He cleared his throat, hoping to put an end to the torture by getting her to sign...and leave him in peace. “This protects your interests as well by covering the terms of the dissolution of your employment should the relationship not work out.”

Blake mentally flinched at the term relationship. But Jax didn’t seem to notice. She was too busy looking at him as if he’d just crawled out of an alien spacecraft.

She straightened up and crossed her arms, which obscured Madonna’s face and pushed Jax’s breasts higher. He shifted slightly in his seat, willing his groin not to respond.

“Do you ever get tired of being this careful?” she said with amazement. “I mean—wow.” Sweeping a stray lock of hair from her cheek, she eyed him closely. “I’ve never met anyone so cautious. Your muscles must be tired from all the overtime they put in being—” she clenched both her fists to emphasize her point “—tensed and poised for every possible catastrophe.” Hands relaxing, she dropped them to her sides, her hazel eyes boldly honest, her tone dry. “’Cuz this is only my second day of knowing you, and you’re already exhausting me.”

Trying to hide the grin, Blake wiped his hand across his chin and lower lip. She looked younger than her years, fresh and beautiful—with a youthful exuberance that was captivating. Exhaustion hardly seemed to be her problem. His libido, on the other hand...?

That was getting a vigorous workout.

Wishing she’d at least sit down so there was less of her to see and admire, he reached for the papers. “I’m not ‘tensed for every catastrophe,’ as you put it. I’m just being practical. Preparing an exit strategy ahead of time makes life easier for everyone,” he said smoothly.

“Don’t you ever just loosen up and let life happen?”

“No.” He slid the document forward, hoping she’d take the hint and finish the task at hand. “Because I might not like what life hands me.”

A barking scoff escaped from her mouth. “Since when did planning in advance guarantee to prevent tragedy?”

The innocently spoken statement knocked him hard, bringing the memories along, and he froze. The biggest tragedy in his life—his father’s death—had been precipitated by Blake’s carelessness...at a time when he’d been so sure he hadn’t a care in the world.

He’d been a thoughtless college frat kid that never gave a damn about the consequences of his actions.

His chest cinched tight and he locked the memories away, trying to subdue a frown. “I didn’t say planning guaranteed a tragedy-free life.” He lifted a brow meaningfully at the disturbingly beautiful woman standing before him. “But flying by the seat of your pants doesn’t help, either.”

They stared at each other a moment more, and he inched the document closer to her, using his best let’s-finish-this-up tone. “Do you want to have a lawyer review this for you?”

She shot him a look that suggested he was insane, and he realized he’d be hard-pressed to offer up a defense. “As of right now,” she said, “you’re the only lawyer I know.”

Tipping his head, he steadily held her gaze. “Unfortunately, my advice would be useless.” He gestured toward the agreements. “Conflict of interest and all.”

Jax parked a hip on the top of his desk. A flash of tanned, toned thigh peeked through the frayed hole in her jeans, briefly tripping up his train of thought and setting off a wail of warning in his head.

“I have an overwhelming urge to ask you to do just that,” she said as she looked down at him. “Something tells me if the contract wasn’t in my best interests...” her pursed lips twisted into a grin “...you’d rat yourself out.” Her grin grew bigger, hazel eyes sparkling with amusement. “I’d love to see that.”

Blake’s internal siren grew louder. Her position, as well as the knowledge the attraction was mutual, made her all the more alluring.

“I can assure you, the contract is designed to protect us both,” he said as he leaned back in his seat, seeking distance.

She loosely shrugged her shoulders. “I believe you.”

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