“Special,” he says. “And a large part of my history.”
The mystery and the history together have me stepping lighter and faster, while all the fears and worries of minutes before really do find a pause button. Right now, this man is sharing a piece of himself with me, and I’m all in. The wind gusts around us, and this time, it doesn’t feel like a replay of me on that landing in the tower with Brody holding me at the edge. It’s about Jax. It’s about the romance of being here with him, the idea of living here with him. That’s where I want and need my head to be right now. That’s where he wants and needs me to be, too.
We finish the walk and cross a sidewalk to walk up the side steps to a porch that wraps the front and sides of the house. “What is this place?” I ask again.
He catches my waist and turns me to him. “The house I grew up in.”
“I thought you grew up in the castle,” I say, my hand settling on his chest, and I don’t miss the thrumming of his heart. This is an emotional moment for him, and I want to know why.
“Until I was thirteen.”
Realization hits me. “When your mother left.”
“Exactly. My father owned the land, and he built this house for us to be the new family we’d become. He said it was for us, but I think it was for him. He needed to get away from the whispers and gossip about my missing mother. No one has lived here since my father died, but I come here often. It was his escape and then mine. Now it can be ours.” He takes my hand. “Let’s go look.”
Warmth spreads through me all over again. He’s letting me inside his world, and I want to be in his world. He matters, I repeat in my mind. Just him. He leads me forward, the ocean to our left, close, so close that I can hear the waves crashing on the shore and rocks. Jax stops at the door and uses a security system to unlock it, pushing it open and reaching inside to flip on the light.
“Ladies first,” he says, and I move forward. I catch his hand and pause to push to my toes, pressing my lips to his cheek. “Thank you for sharing this with me.”
He cups my head and kisses me, and it’s not just any kiss. There’s passion, so much passion, so much that it consumes and drugs me. It owns me, he owns me, because he kisses me like no man has ever kissed me, like he can’t breathe without me. And when our lips part, for a moment, or two, or ten, I can’t say, we just breathe together. The moment, or moments, end with his fingers on my cheek. “Go inside, baby.”
I nod and move forward, pleased when Jax catches my hand, stepping in behind me, his body close, the door slamming behind us. I’m now standing in a stunning room, which is so completely different from the castle that it’s as if I’m in another world. The room is long, the ceilings high, the floors a dark shiny wood. The fireplace is almost floating inside a wall to my left. A giant winding stairwell of the same wood as the floor is to my right. I imagine him and his brothers running up and down those stairs. I imagine their father sitting by that fireplace with his sons, and I’m sad that it seems he never loved again.
“It’s beautiful,” I say, and when I turn to face Jax, his hands are already in my hair.
“You’re beautiful.” His voice is low, rough, and when he kisses me, his tongue is gentle, sensual. “This can be our place. Or the castle. Or anywhere you want. I don’t care where.”
Every part of me is alive for this man. My body heats. My heart swells. I want to say yes right now. It’s what he wants me to say. I could so very easily, but what if he ends up hating me? What if the truth reveals something he can’t live with, and I’m here, heart and soul, when he does?
“Don’t answer now,” he says, and then he’s kissing me again, but this kiss isn’t like the kiss of moments before. It’s changed. It’s darker. It’s deeper. It’s demanding, possessive. A kiss that claims and says that he owns me. And with any other man, I’d fight to prove he doesn’t own me, but not Jax. I don’t resist even a little bit. I don’t fear what that means. I want him to know I’m all in because that’s what this is about. My hesitation. My trust that he still doesn’t feel he has.