I pull it open, and Jax is standing under the water, his face down. His gaze jerks up, and before he can even turn to face me, I’m standing in front of him. I’m wrapping my arms around him. “I’m sorry. I got spooked. That’s all. I reacted and—”

He backs me up and presses me against the stone wall behind me. His hands plant on the wall on either side of me. “You—”

“I know everything I did,” I say, stopping him before he makes a point that I’ve already made in my head. “And I’m sorry for all of it. The truth is, I’m really deep in this emotionally with you, and I wasn’t running from what was inside that envelope. I was running from your reaction. I decided that I was all in, and you were one envelope from being all out.”

I reach up and stroke his wet hair from his handsome face, and I don’t pull back, not physically or emotionally. “I’m terrified of finding out that my family isn’t worth protecting, that they killed your brother. And that would end us and break me. That’s how all in I am with you. If you walk away—”

He catches my hand and his eyes, those piercing eyes that always manage to see too much, smolder and not with desire. He’s angry, he’s furious even. “I didn’t try to walk away,” he says, his voice low, taut. “You did.” His jaw sets hard. “Twice.”

“I know,” I whisper, and while he holds me, I have this sense that he could let go of me at any moment like I haven’t said enough, like maybe I can’t say enough to fix this. The idea that I’ve lost a good thing, and we are a good thing, guts me, it drives me to confess what I would never dare with anyone else. “I’m used to everyone having an agenda. I’m used to them wanting something from me. I’m used to—” Unbidden emotion wells in my throat, the past month of loss and bombshells punch me right in the throat, but I don’t look away, I don’t hide from him. I push forward. “I’m used to being alone. I’m used to counting on only me. It’s how I survive. This, us, you, Jax, it’s going to take me some time to know I can trust that this is real, but it’s not about you. It’s about me.”

He stares at me again. God, these stares are killing me, his expression unreadable, his energy humming with a rough purr along my nerve endings. I can’t read him and that scares me. I’m coming apart from the inside out with the idea that this is it, afraid I’ve given too much, too late. He’s the one who lost his brother. He should be pushing me away. I’m a Knight. And yet, he isn’t. The certainty that he will now has me ready to bolt, but that’s how we got here, that’s how he ended up in the shower without me. I’m not running again. I’ve bared my soul to Jax. I’ve told him everything, and now he’s my judge and jury. I have to have the courage to wait for that ruling, but I just can’t take it. I can’t take his silence. “Jax,” I whisper, and it’s as if his name on my lips is what he wanted, what he was waiting for.

He drags me to him, our naked bodies molded close, his hand sliding over my hair, and dragging my gaze to his. “No more running.”

Relief washes over me, but it’s marginal, it’s not fully realized. “I don’t want to run, but why aren’t you?”

“If you were anyone else, I would, in a blink I would, but I can’t walk away from you.”

“Why? Because—”

“Whatever you’re about to say, don’t say it. Not if it involves me having an agenda. What part of me being insanely into you, do you not get?”

“I don’t know what happened to your brother. I don’t, but what if my father killed your brother? What if it goes deeper than him? How do we survive that?”

“Together, baby. We do it together. Because you’re not alone anymore. And neither am I.”

My heart swells. My heart is going to shatter for Jax. “We can’t survive that.”

“I have always been a man who goes for what he wants, who fights until I’m bloody, but bloody doesn’t mean I lose. It means I can take the pain if it means we win. Watch and see.” He kisses me and pulls me under the water with him. We hold each other there, but his words radiate through me. He can take the pain if we end up together. I can’t walk away from him either, but I should, I should, because he just told me that he expects me to cause him pain. I probably already am.


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Naked Trilogy Erotic
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