"Cary Taylor." He shook Gideon's hand with a wide smile. "But you knew that. Nice to meet you. I've heard a lot about you."

I could've killed him. I seriously thought about it.

"Good to know." Gideon settled on the seat beside me, his arm draped behind me so that his fingertips could brush casually and possessively up and down my arm. "Maybe there's hope for me yet."

Twisting at the waist, I faced him and whispered fiercely, "What are you doing?"

He shot me a hard glance. "Whatever it takes."

"I'm going to dance." Cary stood with a mischievous grin. "Be back in a bit."

Ignoring my pleading glance, my best friend blew me a kiss and the guys followed him. I watched them all go, my heart racing. After another minute, ignoring Gideon became ridiculous, as well as impossible.

My gaze slid over him. He wore dress slacks in graphite gray and a black V-neck sweater, the overall effect being one of careless sophistication. I loved the look on him and was attracted to the softness it gave him, even though I knew it was only an illusion. He was a hard man in a lot of ways.

I took a deep breath, feeling like I needed to make an effort to socialize with him. After all, wasn't that my big complaint? That he wanted to skip past the getting-to-know-you stage and jump straight into bed?

"You look..." I paused. Fantastic. Wonderful. Amazing. So damn sexy...In the end, I went with the lame, "I like the way you look."

His brow arched. "Ah, something you like about me. Is that a general like of the overall package? Or just the clothes? Only the sweater? Or maybe it's the pants?"

The edge to his tone rubbed me the wrong way. "And if I say it's just the sweater?"

"I'll buy a dozen and wear them every damn day."

"That would be a shame."

"You don't like the sweater?" He was pissy, his words coming clipped and fast.

My hands flexed restlessly in my lap. "I love the sweater, but I also like the suits."

He stared at me a minute, and then nodded. "How was your date with B.O.B.?"

Oh hell. I looked away. It was a lot easier talking about mast***ation over the phone. Doing it while squirming under that piercing blue stare was mortifying. "I don't kiss and tell."

He brushed the backs of his fingers over my cheek and murmured, "You're blushing."

I heard the amusement in his voice and swiftly changed topics. "Do you come here often?"

Shit. Where did that cliched line come from?

His hand dropped to my lap and caught one of mine, his fingers curling into my palm. "When necessary."

A quick stab of jealousy made me stiffen. I glared at him, even though I was mad at myself for caring either way. "What does that mean? When you're on the prowl?"

Gideon's mouth curved into a genuine smile that hit me hard. "When expensive decisions need to be made. I own this club, Eva."

Of course he did. Jeez.

A pretty waitress set two pinkish-colored iced drinks in square tumblers on the table. She looked at Gideon and gave him a flirtatious smile. "Here you go, Mr. Cross. Two Stoli Elites and cranberry. Can I get you anything else?"

"That'll be all for now. Thanks."

I could totally see that she wanted to get on the preapproved list and I bristled at that; then I was distracted by what we'd been served. It was my beverage of choice when clubbing and what I'd been drinking all night. My nerves tingled. I watched him take a drink, swirl it around in his mouth like a fine wine, and then swallow it. The working of his throat made me hot, but that was nothing compared to what the intensity of his stare did to me.

"Not bad," he murmured. "Tell me if we made it right."

He kissed me. He moved in fast, but I saw it coming and didn't turn away. His mouth was cold and flavored with alcohol-laced cranberry. Delicious. All the chaotic emotion and energy that had been writhing around inside me abruptly became too much to contain. I shoved a hand in his glorious hair and clenched it tight, holding him still as I sucked on his tongue. His groan was the most erotic sound I'd ever heard, making the flesh between my legs tighten viciously.

Shocked by the fury of my reaction, I wrenched away, gasping.

Gideon followed, nuzzling the side of my face, his lips brushing over my ear. He was breathing hard, too, and the sound of the ice in his tumbler clinking against the glass skittered across my inflamed senses.

"I need to be inside you, Eva," he whispered roughly. "I'm aching for you."

My gaze fell to my drink on the table, my thoughts swirling around in my head, a clusterfuck of impressions and recollections and confusion. "How did you know?"

His tongue traced the shell of my ear and I shivered. It felt like every cell in my body was straining toward his. Resisting him took an impossible amount of energy, draining me and making me feel tired.

"Know what?" he asked.

"What I like to drink? What Cary's name is?"

He inhaled deeply, and then pulled away. Setting his drink down, he shifted on the sofa and drew a knee up onto the cushion between us so that he faced me directly. His arm once again draped over the sofa back, his fingertips drawing circles on the curve of my shoulder. "You visited another of my clubs earlier. Your credit card popped and your drinks were recorded. And Cary Taylor is listed on the rental agreement for your apartment."

The room spun. No way...My cell phone. My credit card. My f**king apartment. I couldn't breathe. Between my mother and Gideon, I felt claustrophobic.

"Eva. Jesus. You're white as a ghost." He shoved a glass into my hand. "Drink."

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