Is there something you need that I’m not giving you?”
“Don’t be an ass.” Her arms crossed, a defensive pose that angered me further.
I needed her open and soft. I needed her completely. And there were times when I was maddened by how much she meant to me. She was the one thing I couldn’t imagine losing. And she was saying the one thing I couldn’t bear hearing.
“Please don’t be ugly about this,” she whispered.
“I’m being remarkably civilized, considering how violent I feel at the moment.”
“Gideon.” Guilt darkened her gray eyes, and then tears glistened.
I looked away. “Don’t!”
But she saw into me the way she always did.
“I didn’t mean to hurt you.” The diamond on her ring finger—my claim to her—caught the light and shot sparks of multihued fire against the wall. “I hate that you’re upset and pissed off at me. It hurts me, too, Gideon. I don’t want him. I swear I don’t.”
Restless, I went to the window, trying to find the calm I needed to deal with the danger Brett Kline presented. I’d done everything I could. I had said the vows, slid the ring on her finger. Bound her to me in every way. Yet it still wasn’t enough.
The city spread out before me, the view obstructed by taller buildings. From the penthouse, I could see for miles. But from the Upper West Side apartment I’d taken next door to Eva’s, the vista was limited. I couldn’t see the endless ribbons of streets clogged with yellow taxis or sunlight glinting off the many skyscraper windows.
I could give Eva New York. I could give her the world. I couldn’t love her more than I did; it consumed me. And still, an ass**le from her past was making strides on edging me out.
I remembered her in Kline’s arms, kissing him with a desperation she should feel only for me. The possibility that lust for him might still affect her made me want to tear something apart.
My knuckles popped as my hands fisted. “Do we need to take a break already? Take some time for Kline to clear up your confusion? Maybe I should do the same and help Corinne deal with hers.”
She sucked in a shaky breath at the mention of my former fiancée. “Are you serious?”
There was a terrible stretch of silence.
Then, “Congratulations, dickhead. You just hurt me worse than he ever did.”
I turned in time to see her stalking out of the room, her back rigid and tense. The keys she’d used to let herself in were left on my desk, and the sight of them abandoned triggered something desperate. “Stop.”