“Thanks for the ride,” I say and scoot toward the opposite door.
He catches my arm and then my waist, sliding me back toward him until our faces are close. “I thought I was invited upstairs?”
“I don’t need to be judged, Jax. I can go elsewhere for that.”
His hand settles on my face and he tilts my face to his. “Isn’t assuming you know what I’m thinking, judging me?”
“I suppose it is so—what were you thinking, Jax?”
“Let me be your answer, Emma.”
My fingers curl on his lapel. “You barely know me. I keep having to say that to you. And I don’t need a man to be my answer, Jax.”
“Well, then you can be mine.”
I blanch at this unexpected reply. “What answer do you need?”
“Many,” he says, “and right now, you’re my lifeline. I know where you are right now. I know loss, and I know it recently. I know it presently. Am I still invited upstairs, Emma?”
He knows loss. How have I forgotten that he too just lost his father, but also his brother? Suddenly I know why this man affects me beyond his obvious good looks. It’s the understanding we share. It’s the loss. It’s the answers we need to questions after a death but can only find in another who understands there are no answers. There is just death and life and a need to live in the moment, to survive what is gone.
“Yes, Jax,” I say, my breath hitching on his name. “You’re invited up to my apartment.”
For a moment, we linger there, our lips close, the pain of loss between us, but suddenly, the energy shifts, softens with the curve of his mouth a moment before we both laugh, the pain banked beneath a lighter moment. A lighter moment that comes for no reason but perhaps a need for sanity, a burst of bottled-up emotions that are safer here than other places. It’s a good moment. An erotic moment filled with sexy promises, and yet it’s a comfortable, wonderful moment like I haven’t shared with a man in a very long time. Okay, never. I have never shared a moment like this with a man. York ruined me that way.
Jax reaches for the door and I catch his arm. “Wait.” I swallow hard. “York—”
“I’m not him. Judge me by me, Emma.”
“No, I know, or I’m trying. I’m sorry. I deserve that statement, but right now, I want to warn you. He could show up here.”
His brow furrows. “Do you think he will?”
“I don’t know. I haven’t seen him in years, Jax, but he doesn’t take rejection well. If he does show up, how are you going to handle that?”
“How are you going to handle it?”
“Most likely horribly,” I admit. “That’s how I always handle York which is why I don’t want to deal with him tonight or ever.”
“Well, then,” he says, giving me a wink, his mood lighter now. “I guess I’d better answer the door in my underwear and make sure he knows you’re occupied.”
I laugh at the unexpected comment, drawn to the way this man is proving to be one part intense, and one part something else. Something gentler, easygoing. Calming.
“You could just answer the door naked,” I tease, and we share a moment of humor that fades back into a darker moment.
“Come on,” Jax says, opening the door to exit first. Nervous and yet somehow eager for what comes next, I scoot across the seat and Jax offers me his hand. He’s touched me before obviously, but there is a shift between us that I feel happening, a new level of intimacy that tells me this time is different. He is different, though I don’t even know what different means.
I settle my hand in his, heat radiating between our palms and when my eyes lift to his, the jolt between us steals my breath, butterflies erupting in my belly. Oh yes. Oh yes, there is something happening between me and this man.
His eyes pull me in, burn me alive, even as he eases me across the leather seat, and I twist around to slide to the ground. Somehow in the process, his arm slides under my jacket and around my waist. He molds me close, taking me with him to the sidewalk, the charge pulsing off of our bodies combustible.
“I almost skipped tonight, but I had a feeling you’d be here,” he informs me.
“You stayed for me?”
“Yes, Emma. I stayed for you.” He kisses me and then gives me a small smile, and a small smile from this man is panty-melting perfection before he shuts the back door. He doesn’t speak to the driver, which I assume is because that lean forward he did earlier was him offering instructions that are now being followed.
Jax’s hand finds mine, the fingers of one of his hands lacing with my fingers. A warm awareness radiates between us that is perhaps all about sex, but it doesn’t matter. It feels right. He feels right and all that matters right now is the here and now with this man. Besides, sex is an honest human need and as long as I keep my mind in that place, it stays honest. I need honest in my life right now.