He had to stop pushing me away to protect me, and I had to stop worrying that I would disappear when I became Mrs. Gideon Cross.
“That would be wonderful, Eva! We could have brunch here with the wedding planner. Spend the afternoon going over all our options.”
“I want something small, Mom. Intimate.” Before she argued, I pressed forward with Gideon’s solution. “We can go as crazy as you want with the reception, but I want our wedding to be private.”
“Eva, people will be insulted if they’re invited to the reception and not the ceremony!”
“I really don’t care. I’m not getting married for them. I’m getting married because I’m in love with the man of my dreams and we’re going to spend the rest of our lives together. I don’t want the focus to ever shift from that.”
“Honey . . .” She sighed, as if I were clueless. “We can talk more about this on Saturday.”
“Okay. But I’m not changing my mind.” I felt a tingle race down my back and turned.
Gideon stood just beyond the threshold to the kitchen, watching me. He’d pulled on the sweatpants from the night before and his hair was still mussed from sleep, his eyes heavy-lidded.
“I’ve got to go,” I told my mom. “I’ll see you this weekend. Love you.”
“I love you, too, Eva. That’s why I only want the best for you.”
I killed the call and set my phone down on the island. Sliding off the seat, I faced him. “Good morning.”
“You’re not at work,” he said, his voice raspier, sexier, than usual.
“Neither are you.”
“Are you going in late?”
“Nope. And you’re not, either.” I went to him, wrapping my arms around his waist. He was still warm from the bed. My sleepy, sensual dream come true. “We’re going to hole up today, ace. Just you and me hanging out in our pajamas and relaxing.”
His arm cinched around my hips, his other hand lifting to brush the hair back from my face. “You’re not mad.”
“Why would I be?” Lifting onto my tiptoes, I kissed his jaw. “Are you mad at me?”
“No.” He cupped my nape, pressing my cheek to his. “I’m glad you’re here.”
“I’ll always be here. Until death do us part.”
“You’re planning the wedding.”
“You heard that, huh? If you’ve got requests, tell me now or forever hold your peace.”
He was quiet for a long time, long enough that I figured he didn’t have anything to add.
Turning my head, I caught his lips and gave him a quick, sweet kiss. “Did you see what I left you by the bed?”
“Yes, thank you.” A ghost of a smile touched his mouth.
He looked like a man who’d been well f**ked, which filled me with feminine pride. “I got you off the hook at work, too, but Arash said he had some papers to send over to us. He wouldn’t tell me what they were.”
“Guess you’ll have to wait and find out.”
I brushed my fingertips over his brow. “How are you doing?”
His shoulder lifted in a shrug. “I don’t know. Right now, I just feel like shit.”
“Let’s revisit that bath you missed last night.”
“Umm, I’m feeling better already.”
Linking our fingers together, I started leading him back toward the bedroom.
“I want to be the man of your dreams, angel,” he said, surprising me. “I want that more than anything.”
I looked back at him. “You’ve got that in the bag already.”
I stared down at the contract in front of me, my heart racing with a dizzying combination of love and delight. I looked up from the coffee table as Gideon entered the room, his hair still damp from our bath, his long legs encased in black silk pajama bottoms.
“You’re buying the Outer Banks house?” I asked, needing his confirmation despite having the proof in front of me.
His sexy mouth curved. “We’re buying the house. We agreed we would.”
“We talked about it.” The agreed-upon price was a bit staggering, telling me the owners hadn’t been easy to persuade. And he’d asked them to convey the copy of Naked in Death with the property, along with the furnishings in the master bedroom. He always thought of everything.
Gideon settled on the couch beside me. “Now, we’re doing something about it.”
“The Hamptons would be closer. Or Connecticut.”
“It’s a quick hop down by jet.” He tipped my chin up with his finger and pressed his lips to mine. “Don’t worry about the logistics,” he murmured. “We were happy there on the beach. I can still picture you walking along the shore. I remember kissing you on the deck . . . spreading you across that big white bed. You looked like an angel and that place, for me, was like heaven.”
“Gideon.” I rested my forehead against his. I loved him so much. “Where do we sign?”
He pulled back and slid the contract over, finding the first yellow sign here flag. His gaze roved over the coffee table and he frowned. “Where’s my pen?”
I stood. “I’ve got one in my purse.”
Catching my wrist in his hand, he tugged me back down. “No. I need my pen. Where’s the envelope this came in?”
I spotted it lying on the floor between the couch and table, where I’d dropped it when I realized what Arash had sent over. Picking it up, I realized it was still weighted and upended it over the table to let the rest of the items inside spill out. A fountain pen clattered onto the glass and a small photo floated out.