Reflected in You
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"There's no one I trust more."
Sliding my arms beneath his jacket, I hugged him, soaking up the warmth of his lean, hard body.
I couldn't help but worry that we were beginning to drift from one another.
Gideon pressed the advantage, his tongue dipping into my mouth, lightly touching and teasing mine with velvet licks.
I sought a deeper contact, needing more.
Hating that aside from this, he gave me so little of himself.
He groaned into my mouth, an erotic sound of pleasure and need that vibrated through me.
Tilting his head, he sealed those beautifully sculpted lips over mine.
The kiss deepened, our tongues stroking, our breaths quickening.
The arm he'd banded beneath my back tightened, pulling me closer.
His other hand slid beneath my shirt, cradling my spine in his warm palm.
His fingertips flexed, gentling me even as the kiss grew wild.
I arched into the caress, needing the reassurance of his touch against my bare skin.
For the first time, our physical closeness wasn't enough to calm the desperate wanting inside me.
"Shh," he soothed.
Not going anywhere."
Closing my eyes, I buried my face in his neck, wondering if we'd both be too stubborn and stay, even if it turned out that it would be best to let go.
I woke with a cry that was muffled by the sweaty palm mashed over my mouth.
A crushing weight cut off my air as another hand shoved up beneath my nightgown, groping and bruising.
Panic gripped me and I thrashed, my legs kicking frantically.
Please, no .
Panting like a dog, Nathan yanked my legs apart.
The hard thing between his legs poked blindly, ramming into my inner thigh.
I fought, my lungs burning, but he was so strong.
I couldn't buck him off.
I couldn't get away.
Stop it! Get off me.
Don't touch me.
Oh, God .
please don't do that to me .
don't hurt me .
Ma-ma! Nathan's hand pressed down on me, squashing my head into the pillow.
The more I struggled, the more excited he became.
Gasping horrible, nasty words in my ear, he found the tender spot between my legs and shoved into me, groaning.
I froze, locking in a vise of horrendous pain.
"Yeah," he grunted.
like it once it's in you .
hot little slut .
you like it ."
I couldn't breathe, my lungs shuddering with sobs, my nostrils plugged by the heel of his palm.
Spots danced before my eyes; my chest burned.
I fought again .
needing air .
desperate for air - "Eva! Wake up!" My eyes snapped open at the barked command.
I heaved myself away from the hands gripping my biceps, gaining my freedom.
I clawed away .
fighting the sheets that bound my legs .
tumbling down .
The jolting impact of hitting the floor woke me fully, and an awful sound of pain and fear scraped up through my throat.
"Christ! Eva, damn it.
Don't hurt yourself!" I sucked in air with deep gulps and scrambled toward the bathroom on all fours.
Gideon scooped me up and gripped me to his chest.
"Sick," I gasped, slapping a hand over my mouth as my stomach roiled.
"I've got you," he said grimly, carrying me with brisk, powerful strides.
He took me to the toilet and tossed up the seat.
Kneeling beside me, he held my hair back as I heaved, his warm hand stroking up and down my spine.
angel," he murmured, over and over.
When my stomach was empty, I flushed the toilet and rested my sweat- drenched face on my forearm, trying to focus on anything but the remnants of my dream.
I turned my head to find Cary standing in the threshold of my bathroom, his handsome face marred by a frown.
He was fully dressed in loose jeans and a henley, which made me aware that Gideon was fully dressed, too.
He'd lost the suit earlier when we'd first come back to my apartment, but he wasn't wearing the sweats he had put on then.
Instead he was in jeans and a black T-shirt.
Disoriented by their appearances, I glanced at my watch and saw it was just after midnight.
"What are you guys doing?" "I was just coming in," Cary said.
"And caught up with Cross on his way up."
I looked at Gideon, whose concerned frown matched my roommate's.
"You went out?" Gideon helped me to my feet.
"I told you I had some things to take care of."
Until midnight? "What things?" "It's not important."
I shrugged out of his hold and went to the sink to brush my teeth.
How many did he have? Cary appeared at my elbow, his gaze meeting mine in the reflection of my vanity mirror.
"You haven't had a bad dream in a long time."
Looking into his worried green eyes, I let him see how worn down I was.He gave my shoulder a reassuring squeeze.
"We'll take it easy this weekend.
We both need it.
You gonna be all right tonight?" "I've got her."
Gideon straightened from his perch on the lip of my bathtub, where he'd taken off his boots.
"That doesn't mean I'm not here."
Cary pressed a quick kiss to my temple.
"Holler if you need me."
The look he gave me before he left the room spoke volumes - he wasn't comfortable with Gideon sleeping over.
Truth was, I had some reservations, too.
I thought my lingering wariness over Gideon's sleep disorder was contributing a lot to my wild emotional state.
As Cary had recently said, the man I loved was a ticking time bomb, and I shared a bed with him.
I rinsed out my mouth and dropped my toothbrush back into its holder.
"I need a shower."
I'd taken one before I crashed, but now I felt dirty again.
Cold sweat clung to my skin and when I closed my eyes, I could smell him - Nathan - on me.
Gideon turned on the water, then started stripping, blessedly distracting me with the sight of his gloriously tight body.
His muscles were hard and well defined, his build lean yet powerful and elegant.
I left my clothes where they fell and stepped beneath the steamy spray with a groan.
He entered the stall behind me, brushing my hair aside and pressing a kiss to my shoulder.
"How are you?" "Better."
Because you're near.
His arms wrapped carefully around my waist and he released a shaky exhalation.
Were you dreaming about Nathan?" I took a deep breath.
"Maybe one day we'll talk about our dreams, huh?" He inhaled sharply, his fingertips flexing against my hip.
"It's like that, is it?" "Yeah," I muttered.
"It's like that."
We stood there for a long moment, surrounded by steam and secrets, physically close yet emotionally distant.
I hated it.
The urge to cry was overwhelming and I didn't fight it.
It felt good to get it out.
All the pressure of the long day seemed to flow out of me as I sobbed.
Gideon pressed into my back, his arms tight around my waist, soothing me with the protective shield of his big body.
"Don't cry .
I can't take it.
Tell me what you need, angel.
Tell me what I can do."
"Wash it away," I whispered, leaning into him, needing the comfort of his tender possessiveness.
My fingers laced with his against my stomach.
"Make me clean."
I sucked in a shuddering breath, shaking my head.
"Listen to me, Eva.
No one can touch you," he said fiercely.
"No one can get to you.
My fingers tightened on his.
"They'd have to get through me, Eva.
And that will never happen."
I couldn't speak past the ache in my throat.
The thought of Gideon facing my nightmare .
seeing the man who'd done those things to me .
tightened the cold knot that had been sitting in my gut all day.
Gideon reached for my shampoo and I closed my eyes, shutting it all out, everything but the man whose sole focus at that moment was me.
I waited, breathless, for the feel of his magic fingers.
When it came, I reached out to the wall in front of me for balance.
With both palms pressed flat against the cool tile, I savored the feel of his fingertips kneading into my scalp and moaned.
"Feel good?" he asked, his voice low and rough.
I drifted in bliss as he washed and conditioned my hair, shivering lightly as he ran a wide-toothed comb through the soaked strands.
I was disappointed when he finished and must have made some sound of regret, because he leaned forward and promised, "I'm not nearly done."
I smelled my body wash, then - "Gideon."
I arched into his soap-slick hands.
His thumbs dug gently into the knots in my shoulders, melting them with the perfect amount of pressure.
Then he worked his way down my spine .
my buttocks .
my legs .
"I'm going to fall," I slurred, drunk with pleasure.
"I'll catch you, angel.
I'll always catch you."
The pain and degradation of my memories washed away beneath the selfless reverence of Gideon's patient caretaking.
More than the soap and water, it was his touch that freed me from the nightmare.
I turned around at his urging and looked at him crouched before me, his hands gliding up my calves, his body an amazing display of taut flexing muscle.