“Fuck.” I dropped back into my seat. As much as I wanted to say no to her, I couldn’t. Not even about this. “Damn it.”

“Don’t be mad. I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t think it was important to try. And it’s such a short time.”


“Eva, five minutes would be a short amount of time. You’re talking weeks.”

“Baby …” She laughed softly. “You’re pouting. It’s so adorable.” Leaning forward, she pressed her lips to my cheek. “And really flattering. Thank you.”

My gaze narrowed. “I’m not agreeing to make this easy for you.”

She trailed her fingers down my tie. “Of course not. We’ll try to make it fun. A challenge. See who breaks first.”

“Me,” I muttered. “I’ve got no fucking incentive to win this.”

“How about me? Wrapped up in a bow—and nothing else—as your birthday present?”

I scowled. Nothing was capable of making this more palatable. Even the thought of her bursting out of a cake naked couldn’t make this better. “What does my birthday have to do with anything?”

Eva dazzled me with her smile, which only made me want her more. She was sunlight and warmth at any time, but when she was beneath me, writhing in pleasure and moaning for harder … deeper …

“That’s when we’re getting married.”

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It took a second for that to sink into my lust-addled brain. “I didn’t know that.”

“I didn’t either, until today. On my last break, I went online, trying to see if there was anything happening in September or October that I should consider when setting a date. Since we’re getting married on the beach, we don’t want it to be too cold, so we’ve got to get it done this month or next.”

“Thank God for winter,” I grumbled.

“Fiend. Anyway … I got a Google alert about you—”

“You’re still doing that?”

“—and there was a post about us on this fan site. There was—”

“Fan site?”

“Yep. There are whole sites and blogs dedicated to you. What you’re wearing, who you’re dating, events you’re attending.”


“The one I went to had all your stats: height, weight, eye color, birth date … everything. To be honest, it freaked me out a little that some total stranger knew other details about you that I don’t, which is another reason why I think we need to date each other and talk more—”

“I can recite stats while we’re fucking. Problem solved.”

Her grin was delighted. “You slay me. Anyway, having the wedding on your birthday is a good idea, don’t you think? You’ll never forget our anniversary.”

“Our wedding anniversary is August eleventh,” I reminded her dryly.

“We’ll have two to celebrate.” She ran her hand through my hair, tripping my pulse. “Or better yet, we’ll celebrate straight through from one to the other.”

August 11 through September 22—a full month and a half. The thought of that was almost enough to make the next few weeks bearable.

“Eva. Gideon.” Dr. Lyle Petersen stood and smiled as we walked into his office. He was a tall man, and his gaze lowered a noticeable distance to take in our linked hands. “You’re both looking well.”

“I feel good,” Eva said, sounding strong and sure.

I didn’t say anything, extending my hand to shake his.

The good doctor knew things about me I’d hoped never to share with anyone. Because of that, I wasn’t entirely comfortable with him, despite the soothing blend of neutral colors and comfortable furniture that made up his office. Dr. Petersen himself was a comfortable man, easy in his own skin. His neatly groomed gray hair did much to soften his appearance but couldn’t distract from how incisive and perceptive he was.

It was hard to rely on someone who knew so much my vulnerabilities, but I dealt with it as best I could because I had no other choice—Dr. Petersen was a pivotal player in my marriage.

Eva and I took seats on the sofa, while Dr. Petersen settled into his usual wingback chair. He left his tablet and stylus sitting on the arm and studied us with dark blue eyes that were sharp with intelligence.

“Gideon,” he began, “tell me what’s happened since I saw you on Tuesday.”

I settled back and got to the point. “Eva’s decided to follow your recommendation to abstain from sex until we marry publicly.”

Eva’s low, husky laugh broke out. She leaned into me, hugging my arm. “Did you catch the note of accusation?” she asked the doctor. “It’s all your fault he’s not going to get any for a couple weeks.”

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