“Should I have?”
“Why would you? You don’t know me.” She laughs a bitter laugh. “Well, there is my family money. That’s what everyone knows and wants. They think they know my worth, but they know nothing.”
I don’t ask what that means. I dare to slide closer to her. I dare to allow my leg to press to hers, the current between us charming the air. “I am a North, which means that I have power and money. I don’t need yours.”
“Money feeds greed. What you have is never enough.”
“There are other things to want besides money.”
“Do you know who I am?”
“Can I deny that perhaps for the rest of my life?”
I lean closer, the scent of her distinctly warm—amber and vanilla, I believe—my interest in this woman piqued in both expected and unexpected ways. “Why would you want to?”
“A complicated answer to a simple question.” Her voice cracks and she turns away from me. She reaches for my glass again and downs every drop in it. She sets it down.
“More?” I ask.
She glances over at me. “Yes, but I should warn you that I’m a very bad drinker.”
I refill the glass and sip before handing it to her. She stares at the glass before her gaze lifts to my mouth. Unlike moments before, she’s now thinking of exactly what I intended: about her mouth where my mouth was moments before. “I promise to catch you if you fall,” I say softly.
“Don’t start this relationship off by making promises you won’t even try to keep.”
Relationship. She’s planning on this encounter leading to more, which of course could simply be because I’m now in charge of my family empire, not just the contact for all things both North and Knight. Or perhaps it’s more. I plan to make it more.
“I never make a promise I don’t keep,” I say, and I will catch her if she falls, because once I catch her, she’s mine. Once she’s mine, everything comes full circle.
“Never,” I assure her, “which is something my friends value and my enemies dread.”
“Do you have many enemies?”
“A man or woman with money and power always has enemies.”
Her cellphone rings and she pants out a breath. “Of course. They’re now looking for me by calling me.” She pulls her cell from her purse and glances at the number.
“Randall?” I ask.
Her gaze jerks to mine. “How do you know that and him?”
“I know a lot of people. Enemies everywhere, Emma,” I say softly, and I find myself really wanting her to listen. Really wanting to protect her, which is a contradiction to everything I would do otherwise where the Knights are concerned. “And this one wants to be in your bed. If he isn’t already.”
“How do you know that?”
“I told you. I know a lot of people and things.”
She sets her phone on the table without answering him.
“You aren’t going to answer?”
“No. I’m not going to answer. I’m not ready to go back.”
“Would you like to get out of here?”
“And go where?”
“A castle by the ocean.”
She laughs. “If only.”
“I’m serious, Emma. Come with me. I’ll take you away.”
“Would you be asking me that if I walked away from it all?”
The curtain pulls back and Randall is standing there, his dark hair slicked back, his gaze sliding between the two of us and landing on me. “What the fuck are you doing here, Jax?”
My lips quirk. “Enjoying good company and good whiskey.” I glance at Emma. “With a beautiful woman,” I add.
I expect her to blush and look away, but she doesn’t. For several beats she just looks at me, her stare unreadable, but the crackle in the air between us, the whip and pull of attraction, is damn near palpable.
“Emma,” Randall snaps, “you have people here honoring your father.”
“Right. Responsibility calls.” Her eyes, her sea-green eyes meet mine. “Thank you, Jax. For the company and the fine whiskey.” Randall offers her his hand, but she ignores it and stands up.
“Don’t you want the answer to your question?” I ask.
She glances behind her, over her shoulder, to meet my stare. “Yes, I do.” But she doesn’t stay for an answer. She walks away, doing the impossible, considering she’s a Knight and I’m a North, as she does. She makes me crave more of her, but that changes nothing. I came here, seeking her out, for a reason. That reason hasn’t changed.
Randall’s hand comes down on my elbow; a possessive touch that bothers me more in this moment than perhaps it might, without Jax’s warning about his intentions. “What are you thinking?” he demands softly as we weave through clusters of tables. “You’re here to represent your father.”
My heels plant solidly on the hardwood and I whirl to face him. “Who died a month ago of a heart attack. Now my mother has fled to Europe to heal, shutting me out, barely speaking to me by phone. You do get the impact those two things have on me, right?”