"It's so good," I sobbed, lost to him. "You feel...Ah, God, it's too good."

Using both hands, Gideon commanded my rhythm, tilting me into an angle that had the big crown of his c**k rubbing a tender, aching spot inside me. As I tightened and shook, I realized I was going to come from that, just from the expert thrust of him inside me. "Gideon."

He captured me by the nape as the orgasm exploded through me, starting with the ecstatic spasms of my core and radiating outward until I was trembling all over. He watched me fall apart, holding my gaze when I would've closed my eyes. Possessed by his stare, I moaned and came harder than I ever had, my body jerking with every pulse of pleasure.

"Fuck, f**k, f**k," he growled, pounding his h*ps up at me, yanking my h*ps down to meet his punishing lunges. He hit the end of me with every deep thrust, battering into me. I could feel him growing harder and thicker.

I watched him avidly, needing to see it when he went over the edge for me. His eyes were wild with his need, losing their focus as his control frayed, his gorgeous face ravaged by the brutal race to cl**ax.

"Eva!" He came with an animal sound of feral ecstasy, a snarling release that riveted me with its ferocity. He shook as the orgasm tore into him, his features softening for an instant with an unexpected vulnerability.

Cupping his face, I brushed my lips across his, comforting him as the forceful bursts of his gasping breaths struck my cheeks.

"Eva." He wrapped his arms around me and crushed me to him, pressing his damp face into the curve of my neck.

I knew just how he felt. Stripped. Laid bare.

We stayed like that for a long time, holding each other, absorbing the aftershocks. He turned his head and kissed me softly, the strokes of his tongue into my mouth soothing my ragged emotions.

"Wow," I breathed, shaken.

His mouth twitched. "Yeah."

I smiled, feeling dazed and high.

Gideon brushed the damp tendrils of hair off my temples, his fingertips gliding almost reverently across my face. The way he studied me made my chest hurt. He looked stunned and...grateful, his eyes warm and tender. "I don't want to break this moment."

Because I could hear it hanging in the air, I filled it in. "But...?"

"But I can't blow off this dinner. I have a speech to give."

"Oh." The moment was effectively broken.

I lifted gingerly off of him, biting my lip at the feel of him slipping wetly out of me. The friction was enough to make me want more. He'd barely softened.

"Damn it," he said roughly. "I want you again."

He caught me before I moved away, pulling a handkerchief out from somewhere and running it gently between my legs. It was a deeply intimate act, on par with the sex we'd just had.

When I was dry, I settled on the seat beside him and dug my lip gloss out of my clutch. I watched Gideon over the edge of my mirrored compact as he removed the condom and tied it off. He wrapped it in a cocktail napkin; then tossed it in a cleverly hidden trash receptacle. After restoring his appearance, he told the driver to head to our destination. Then he settled into the seat and stared out the window.

With every second that passed, I felt him withdrawing, the connection between us slipping further and further away. I found myself shrinking into the corner of the seat, away from him, mimicking the distance I felt building between us. All the warmth I'd felt receded into a marked chill, cooling me enough that I pulled my shawl around me again. He didn't move a muscle as I shifted beside him and put my compact away, as if he wasn't even aware I was there.

Abruptly, Gideon opened the bar and pulled out a bottle. Without looking at me, he asked, "Brandy?"

"No, thank you." My voice was small, but he didn't seem to notice. Or maybe he didn't care. He poured a drink and tossed it back.

Confused and stung, I pulled on my gloves and tried to figure out what went wrong.

Chapter 7

I don't remember much of what happened after we arrived. Camera flashes burst around us like fireworks as we walked the length of the press gauntlet, but I scarcely paid them any mind, smiling by rote. I was drawn into myself and desperate to get away from the tension radiating in waves from Gideon.

The moment we crossed over into the building, someone called his name and he turned. I slipped away, darting around the rest of the guests clogging the carpeted entrance.

When I reached the reception hall, I snatched two glasses of champagne from a passing server and searched for Cary as I tossed one back. I spotted him on the far side of the room with my mom and Stanton, and I crossed to them, discarding my empty glass on a table as I passed it.

"Eva!" My mother's face lit up when she saw me. "That dress is stunning on you!"

She air-kissed each of my cheeks. She was gorgeous in a shimmering, fitted column of icy blue. Sapphires dripped from her ears, throat, and wrist, highlighting her eyes and her pale skin.

"Thank you." I took a gulp of champagne from my second glass, remembering that I'd planned on expressing gratitude for the dress. While I still appreciated the gift, I was no longer so happy about the convenient thigh slit.

Cary stepped forward, catching my elbow. One look at my face and he knew I was upset. I shook my head, not wanting to get into it now.

"More champagne, then?" he asked softly.

"Please."

I felt Gideon approaching before I saw my mother's face light up like the New Year's ball in Times Square. Stanton, too, seemed to straighten and gather himself.

"Eva." Gideon set his hand on the bare skin of my lower back and a shock of awareness moved through me. When his fingers flexed against me, I wondered if he felt it, too. "You ran off."

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