“I didn’t love her and she didn’t love me.” He casts me a sideways look. “Did you love York?”

“The York I thought he was, yes.” My gaze lands on the journal where it lies on the floor, a symbol of how easily a person can hide behind a façade of themselves. Memories of York, bad memories, try to surface and I shake myself and look at Jax. I shake off the past. “Good thing I didn’t go to law school. I suck at reading people.”

He takes the pint from me and sets it down. “What does that mean?”

“It means that I’ve learned the hard way that people aren’t always what they seem. In York’s case, when he inherited, he showed his true colors. The York I knew and the York he really was were two different people.”

“And then what?”

“I thought grief and the new professional demands were taking a toll, so I stayed to support him but he wanted what you say your ex wanted. My name and my inheritance. Because even when people have their own, they get greedy and they want more.” I laugh. “I should tell you. I don’t inherit for a very long time and my father made Randall my executor. I don’t even own this apartment. I rent it from the company.”

“There is much I could say about that, but why Randall and not your brother?”

“He knew my brother would just give me the money and that didn’t suit his agenda.”

“Which was what?”

“For me to decide I’d marry Randall—and no I haven’t and will not date Randall. He treats me like—” I stop myself before I say something I might regret.

“Like what, Emma?”

“Like he owns me, first because of my father’s actions and now because of the money, but money doesn’t get to own me. I’ve considered resigning, but my brother needs me. And I like my job. I see the world. I’m going to Germany in two weeks. Who gets to say that?”

He studies me a moment. “You’re angry with your father.”

I open my mouth to speak about the journal but again think twice. I can’t get wrapped up in the moment. There’s talk of death, maybe even murder in that journal. I settle on a more simplified answer. “I’m very confused about my father right now.”

“Death does that as well, sweetheart. It’s part of the process.”

There’s no push for me to hate my father, no insult delivered to my father. This isn’t the reply I expect from a man who I know hates my father. Instead, he picks up another pint. “Therapy time. Chocolate Éclair.”

My eyes light. “Chocolate Éclair. Okay, yes. I need that in my life.”

We sample all six flavors and the éclair ends up being my favorite. At some point, we both end up fully on the lounger, our backs to the cushion, our feet in front of us. “Have you ever been engaged, Jax?”

“Never.”

“And how old are you?”

He sets down the last pint we’re sampling and pulls me under his arm. I rotate and curl into his side while he shifts to look down at me. It’s intimate and cozy, the fire warming us where the ice cream has chilled our bodies. “I’m thirty-four,” he says. “And why am I single? Because love and money don’t mix. A lesson my mother taught me at a young age. She didn’t love my father. She loved his money not him, but he pretended otherwise. He loved her so much, and to his own demise at times.”

It feels like he’s speaking to me, speaking of his anger at me earlier tonight. “I’m not here for your castle or your money and name, Jax. I just—you—me—you get what I’m going through, and—”

“I don’t want your future inheritance or your name, Emma. I’m not York. I have money. I have a name. What I want is you.”

It’s everything I both want to hear and fear. I can’t get involved with a man who hates my family, not after everything I just found out about my father. My walls go up and I try to pull away. He holds me, catches my leg. “Running?”

“Yes,” I whisper. “I’m just going to be honest, Jax, because that’s really what I need in my life right now. Honesty. You get me in a way that scares me. You could hurt me, Jax. I’m not equipped to deal with that right now. We’re both a mess. You accused me of fucking you for the castle.”

“I told you. The castle hit a nerve.”

“Because you hate my father.”

“Emma—”

“That journal,” I say before I can stop myself. Damn it, I said it. It’s out and I ride the emotional wave pushing me forward. “That was my father’s and the words inside pretty much declare every moment I spent trying to please him was a waste of my life. I get it. He wasn’t a good person, but I don’t want the castle.”


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Naked Trilogy Erotic
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