“No,” she whispered, her eyes darkening. She reached down and grabbed my ass, digging her nails in, urging me on. “You’re The One. The only one for me.”

As luxurious and feminine as Eva was, she’d grown stronger through Krav Maga. That turned me on, too. My head lowered, my mouth brushing over hers. My heart pounded, struggling to accept what she meant to me. The way she made me feel was so fresh and new, yet would never get old.


Maybe that was why I’d gone through everything I had, so I would be able to appreciate her when I found her. I would never take her for granted.

A tongue that wasn’t my wife’s licked my side, tickling me. I jerked, cursing, and Eva laughed.

I glared over my shoulder at the little offender, who hopped with excitement, tail wagging madly. “Listen, Lucky. You’re not living up to your name.”

Eva giggled. “He’s helping you live up to your promise to behave.”

I turned my glare back to the wife whose nails were still firmly dug into my ass. “Which had the caveat that you behave as well.”

Pulling her hands away, Eva held them up by her head, waggling her fingers. But her gaze was hot and her lips parted with rapid breaths. She shivered beneath me, even while her skin felt feverish. Her desire for me soothed my own raging need. And her commitment to waiting, now that I knew the reason for it, gave me the strength to move away.

It was physically painful to separate from her. Her low moan of anguish echoed inside me, reflecting my own. I flopped onto my back and was immediately subjected to a tongue bath, Lucky-style.

“He really loves you.” Eva rolled onto her side and reached out to scratch behind his ears. That had the welcome effect of luring him over to her. Her squeal of laughter as Lucky proceeded to slather her face made me smile despite my aching dick.

I could complain about the damn dog, lack of sex and sleep, and more. But really, my life was as close to perfect as I could want.

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Once I got to work, I powered through my morning.

The release of the new GenTen gaming console was imminent and while speculation was rampant, we had managed to keep the virtual reality component a secret. VR was in development everywhere, but Cross Industries was years ahead of the competition. I knew decisively that LanCorp’s PhazeOne system was simply an overhaul, with advanced optics and increased speed. It could compete with the previous-generation GenTen, but that was all.

Shortly before lunch, I took the time to call my mother.

“Gideon.” She sighed tremulously. “I suppose you heard?”

“Yes. I’m sorry.” I could tell she was hurting. “If you need anything, please let me know.”

“Chris is the one who suddenly isn’t happy in our marriage,” she said bitterly. “And it’s all my fault, of course.”

I softened my tone, but spoke firmly. “Not to be insensitive, but the details don’t concern me. How are you?”

“Talk to him.” The plea was heartfelt. Her voice cracked. “Tell him he’s made a mistake.”

I debated how to answer. The assistance I offered was fiduciary, not personal. There was nothing personal left in my relationship with my mother. Still, I found myself saying, “You won’t want my advice, but I’ll offer it anyway. You might want to consider therapy.”

There was a pause. “I can’t believe you, of all people, would suggest that.”

“Preaching what I practice.” My gaze slid to the photo of my wife, as it so often did during my day. “Eva suggested couples counseling shortly after we began dating. She wanted something more out of our relationship. I wanted her, so I agreed. Initially, I was just going through the motions, but now I can say it’s been really worthwhile.”

“She started all of this,” she hissed. “You’re such a smart man, Gideon, but you can’t see what she’s doing.”

“And this is where I say good-bye, Mother,” I replied before she got me riled. “Call if you need anything.”

I hung up, then spun in my chair, making a slow revolution all the way around. The disappointment and anger that always accompanied interactions with my mother was there, simmering, but I was more aware of it than usual. Maybe because I’d so recently dreamed of her, reliving the moment when I had realized she would never come around, was deliberately choosing to turn a blind eye for reasons I would never comprehend.

For years, I made excuses for her. I manufactured dozens of reasons for her refusal to protect me to give myself some comfort. Until I realized she was doing the same thing in reverse, making up stories about why I’d lie about being abused so she could live with her decision to pretend it never happened. So I stopped.

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