“Yes,” I say, folding her close, warmed by how something so simple excites her. “It sounds like a perfect Sunday.” And it does. I don’t know what it is about Emma, but now that I’m with her, I don’t want to leave her. “Go get dressed and I’ll do the same. I’ll clean up the ice cream before we leave.”
“We can clean up the ice cream and get more later.” She smiles. “It was good, Jax and it was—it was just good, and I know you were protecting me just now. Seeing him tonight. That set me on edge and I reacted to that feeling.”
I want to ask her about that exchange with York about Marion. I know who Marion is, of course. What I don’t know is how she connects to York and Emma together, but I don’t ask. Not now. Not yet. Not when I feel like Emma’s about one wrong word about York from withdrawing. “You know I want to ask questions, I’m sure,” I say, “but I’m not going to. Not right now, but eventually, I will.”
Her expression tightens. “Not right now is good,” she says. “Right now, right now, I’m going to brush my teeth and look in a mirror and scare myself.”
“You’re beautiful,” I assure her. “Even with mascara all over your face.”
Her eyes go wide. “Oh God. Do I really have mascara all over my face?”
“You do,” I laugh, because fuck me, she’s adorable. Sweet. Honest. Too honest to be with York which still puzzles me. Too honest to be like her father, but her brother is another story, and that’s a problem for us I’ll deal with when the time comes. And it will come.
She surprises me and pushes to her toes, kissing my cheek. “Thank you, Jax.” I have no idea what she’s thanking me for, and I don’t get to ask. With that statement, she turns and hurries up the stairs, a woman born to be my enemy and yet, she’s already starting to matter to me, too easily she’s starting to matter to me. I wanted to hit York. I wanted to yank his balls through his damn nose. Because he hit her. I know it. I don’t even want to know what else he did to her. He’s going to pay. He’s going to know my name like he knows no other.
Searching for my clothes, I snatch up my shirt that has somehow landed in the foyer, and I pull it on. York had to have seen it when he walked in. Considering the neighbor’s comments about Emma’s lack of male companionship, that must have shocked the fuck out of him. I hope it burned a hole in his ego. I ignore my tuxedo jacket, and head into the kitchen, where I find trash bags and paper towels, as well as some carpet cleaner. The rug will be the easiest of the messes I’m cleaning up considering what I put into play with Eric Mitchell yesterday. I wanted to hurt her family. Now, I just want to protect her.
Heading up the stairs, I enter the bedroom and find the bathroom door shut. I walk to the mess by the lounge chair and find the ice cream is contained inside the pints for the most part. Clean-up is quick and easy, and when I stand up, my gaze lands on the journal on the floor by the bed. Damn it to hell, I want to read what’s inside that thing. I want to know why my damn brother would even consider selling the castle, which means the entire whiskey operation. There was no financial reason that I’ve found. There was something else going on. Something he died knowing and I need to fucking know what, but if I pick that journal up, if I start reading, it will change who I am with Emma.
I squeeze my eyes shut and picture her face when I reached for my belt, and I can almost feel her trembling in my arms when she wanted to go at York. I can’t do it. Not without talking to her. Not without her permission and she’s not ready to hear what I have to say. I’m not ready to tell her yet, either. I can’t risk a misstep. I can’t risk being wrong about her.
The bathroom door opens and Emma steps into the bedroom, her hair smoothed out, her lips glossy. She holds up a toothbrush. “Brand new in the package. I’m assuming that’s why you haven’t kissed me good morning because any other answer smites more than a little. And I’m minty fresh, in case you’re wondering.”
I laugh and set the trash bag by the door. “A toothbrush, you, and a kiss in the morning is exactly what I need.”
I pause just beside her and kiss her neck, whispering, “But once I kiss you, I might not stop and we might not make it to my hotel room.”