Bared to You
My deepest gratitude to my editor, Hilary Sares, who really dug into this story and made me work for it. Basically, she kicked my ass. By not pulling her punches or letting me shortchange the details, she made me work harder and because of that, this story is a much, much better book.
BARED TO YOU wouldn't be what it is without you, Hilary. Thank you so much!
To Martha Trachtenberg, copy editor extraordinaire. This book is an important one for me and she treated it that way. Thank you, Martha!
To Victoria Colotta, for all her hard work on the interior design and typesetting. She took my plain text and made it gorgeous. Thank you, Victoria!
To Tera Kleinfelter, who read the first half of Bared to You and told me she loved it. Thank you, Tera!
To all girls who were at Cross Creek at some point in your adolescence: May all your dreams come true. You deserve it.
And to Alistair and Jessica, from Seven Years to Sin, who inspired me to write Gideon and Eva's story. I'm so glad the inspiration struck twice!
"We should head to a bar and celebrate."
I wasn't surprised by my roommate's emphatic pronouncement. Cary Taylor found excuses to celebrate, no matter how small and inconsequential. I'd always considered it part of his charm. "I'm sure drinking the night before starting a new job is a bad idea."
"Come on, Eva." Cary sat on our new living room floor amid a half-dozen moving boxes and flashed his winning smile. We'd been unpacking for days, yet he still looked amazing. Leanly built, dark-haired, and green-eyed, Cary was a man who rarely looked anything less than absolutely gorgeous on any day of his life. I might have resented that if he hadn't been the dearest person on earth to me.
"I'm not talking about a bender," he insisted. "Just a glass of wine or two. We can hit a happy hour and be in by eight."
"I don't know if I'll make it back in time." I gestured at my yoga pants and fitted workout tank. "After I time the walk to work, I'm going to hit the gym."
"Walk fast, work out faster." Cary's perfectly executed arched brow made me laugh. I fully expected his million-dollar face to appear on billboards and fashion magazines all over the world one day. No matter his expression, he was a knockout.
"How about tomorrow after work?" I offered as a substitute. "If I make it through the day, that'll be worth celebrating."
"Deal. I'm breaking in the new kitchen for dinner."
"Uh..." Cooking was one of Cary's joys, but it wasn't one of his talents. "Great."
Blowing a wayward strand of hair off his face, he grinned at me. "We've got a kitchen most restaurants would kill for. There's no way to screw up a meal in there."
Dubious, I headed out with a wave, choosing to avoid a conversation about cooking. Taking the elevator down to the first floor, I smiled at the doorman when he let me out to the street with a flourish.
The moment I stepped outside, the smells and sounds of Manhattan embraced me and invited me to explore. I was not merely across the country from my former home in San Diego, but seemingly worlds away. Two major metropolises - one endlessly temperate and sensually lazy, the other teeming with life and frenetic energy. In my dreams, I'd imagining living in a walkup in Brooklyn, but being a dutiful daughter, I found myself on the Upper West Side instead. If not for Cary living with me, I would've been miserably lonely in the sprawling apartment that