“Well, I’m happy to hear that,” Mark said.

“Me, too.” Steven opened his menu with a decisive snap, as if something important had been decided. “We want you to stick around, kid.”


“I’m sticking,” I assured them.

The server set a basket of olive oil–drizzled garlic bread on the table between us, then rattled off the day’s specials. The restaurant the guys had selected had two menus: Italian and Greek.

Like most Manhattan eateries, the location was small and the tables packed tightly together, close enough that one party flowed into the next and you had to watch your elbows. The scents flowing out of the kitchen and wafting from the trays of passing servers had my stomach growling audibly. Thankfully the noise from the lunch crowd frenzy was loud enough to cover me.

Steven ran a hand through the bright red hair many women would kill for. “I’m having the moussaka.”

“Me, too.” I closed my menu.

“Pepperoni pizza for me,” Mark said.

Steven and I teased him about being adventurous.

“Hell,” he shot back, “marrying Steven is adventure enough.”

Grinning, Steven set his elbow on the table and his chin on his fist. “So, Eva . . . how’d Cross propose? I’m guessing he didn’t blurt it out in the middle of the street.”

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Mark, who was sitting on the bench seat next to his partner, gave him an exasperated look.

“No,” I agreed. “He broke the news to me on a private beach. I can’t say he asked, because he pretty much just told me that we’re getting married.”

Mark’s mouth twisted in thought, but Steven was blunt as always. “Romance, Gideon Cross style.”

I laughed. “Absolutely. He’ll be the first to tell you he’s not romantic, but he’s wrong about that.”

“Let me see the ring.”

I held my hand out to Steven and the Asscher cut diamond shot sparks of multihued fire. It was a beautiful ring, which held beautiful memories for Gideon. Elizabeth Vidal’s thoughts on the subject couldn’t touch that.

“Whoa. Mark, darlin’, you have got to get me one of those.”

The picture in my head of the flame-haired, burly contractor wearing a ring like mine was comical.

Mark shot him a look. “So you can shatter it on a job site? Let me get right on that.”

“Diamonds are tough little beauties, but I’ll take good care of it.”

“You’ll have to wait until I run an agency of my own,” my boss retorted with a snort.

“I can do that.” Steven winked at me. “You register anywhere yet?”

I shook my head. “You?”

“Hell, yeah.” He twisted to open the messenger bag next to him and pulled out his wedding binder. “Tell me what you think about these patterns.”

Mark raised his gaze heavenward with a long-suffering sigh. I grabbed a piece of garlic bread and leaned forward with a happy hum.

I worked on the LanCorp RFP the remainder of the afternoon.

When my day ended, I headed to my Krav Maga class with Raúl. On the way, I reread Clancy’s reply to my text saying I wouldn’t need a ride from him. He had typed back that it was no problem, but I felt the need to explain further.

Gideon wants to have his ppl with me moving forward, so you’re free from now on. TY for all your help.

It didn’t take him long to answer. Anytime. Holler when you need me. BTW, your friend shouldn’t have any more trouble.

The “thank you” I sent back didn’t seem like enough. I made a note to send him something that would better express my gratitude.

Raúl parked outside the brick-faced converted warehouse that was Parker Smith’s Krav Maga studio and then escorted me inside, taking a seat on the bleachers. His presence threw me off a little bit. Clancy had always waited outside. Having Raúl watching made me a little self-conscious.

The massive open space still managed to look crowded, thanks to all the clients on the mats and in one-on-ones with instructors. The noise was nearly deafening, a cacophony of bodies hitting padding, flesh colliding with flesh, and the various shouts as participants psyched themselves up while psyching each other out. Giant metal delivery-bay doors added to both the industrial feel of the studio and the heat, which even the air-conditioning and multiple standing fans couldn’t quite alleviate.

I was stretching in preparation for the grueling drills ahead when a pair of lanky legs came into my line of sight. I straightened and faced NYPD detective Shelley Graves.

She wore her curly brown hair in a bun as severe as her face, and her blue eyes assessed me with sharp impassiveness. I was afraid of her and what she could do to Gideon, but I admired her a lot, too. She was fierce and confident in a way I could only aspire to.

“Eva,” she greeted me.

“Detective Graves.” She was dressed for work in dark slacks and a red jersey top. She wore a black blazer that didn’t hide either her badge or her firearm. Her boots were scuffed and no-nonsense, much like her attitude.

“Spotted you on my way out. Heard about your engagement. Congratulations.”

My stomach flipped a little. Part of Gideon’s alibi—if one could call it that—was that we’d been broken up when Nathan was killed. Why would a powerful, upstanding public figure kill a guy over an ex he’d left behind without looking back?

Getting engaged so quickly had to look suspicious. Graves had told me she and her partner had moved on to other cases, but I understood what kind of cop she was. Shelley Graves believed in justice. She believed Nathan had gotten his, but I knew something inside her questioned whether Gideon had something to pay for, too.

“Thank you,” I replied, pulling my shoulders back. In this, Gideon and I were a team. “I’m a lucky girl.”

She glanced at the bleachers. At Raúl. “Where’s Ben Clancy?”

I frowned. “I don’t know. Why?”

“Just curious. You know, one of the feds I talked to about Yedemsky also has the last name Clancy.” Her gaze bored into me. “You think they’re any relation?”

The blood drained out of my head at the mention of the Russian mobster whose corpse had been sporting Nathan’s bracelet. I swayed a little with a sudden rush of dizziness. “What?”

She nodded, as if she’d expected as much. “Probably not. Anyway, I’ll see you later.”

I watched her walk away, her attention on Raúl. Then, she paused and faced me again. “You inviting me to the wedding?”

I fought through the buzzing in my head to say, “The reception. We’re keeping the wedding small, just family.”

“Really? Didn’t expect that.” Something like a smile transformed her thin face. “He’s full of surprises, isn’t he?”

I couldn’t even begin to decipher what that meant. I was too busy trying to process everything else she’d said. I didn’t even realize I’d chased after her until I had her elbow in my hand.

She stopped, her body taut in a way that told me to let go. Which I did. Immediately.

I stared at her for a beat, trying to pull my thoughts together. Clancy. Gideon. Nathan. What the hell did it mean? Where was she going with it?

Most of all, why did I feel as if she were helping me? Looking out for me. For Gideon.

What I ended up saying startled me. “I’m looking to support an organization that does good work for abuse survivors.”

Her brows rose. “Why are you telling me?”

“I don’t know where to start.”

She shot me a look. “Try Crossroads,” she said dryly. “I’ve heard good things about that one.”

I was sitting cross-legged on the floor of my bedroom’s sitting room when Gideon came home. He walked in wearing loose-legged jeans and a V-neck white T-shirt, the keys to my place spinning around his finger.

I stared. I couldn’t help it. Would he always stop my heart? I hoped so.

The room was small and girly, decorated by my mother with antiques, such as the silly escritoire I was supposed to use as a desk. Gideon infused a drugging dose of testosterone into the space, making me feel soft and feminine and eager to be ravished.

“Hi, ace.” The love and longing he inspired were exposed in those two words.

The keys were caught in his hand abruptly and he came to a stop, looking down at me much as he had that first day in the Crossfire lobby. His eyes took on the brooding fierceness I found wildly exciting.

For some reason I would probably never understand, he felt the same about me.

“Angel mine.” He dropped gracefully into a crouch, his hair sliding briefly along his cheekbones in a loving caress. “What are you working on?”

His fingers rifled through the papers scattered on the floor around me. Before my research into his Crossroads Foundation distracted him, I caught his hand and squeezed it.

I blurted out what I knew, as abruptly as the info had been sprung on me. “It was Clancy, Gideon. Clancy and his brother in the FBI planted Nathan’s bracelet on that mobster.”

He nodded. “I figured.”

“You did? How?” I smacked him on the shoulder. “Why didn’t you say something? I’ve been worried sick.”

Gideon settled on the floor in front of me, crossing his long legs in a pose mirroring mine. “I don’t have all the answers yet. Angus and I have been narrowing it down. Whoever was responsible was either watching Nathan or me and following our movements, so we started there.”

“Or watching both of you.”

“Precisely. Who would do that? Who had a stake in it? In you?”

“Jesus.” I searched his face. “Detective Graves knows. The FBI. Clancy—”


“She brought it up at Parker’s studio tonight. Tossed it at me in passing just to see how I’d take the news.”

His gaze narrowed. “Either she’s fucking with you or she wants you to stop worrying. My bet is on the latter.”

I almost asked why, but then I realized I’d come to the same conclusion. The detective was tough as nails, but she had a heart. I had caught glimpses of it during the few times we’d interacted with one another. And she was good at her job, obviously.

“We have to trust her, then?” I asked, crawling over the brochures and paperwork to curl into his lap.

He pulled me into him, fitting me into the hard planes of his body as if I were meant to be there always. I felt that way when he held me. Safe. Treasured. Adored.

His lips touched my forehead. “I’m going to talk to Clancy just to be sure, but he’s no fool. He wouldn’t leave anything to chance.”

My hand tightened around a fistful of his T-shirt, hanging on to him with everything I had. “Don’t keep things like this from me, Gideon. Stop trying to protect me.”

“I can’t.” His grip on me tightened, too. “Maybe I should have said something, but we have only a few hours alone every day and I want them to be perfect.”

“Gideon. You’ve got to let me in.”

His chest expanded beneath my cheek, his heart beating strong and sure. “I’m working on it, Eva.”

That was all I could ask for.

THE next morning I padded into the kitchen on bare feet to find Gideon pouring coffee. I could say the smell of java is what added a spring to my step, but it was the sight of my husband, freshly shaved and dressed with his vest hanging open, that did it. I loved seeing him a little undone.

He looked me over as I went to him, my heels rapping on the marble, his face impassive and his eyes warm. Did he get the same kick when he caught sight of me ready to tackle my day? I doubted it. I was convinced men just saw hot . . . or not.

Wrapping my fingers around his wrist, I led his hand around me and up the back of my skirt to cup the undercurve of my buttock.

A smile teased the corners of his lips. “Hello to you, too, Mrs. Cross.”

He snapped the back of my garter against my thigh. I jumped at the sting and gasped as warmth spread outward from the spot.

“Hmm . . . you like that.” He smirked.

My lower lip stuck out in a pout. “It hurt.”

Gideon shifted to lean back against the counter and pulled me between his spread legs, both of his hands lightly gripping the back of my thighs. He nuzzled his nose against my temple and massaged the place that burned. “I’m sorry, angel.”

Then he snapped my garter on the other side.

I arched in surprise, my body aligning with his. He was hard. Again. A low moan escaped me. “Stop it.”

“It’s turning you on,” he murmured in my ear.

“It hurts!” I complained, even as I rubbed against him. He’d woken me with soft kisses and provocative hands. I had thanked him in the shower with my mouth. Still, he could go again. I could, too. We were addicted to each other.

“Want me to kiss it and make it better?” His fingers slid between my thighs and found me warm and ready. He groaned. “Christ. What you do to me, Eva. I’ve got so much to do . . .”