Eva straightened. “But …?”
“You’re also both pushing personal agendas and manipulating each other to make them happen. My concern is that they’re issues and changes that would naturally present themselves and be resolved in time, but neither of you wants to wait. You’re both driving your relationship forward on an accelerated schedule. It’s only been three months since you two met for the first time. At this point, most couples are deciding to date exclusively, but you two have been married for nearly a month.”
I felt my shoulders going back. “What’s the point in delaying the inevitable?”
“If it’s inevitable,” he responded, his eyes kind, “why rush it? But that’s not my point. You’re both jeopardizing your marriage by forcing each other to act before you’re ready. You each have ways of coping with adverse situations. Gideon, you disassociate, as you’ve done with your family. Eva, you blame yourself for why the relationship isn’t working and start subverting your own needs, as you’ve demonstrated with your previous self-destructive romantic relationships. If you continue to maneuver each other into situations where you feel threatened, you will eventually trigger one of these self-defense mechanisms.”
As my pulse began to race, I felt Eva stiffen. She’d said as much to me before, but I knew hearing it from a shrink would validate that worry for her. I pulled her closer, breathing her in to calm myself. The hatred I felt for Hugh and Nathan in that moment was vicious. They were both dead and buried, but they were still fucking up our lives.
“We’re not going to let them win,” Eva whispered.
I pressed a kiss to the top of her head, fiercely grateful for her. Her thoughts were like mine and that filled me with a sense of wonder.
Her head tilted back, her fingertips drifting along my jaw, her gray eyes soft and tender. “I can’t hold out against you, you know. It hurts too much to stay away. Just because you cross the battle lines first doesn’t mean I’m less invested. It just means I’m more stubborn.”
“I don’t want to fight with you.”
“So let’s not,” she said simply. “We started something new today—you talking, me quitting. Let’s stick with it for a while and see where it takes us.”
“I can do that.”
I’d originally planned to take Eva someplace quiet and tucked away for dinner, but I changed the venue to the Crosby Street Hotel instead. The restaurant was popular and the hotel was known to often have paparazzi nearby. I wasn’t prepared to go to any extremes, but as we’d discussed with Dr. Petersen, I was open to meeting her halfway. We would find our middle ground.
“How pretty,” she said, as we followed the hostess to our seats, her gaze taking in the pale blue walls and subdued pendant lighting.
When we reached our table, I scanned the space as I pulled the chair out for her. She was attracting attention, as she always did. Eva was a stunner by any measure, but her sex appeal was something you had to witness firsthand. It was there in the way she moved, the way she carried herself, in the curve of her smile.
And she was mine. The glance I spared the other diners made that patently clear.
I took the seat opposite her, admiring the way the light of the candle on the table gilded her golden skin and hair. The gloss on her lips invited long, deep kisses, as did the look in her eyes. No one had ever looked at me the way she did, with total acceptance and understanding blended in with the love and desire.
I could tell her anything and she would believe me. Such a simple gift, but so rare and precious. Only my silence could push her away, never the truth.
“Angel.” I took her hand. “I’m going to ask you again, and then I’ll let it go. Are you sure you want to quit your job? You won’t hold it against me twenty years from now? There’s nothing we can’t fix or undo, if you just say the word.”
“Twenty years from now, you might be working for me, ace.” Her husky laugh floated through the air and stirred my hunger for her. “Don’t worry, okay? It was actually kind of a relief. I’ve got a lot on my plate: packing, moving, planning. When that’s all behind us, I’ll figure out what’s next.”
I knew her well. If she’d had doubts, I would have sensed them. What I picked up on instead was something different. Something new.
There was a fire inside her.
I couldn’t take my eyes off her, even as I ordered wine.
After the server walked away, I lounged back, enjoying the simple pleasure of staring at my gorgeous wife.
Eva wet her lips with a teasing swipe of her tongue and leaned forward. “You are so insanely hot.”
My mouth quirked. “Am I now?”
Her calf rubbed mine. “You are—by far—the hottest man in the room, which makes this really fun. I like showing you off.”
I gave an exaggerated sigh. “You still just want me for my body.”