He sauntered up to the breakfast bar in just his Grey Isles boxer briefs, his chest and neck glistening with sweat. Since the air-conditioning was working fine and Trey was spending the night, I knew exactly how and why Cary was overheated.
“It’s a good thing I did—you can’t go out like that,” he drawled.
“Watch me.” I slung my bag over my shoulder and headed toward the door.
“You’re a freak, baby girl,” he shouted after me. “A woman after my own heart!”
GIDEON’S doorman didn’t bat an eye when I climbed out of the back of the taxi in front of his building. Of course, the man had seen me in worse shape before. So had the concierge, who smiled and greeted me by name as if I didn’t look like a crazy homeless person. Albeit one in a Burberry coat.
I walked as fast as I could in flip-flops to the private penthouse elevator, waited for it to descend to me, then keyed in the code. It was a straight shot up, but the ride felt endless. I wished I could pace the confines of the small, elegantly appointed car. My worried face stared back at me from the spotless mirrors.
Gideon hadn’t called. Hadn’t sent me a text after the flirtatious one promising me a steamy night. Hadn’t come to me, even if only to sleep next door. Gideon didn’t like being away from me.
Except when he was hurting. And ashamed.
The elevator doors slid open and pounding, screaming heavy metal music poured in. I cringed and covered my ears, the volume of the ceiling-mounted speakers so loud it hurt to hear them.
Pain. Fury. The raging violence of the music crashed over me. I ached deep in my chest. I knew. I understood. The song was an audible manifestation of what Gideon felt inside himself and couldn’t let out.
He was too controlled. Contained. His emotions so tightly leashed, along with his memories.
I dug into my purse for my phone and ended up dropping the whole bag, spilling the contents onto the elevator car floor and across the checkerboard foyer. I left it all where it fell except for my smartphone, which I picked up and swiped through to get to the app that controlled the surround sound. I synced it to softer music, lowered the volume, and hit enter.
The penthouse fell silent for an endless moment, and then the gentle chords of “Collide” by Howie Day began to play.
I felt Gideon approaching before I saw him, the air crackling with the violent energy of an impending summer storm. He rounded the corner from the hallway leading to the bedrooms. I lost my breath.
He was shirtless and barefooted, his hair a silky tousled mane that brushed his shoulders. Black sweats clung to the lowest point of his hips, underlining the tight lacing of his abs. He was bruised on his ribs and up by his shoulder, the signs of battle only strengthening the impression of rage and ferocity tightly leashed.
My choice of music clashed with the emotion seething from him. My beautiful, savagely elegant warrior. The love of my life. So tormented that the sight of him brought hot, stinging tears to my eyes.
He jerked to a halt when he saw me, his hands clenching and releasing at his sides, his eyes wild and nostrils flaring.
My phone slid out of my hand and hit the floor. “Gideon.”
He sucked in a breath at the sound of my voice. It changed him. I watched the shift come over him, like a door slamming shut. One moment, he was bristling with emotion. The next, he was cool as ice, his surface as smooth as glass.
“What are you doing here?” he asked, his voice dangerously even.
“Finding you.” Because he was lost.
“I’m not fit company now.”
“I can deal with it.”
He was too still, as if he were afraid to move. “You should go. It’s not safe for you here.”
My pulse leaped. Awareness sizzled across my senses. I felt the heat of him from across the room. His need. The demand. I was suddenly melting in my jacket. “I’m safer with you than anywhere else on earth.” I took a deep breath for courage. “Does Chris believe you?”
His head went back. “How do you know?”
“He called. He’s worried about you. I’m worried about you.”
“I’ll be fine,” he snapped. Which told me he wasn’t fine now.
I made my way to him, feeling the burn of his gaze as it tracked me. “Of course, you will be. You’re married to me.”
“You need to go, Eva.”
I shook my head. “It almost hurts worse, doesn’t it, when they believe you? You wonder why you waited to tell them. Maybe you could’ve stopped it sooner, if you’d just told the right person?”
“There’s always that little voice inside us that thinks we’re to blame for what happened.”
His eyes squeezed as tightly closed as his fists. “Don’t.”
I closed the distance between us. “Don’t what?”
“Don’t be what I need. Not now.”
Those fiercely blue eyes snapped open, pinning me so thoroughly that I paused midstep. “I’m hanging on by a thread, Eva.”
“You don’t have to hang on,” I told him, holding my hands out to him. “Let go. I’ll catch you.”
“No.” He shook his head. “I can’t . . . I can’t be gentle.”
“You want to touch me.”
His jaw worked. “I want to f**k you. Hard.”
I felt the heat sweep up to my cheeks. It was a testament to how much he wanted me that he could still find me desirable despite my ridiculous clothes. “I’m totally up for that. Always.”