“Emma.”

At the sound of Jax’s voice, my gaze jerks up to find him standing by the side of my chair, towering above me. “Yes?”

“Why are you holding the butter knife like you’re about to stab the croissant to death?” He goes down on a knee in front of me, turning my chair to face him. His hand closes around the knife, and he sets it on the table. “Talk to me. What just happened?”

I swallow hard, in a place right now with Jax I don’t want to be. “I remembered the nightmare or part of it. I was falling.”

“Falling,” he says softly, his fingers flexing on my knee, just under the navy-blue skirt I’m wearing. “You said that earlier. Tell me. You were falling?”

There is something in this question, something sharp and hard, and yet his voice doesn’t change, his expression doesn’t change. “Yes, I told you, it’s a control thing. It’s this meeting with Marion and York showing up. Not to mention having my own apartment become a hazard. Triggers. These things are triggers. I’m actually looking forward to my Germany trip in two weeks. I need out of this city.”

“Start by coming home with me. Don’t make it a maybe like you did when you were packing. Make it a sure thing.”

Am I really going to do this? “When?”

“I’ve been waiting for you to tell me that. When can you leave?”

“I’ll know after the meeting,” I say.

“Does that mean you’re going with me?”

I breathe out, “Yes. Yes, I do believe I am.”

The hardness in his eyes evaporates, replaced by warmth. “Then let’s get you to that meeting.” He offers me his hand and helps me to my feet, his hand settling possessively at my hip. His hand that has been all over my body these past few days, memories heating my skin. “I want you with me when I leave, Emma.”

“I want to be with you, Jax.”

He leans in to kiss me when his phone buzzes again. He grimaces, his lips brushing mine before he retrieves his phone from his pocket and glances down at the messages. “I’m going to grab my purse,” I say, and I do just that, rushing to the bathroom, scooping it up, as well as my briefcase. My gaze shifts and somehow lands on the journal where it rests on the nightstand, the memory of Jax refusing to read it hitting me in all the right ways. He wants to read it. He’s holding back for me. I don’t remember the last time anyone sacrificed for me and I know that’s a sacrifice. I know Jax is looking for what pushed his brother over the edge. I know he thinks that’s my family and still, he didn’t read the journal. I decide to leave it on the nightstand. I just don’t want to risk leaving it in my office or apartment right now.

Rejoining Jax, I find him checking his watch and I have a momentary flash of York doing the same thing. I hate that the damn watch brand reminds me of York again. I hate that he’s under my skin enough to distract me from Jax, who matters. York doesn’t matter. Well, the man doesn’t matter, but the hell he can put me through does. It’s what he might put my family through that does. It’s how he might lash out at Jax that does.

And deep in my gut, my fear is that Jax is right. York is in the middle of this thing with Jax’s brother, which will lead only one place: a war between York and Jax. But where does my brother fall in all of this? Where do I?

“Ready?” Jax asks, and I force myself back into the moment, and that’s not a challenge. Jax is an amazing man, gentle and yet confident, caring and yet dominant, striking combinations that apparently work for me. I’m going to the castle with him.

“Yes,” I say. “I’m ready.”

We exit the hotel room and he hands me a key. “Yours. It’s our room now.”

I have no idea why this warms me the way it does, but it does. I accept the key, and his hand closes around mine. “Soon you can share my real bed.”

The air thickens between us, that electric push and pull that is always present, jolting up a notch. “The king’s bed in his castle?”

“King of the north,” he jokes in a Game of Thrones jest that only endears me to him more. His humor is sexy, but if I’m honest with myself, so is the darkness he buries beneath that humor. He’s broken in some way. I’m broken in many ways. This draws us to each other. I know this. Death has been our mutual calling card, but for the first time, I wonder if that bond heals or destroys.


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Naked Trilogy Erotic
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