Bared to You

Page 15


"Eva. Jesus. You're white as a ghost." He shoved a glass into my hand. "Drink."
It was the Stoli and cranberry. I pounded it, draining the tumbler. My stomach churned for a moment, then settled. "You own the building I live in?" I gasped.
"Oddly enough, yes." He moved to sit on the table, facing me, his legs on either side of mine. He took my glass and set it aside; then warmed my chilled hands with his.
"Are you crazy, Gideon?"
His mouth thinned. "Is that a serious question?"
"Yes. Yes, it is. My mom stalks me, too, and she sees a shrink. Do you have a shrink?"
"Not presently, but you're driving me crazy enough to make that a possibility."
"So this behavior isn't normal for you?" My heart was pounding. I could hear the blood rushing past my eardrums. "Or is it?"
He shoved a hand through his hair, restoring order to the strands I'd mussed when we'd kissed. "I accessed information you voluntarily made available to me."
"Not to you! Not for what you used it for! That has to violate some kind of privacy law." I stared at him, more confused than ever. "Why would you do that?"
He had the grace to look disgruntled at least. "So I can figure you out, damn it."
"Why don't you just ask me, Gideon? Is that so f**king hard for people to do nowadays?"
"It is with you." He grabbed his drink off the table and tossed back most of it. "I can't get you alone for more than a few minutes at a time."
"Because the only thing you want to talk about is what you have to do to get laid!"
"Christ, Eva," he hissed, squeezing my hand. "Keep your voice down!"
I studied him, taking in every line and plane of his face. Unfortunately, cataloging the details didn't lessen my awe even a tiny bit. I was beginning to suspect I'd never get over being dazzled by his looks.
And I wasn't alone; I'd seen how other women reacted around him. And he was crazy rich, which made even old, bald, and paunchy guys attractive. It was no wonder he was used to snapping his fingers and scoring an orgasm.

His gaze darted over my face. "Why are you looking at me like that?" "I'm thinking."
"About what?" His jaw tightened. "And I'm warning you, if you say anything about orifices, preapprovals, or seminal emissions, I won't be held accountable for my actions."
That almost made me smile. "I want to understand a few things, because I think it's possible I'm not giving you enough credit."
"I'd like to understand a few things myself," he muttered.
"I'm guessing the 'I want to f**k you' approach has a high success rate for you."
Gideon's face smoothed into unreadable impassivity. "I'm not touching that one, Eva."
"Okay. You want to figure out what it's going to take to get me into bed. Is that why you're here in this club right now? Because of me? And don't say what you think I want to hear."
His gaze was clear and steady. "I'm here for you, yes. I arranged it."
Suddenly the threads the street hawker had been wearing made sense. We'd been hustled by someone on Cross Industries's payroll. "Did you figure that getting me here would get you laid?"
His mouth twitched with suppressed amusement. "There's always the hope, but I expected it would take more work than a chance meeting over drinks."
"You're right. So why do it? Why not wait until Monday lunch?"
"Because you're out trolling. I can't do anything about B.O.B., but I can stop you from picking up some ass**le in a bar. You want to score, Eva, I'm right here."
"I'm not trolling. I'm burning off tension after a stressful day."
"You're not the only one." He fingered one of my silver chandelier earrings. "So you drink and dance when you're tense. I work on the problem that's making me tense in the first place."
His voice had softened, and it stirred an alarming yearning. "Is that what I am? A problem?"
"Absolutely." But there was a hint of a smile around his lips.
I knew that was a lot of the appeal for him. Gideon Cross wouldn't be where he was, at such a young age, if he took "no" gracefully. "What's your definition of dating?"
A frown marred the space between his brows. "Lengthy social time spent with a woman during which we're not actively f**king."
"Don't you enjoy the company of women?"
The frown turned into a scowl. "Sure, as long as there aren't any exaggerated expectations or excessive demands on my time. I've found the best way to steer clear of those is to have mutually exclusive sexual relationships and friendships."
There were those pesky "exaggerated expectations" again. Clearly, those were a sticking point with him. "So, you do have female friends?"
"Of course." His legs tightened around mine, capturing me. "Where are you going with this?"
"You segregate sex from the rest of your life. You separate it from friendship, work...everything."
"I've got good reasons for doing that."
"I'm sure you do. Okay, here are my thoughts." It was difficult concentrating when I was so close to Gideon. "I told you I don't want to date and I don't. My job is priority number one and my personal life - as a single woman - is a close second. I don't want to sacrifice any of that time on a relationship and there's really not enough left over to squeeze in anything steady."
"I'm right there with you."
"But I like sex."
"Good. Have it with me." His smile was an erotic invitation.
I shoved his shoulder. "I need a personal connection with the men I sleep with. It doesn't have to be intense or deep, but sex needs to be more than an emotionless transaction for me."
I could tell he wasn't being flippant. As bizarre as this conversation must be for him, Gideon was taking it seriously. "Call it one of my quirks, and I'm not saying that lightly. It pisses me off to feel used for sex. I feel devalued."
"Can't you look at it as you using me for sex?"
"Not with you." He was too forceful, too demanding.
A sizzling, predatory glimmer sparked in his eyes as I bared my weakness for him.
"Besides," I went on quickly, "that's semantics. I need an equal exchange in my sexual relationships. Or to have the upper hand."
"Okay? You said that really quickly considering I'm telling you I need to combine two things you work so hard to avoid putting together."
"I'm not comfortable with it and I don't claim to understand, but I'm hearing you - it's an issue. Tell me how to get around it."
My breath left me in a rush. I hadn't expected that. He was a man who wanted no complications with his sex and I was a woman who found sex complicated, but he wasn't giving up. Yet.
"We need to be friendly, Gideon. Not best buds or confidants, but two people who know more about each other than their anatomy. To me, that means we have to spend time together when we're not actively f**king. And I'm afraid we'll have to spend time not actively f**king in places where we're forced to restrain ourselves."