“You should take a nap,” I told him. “You look tired.” And that troubled me. I couldn’t recall when I’d ever seen him so wiped out.
“Do you see me?” he asked hoarsely. “Are you looking at me and seeing me?”
My frown deepened. I looked him over from head to toe. Oh. He’d dressed for me. Thinking of me. “Yes.”
He reached out and touched my face. His tormented gaze held mine. “I feel like I’m invisible to you.”
“I see you.”
“I …” He breathed hard, his chest working as if he’d just run miles. “I’m sorry, Eva. Sorry about Anne … about last night …”
“I know.” Of course I knew that.
He was so upset. Much more than I was. Why? My self-control was never as good as his. Except for now. From the moment I learned the truth, I’d felt an icy resolve form somewhere deep inside me. I didn’t understand it, but I used it. To deal with the police. And my dad and Cary, who needed me to be strong for them.
“Damn it.” He came to me and cupped my face in his hands. “Yell at me. Hit me. For God’s sake—”
“Why?” He stared at me as if I were crazy. “Because this is my fault! Anne was my problem and I didn’t manage her. I didn’t—”
“You’re not responsible for her actions, Gideon,” I said crossly, frustrated he would think that way. “Why would you believe you were? That doesn’t make any sense.”
His hands went to my shoulders and he gave me a little shake. “You’re not making sense! Why aren’t you mad that I didn’t tell you about your mother? You lost it when I hired Mark and didn’t tell you. You left me—” His voice broke. “You’re not leaving me over this, Eva. We’ll work through it … we’ll figure out how to get past it.”
“I’m not leaving you.” I touched his face. “You need to sleep, Gideon.”
“God.” He caught me up and took my mouth, his lips slanting over mine. I put my arms around him, stroking his back to try to calm him down.
“Where are you?” he muttered. “Come back to me.”
Cupping my jaw, he pressed gently with trembling fingers, urging my mouth to open. The moment it did, his tongue swept inside, licking desperately. With a groan, he pulled me up hard against him, urgently fucking his tongue into my mouth.
Heat bloomed inside me. The warmth of his feverishly hot skin penetrated my clothes, sinking into my flesh. Desperate for something to thaw me, I kissed him back, my tongue stroking his.
“Eva.” Gideon released me, his hands moving over me, sliding over my back and arms.
I pushed up onto the tips of my toes, deepening the contact of our mouths. My hands slid beneath his shirt and he hissed, arching into me and away from the chill of my fingers. My touch followed, caressing his skin, seeking that warmth.
“Yes,” he gasped into my mouth. “God, Eva. I love you.”
I licked across his lips, sucked his tongue when he licked me back. The sound he made was both pain and relief, his hands cupping my buttocks and pulling me up against him. I clung to him, lost in him. He was what I needed. I couldn’t think about anything else when he was holding me.
“Tell me you love me,” he breathed. “That you’ll forgive me. Next week … next year … someday …”
“I love you.”
He tore his mouth away, hugging me so tightly it was hard to breathe. My feet dangled above the floor, my temple pressed to his.
“I’ll make it up to you,” he vowed. “I’ll find a way.”
“Shh …” It was there, in the back of my mind, the dismay. The hurt. But I didn’t know whether it was because of Gideon or my mom.
I closed my eyes. Focused on the adored, familiar scent of him. “Kiss me again.”
Gideon turned his head, his lips finding mine. I craved deeper, harder, but he denied me. As ferociously passionate as his first kisses had been, this one was soft. Tender. I whimpered a protest, my hands pushing into his hair to pull him closer.
“Angel.” He nuzzled against me. “Your dad’s waiting.”
Oh, God. I loved my dad, but his agony and helpless rage were pouring off him, battering me. I didn’t know how to comfort or soothe. There was a void inside me, as if I had nothing left to give anyone. But everyone needed me.
Putting me back on my feet, Gideon searched my face again. “Let me be here for you. Don’t shut me out.”
“I’m not trying to.” I looked away, toward the bathroom. There’s a towel on the floor. Why is it there? “There’s something wrong.”