“What do you fight about?”
I glanced at Gideon again. He sat beside me totally at ease, looking gorgeous and successful in his beautifully tailored suit. It was on my to-do list to go with him the next time he updated his wardrobe. I wanted to watch them measure that stunning body of his, see them select the materials and style.
I found him sexy as sin in jeans and a T-shirt, and mind-blowing in a tuxedo. But I’d always have a special fondness for the three-piece suits he favored. They reminded me of how he’d been when I first met him, so beautiful and seemingly unattainable, a man I’d wanted so desperately that the need overrode even my sense of self-preservation.
I looked back at Dr. Petersen. “We still argue about the things he doesn’t tell me. And we argue when he tries to shut me out.”
He turned his gaze to Gideon. “Do you feel the need to maintain a certain distance from Eva?”
My husband’s mouth curved wryly. “There is no distance between us, Doctor. She wants me to dump everything on her that’s an irritant to me and I won’t do that. Ever. It’s bad enough if one of us has to bother with it.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “I think that’s crap. Part of a relationship is sharing the load with someone else. Maybe sometimes I can’t do anything about the problem, but I can be a sounding board. I think you don’t tell me things just because you’d rather shove them into a corner where you can ignore them.”
“People process information in different ways, Eva.”
I wasn’t buying Gideon’s dismissive reply. “You’re not processing, you’re ignoring. And I’m never going to be okay with you pushing me away when you’re hurting.”
“How does he push you away?” Dr. Petersen asked.
I looked at him. “Gideon . . . separates himself. He goes somewhere else where he can be alone. He won’t let me help him.”
“‘Goes somewhere else’ how? Do you emotionally withdraw, Gideon? Or physically?”
“Both,” I said. “He shuts down emotionally and goes away physically.”
Gideon reached over and took my hand in his. “I can’t shut down with you. That’s the problem.”
“That’s not a problem!”
I shook my head. “He doesn’t need space,” I said to Dr. Petersen, “he needs me, but he cuts me off because he’s afraid he’ll hurt me if he doesn’t.”
“How would you hurt her, Gideon?”
“It’s . . .” He exhaled harshly. “Eva has triggers. I keep them in mind, all the time. I’m careful. But sometimes, when I’m not thinking clearly, it’s possible I could cross the line.”
Dr. Petersen studied us. “What lines are you worried about crossing?”
Gideon’s grip tightened on my hand, the only outward sign he gave of any uneasiness. “There are times when I need her too much. I can be rough . . . demanding. Sometimes, I don’t have the control I need.”
“You’re talking about your sexual relationship?” He returned Gideon’s nod. “We’ve touched on that briefly before. You said you have sex multiple times a day, every day. Is that still the case?”
I felt my face heat.
Gideon’s thumb stroked over the back of my hand. “Yes.”
Dr. Petersen set his tablet aside. “You’re right to be concerned. Gideon, you may be using sex to keep Eva at an emotional distance. When you’re making love, she’s not talking, you’re not answering. There’s a point when you’re not even thinking, your body is in charge and your brain is just along for the endorphin ride. Conversely, sexual abuse survivors like Eva often use sex as a way to establish an emotional connection. Can you see the problem there? You may be trying to achieve distance through sex, while Eva is trying to get closer.”
“I’ve already told you there’s no distance.” Gideon leaned forward, pulling my hand into his lap. “Not with Eva.”
“So tell me, when you’re struggling emotionally and you initiate sex with Eva, what is it you’re looking for?”
I twisted a little to look at Gideon, totally invested in his answer. I’d never questioned why he needed to be inside me, only how. For me, it was as simple as him needing and me giving.
His gaze met mine. The shield over his eyes, that mask of his, slipped away. I saw the longing there, the love.
“The connection,” he answered. “There’s this moment. She opens and I . . . I open, and we’re there. Together. I need that.”
“You need it rough?”
Gideon looked at him. “Sometimes. There are times when she holds back. But I can get her there. She wants me to get her there, needs it like I do. I have to push. Carefully. With control. When I don’t have the control, I need to back off.”
“How do you push?” Dr. Petersen asked quietly.
“I have my ways.”
Dr. Petersen turned his attention to me. “Has Gideon ever gone too far?”
I shook my head.
“Do you ever worry that he might?”
His gaze was soft and capped with a frown. “You should, Eva. You both should.”
I was stirring vegetables and cubed chicken into a curry mix on the stove when I heard the front door opening. Curious, I waited to see who came into view, hoping Cary had come home alone.
“Smells good,” he said, walking up to the breakfast bar to watch me. He looked cool and casual in an oversized white V-neck T-shirt and khaki shorts. Sunglasses hung off his collar and wide brown leather cuffs hugged each forearm, hiding the threadlike cuts I’d spotted the night before.