And I heard Jared’s voice loud and clear this time. “Don’t give me something else to worry about!”

Jax didn’t respond. He yanked the phone away from his ear, pushed a button, and threw it on one of the cots.

“Son of a bitch,” he grunted, bowing his head into the arm that he had propped against the cabinet.

His chest rose and fell quickly, his breathing labored, but I knew it wasn’t from his injuries. I stood there, chewing the inside of my lip, knowing that I should just back away and get out of there. He’d been a total ass to me ever since I got back into town.

But instead of getting away from him, my instinct was to … what? Make sure that he was okay?

Truth was, I actually liked seeing him like this. Completely out of control—and I was in awe.

He was hunched forward slightly, and as the seconds passed, I heard his breathing turn slow and steady.

I’d never seen Jax really worked up. Jared sported his temper like a flare in the sky. He shot off bold and bright, blazing through the crowd so everyone within an easy distance knew when he was angry. Jax always—always—moved with stealth and precision, as if all his decisions were premeditated and calculated. I often found myself wondering if Jax ever slept, or instead stayed up, planning his days to anticipate every conversation he might have or every turn he might have to take.

But really, what would it take for him to lose control? Kind of like the way he just did? And why was I hungry to see his temper again?

His father, I thought. That was definitely a twist of the screw that drove him close to the edge.

Just like me.

I licked my lips and spoke up. “Lie down.”

He dropped his hand and swung around to pin me with angry eyes, as if he knew it was me right away.

Those azure jewels held me frozen for about two seconds, and I noticed the way the flawless caramel skin of his face tightened and his jaw hardened, bringing out smooth hollows in his cheeks and the severe slant of his black eyebrows.

Someday, I told myself. Someday we might look at each other when one of us wasn’t scowling.

I used to be the one shooting daggers at him. Now he was looking at me as if I were a four-year-old who needed to be tolerated.

“Lie down,” I urged, staying calm. “I’ll find the saline wash and bandages.”

I caught sight of his eyes narrowing, regarding me suspiciously, before I veered around him to the cabinets along the wall.

But then I felt a hand wrap around my upper arm, and I stopped to look up.

His whole face was a mask—nothing was getting out. I followed a trail of water that cascaded down his temple to his cheekbone, and I swear a tinge of salt hit the air. I licked my lips.

His Adam’s apple moved up and then down before he spoke. “I can do this myself.” His voice came out raspy.

I arched an eyebrow, and my eyes dropped to his fingers wrapped around my arm. “I never said you couldn’t,” I said, and peeled one of his fingers off my arm, bringing the rest with it.

Turning back around, I busied myself finding the wound wash and the bandages, and tried to keep myself from being aware of every move he made. My ears picked up his squeaky footsteps as he left my side and then the creak of the cot as he settled his weight.

I pulled my bottom lip in between my teeth, reaching up to grab the saline wash, and accidentally knocked a bottle of peroxide out of the cabinet. Thankfully the bottle was plastic, but I still fumbled as I dived down to snatch it off the floor.

Jax and I were alone, and it wasn’t a fluke. I was a mess around him. Every time.

He was half-naked and lying on a bed. The school was dark, nearly deserted, and—damn it—I squeezed my eyes shut, releasing a long, smooth breath as I shoved all the items into my arms and powered over to the cots.

Jax was not lying down.

I stared at him, lying half on and half off the cot, and it was only when I heard something drop to the floor that I realized my muscles were failing me and I’d dropped something. Tightening my arms closed again, I blinked and averted my eyes before dumping the supplies on the bed next to him.

His black sneakers were planted to the floor, while the top half of his long body lay on the cot. Not so unusual. Maybe he felt vulnerable laying his whole body down.

No, the weird part was that he’d propped himself up on his elbows, and that was what got my arms pumping with liquid nerves.

He was going to watch.

I took a deep breath and leaned down to open up some bandages. “Lie back,” I mumbled, feeling his eyes follow me.



I shot my eyes over to him and immediately froze. Jax’s eyes stared right through me, unblinking. They slid down my tank top, and as his gaze traveled back up to my face, I saw the corner of his mouth curl, looking relaxed and amused. And that was it.

Jaxon Trent was the goddamn devil.

I shook my head. “I’m trying to be nice. You could, too.”

“Nice?” He laughed to himself. “I don’t want your nice.”

I clenched my teeth. What the hell was his problem?

Grabbing the bottle of peroxide I’d dropped on the floor, I unscrewed the cap and poured a short stream onto the gash on his stomach.

He hissed and grabbed some gauze, covering the wound. “What the hell?”

“Oops,” I chirped, and screwed the cap back on.

I dumped the bottle on the cot, kicked his feet apart, and knelt between his legs. And I watched him watch me as I placed my hands on his thighs and slowly lowered my head to his wound. Peeling his hand away, I blew a cool, light breath over his bubbling cuts, soothing the sting I’d created.