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Captivated By You: Chapter 18


“OH MY GOD,” I moaned around a bite of chocolate toffee cupcake, “this is divine.”

Kristin, the wedding planner, beamed. “It’s one of my favorites, too. Hold on, though. The butter vanilla is even better.”

“Vanilla over chocolate?” My gaze slid over the yummies on the coffee table. “No way.”

“I would usually agree,” Kristin said, making a note, “but this bakery made me a convert. The lemon is also very good.”

The early-afternoon light poured in through the massive windows that made up one side of my mother’s private sitting room, illuminating her pale gold curls and porcelain skin. She’d redecorated recently, opting for soft gray-blue walls that lent a new energy to the space—and complemented her well.

It was one of her talents, showcasing herself in the best light. It was also one of her major flaws, in my opinion. She cared so damn much about appearances.

I didn’t understand how my mom could not get bored with decorating to the latest trends, even if it did seem to take over a year to cycle through every room and hallway in Stanton’s six-thousand-plus-square-foot penthouse.

My one meeting with Blaire Ash had been enough to tell me that the decorating gene had skipped my generation. I’d been interested in his ideas but couldn’t get worked up over the details.

While I popped another mini cupcake into my mouth with my fingers, my mother daintily speared one of the coin-sized cakes with a fork.

“What are your floral arrangement preferences?” Kristin asked, uncrossing and recrossing long, coffee-hued legs. Her Jimmy Choo heels were elegant but still sexy; her Diane von Furstenberg wrap dress was vintage and classic. She wore her shoulder-length dark hair in tight curls that framed and flattered her narrow face, and pale pink gloss highlighted full, wide lips.

She looked fierce and fabulous, and I’d liked her the moment we met.

“Red,” I said, wiping frosting from the corner of my mouth. “Anything red.”

“Red?” My mother gave an emphatic shake of her head. “How garish, Eva. It’s your first wedding. Go with white, cream, and gold.”

I stared at her. “How many weddings do you expect me to have?”

“That’s not what I meant. You’re a first-time bride.”

“I’m not talking about wearing a red dress,” I argued. “I’m just saying the primary accent color should be red.”

“I don’t see how that will work, honey. And I’ve put together enough weddings to know.”

I remembered my mother going through the wedding planning process before, each successive nuptial more elaborate and memorable than the last. Never overdone and always tasteful. Beautiful weddings for a youthful, beautiful bride. I hoped I aged with half as much grace, because Gideon was only going to get hotter as time went on. He was just that kind of man.

“Let me show you what red can look like, Monica,” Kristin said, pulling a leather portfolio out of her bag. “Red can be amazing, especially with evening weddings. The important thing is that the ceremony and reception represent both the bride and groom. To have a truly memorable day, it’s important that we visually convey their style, history, and hopes for the future.”

My mother accepted the extended portfolio and glanced at the collage of photos on the page. “Eva … you can’t be serious.”

I shot a look of appreciation at Kristin for having my back, especially when she’d come on board expecting my mother to be footing the bill. Of course, the fact that I was marrying Gideon Cross probably helped sway her to my side. Using him as a future reference would certainly help her draw new clientele.

“I’m sure there’s a compromise, Mom.” At least I hoped so. I hadn’t dropped the biggest bomb on her yet.

“Do we have an idea of the budget?” Kristin asked.

And there it was …

I saw my mom’s mouth open in slow motion and my heart lurched into a semipanicked beat. “Fifty thousand for the ceremony itself,” I blurted out. “Minus the cost of the dress.”

Both women turned wide eyes toward me.

My mom gave an incredulous laugh, her hand lifting to touch the Cartier trinity necklace that hung between her breasts. “My God, Eva. What a time to make jokes!”

“Dad’s paying for the wedding, Mom,” I told her, my voice strengthening now that the moment I’d dreaded had passed.

She blinked at me, her blue eyes revealing—just for an instant—a sweet softening. Then her jaw tightened. “Your dress alone will cost more than that. The flowers, the venue …”

“We’re getting married on the beach,” I said, the idea just coming to me. “North Carolina. The Outer Banks. At the house Gideon and I just bought. We’ll only need enough flowers for the members of the wedding party.”

“You don’t understand.” My mom glanced at Kristin for support. “There’s no way that would work. You’d have no control.”

Meaning she wouldn’t.

“Unpredictable weather,” she went on, “sand everywhere … Plus, asking everyone to travel that far out of the city will make it likely some won’t be able to attend. And where would everyone stay?”

“Who’s everyone? I told you, the ceremony is going to be small, for friends and family only. Gideon’s taking care of travel. I’m sure he’d be happy to take care of lodging arrangements, too.”

“I can help with that,” Kristin said.

“Don’t encourage her!” my mother snapped.

“Don’t be rude!” I shot back. “I think you’re forgetting that it’s my wedding. Not a publicity op.”

My mom took a deep, steadying breath. “Eva, I think it’s very sweet that you want to accommodate your father this way, but he doesn’t understand what a burden he’s placing on you by asking this. Even if I matched him dollar for dollar, it wouldn’t be enough—”

“It’s plenty.” My hands linked tightly together in my lap, pressing the rings on my fingers uncomfortably against the bone. “And it’s not a burden.”

“You’re going to offend people. You have to understand that a man in Gideon’s position needs to take every opportunity to solidify his network. He’s going to want—”

“—to elope,” I bit out, frustrated by the too-familiar clash of our viewpoints. “If he had his way, we’d run off somewhere and get married on a remote beach with a couple of witnesses and a great view.”

“He may say that—”

“No, Mother. Trust me. That’s exactly what he would do.”

“Um, if I may.” Kristin leaned forward. “We can make this work, Monica. Many celebrity weddings are private affairs. A limited budget will keep us focused on the details. And, if Gideon and Eva are open to it, we can arrange to have select photographs sold to the celebrity lifestyle magazines, with the profits going to charity.”

“Oh, I like that!” I said, even as I wondered how that could work with the forty-eight-hour exclusive deal Gideon had offered Deanna Johnson.

My mom looked distraught. “I’ve dreamed of your wedding since the day you were born,” she said quietly. “I always wanted you to have something fit for a princess.”

“Mom.” I reached over and took her hand in mine. “You can go wild with the reception, okay? Do whatever you want. Skip the red, invite the world, whatever. As for the wedding, isn’t it enough that I found my prince?”

Her hand tightened on mine and she looked at me with tears in her blue eyes. “I guess it’ll have to be.”

I’D just slid into the back of the Benz when my smartphone started ringing. Pulling it out of my purse, I looked at the screen and saw it was Trey. My stomach twisted a little.

I couldn’t get the shattered look on his face last night out of my mind. I’d stayed tucked away in the kitchen while Cary sat with Trey in the living room and told him about Tatiana and the baby. I had put a pot roast in the oven and sat at the breakfast bar with my tablet, reading a book while staying in Cary’s line of sight. Even in profile, I could see how hard Trey had taken the news.

Still, he’d stayed for dinner and then overnight, so I hoped things would work out in the end. At least he hadn’t just walked out.

“Hi, Trey,” I answered. “How are you?”

“Hey, Eva.” He sighed heavily. “I have no idea how I am. How are you doing?”

“Well, I’m just leaving my mother’s place after spending hours talking about the wedding. It didn’t go as badly as it could have, but it could’ve been smoother. But that’s pretty usual when dealing with my mom.”

“Ah … well, you’ve got a lot on your plate. I’m sorry to bother you.”

“Trey. It’s fine. I’m glad you called. If you want to talk, I’m here.”

“Could we get together, maybe? Whenever it’s convenient for you?”

“How’s now?”

“Really? I’m at a street fair on the west side. My sister dragged me out and I was miserable company. She ditched me a few minutes ago and now I’m wondering what the hell I’m doing here.”

“I can meet you.”

“I’m between Eighty-second and Eighty-third, close to Amsterdam. It’s packed here, just FYI.”

“Okay, hang tight. I’ll see you in a few.”

“Thanks, Eva.”

We hung up and I caught Raúl’s gaze in the rearview mirror. “Amsterdam and Eighty-second. Close as you can get.”

He nodded.

“Thanks.” I looked out the window as we turned a corner, taking in the city on a sunny Saturday afternoon.

The pace of Manhattan was slower on the weekends, the clothes more casual, and the street vendors more plentiful. Women in sandals and light summer dresses window-shopped leisurely, while men in shorts and T-shirts traveled in groups, taking in the women and discussing whatever it was men discussed. Dogs of all sizes pranced on the ends of leashes, while children in strollers kicked up their heels or napped. An elderly couple shuffled along hand in hand, still lost in the wonder of each other after years of familiarity.

I was speed-dialing Gideon before I realized I’d thought of it.

“Angel,” he answered. “Are you on your way home?”

“Not quite. I’m done at my mom’s, but I’m going to meet Trey.”

“How long will that take?”

“I’m not sure. Not more than an hour, I think. God, I hope he doesn’t tell me he’s done with Cary.”

“How did it go with your mother?”

“I told her we were getting married on the beach by the Outer Banks house.” I paused. “I’m sorry. I should’ve asked you first.”

“I think that’s an excellent idea.” His raspy voice took on the special timbre that told me he was moved.

“She asked me how we’re planning on lodging everyone. I kinda dropped that on you and the wedding planner.”

“That’s fine. We’ll work something out.”

Love for him spread through me in a warm rush. “Thank you.”

“So the big hurdle’s behind you,” he said, understanding as he so often did.

“Well, I don’t know about that. She got all teary about it. You know, she had big dreams that aren’t coming true. I hope she lets them go and gets on board.”

“What about her family? We haven’t talked about making arrangements for them to come.”

I shrugged, then remembered he couldn’t see me. “They’re not invited. The only things I know about them are what I found with a Google search. They disowned my mom when she got pregnant with me, so they’ve never been a part of my life.”

“All right, then,” he said smoothly. “I’ve got a surprise for you when you get home.”

“Oh?” My mood instantly brightened. “Will you give me a hint?”

“Of course not. You’ll have to hurry home if you’re curious.”

pouted. “Tease.”

“Teases don’t deliver. I do.”

My toes curled at the rough velvet of his voice. “I’ll be home as soon as I can.”

“I’ll be waiting,” he purred.

THE traffic near the fair was impossible. Raúl left the Benz in the garage beneath my apartment building, then walked me over to the street fair.

When we were half a block away, I started smelling the food and my mouth watered. Music drifted in the air and when we reached Amsterdam Avenue, I saw that it came from a woman singing on a small stage for a packed audience.

Vendors lined either side of the overflowing street, their wares and heads shielded from the sun by white tent tops. From scarves and hats, to jewelry and art, to fresh produce and multinational eats, there was nothing one could want that couldn’t be found.

It took me a few minutes to spot Trey in the crowd. I found him sitting on steps not too far from the corner we’d agreed upon. He was dressed in loose jeans and an olive-hued T-shirt, with sunglasses perched on the crooked bridge of his once-broken nose. His blond hair was as unruly as ever, his attractive mouth tightened into a firm line.

He stood when he saw me, holding out his hand for me to shake. I pulled him into a hug instead, holding him until I felt him relax and hug me back. Life flowed by around us—New Yorkers were comfortable with all sorts of public displays. Raúl moved a discreet distance away.

“I’m a fucking mess,” Trey muttered against my shoulder.

“You’re normal.” I pulled back and gestured toward the steps where I’d found him. “Anyone would be reeling right now.”

He sat down on the middle step. I perched next to him.

“I don’t think I can do this, Eva. I don’t think I should. I want someone in my life full-time, someone who’s there to support me while I get through school, then try to build my practice. Cary’s going to be supporting that model instead and fitting me in when he can. How am I not going to resent that?”

“That’s a valid question,” I said, stretching out my legs in front of me. “You know Cary won’t be sure the baby is his until a paternity test is done.”

Trey shook his head. “I don’t think it’ll matter. He seems invested.”

“I think it’ll matter. Maybe he won’t just walk away, maybe he’ll play uncle or something. I don’t know. For now, we have to go with the assumption that he’s the dad, but maybe he’s not. It’s a possibility.”

“So you’re telling me to hang in there for another six months?”

“No. If you want me to give you answers, I don’t have any. All I can tell you for sure is that Cary loves you, more than I’ve ever seen him love anyone. If he loses you, it’s going to break him. I’m not trying to guilt you into staying with him. I just think you should know that if you leave, you’re not the only one who’ll be hurting.”

“How is that helpful?”

“Maybe it’s not.” I set my hand on his knee. “Maybe I’m just small enough to find that comforting. If Gideon and I didn’t work out, I’d want to know he was as miserable as I was.”

Trey’s mouth curved in a sad smile. “Yeah, I see your point. Would you stay with him if you found out he’d knocked someone else up? Someone he was sleeping with while dating you?”

“I thought about that. It’s hard for me to imagine not being with Gideon. If we weren’t exclusive at the time and the woman was in his past, if he was with me and not her, maybe I could handle it.”

I watched a woman hang yet another bag of purchases onto the overburdened handle of her kid’s stroller. “But if he was mostly with her and seeing me on the side … I think I’d walk.”

It was tough being honest when the truth was the opposite of what Cary would want me to say, but I felt like it was the right thing to do.

“Thanks, Eva.”

“For what it’s worth, I wouldn’t think less of you if you toughed it out with Cary. It’s not weak to stand by the person you love when they’re trying to fix a big mistake, and it’s not weak to decide to put yourself first. Whatever decision you make, I’ll still think you’re a helluva guy.”

Leaning into me, he rested his head on my shoulder. “Thanks, Eva.”

I linked my fingers with his. “You’re welcome.”

“I’LL go get the car and pull it around,” Raúl said, as we entered the lobby of my apartment building.

“Okay. I’m just going to check the mail.” I waved at the concierge as we passed the desk. I turned into the mailroom, while Raúl headed to the elevator.

Sliding my key into the lock, I pulled the brass door open and bent low to peer inside. There were a few postcard advertisements and nothing else, which saved me a trip upstairs. I slid them out, tossed them in the nearby trash can, then shut and locked the mailbox.

I headed back into the lobby just in time to catch a woman exiting the building. Her spiky red hair caught my attention and held it. I stared hard, waiting for her to turn onto the street, hoping I’d catch a glimpse of her profile.

My breath caught. The hair was familiar from a Google image search. The face I remembered from the shelter fund-raiser Gideon and I had attended a few weeks back.

Then she was gone.

I ran after her, but when I reached the sidewalk she was already sliding into the back of a black town car.

“Hey!” I shouted.

The car sped off, leaving me staring after it.

“Everything all right?”

I turned to face Louie, the weekend doorman. “Do you know who that was?”

He shook his head. “She doesn’t live here.”

Going back inside, I asked the concierge the same question.

“A redhead?” she asked, looking perplexed. “We haven’t had any visitors who came in without a tenant today, so I haven’t really paid attention.”

“Hmm. Okay, thank you.”

“Your car’s here, Eva,” Louie said from the doorway.

I thanked the concierge and headed out to Raúl. I spent the ride between my place and Gideon’s thinking about Anne Lucas. By the time I stepped out of the private elevator into the foyer of the penthouse, my spinning thoughts had me distracted.

Gideon was waiting for me. Dressed in worn jeans and a Columbia T-shirt, he looked so young and handsome. Then he flashed me a smile and I almost forgot the world altogether.

“Angel,” he purred, crossing the black-and-white checkerboard flooring on bare feet. He had that look in his eye I knew well. “Come here.”

I walked right into his open arms, cuddling up tightly to his hard body. I breathed him in. “You’re going to think I’m crazy,” I mumbled against his chest, “but I could swear I just saw Anne Lucas in the lobby of my building.”

He stiffened. I knew the shrink wasn’t his favorite person.

“When?” he asked tightly.

“Twenty minutes ago, maybe. Right before I came over here.”

Releasing me, he reached into his back pocket and pulled out his smartphone. His other hand caught mine and pulled me into the living room.

“Mrs. Cross just saw Anne Lucas in her apartment building,” he said to whoever answered.

“I think I did,” I corrected, frowning at his hard tone.

But he wasn’t listening to me. “Find out,” he ordered, before hanging up.

“Gideon. What’s going on?”

He led us to the couch and sat. I settled next to him, putting my purse down on the coffee table.

“I saw Anne the other day,” he explained, holding on to my hand. “Raúl confirmed that the woman who spoke to you at the fund-raiser was her. She admitted it, and I warned her to stay away from you, but she won’t. She wants to hurt me and she knows she can do that if she hurts you.”

“Okay.” I processed that.

“You need to tell Raúl the moment you see her anywhere. Even if you just think it’s her.”

“Hold on a minute, ace. You went to see her the other day and didn’t tell me?”

“I’m telling you now.”

“Why didn’t you tell me then?”

He exhaled roughly. “It was the day Chris came over.”

“Oh.”

“Yeah.”

I gnawed on my lower lip a minute. “How would she hurt me?”

“I don’t know. It’s enough for me that she wants to.”

“Like would she break my leg? My nose?”

“I doubt she’d resort to violence,” he said dryly. “It would be more fun for her to play mind games. Showing up where you are. Letting you catch glimpses of her.”

Which was more insidious. “So that you’ll go to her. That’s what she really wants,” I muttered. “She wants to see you.”

“I won’t be obliging her. I said what I needed to.”

Looking down at our joined hands, I played with his wedding band. “Anne, Corinne, Deanna … It’s a bit crazy, Gideon. I mean, I don’t think this is normal for most men. How many more women are going to lose their minds over you?”

He shot me a look that was patently not amused. “I don’t know what’s gotten into Corinne. None of what she’s done since she returned to New York is like her. I don’t know if it’s the medication she was on, the miscarriage, her divorce …”

“She’s getting divorced?”

“Don’t take that tone, Eva. It doesn’t make a damn bit of difference to me if she’s married or single. I’m married. That’s never going to change, and I’m not a man who cheats. I have more respect for you—and me—than to be that kind of husband.”

I leaned forward, offering my mouth, and he took it in a soft, sweet kiss. He had said exactly what I needed to hear.

Gideon pulled back, nuzzling his nose against mine. “As for the other two … You have to understand that Deanna was collateral damage. Fuck. My entire life has been a war zone and some people have gotten caught in the line of fire.”

I cupped his jaw, trying to stroke the tension away with soothing brushes of my thumb. I knew just what he meant.

He swallowed hard. “If I hadn’t used Deanna to send a message to Anne that the door was closed between us, she would’ve been just a one-night stand. Over and done with.”

“But she’s okay now?”

“I think so.” His fingertips brushed my cheek, the touch reflecting the one I’d given him. “Since I’m sharing, I’ll say that I don’t think she’d turn me down if I tried to hook up—which I won’t—but I don’t think she falls in the woman-scorned category any longer.”

“Yeah, I knew she’d hit the sheets with you again if she could. Not that I blame her. Do you have to be so damn good in bed? Isn’t it enough that you’re hot, and have an amazing body and a huge cock?”

He shook his head, clearly exasperated. “It’s not huge.”

“Whatever. You’re hung. And you know how to use it. And women don’t get awesome sex very often, so when we do, we can go a little nuts over it. I guess that answers my question about Anne, since she had you repeatedly.”

“She never had me.” Gideon sat back, slouching. Scowling. “At some point you’re going to get sick of hearing what an asshole I am.”

I curled into his side, resting my head on his shoulder. “You’re not the first insanely hot guy on the planet to use women. And you won’t be the last.”

“It was different with Anne,” he grumbled. “It wasn’t just about her husband.”

I stilled, then forced myself to relax so that I didn’t make him any more nervous than he already was.

He sucked in a quick, deep breath. “She reminds me of Hugh sometimes,” he said in a rush. “The way she moves, some of the things she says … There’s a familial resemblance. And more. I can’t explain it.”

“Then don’t.”

“Sometimes the line between them blurred in my mind. It was like I was punishing Hugh through Anne. I did things to her I’ve never done with anyone else. Things that made me feel sick when I thought about them later.”

“Gideon.” I slid my arm around his waist.

He hadn’t told me this. He’d said before that it was Dr. Terrence Lucas he was punishing, and I was sure that was part of it. But now I knew it wasn’t all of it.

Gideon sat back. “It was twisted between Anne and me. I twisted her. If I could go back and do things differently—”

“We’ll deal with it. I’m glad you told me.”

“Had to. Listen, angel, you need to tell Raúl the moment you see her anywhere. Even if you’re not sure. And don’t go anywhere alone. I’ll figure out how to deal with her. In the meantime, I need to know that you’re safe.”

“Okay.” I wasn’t sure how that plan would work over the long haul. We lived in the same city with the woman and her husband, and Lucas himself had approached me before. They were a problem and we needed a solution.

But we weren’t going to come up with it today. Saturday. One of the two days of the week I most looked forward to because I got to spend so much private time with my husband.

“So,” I began, sliding my hand up beneath Gideon’s shirt to touch his warm skin. “Where’s my surprise?”

“Well …” The sexy rasp in his voice deepened. “Let’s wait a bit before that. How about we start with some wine?”

Tilting my head back, I looked up at him. “Are you trying to seduce me, ace?”

He kissed my nose. “Always.”

“Umm … Go right ahead.”

I knew something was up when Gideon didn’t join me in the shower. The only time he missed an opportunity to put his hands on me while drenched and dripping was in the mornings, after he’d already had his way with me.

When I came back out to the living room dressed in shorts and tank top sans bra, he was waiting for me with a glass of red wine. We settled on the couch with 3 Days to Kill, which only proved to me that my husband knew me well. It was just the sort of movie I enjoyed—a bit funny, a lot over-the-top. And it had Kevin Costner, who was always a win for me.

Still, as much fun as I had just being lazy with Gideon, the anticipation started to make me twitchy as the hours passed. And Gideon, the devious man, knew it. He built on it. He kept my wineglass full and his hands on me—tangled in my hair, brushing over my shoulder, running along my thigh.

By nine o’clock, I was crawling all over him. I slid into his lap and pressed my lips to his throat, my tongue darting out to stroke over his pulse. I felt it leap, then accelerate, but he made no move in response. He sat as if absorbed in the rerun we’d channel-surfed to after the movie ended.

“Gideon?” I whispered in my fuck-me voice, my hand sliding between his legs to find him as hard and ready as always.

“Hmm?”

I caught the lobe of his ear in my teeth, tugging gently. “Would you mind if I fucked myself on your big cock while you’re watching TV?”

His hand rubbed absently down my back. “I might not be able to see around you,” he replied, sounding distracted. “Maybe you better get on your knees and suck it instead.”

Pulling back, I gaped at him. His eyes laughed at me.

I shoved at his shoulder. “You’re terrible!”

“My poor angel,” he crooned. “Are you horny?”

“What do you think?” I gestured at my chest. My nipples were hard and tight, straining against the thin cotton in a silent demand for his attention.

Cupping my shoulders, he pulled me closer and caught the tip of my breast in his teeth, his tongue stroking softly. I moaned.

He released me, his eyes now so dark they were like sapphires. “Are you wet?”

I was getting there, fast. Whenever Gideon looked at me like that, my body softened for him, grew moist and eager. “Why don’t you find out?” I teased.

“Show me.”

The authoritative bite in his command made me hotter. I slid off him carefully, feeling inexplicably shy. He pushed the coffee table back with one foot, giving me more room to stand in front of him. His gaze slid over me, his face expressionless. The lack of encouragement made me even more anxious, which I guessed was his intention.

He was pushing in that way he had.

Rolling my shoulders back, I caught his gaze with my own and ran my tongue along my bottom lip. His eyes became heavy-lidded. I slid my thumbs beneath the elastic waistband of my athletic shorts and pushed them down, wriggling my hips a little to make it look more like a striptease and less like I was feeling awkward.

“No panties,” he murmured, his gaze on my sex. “You’re a bad girl, angel.”

I pouted. “I’m trying to be good.”

“Open yourself for me,” he murmured. “Let me see you.”

“Gideon …”

He waited patiently and I knew that patience would hold. Whether it took me five minutes or five hours, he would wait for me. And that was why I trusted him. Because it was never a question of whether I would submit, but when I was ready to, and that was a decision he most often left to me.

I widened my stance and tried to slow the quickness of my breathing. Reaching down with both hands, I touched the lips of my sex and spread them, exposing my clit to the man it ached for.

Gideon straightened slowly. “You have such a pretty cunt, Eva.”

As he leaned closer, I held my breath. His hands lifted from his thighs, reaching for mine to hold me steady. “Don’t move,” he ordered.

Then he licked me in a leisurely glide.

“Oh God,” I moaned, my legs shaking.

“Sit down,” he said hoarsely, sliding to his knees on the floor as I obeyed.

The glass was cool against my bare buttocks, a sharp contrast to the heat of my skin. My arms stretched back, gripping the far edge of the table for balance as he pressed my thighs wide with his palms, splaying me open.

His breath was hot against my damp flesh, his focus fully on my sex. “You could be wetter.”

I watched, panting, as he lowered his head and wrapped his lips around my clit. The heat was searing, the lash of his tongue devastating. I cried out, wanting to writhe but held fast by his grip. My head fell back, my ears ringing with the rush of blood and the sound of Gideon’s groan. His tongue fluttered over the tight bundle of nerves, driving me relentlessly toward orgasm. My stomach tightened as the pleasure built, the soft silk of his hair brushing along my sensitive inner thighs.

A low moan escaped me. “I’m going to come,” I gasped. “Gideon … God … I’m going to come.”

He drove his tongue inside me. My elbows weakened, dropping me lower. His tongue fucked into the clutching opening of my sex, stroking through the sensitive tissues, teasing me with a promise of the penetration I truly craved.

“Fuck me,” I begged.

Gideon pulled back, licking his lips. “Not here.”

I made a sound of protest as he stood, so close to orgasm I could taste it. He held his hand out to me, helped me straighten and then stand. When I wobbled, he caught me up, tossing me over his shoulder.

“Gideon!”

But then his hand was between my legs, massaging my wet, swollen sex, and I didn’t care how he carried me, as long as he got me someplace where he’d take me.

We reached the hallway and turned, then stopped too quickly to have reached his bedroom. I heard the doorknob turn and then the light flicked on.

We were in the bedroom that was mine. He set me down on my feet, facing him.

“Why here?” I asked. Maybe some men would head to the nearest bed, but Gideon had more control than that. If he wanted me in the second bedroom, he had a reason for it.

“Turn around,” he said quietly.

Something about his voice … the way he looked at me …

I looked over my shoulder.

And saw the swing.

IT wasn’t what I expected.

I’d looked up sex swings on the Internet when Gideon had first mentioned one. What I’d found were rickety things you hung from door frames, not-so-rickety things that hung from four-legged frames, and ones that hung from an eyebolt in the ceiling. All of them consisted of some combination of chains and/or straps that acted as slings for various body parts. Pictures of women actually harnessed in the damn things looked uncomfortable.

Honestly, I couldn’t see how anyone could get past the awkwardness and fear of collapse, let alone manage an orgasm.

I should’ve known Gideon would have something else in mind.

Turning, I faced the swing head-on. Gideon had cleared out the bedroom at some point. The bed and furnishings were gone. The only object in the room was the swing itself, suspended from a sturdy cagelike structure. A wide, solid metal platform anchored steel sides and roof, which supported the weight of a padded metal chair and chains. Red leather cuffs for wrists and ankles hung in the appropriate places.

His arms wrapped around me from behind, one hand sliding up beneath my shirt to cup my breast, while the other slid between my legs to push two fingers inside me.

Nuzzling my hair out of the way, he kissed my throat. “How do you feel, looking at that?”

thought about it. “Intrigued. A little apprehensive.”

His lips curved against my skin. “Let’s see how you feel once you’re in it.”

A shiver of expectation and apprehension moved through me. I could see from the position of the cuffs that I would be helpless, unable to move or pull away. Unable to exert any control whatsoever over what might happen to me.

“I want to do this right, Eva. Not like that night in the elevator. I want you to feel it when I’m in control and we’re in it together.”

My head fell back against him. Somehow, it was harder giving the consent he wanted. There was less … responsibility when he just took charge.

But that was a cop-out.

“What’s your safe word, angel?” he murmured, his teeth scoring gently across my throat. His hands were magic, his fingers gliding shallowly inside me.

“Crossfire.”

“You say the word and everything stops. Say it again.”

“Crossfire.”

His dexterous fingers tugged at my nipple, milking it expertly. “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You just have to sit back and take my cock. I’m going to make you come without you having to do a thing.”

I took a deep breath. “I feel like that’s always how it is between us.”

“Try it this way,” he coaxed, his hands moving to pull my shirt off. “If you don’t like it, we’ll hit the bed instead.”

For a moment, I wanted to delay, take more time to let it all settle in. I’d promised the swing, but he wasn’t holding that over me …

“Crossfire,” he breathed, hugging me from behind.

I didn’t know if he was reminding me of my safe word or telling me he loved me so much there were no words for how he felt. Either way, the effect on me was the same. I felt safe.

also felt his excitement. His breathing had quickened the moment I’d spotted the swing. His erection was like steel against my buttocks and his skin was hot against mine. His desire spurred my own, made me want to do whatever it took to give him as much pleasure as he could stand.

If he needed something, I wanted to be the woman who gave it to him. He gave so much to me. Everything.

“Okay,” I said softly. “Okay.”

He kissed my shoulder, then stepped beside me, taking my hand in his.

I followed him to the swing, studying it intently. The narrow seat hung at waist level for Gideon, which meant he had to turn me to face him, then lift me up into the chair. His mouth touched mine as my bare ass touched the cool leather, his tongue teasing the seam of my lips. I shivered. Whether that was from the chill, his kiss, or anxiety, I didn’t know.

Gideon pulled away, his gaze heavy-lidded and hot. He eased me into position, holding the chains steady as I leaned into the seat back, which was angled away from him, making me want to stretch my legs out for balance.

“You settled?” he asked, watching me intently.

I knew the question was about more than my physical comfort. I nodded.

He stepped back, his gaze never leaving my face. “I’m going to secure your ankles. You tell me if anything doesn’t feel right.”

“All right.” My voice was breathy, my pulse racing.

His hand slid down my leg, the stroke warm and provocative. I couldn’t look away as he wrapped the crimson leather around my ankle and cinched the metal buckle. The cuff was fit securely but not too tightly.

Gideon moved quickly and confidently. A moment later, my other leg was suspended as well.

He looked at me. “Okay so far?”

“You’ve done this before.” I pouted. His actions seemed too practiced to be those of a beginner.

He didn’t answer. Instead he began to strip as slowly and methodically as he’d restrained me.

Mesmerized, I greedily drank in every inch of skin he revealed. My husband had such an amazing body. He was so hard and tight, so virile. It was impossible not to become aroused seeing him naked.

His tongue slid along the bottom curve of his mouth in a leisurely, erotic caress. “Still good, angel?”

Gideon knew exactly what the sight of him did to me, and it turned me on even more that he was arrogant enough to use that weakness against me. God knew I did the same to him when I could.

“You are so fucking hot,” I told him, licking my own lips.

He smiled and came toward me, his thick, long cock curving upward to his navel. “I think you’ll really enjoy this.”

I didn’t have to ask why he said so, because it was evident as he reached me and took my hands in his. My vantage of him from the swing seat was completely unhindered. From the thighs upward, he was totally exposed between the spread of my legs.

He bent and kissed me again. Softly. Sweetly. I moaned at the unexpected tenderness and the lushness of his flavor.

Releasing one of my hands, he reached between us, gripping his cock and angling it downward to stroke between the lips of my sex. The wide head slid through the slickness of my desire, then nudged against my exposed clit. Pleasure rippled through me and I discovered just how vulnerable I was. I couldn’t arch my hips. I couldn’t tighten my inner muscles to chase the sensation.

A low whimper escaped me. I needed more, but could only wait for him to give it to me.

“You trust me,” he whispered against my mouth.

It wasn’t a question, but I answered anyway. “Yes.”

Gideon nodded. “Grab the chains.”

There were wrist restraints above my head. I wondered why he didn’t use them, but I trusted him to know best. If he didn’t think I was ready, it was because he knew me so well. In some ways, he knew me better than I knew myself.

The love I felt for him unfurled in my chest until it filled me, pushing aside the vestiges of fear that hovered in the dark corners of my mind. I’d never felt so close to him, never known it was possible to believe in someone so completely.

I did as Gideon ordered and gripped the chains. He stepped close again, his abs glistening with the first mist of perspiration. I could see his pulse throbbing in his neck, his arms, his penis. His heart was racing like mine. The head of his cock was as wet with excitement as my sex. The hunger between us was a living thing in the room, sliding sinuously around us, narrowing the world to just the two of us.

“Don’t let go,” he ordered, waiting until I nodded my agreement before he proceeded.

He gripped a chain where it met with the seat. His other hand guided his cock to my cleft. The thick crown pressed teasingly against me, taunting me with the promise of pleasure. I was panting as I waited for him to take the step forward that would slide him into me, my core aching with the need to be filled.

Instead, he gripped the seat of the chair in both hands and pulled me onto his cock.

The sound that ripped from my throat was inhuman, the savagely erotic feeling of being so deeply penetrated driving me wild. He sank deep in that one easy glide, my body unable to offer any resistance.

Gideon snarled, a tremor running through his powerful body. “Fuck,” he hissed. “Your cunt is so good.”

started to reach for him, but he pushed the swing back, gliding me off his rock-hard erection. The feeling of being emptied made me moan in distress.

“Please,” I begged softly.

“I told you not to let go,” he said, with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

“I won’t,” I promised, gripping the chains so hard it hurt.

His arms flexed as he pulled me back, sliding me onto his cock. My toes curled. The feeling of weightlessness, of total surrender, was indescribable.

“Talk to me,” he bit out. “Tell me you like this.”

“Damn it,” I gasped, feeling sweat slide down my nape. “Don’t stop.”

One moment I was held stationary, the next I was swinging fluidly, my sex sliding on and off Gideon’s rigid cock with breathtaking speed. His body worked like a well-oiled machine, his arms, chest, abs, and thighs straining with the exertion of masterfully handling the swing. The sight of his powerful movements, the intensity of his focus on pleasuring us both, the feel of him pumping so deep and fast into me …

I orgasmed with a scream, unable to contain the rush that surged through me. He fucked me through it, growling roughly, his face flushed and etched with lust. I’d never come so hard, so fast. I couldn’t see or breathe for an endless moment, my body wracked by a pleasure more ferocious than any I’d ever felt before.

The swing slowed, then stopped. Gideon took an extra step toward me that kept him buried inside me. He smelled decadent, primal. Pure sin and sex.

His hands cupped my face. His fingers brushed tendrils of hair off my damp cheeks. My sex spasmed around him, all too aware of how hard and thick he still was.

“You didn’t come,” I accused, feeling far too vulnerable after the insanity of my orgasm.

Gideon took my mouth in a harsh, demanding kiss. “I’m going to restrain your wrists. Then I’m going to come in you.”

My nipples tightened into painful points. “Oh God.”

“You trust me,” he said again, his gaze searching my face.

I touched him while I still could, my hands sliding over his sweat-slick chest, feeling the desperate beat of his heart. “More than anything.”


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