Or, on the other hand, therapy could be working perfectly and Jax might be a changed man in a few weeks or months. I sighed, my eyes drifting off over the horizon. Without communication, no couple could last. He wasn't letting me in, and if our relationship had started to seem like it was on the rocks, maybe it was because he wanted it that way.
I knew in my gut that something was wrong with Jax, but I didn't know how to help him heal. Soon, there would be no time left for me to even try.
The next few days were nerve-wracking. Jax went off on rides for hours at a time, not telling me where he was going or when he'd be back. It reminded me of when he'd disappeared and almost missed the show at the Roman. He'd told me later that he'd been thinking about Darrel, and that he had taken that long ride to clear his mind of the terrible memories.
But that was before he'd seen Darrel again. Somehow I knew this time was different. Jax was different, after what had happened with his dad. And it seemed to me like what he was dealing with had a far stronger grip on him than it ever had before.
This morning, he'd rode away again.
I sat in our bed, idly watching Die Hard for the fiftieth time, but even though it was my favorite movie my heart wasn't in it. Jax had been gone for hours now, taking off this morning on his bike. He hadn't said a word to me, he'd just left.
A knock came on the door to Jax's room. It opened, and Sky poked her head in. "Hey. Sorry to interrupt."
I grabbed the remote and paused the movie. "No problem, I'm just killing time until Jax gets here. What's up?"
She frowned. "That's what I wanted to ask you. Did he tell you when he'll be back?"
I just shook my head.
"Hmm." Sky's brow furrowed. "Well, we all have a meeting with Reed up at the house right now. About the Anarchy Fest. We're going to leave a day early to get some extra practice in on the actual stage. And we've got to go over our set list before then, obviously."
"When he gets here, I can tell him that's where you guys are," I offered.
Sky sighed and looked at her watch. "Thanks, Riley. I know I should just trust him to come through, but it's been hard lately."
"He'll be here," I said, injecting false confidence into my voice. He hadn't skipped a practice or meeting since missing the sound check at the Roman, but he'd been acting so erratic lately, anything was possible.
Sky gave me a weak smile and closed the door. I heard stamping and the pneumatic whoosh of the door opening as the band left the bus. Sighing, I turned Die Hard back on, but I quickly found myself lost in my own thoughts.
After the discussion I'd had with Sky about Jax's risky behaviors, I'd watched him after every mysterious bike ride for a sign of that same "high" look. While I didn't know exactly why it appeared, I knew it was a look he only got after he'd done something incredibly dangerous. It should have comforted me when he came back looking and acting like himself, but why then did I still feel worried?
A slam came from outside, followed by voices. One belonged to Jax. The sound brought a relieved smile to my face. Good. He'd come through after all.
Leaning forward, I lifted the window shade to peek out. What I saw made my happiness vanish.
Jax stood in the driveway, handing a wad of bills to the driver of a yellow cab. His bike was nowhere in sight.
Where was it? My heart beat faster. Had Jax been in an accident? If so, why wasn't he at the hospital?
I quickly got up and went downstairs, reaching the first floor just as Jax climbed onto the bus.
My eyes swept over him. His eyebrow rose with its characteristic swagger, and I realized with relief that he looked positively perfect. His clothes weren't ripped or torn, he wasn't limping, and no scrapes or bruises were in sight. There hadn't been an accident—motorcycle crashes didn't leave room for looking like a male model afterward.
Which, of course, left the question of exactly what he'd done with his bike.
"Hi, baby," Jax said, his face drawn into a frown as he reached toward me, pulling me in for a big hug that lasted longer than I expected.
I snuggled into his embrace, but his expression troubled me. My question came out muffled against his chest. "Was there an accident?"
Jax sighed. "No. No accident. Everything's going to be okay."
I looked up, confused. "Well, where's the bike? I saw you leaving on it."
Jax put his hands on my shoulders and gently disengaged from my arms. He took a step back from me, his face still sad. "It's gone."
My mouth fell open. "What . . . why? How?"
Jax's eyes became distant. "I sold it. It was time."
I couldn't believe the words coming out of Jax's mouth. "But you loved that bike."
Jax's lips tightened, and his face went hard. "Doctor's orders. I don't want to talk about it."
Avoiding my gaze, he turned away from me and quickly went into the kitchen. He opened the fridge door and gazed at its contents.
I stared at his back, my heart numb. The bike had been his lifeline, his release. What in the world could the therapist have said to get him to sell it?
I opened my mouth to ask, but Jax interrupted me.
"Hey, want anything for lunch?" He held up some sliced turkey. "I'm making a sandwich." His voice sounded normal, and his outward expression had softened.
But somewhere deep in his eyes, I read his meaning loud and clear: no more questions.
"Uh, no," I said, bewildered. My mind grasped for something else to say. "But there's a meeting going on at the house with Reed. The band wants you to drop in."
Jax slapped some turkey on two pieces of bread. "Okay. I'll just bring this over."
I watched as he finished making his sandwich, my mind racing with unasked questions. I'd been uncomfortable when Jax took risks on his bike, but I never in a million years would ask him to sell it. So why would the therapist? I really wanted to know more, but I recognized that look I'd seen in his eyes. I'd felt the same way when I went through therapy. Even a well-meaning person's questions somehow found a way to irritate raw wounds.
Jax gave me a kiss on the cheek and left the bus. I sank slowly down on the couch. I knew that I should be pleased that Jax had started taking therapy seriously, if it'd stop his risk taking. But selling his bike? How could that make him happy? It seemed like going from one extreme to the other, all at once.
I stared off into the distance, frowning. From his gloomy face, I could tell that at least for the moment, Jax wasn't happy about losing his bike at all. But what could I do? I had no choice but to go along with it, even if it felt all wrong.