My hands fisted reflexively. She couldn’t say those words to me and not redirect my attention. “What are you talking about?”

“Just now, when we were in the bedroom. I could sense you pulling away and there was this panic I felt …”


Eva fell silent for a long moment. I waited, reining my lust back with a deep breath.

“Holding off until the wedding … It’s not just about Dr. Petersen’s advice or the way you cope with fights.” She swallowed. “It’s about me, too. You know how I was—I told you. Sex was all twisted up for me for a long time.”

She shifted on her feet, shame bowing her head. It made me sick to see it. It struck me then that I’d been too wrapped up in my own reactions to the events of the last week without thinking about what my wife was going through.

“It was for me, too,” I reminded her gruffly. “But it’s never been that way between us.”

She caught my gaze. “No. Never.”

My clenched fists relaxed.

“But that doesn’t mean I can’t still twist things up in my head,” she went on. “You walked into the bathroom and my first thought was that I should fuck you. Like if we have sex, it’ll fix everything. You won’t be mad anymore and I’ll have your love again.”

“You always have it. You always will.”

“I know that.” And from the set of her jaw, I could see that she did. “But that didn’t stop the voice in my head from telling me I’m risking too much. That I’m going to lose you if I don’t put out. That you’re too sexual to go so long without it.”

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“God.” How many times and ways could I fuck this up? “The way I talked to you on the beach … I’m an asshole, Eva.”

“Sometimes.” She smiled. “You’re also the best thing that’s ever happened to me. That voice has been screwing me up for years, but it doesn’t have the same power anymore. Because of you. You’ve made me stronger.”

“Eva.” Words failed me.

“I want you to think about that. Not your nightmares or my parents or anything else. You’re exactly what I need, just the way you are, and I love you so much.”

I walked toward her.

“I still want to wait,” she said quietly, even as her eyes betrayed how I affected her.

She grabbed my wrist when I reached for her, her gaze holding mine. “Let me do all the touching.”

I inhaled sharply. “I can’t agree to that.”

Her mouth curved. “Yes, you can. You’re stronger than I am, Gideon. You have more control. Greater willpower.”

Her other hand reached up to graze my chest. I caught it and pressed it against my skin. “Is that what you need me to prove? My control?”

“You’re doing fine.” She pressed a kiss over my pounding heart. “I’m the one who needs to figure things out.”

Her tone of voice was soft, almost crooning. I was raging inside, burning with lust and love, and she was trying to gentle me. I almost laughed at the impossibility of that.

Then she stepped into me, her plush body fitting tightly against mine, her arms hugging me so hard there wasn’t any space between us.

I crushed her close, my head bowing over hers. I didn’t know until that moment how badly I’d needed to feel her like that. Tender and accepting, bared in every way possible.

She leaned her cheek against my chest. “I love you so much,” she whispered. “Can you feel it?”

It overwhelmed me. Her love for me, my love for her. Every time she said the words, they hit me like blows.

“You said once,” she whispered, “that there’s a moment while we’re making love when I open and you open and we’re together. I want to give you that all the time, Gideon.”

The suggestion that there was something missing in what we had stiffened my spine. “Does it really matter how and when we feel it?”

“You could argue that.” Her head tilted back. “I won’t disagree. But if you’re on the other side of the world when you need reassurance from me, I need to know that I can give it to you.”

“You’ll be with me,” I muttered, frustrated.

“Not always.” Her hand cupped my cheek. “There will be times when you need to be in two places at once. Eventually, you’ll trust me to fill in for you.”

I studied her, looking for cracks in her resolve. What I saw was determination. I didn’t totally understand what she hoped to achieve, but I wasn’t getting in the way. If she was going to change or evolve, I needed to be part of that process if I expected to keep her.

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