“Great minds think alike,” he says giving me a wink.
“I guess they do,” I say. “And the answer is a month. I can’t miss this trip. This new property is a big investment, and I’m the one who makes sure we turn that money.”
“Then why don’t I go with you?”
I don’t even hesitate. “Yes. I’d like that, but what about your own work?”
“Can you put the trip off a week and let me make arrangements to work remotely?”
“You don’t have to do this, Jax.”
“I want to do this. And when we get back, I’m hoping you’re ready to say yes to coming here, to living here with me.”
“You know my hesitation isn’t about you, don’t you?”
“I know it’s about a lot of things we’ll work through while we’re in Germany.”
He rounds the island, and I turn to meet him, his hands settling on my hips. “I know I moved fast. Now, I’m slowing it down.”
“Germany for a month is slowing it down?”
“We’ll share a bed in a hotel instead of making my bed, our bed. That feels like slowing down to me.”
He did move fast, I think. Too fast for him to honestly know how he’s going to feel about my family’s role in his brother’s death. “Germany with you sounds wonderful.”
“Yeah,” I say, relieved that we have time to find a path for us that doesn’t include us on a ledge, like his brother. Because that’s what all the unknowns feel like: a ledge, with someone pushing us over.
“Perfect,” he says, and while I assume that he means the trip, the warmth in his eyes promises to mean so much more.
He kisses me and starts to turn away, but I catch his arm. “Why me?” I query, asking the question that comes to mind right then.
“Why you what, Emma?”
“You’ve never lived with a woman. You’ve never been engaged. And yet with me—” My words trail off.
“With you what, Emma?”
“Exactly. With you I’m different. Make the coffee, woman. I’ll need caffeine or booze to deal with the calls I need to make after we eat.”
He walks away to attend to his eggs, and for a moment, I just stand there, processing. His answer is perfect, and yet, it’s also completely imperfect. We are two broken people, suffering from loss and looking for answers in each other. I just hope that in that connection, there is healing, not pain. I hope there is real love, not a façade of love that is really just another form of hate.
That word, hate, reminds me of York, but I quickly shove him out of my mind. I’ll talk to Jax about that phone call. Just not right now. Not until after we share a meal and pretend the world isn’t trying to combust around us.
York Waters is just being an asshole, which is something he excels at quite well. A few minutes of delay, even an hour, before I bring up that call won’t change anything.
Nothing at all.
I hurry to the coffee pot and find a cinnamon bean mixture that smells delightful. “I can’t wait to try this,” I say, as Jax glances over at me from the stove.
“It was my father’s favorite. It’s my thinking brew. I always drink it and think, what would he do?”
“You were close to him,” I say, and while I know this, I’d like to hear more, a confirmation, a story. Just more.
“Hunter and I were both close to him,” he says, flipping one omelet and then the other. “Brody not so much. He was always kind of a loner. I think being the youngest made him feel there was just too much to live up to.” He turns to face me. “Hell, I even felt that with Hunter at times. There’s a reason I ended up with boxing gloves on. Hunter was the golden boy out of the rink. I was the runner up. I needed an outlet.”
“Did Brody have an outlet?”
“Women. We had too much booze in our life to make that appealing.”
“Boxing and women, baby, you know that.” He winks. “Booze and one woman now.”
I laugh. “Booze, one woman, and hotels now, too,” I say, because hotels are my life, but the fun of this moment fades into reality. “If we can get past all this family stuff.”
“We will,” he promises, filling our plates. “Creamer is in the fridge. Come tell me about Germany.” He heads to the table that sits inside a bay window, overlooking the ocean on one side and a garden on the other side.
“It’s a beautiful house and view,” I say, once we’re settled in our seats.
“From the lips of a woman who travels the world and oversees gorgeous properties.”
“Hotel luxury is not like a castle and a house in Maine, but for the record, I think this house suits you far more than the castle.”