I met up with her at the reception desk at noon. “If it’s not too weird,” I said, as she pulled her purse out of a drawer, “we’re going to use Gideon’s office for lunch. He’s out and it’s private.”
“Oh man.” She shot me an apologetic look. “I’m sorry, Eva. I should’ve congratulated you. Will told me about your engagement, but I spaced.”
“It’s totally okay. Don’t worry about it.”
She reached out and squeezed my hand. “I’m really happy for you.”
My concern deepened. Megumi always followed the latest gossip. The friend I knew would’ve heard about the engagement almost before I did.
We took an elevator to the top floor. The Cross Industries vestibule was as striking as Gideon himself. It was much bigger than others in the building and decorated with lilies and ferns in hanging baskets. CROSS INDUSTRIES was etched into the smoked-glass security doors in a masculine but elegant font.
“Impressive,” Megumi murmured, as we waited for the receptionist to buzz us through.
The redhead I was used to seeing at the reception desk must have been out to lunch, because a guy with dark hair let us in.
He stood when we approached. “Good afternoon, Miss Tramell. Scott said you should just go right in.”
“Has Mr. Cross left?”
“I’m not sure. I just took over here.”
“All right. Thank you.” I led Megumi back. We rounded the corner to reach Gideon’s office just in time to see him stepping out.
Fierce pride and possession moved me. Pleasure, too, when his stride faltered just a bit when he saw me. We met each other halfway.
“Hi,” I greeted him.
He gave me a nod in return and held his hand out to Megumi. “I don’t think we’ve been officially introduced. Gideon Cross.”
“Megumi Kaba.” She gave him a firm shake. “Congratulations to you and Eva.”
A ghost of a smile touched his sexy mouth. “I’m a lucky man. Make yourselves comfortable. If you need anything, just call up to reception and Ron will see to it.”
“We’ll be fine,” I told him. “You won’t even know we had a raging party in there while you’re gone.”
He smiled outright. “Good. I have a meeting later. Shot glasses and streamers would be interesting to explain.”
I expected him to head out. Instead, he cupped my face, tilted my head to the angle he wanted, and pressed his lips to mine in an unhurried, chaste kiss that left me with little stars in my eyes.
Then he whispered in my ear, “Looking forward to making up later.”
My toes curled.
Pulling back, he slid easily into the reserved persona he showed the rest of the world. “Enjoy your lunch, ladies.”
He walked away with the confident, innately sexual stride that turned heads.
“And you’re still standing upright,” Megumi murmured, shaking her head. “Kills me.”
I couldn’t explain how weak Gideon made me. How shaken and needy I could so easily become. “Come on,” I said breathlessly. “Let’s eat.”
She followed me into Gideon’s office. “I don’t think I can.”
While she took in the sprawling space with its panoramic views and monochromatic color scheme, I went to the bar, where lunch awaited us. I remembered how I’d felt the first time I walked into the room. Despite the multiple seating areas that might have invited guests to sit and stay awhile, the progressively contemporary, cutting-edge design kept visitors from getting too comfortable.
There were so many sides to the man I’d married. His office reflected only one. The classically European style of his penthouse reflected another.
“Have you ever experimented with BDSM?” Megumi asked, seizing my attention.
Surprise made me drop the napkin-rolled utensils I’d been holding. I spun to face her and found her staring out the window at the city. “That acronym covers a lot of ground.”
She rubbed her wrist. “Being tied up and gagged. Helpless.”
“I’ve been helpless, yes.”
Her head turned. Her eyes were twin shadows in her pale face. “Did you like it? Did it turn you on?”
“No.” I walked over to the nearest couch and sat. “But I wasn’t with the right person.”
“Were you scared?”
“Did he know that?”
The formerly appetizing smell of lunch started to turn my stomach. “Why are you asking me these questions, Megumi?”
She answered by rolling up her sleeve, exposing a wrist so bruised it was nearly black.
IT WAS AFTER eight when I let myself into Eva’s apartment and found her sitting with Cary on the living room’s white sectional sofa, holding a glass of red wine in both hands.
My wife gravitated toward modern traditional furnishings, but I could see touches of her mother and roommate in the décor. I didn’t resent those pieces of Monica and Cary, but I looked forward to the day when I shared a home with Eva that reflected us, undiluted.
Still, the apartment would always be a special place to me. I would never forget the way Eva had looked the first time I’d come over. Naked beneath a thigh-length silk robe, her face made up for the night ahead, a diamond anklet winking at me. Teasing me.
I had lost all rational thought. I’d put my mouth on her, my hands all over her, and my fingers and tongue inside her. I hadn’t even thought about getting her to the “fuck pad.” I wouldn’t have been able to wait, even if I had. She wasn’t like any woman who’d come before her. Not just because of who she was, but also because of who I was when I was with her.