“I’m not a woman.”



A hint of a smile softened his mouth. “And when a man says he’s fine, it means he is.” He pressed a quick, hard kiss to my forehead and released me. Then, he went to the drawer that held his cuff links and studied the selection thoughtfully.

Gideon was long and lean in his bespoke trousers and white formal shirt. He had on black socks, but his shoes and jacket were still waiting their turn to grace his body.

There was something about seeing him in that partially dressed state that turned me on wildly. It was an intimacy that was mine alone and I cherished it.

I was reminded of what Dr. Petersen had said. Maybe I’d have to spend some nights sleeping apart from my husband. Not forever, but for now. Still, I had these other precious pieces of him and they sustained me.

“A man. What about my man?” I countered, working hard not to get distracted by how hot he looked. The problem was his distance. There wasn’t a trace of the razor-sharp focus on me that I was used to. Part of his mind was somewhere else, and I worried that it was a dark place where he shouldn’t be alone. “That’s the only one I care about.”

“Angel. You’ve been telling me to have it out with my mother for months. I’ve done it. It’s over and behind us.”

“How do you feel about it, though? It has to hurt, Gideon. Please don’t hide it from me, if it does.”

His fingers drummed into the top of the built-in dresser, his gaze still focused on his damned cuff links. “It hurts. Okay? But I knew it would. That’s why I put it off so long. But it’s better this way. I feel … Fuck. It’s settled.”

My lips pursed. Because I wanted him to look at me when he was saying stuff like that, I untied my robe and let the silk whisper off my shoulders. I turned away to hang it by the closet door, stepping over Lucky, who’d passed out right in the middle of the floor. I arched my back as I reached for the hook, giving Gideon a prime view of the ass he loved.

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As I had come to expect of my husband, he’d gifted me with a new dress for the occasion, a gorgeous dove gray gown with a beaded bodice and lightly layered diaphanous skirt that drifted like smoke when I moved.

Because of the plunging neckline—which I knew from experience would bring out his inner caveman—I’d chosen a bra designed to put my boobs on display. Together with the matching underwear, smoky eyes, and glossy lips, I looked like expensive sex.

When I faced him again, my husband was just how I wanted him—frozen in place with his eyes on me.

“I need you to promise me something, ace.”

He raked me from head to toe with a scorching glance. “At the moment, I’ll promise you anything.”

“Just this moment?” I pouted.

He muttered something and walked over to me, cupping my face in his hands. Finally, he was with me. One hundred percent. “And the next, and the next after that.” His gaze caressed my face. “What do you need, angel mine?”

I caught him by the hips, searched his eyes. “You. Just you. Happy and whole and madly in love with me.” The elegant arch of his brows lifted slightly, as if being happy seemed like a dubious proposition. “You’re so sad. It’s killing me.”

A soft sigh left him and I watched the tension drain away with it. “I don’t know why I wasn’t better prepared. She’s incapable of accepting what happened. If she can’t do it to save her marriage, she sure as hell won’t do it for me.”

“There’s something missing in her, Gideon. Something essential. Don’t you dare believe this has anything to do with you.”

His mouth twisted wryly. “Between her and my dad … Not the greatest gene pool, is it?”

Sliding my fingers into the tailored waistband of his trousers, I yanked him closer. “Listen, ace. Your parents both buckled under pressure and put themselves first. Reality is something they can’t face. But guess what? You didn’t get any of their flaws. Not a single one.”


“You, Gideon Geoffrey Cross, are the distillation of what’s best about them. Individually, they don’t amount to much. But together … Man, did they hit it out of the park with you.”

Shaking his head, he said, “I don’t need this, Eva.”

“I’m not bullshitting you. You don’t have any problem with reality. You face it head on and tackle that bitch to the ground.”

He huffed out a laugh.

“You’ve got a right to be hurt and pissed, Gideon. I’m pissed, too. They’re not worthy of you. That doesn’t make you less, it makes you more. I wouldn’t have married you if you weren’t a good man, someone I respect and admire. You inspire me, don’t you know that?”

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