He hummed softly and slowed me down, rolling to pin me to the bed. Pulling back, he broke the seal of our mouths, nibbling, sucking. Tracing the curves of my lips with the tip of his tongue.
I whimpered in protest, wanting deeper, harder. Instead, he licked leisurely, stroking the roof of my mouth, the lining of my cheeks. I tightened my legs, dragging him closer. He rocked his hips, pressing his erection into my thigh.
Gideon kissed me until my lips were hot and puffy and the sun was rising in the sky. He kissed me until he came in a hot rush against my skin. Not once but twice.
The feel of him coming, the sound of his low pained moans of pleasure, knowing I could bring him to orgasm with just my kiss . . . I slicked his thigh with my need and ground against him until I cl**axed.
As the new day began, he closed the distance he’d put between us in the elevator. He made love to me without sex. He pledged his devotion by making me the center of his world. There was nothing beyond the edges of our bed. Only us and a love that stripped us bare even as it made us whole.
WHEN I woke again, I found him sleeping beside me, his lips as kiss-swollen as mine. Gideon’s face was soft in repose, but the faint frown between his brows told me he wasn’t resting as deeply as I would wish. He lay on his side, his body stretched long and lean across the mattress, the sheet tangled around his legs.
It was late, nearly nine, but I didn’t have the heart to either wake him or leave him. I hadn’t been at my job long enough to miss a day, but I decided to do it anyway.
I’d been putting my needs first when it came to my career, giving it the power to someday put a wedge between us. I knew my desire to be independent wasn’t wrong, but at that moment, it didn’t feel right, either.
Pulling on a T-shirt and boyshorts, I slipped out of the bedroom and down the hall to Gideon’s home office, where his smartphone was bitching that he was ignoring the alarm to wake him up. I turned it off and went to the kitchen.
Mentally checking off the things I needed to do, I called and left a message for Mark about missing work due to a family emergency. Then I called Scott’s desk and left a message telling him that Gideon wasn’t going to make it in by nine and might not be there at all. I told him to call me and we could talk about it.
I hoped to keep Gideon home all day, although I doubted he would agree to that. We needed time together, alone. Time to heal.
I retrieved my smartphone from the foyer and called Angus. He answered on the first ring.
“Hello, Mrs. Cross. Are you and Mr. Cross ready to go?”
“No, Angus, right now we’re staying put. I’m not sure we’ll be leaving the penthouse today. I was wondering, do you know where Gideon gets those bottles of hangover cure?”
“Yes, of course. Do you need one?”
“Gideon might when he wakes up. Just in case, I’d like to have one waiting for him.”
There was a pause. “If you don’t mind me asking,” he asked, his Scottish burr more pronounced, “does this have something to do with Mr. Vidal’s visit last night?”
I rubbed at my forehead, feeling the warning signs of an impending headache. “It has everything to do with it.”
“Does Chris believe?” he asked quietly.
He sighed. “Ach, that’s why, then. The lad wouldna been prepared for that. Denial is what he knows and can handle.”
“He took it hard.”
“Aye, I’m certain he did. It’s good he has you, Eva. You’re doing the right thing for him, though it may take him time to appreciate it. I’ll get that bottle for you.”
With that accomplished, I turned my attention to cleaning the place up. I washed the empty decanter and tumbler I found on the kitchen island first, then took the broom and dustpan into the foyer to clean up the shattered glass. I talked to Scott when he called while I was picking up all the crap that had fallen out of my purse, and when we hung up, I turned my attention to scrubbing the foyer wall and floor to remove the dried traces of brandy.
Gideon had said he felt shattered the night before. I didn’t want him to wake up and find his place that way.
Our place, I corrected myself. Our home. I needed to start thinking of it that way. And so did Gideon. We were going to have a conversation about him trying to kick me out. If I was going to make a better effort at entwining our lives, then he had to as well.
I wished there were someone I could talk to about it all, a friend to listen and give sage advice. Cary or Shawna. Even Steven, who had a way about him that made him so easy to talk to. We had Dr. Petersen, but that wasn’t the same thing.
For now, Gideon and I had secrets we could share only with each other, and that kept us isolated and codependent. It wasn’t only innocence our abusers had taken away from us; they’d also taken our freedom. Even after the abuse was long over, we were still caged by the false fronts we lived behind. Still caged by lies, but in a different way.
I had just finished polishing all the smudges off the mirror in the elevator when it began descending with me inside. In only a T-shirt and underwear.
“Seriously?” I muttered, yanking off my rubber gloves to try to put order to my hair. After rolling around with Gideon all night, I looked like an epic mess.
The doors slid open and Angus started to step in, his footstep halting midair when he spotted me. I shifted position, trying to hide the cord still tied to the handrail behind me. Gideon had cut me loose with scissors, freeing my wrists but leaving the evidence.