“We have to eat,” I say, smiling against her lips. “Funny thing. I worked up an appetite. Don’t know how that happened.”
“I’m hungry, too,” she says, a small smile on her lips that I feel like a punch in the chest. Her smile. Damn, it lights me up. “I blame you.”
“I’ll take that blame.” I stroke her cheek, and I want to say more, but my gut says to move on, at least for now. I stand up and take her with me, carrying her to the bathroom and setting her on the counter.
I grab her a towel and press it between her legs, reluctantly pulling out of her, and righting my pants. Aware of my belt, of her reaction to my belt last night, as I slide it back into place. That memory and her question on the lounge chair has me saying screw it to holding back. I press my hands to the counter on either side of her. “Anything and everything with me is only what feels good to you, Emma.”
“That can’t be how this works, Jax.” She tosses the towel and grabs my belt and I don’t believe that’s an accident, which she proves by adding, “I know I react to things that I shouldn’t with you. I know and—”
“And it’s okay.” I pause, gauging my words, telling myself she’s a Knight. I need to hold back, but as I look at her, as I look in her eyes, and see the hint of past wounds there, I’m reminded of how much I understand her. And I know that’s not what she needs from me. “Look. Sweetheart. This, us, I don’t know what this is. Believe me, I’ve been asking that question in my head, but what I do know is that it’s good. It feels good and you feel good. I want you to feel the same.”
“I do. You have to know that I do.”
“No. You don’t. You don’t know that I’m safe, and I get that. I met York. I saw what he was to you.” I pick her up and set her on the floor. “I’m going to make you think about me, not him,” and then, trying to ease the mood, I add, “but to do that I need food.”
I’m rewarded with her laugh. “Food is the secret weapon.”
“That’s right.” I turn her toward the bedroom and lean in, my mouth next to her ear. “I’ll fuck you all the ways you want to be fucked after we eat.”
I expect her to laugh again but instead, she rotates in my arms and stares up at me. “I don’t know what to make of you, Jax North.”
I caress her cheek. “Then I guess I better stay around for you to find out.”
“Yeah,” she says softly. “I guess you better.” She pushes to her toes, kisses my cheek and then turns and walks out of the room, offering me a view of her tight cute butt.
I scrub my jaw and press my hands to the counter, my method of letting her get dressed, instead of fucking her all over again, but I also replay the conversation I just had with her. I don’t know what this is, I’d told her, but damn it, I know what’s it’s not—which isn’t what she had with York—and I need her to know that, too. I push off the counter and walk into the bedroom to find her already dressed.
“Ready?” she asks, “because now I’m really hungry too. It’s already ten and we haven’t even showered.”
She reaches for her bag and I grab it, catching her hip as I do. “I don’t know what this is, but I know what it’s not. It’s not about our family names or anything between your father and my brother. I need you to remember that.”
“You remember that, too. You thought I was after the castle.”
“I’ll remember if you’ll remember,” I say, and I can feel my own intensity, unintended intensity, flamed by guilt over that meeting with Eric yesterday, over my intentions to hurt her family. Fuck, to hurt her.
“Yes,” she agrees. “Okay.”
Okay. I want more but what more can she give me? I have to let this go. I force myself to move on. “Let’s get out of here and get back. I want you all to myself.”
“I’d like that,” she says, a soft smile on her freshly glossed lips.
Her smile is like a light switch, it lightens our mood. We head down the stairs, debating places to eat while my gaze sweeps her apartment, giving it a true inspection for the first time since I arrived. The lower level has floor-to-ceiling windows. The floors themselves are high-end light wood. The furniture is well made. It’s also a small space. The décor is simple. I keep using that word, but it fits. Emma doesn’t have a lot of money and she didn’t inherit on her father’s death. I’m back to something not adding up.