As do I, I think. “I need to go. I need to call him and Neal.”
“I need you back here, Jax.”
She hangs up. I text Brody: Jill is struggling. I’m stuck in San Francisco. Can you get there before Thursday when you planned to arrive for the Harvest?
Struggling how? He replies instantly.
I reply with: Hunter helped her with the event. He’s gone. She’s alone.
Fuck, is his reply. I’ll move some things around, but you know how I feel about Jill and the damn Harvest.
Considering she was his fiancée first, before she moved on to Hunter, yes, I do, but I’ve always believed that Jill loved Hunter and to her credit, Brody is a bastard when it comes to women. I dial Neal, who answers on the first ring. “You fucked me over.”
“I left you three messages to get out of that deal before it went south.”
“My broker said it went south because you pulled out.”
“My brother got me out because it was going south. He too tried to call you at my request. How about returning a call?”
“Fuck,” he curses. “I was out of the country.”
“Crap. Right. Sorry, man. It’s on me. I’m losing my shit because I lost my shit.”
“Well don’t lose your shit. I have a lead on a sweet deal. Meet me for drinks before the Harvest opening. We’ll talk.”
“Yeah, yeah. Thanks, Jax. Sorry for acting like a little bitch.”
I laugh and we say our goodbyes and I turn back to the railing. Why does everything about what just happened bother me? I weed back through the mental reply and focus on Jill. For someone independent and territorial about her job, she’s too eager to get me back, no matter the emotional cards on the table. I’ve questioned her about the Knights and the sale, and she swears she knows nothing, but what if she does? What if Randall or Chance told her to get me away from Emma? That’s a ridiculous idea but it’s in my head now. It won’t let go.
I grab my phone and text the private eye I hired last month, when I should have hired him sooner: Jill Radcliff. Get a man on her.
I’ve barely sent the message when I hear “Jax” from behind me.
At the sound of Emma’s voice, I turn to find her standing in the doorway, her dark hair lifting with a gust of ocean air, and holy hell, she’s more beautiful every time I look at her. She’s perfect, but the look on her heart-shaped face is not. She holds up the journal in her hand, her father’s journal, and says, “We need to talk about this.”
I can feel myself go cold inside. “What about your father’s journal, Emma?”
“How did it get in my bag?”
“I didn’t put it in your bag, if that’s what you’re implying.”
“I didn’t bring it, but it was in my bag, Jax. How is that possible?”
A text message buzzes on my phone that I ignore. I shove my phone back into my pocket. “I wasn’t even in the room when you packed. Your bag was zipped when you showed it to me and then we left.”
Her gaze searches my face, probing, accusing, then softening slowly. “Right,” she breathes out. “Right.” She looks away and then back to me. “I’ve been obsessing over his words. I must have scooped it up without thinking. I’m sorry, Jax. I didn’t mean to accuse you.” She closes the space between us, stopping just a lean from touching me, that damn journal between us. “You didn’t put it in my bag because you thought I wanted it?”
This exchange once again drives home the drama between our families, the poison that threatens to kill us before we ever get started. “You mean because I wanted to read it? Because that’s your tone. But no. I did not.”
“Right,” she says. “Right. I did sound accusing, didn’t I?”
“Yes. You did, but considering the way we started, I get it, Emma.” My hands come down on her arms. “I’m not using you now. I swear to you. I’m not. I will not. God, woman, I’m crazy obsessed with you because of you, not our families.”
“That’s not what you said in the bathroom.”
“I’m obsessed with you. Just you.”
“That wasn’t an answer.”
“I wish you weren’t a Knight.”
“I wish you weren’t obsessed with the Knights.”
“I’m obsessed with you, woman. You. I don’t care about the journal, Emma. Or fuck—” I cut my stare and look away. That was a lie and I don’t want to lie to her.
Her hand catches my face and urges me to look at her. “Your brother is dead. Of course, you want to look at the journal. It’s okay to say that. The truth is, I think you need to read it. I think maybe there are answers inside, but it’s getting harder for me to let you. I don’t know how you’ll react or how I’ll react to how you react.”