"What are you doing?" he murmured.

Looking over my shoulder, I saw him watching me. Then I watched his gaze lift as Dr. Lucas stood behind me. Gideon's gaze noticeably cooled.

"She's going to alleviate the boredom of being ignored, Cross," Terry said, setting his hands on the back of my chair, "by spending time with someone who's more than happy to pay attention to such a beautiful woman."

I was immediately uncomfortable, aware of the crackling animosity between the two men. I tugged on his hand, but Gideon wouldn't release me.

"Walk away, Terry," Gideon warned.

"You've been so preoccupied with Mrs. Giroux, you didn't even notice when I sat at your table." Terry's smile took on an edge. "Eva. Shall we?"

"Don't move, Eva."

I shivered at the ice in Gideon's voice, but felt stung enough to say, "It's not his fault he has a point."

Gideon's grip tightened painfully. "Not now."

Terry's gaze moved to my face. "You don't have to tolerate him talking to you that way. All the money in the world doesn't give anyone the right to order you around."

Infuriated and horribly embarrassed, I looked at Gideon. "Crossfire."

I wasn't sure I could use the safeword outside of the bedroom, but he released me as if I'd burned him. I shoved my chair back and threw my napkin onto my plate. "Excuse me. Both of you."

With my clutch in hand, I walked away from the table, my stride easy and smooth. I made a beeline toward the restrooms, intending to freshen my makeup and collect myself, but then I saw the lighted exit sign and went with my urge to bail.

I pulled out my smartphone when I hit the sidewalk and texted Gideon; Not running. Just leaving.

I managed to hail a passing cab, and headed home to nurse my anger.

I was jonesing for a hot bath and a bottle of wine when I reached my apartment. Shoving my key into the lock, I turned the knob and stepped into a  p**n  video.

In the few shocked seconds it took for my brain to register what I was seeing, I stood riveted on the threshold, flooding the hallway behind me with blaring technopop. There were so many body parts involved, I had time to hastily slam the door behind me before I pieced them all together. One woman was spread-eagled on the floor. Another woman's face was in her crotch. Cary was banging the hell out of her while another man was drilling him in the ass.

I threw my head back and screamed bloody murder, completely fed up with everyone in my life. And because I was competing with the sound system, I ripped off one of my heels and threw it in that direction. The CD skipped, which jolted the menage a quatre in progress on my living room floor into awareness of my presence. I limped over and shut off the volume; then faced the lot of them.

"Get the f**k out of my house," I snapped. "Right now."

"Who the hell is that?" the redhead at the bottom of the pile asked. "Your wife?"

There was a brief flash of embarrassment and guilt on Cary's face, and then he shot me a cocky smile. "My roommate. There's room for more, baby girl."

"Cary Taylor. Don't push me," I warned. "It's really, really not a good night."

The dark-haired male on top disengaged from Cary and stood, sauntering toward me. As he got closer, I saw his hazel eyes were unnaturally dilated and the pulse in his neck was throbbing viciously. "I can make it better," he offered with a leer.

"Back the f**k up." I adjusted my stance, preparing to ward him off physically if necessary.

"Leave her alone, Ian," Cary snapped, pushing to his feet.

"Come on, baby girl," Ian coaxed, making me sick by using Cary's pet name for me. "You need a good time. Let me show you one."

One minute he was inches in front of me, the next he was sailing into the couch with a scream. Gideon moved into place between me and the others, vibrating with fury. "Take it to your room, Cary," he bit out. "Or take it somewhere else."

Ian was squealing on my sofa, his nose spraying blood despite the two hands he tried to staunch it with.

Cary snatched his jeans off the floor. "You're not my f**king mother, Eva."

I sidestepped around Gideon. "Wasn't screwing up with Trey enough of a f**king lesson for you, you idiot?"

"This isn't about Trey!"

"Who's Trey?" The bottle blonde asked as she got to her feet. When she caught a good look at Gideon, she visibly preened, showing off an admittedly pretty body.

Her efforts earned her a glance so disdainfully dismissive and unimpressed that she finally had the grace to blush and cover herself with a slinky gold lame dress she picked up off the floor. And because I was in a mood, I said, "Don't take it personally. He prefers brunettes."

The look Gideon shot me was lethal. I'd never seen him look so livid. He was literally vibrating with suppressed violence.

Frightened by that glare, I took an involuntary step back. He cursed viciously and shoved both of his hands through his hair.

Suddenly bone weary and desperately disappointed with the men in my life, I turned away. "Get this mess out of my house, Cary."

I headed down the hallway, kicking off my other heel en route. I was out of my dress before I reached my bathroom and in the shower less than a minute beyond that. I stayed out of the range of the spray until the water warmed, and then I stood directly beneath it. Too tired to stand for long, I sank to the floor and just sat beneath the stream with my eyes closed and my arms wrapped around my knees.


I cringed when I heard Gideon's voice, and tucked into an even tighter ball.

"Goddamn it," he snapped. "You piss me off worse than anyone else I know."

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