“I know that now, but do you want me, Emma? Because I damn sure want you.”
“We’re both a mess, Jax, bleeding from open wounds. How does that work?”
“Maybe that’s the reason we work because as you said, I understand you and you understand me. Do you want to know me, Emma? Do you want to see what this is between us?”
My fingers curl on his jaw. “Maybe. I don’t know.”
“I’m not York, Emma. I’m not going to hurt you. I won’t hurt you. I need you to remember that.”
This response wouldn’t seem off, if not for the “I need you to remember that” add on. It’s another one of those statements from Jax that feels as if it has a double meaning, but he’s just told me about his mother. I decide he’s there now, thinking about his past the way I am about my past.
Because the past is a part of us and we’re a part of it. And no new beginning comes without a warning. “Emma,” he prods softly.
“I know you’re not him.” I don’t give him more. I can’t. Not now and yet, I don’t want him to leave which is why I add, “I promise you, I know.”
He studies me a moment and when I think he’ll push me, the way York would push me, he doesn’t. Slowly, he eases us both down on the lounge chair, pulling me to his chest. My hand settles on his chest, the steady thrum of his heart, beneath my palm, the sound paired with his strong body holding mine, a drug that soothes the edge of a month of pain. I need Jax. Maybe it’s just a now thing, but I don’t fight it. My body softens into his harder one, and my lashes lower, and for now, on some level, I must trust him because I seem to dose off, the room fading in and out
In some dark place in my mind, I think I hear Jax whisper, “There is so much you don’t know, Emma, but you will.” Or maybe I didn’t. I succumb to sleep.
I wake to the doorbell and jerk to a sitting position, sunlight beaming through the windows of my bedroom, and Jax’s hard body beneath me. I don’t even remember falling asleep, clearly I did so on top of him and we slept the night on the lounge chair. “Easy, sweetheart,” he says, his blue eyes alight with concern, his strong arm wrapping around me. “Nightmare?”
I frown. Was it a nightmare? “No,” I say. “The doorbell rang. Or I think it did.” It rings again. “Yes. It did. There it goes again. And no one can get up here without clearance. It has to be my brother.” My voice lifts. “Jax, my brother.”
“And that’s bad why? You’re afraid to get him excited? You think he’ll think I’m now selling you the castle?”
I give him a little punch. “That’s not funny. I wouldn’t sleep with you to get the castle.”
“Good to hear,” he says, laughing. “I’d dress to greet him, but half my clothes are downstairs.”
I tug away from him and stand up, eyeing the area round my feet. “Oh God, there’s melted ice cream on the floor.”
“We’ll clean it up,” Jax says, pushing to his feet, half naked, his ripped abs and broad chest on display, all cool and casual like my brother showing up is nothing. Damn Chance for his timing, because this man is better in daylight than he was last night. And I never even inspected that tattoo on his forearm. “Is that a compass on your arm?”
He holds out his arm. “A compass and my name.”
“North.” I laugh. “I love it.”
He steps in front of me and pulls me close, his finger catching and caressing my nipple that is apparently hanging out of my robe. My sex clenches. “Good morning,” he says softly.
And now, I’m melting like the ice cream. “Good morning,” I say softly, forgetting everything but this man and the possibility of my mouth on his tattoo and a variety of other places. Irritatingly, the doorbell rings again, forcing me back to reality. “Brothers,” I murmur, twisting away from Jax to rush into the closet. I grab sweats, step into them, and I’m just pulling a tank over my head when the security alarm goes off, “Front door open,” the computerized voice announces.
My heart lurches and I step out of the closet. “Jax,” I whisper urgently. “My brother wouldn’t just come inside my apartment, even when I make him wait this long. He doesn’t have a key.”
In an instant, Jax is standing in front of me, pressing a silencing finger to his lips. “Stay,” he mouths, pointing to himself and the door, before he heads in that direction. That’s when I hear, “Emma!” in York’s voice and my blood runs cold. Jax whirls on me, accusation radiating from him. “What the fuck, Emma? He can get into your damn apartment?”