What the hell is this?
“What the hell is this?” I demand voicing my thought, feeling like this is a time bomb about to go off, my heart racing, my adrenaline surging.
I step to the space behind him, at his back as the island is at mine, determined to get answers, but I don’t yell or shout nor does he immediately turn to face me. Nor do I demand that he turn right now and give me an answer despite wanting to do just that. I force calm because that’s what I do. I’m calm. I’m rational and that has nothing to do with my preaching to myself about never making assumptions because assumptions make you look stupid. My mother was always afraid of my father’s contempt for all things stupid. I’m not her, and Jax is not my father, but I recognize that the effects of last night’s events still linger. I recognize that the idea of my family doing bad things is messing with my head.
Jax turns off the water, grabbing a towel to dry his hands, his chin lowering to his chest, an obvious struggle inside him and that calm evaporates. “I can’t take it,” I say. “What’s going on, Jax? What is—”
He tosses the towel and turns around. The next thing I know, he’s pulled his T-shirt over his head and tossed it. I blink, and he’s leaning forward, planting his hands on the island on either side of me. “Do you know why I just took my shirt off after washing up?”
“You want to have sex?” I ask cautiously, confused right now, my brow furrowing. “Though I’m not sure why you would wash your hands to have sex.”
His expression tightens. “If only we could just have sex and forget the rest of this hell.” He pauses a beat and then adds, “There was an envelope left by the door with your name on it,” he says. “And Savage insisted he test it for toxins. I washed up because I touched the package. I didn’t want to expose you if I’d been exposed. Savage didn’t want me to tell you. He knew I didn’t want you upset.”
I can feel the blood run from my face, demons, my family’s demons, attacking me left and right. They just won’t stop attacking. And this is about my family. It’s clearly all about my family. “What’s in the envelope?”
“Savage is testing it now before we look inside.”
“Before we look?” I ask, worried about the secrets between our families, the possibility of murder in the air. “Did he look?”
“He wanted to. I told him no.”
Heat rushes across my chest and up my neck. “He’s going to look.” I shove against him and slide under his arm, giving myself space, forcing myself to calm my breathing, but my heart is another story. It won’t stop racing. What if my father committed murder? What if my brother knew? What if there’s evidence inside that envelope that proves that? And what does that do to me and Jax?
We face each other, and I point to his phone where it’s resting on the counter. “Call him. I need to see what’s in that envelope. Me. Just me.”
His eyes light, the blue burning amber. “Just you? What happened to us being in this together?”
“Exactly,” I snap back. “Don’t tell me you didn’t plan to hide this from me. Jax, I haven’t known you long, I get that. But I know you well enough to read you now. You want to know what’s in the envelope before I know.”
His jaw tenses, he cuts his stare, and that says all I need to know. “What are we doing Jax?” I demand. “We’re poison to each other.” I turn away and charge toward the bedroom, and I don’t stop at the door. I already found my suitcase and took it to the bathroom. I had to brush my teeth because I imagined myself kissing Jax. I imagined all these wonderful things with him, but that can’t happen now. All I’m doing is setting my brother up for a fall. God, I need to get home to my brother.
I hurry through the room, and I’ve made it halfway to the bathroom, just past the bed, when Jax catches my arm. Heat rushes up my arm, and it’s not all about anger. It’s about this man touching me. It’s about this man and how much I want him, how much I even feel as if want has transformed to need. I whirl around, intent to confront him, but I fail. He drags me against him, all those hard muscles absorbing all the softer parts of me, and the words linger on my tongue, but never leave my mouth.
“What are we doing?” he demands, and he doesn’t give me time to reply. “This.” His mouth closes down on mine, and I try to fight, no, I tell myself to fight, to push back, to save myself before I go down and never find my way back up. But I don’t fight. I don’t even try to save myself.