“And nights where you go to sleep in another bed? In another room?”
My eyes squeezed shut. “Is that what this is all about?”
“Not completely, but some of it, yeah. Gideon, I want to be with you. Waking and sleeping.”
“I understand, but—”
“That peace you’re looking for? You’re pretending you have it during the day and suffering without it at night. It’s tearing you up from the inside, and it’s shredding me watching it happen to you. I don’t want you to live like this forever. I don’t want us to live forever like this.”
I looked at her, my soul bared to those amazing steel-colored eyes that didn’t let me hide anything. There was so much love in the look she gave me. Love and worry, disappointment and hope. The pendant lamps over the island backlit her blond hair, reminding me of how precious she was. A gift I’d never expected.
“Eva . . . I am talking to Dr. Petersen about the nightmares.”
“But not about what’s causing them.”
“You’re assuming Hugh is the problem,” I said evenly, feeling the burn of hatred and humiliation in my gut. “We’ve been talking about my father instead.”
She pulled back. “Ace . . . I don’t know exactly what’s in your dreams, but I’ve seen you wake up in two different ways: ready to beat up someone or crying like your heart is breaking. When you come out swinging, the things you say make me damn near certain you’re fighting off Hugh.”
I sucked in a quick, deep breath. It infuriated me that my former therapist—and molester—could reach out from the grave and touch Eva through me.
“Listen.” She wrapped her legs around my hips. “I said I wasn’t going to push you and I meant it. If we were two years into our relationship, I’d put up a fuss, maybe. But it’s only been a few months, Gideon. The fact that you’re seeing someone and talking about your dad is enough for now.”
“Yes. But there are things we can never discuss that are haunting you, too. Dr. Petersen is already working with a handicap because of that. The more you keep from him, the less he can help.”
Nathan. She didn’t have to say the name.
“I’m making an effort, Eva.”
“I know.” Her hands smoothed over my shoulders, then reached for the buttons of my vest. “Just tell me that you’re not hoping to avoid talking about it forever. Tell me you’re just working up to it.”
My heart rate sped up. I reached for her wrists, holding them firmly, anchoring myself to her. I felt cornered, trapped between her needs and my own, which seemed terribly divergent at that moment.
Her lips parted at the pressure of my grip, her br**sts lifting with a quickened breath. A restraining touch, a heated look, the tone of my voice . . . Eva reacted to my unspoken demands as if she’d been trained to.
“I’m doing my best,” I told her.
“That’s not an answer.”
“It’s all I’ve got right now, Eva.”
She swallowed, her thoughts scattering as her body stirred. “You’re playing with me,” she said quietly. “You’re manipulating me.”
“I’m not. I’m giving you the truth, even though it’s not what you want to hear. You told me you wouldn’t push. Did you mean it?”
Wetting her lower lip with a brush of her tongue, she stared up at me. Then nodded. “Yes.”
“Good. Let’s have some wine and dinner. Afterward, if you’d really like to play, let me know.”
“I have some silk cord I bought for you.”
Her eyes widened. “Silk cord?”
“Crimson, of course.” I released her and stepped back, giving her some space to think while I reached for the decanter to pour her a glass. “I’d like to tie you down when you’re ready for that. If not tonight, then someday. I won’t push you, either.”
We were both steering each other in directions that were uncomfortable. She chose to believe an educated observer was part of the answer we were looking for. I believed we could find a lot of the answers on our own, just the two of us connecting in the most intimate ways possible.
Sexual healing. What could be more perfect for two people who had the history Eva and I shared?
Eva accepted the wine I handed her. “When did you buy that?”
“A week ago. Maybe two. I had no expectation of using it soon, but you made me want to today.” I took a sip, letting the shiraz roll around my tongue. “That said, I’m perfectly happy with just f**king you hard.”
The wine sloshed a little in her glass as she lifted it to her mouth. She gulped it down, leaving a few drops in the bottom. “Because you’re mad at me for talking to Chris.”
“I told you I wasn’t.”
“You were furious when we left.”
“Furiously turned on.” I smiled wryly. “I can’t explain why, because I don’t understand it myself.”
I reached up and brushed the pad of my thumb over her lips. “I see you angry, passionate, ready to fight, and I want all that violence trapped beneath me. You make me want to hold you down, clawing and screaming, your cunt milking my c**k as I pound it into you. Mine. All mine.”
“Gideon.” She set her glass aside and grabbed me, claiming my mouth with a wild hunger I hoped would never abate.