“What he did isn’t what matters. It’s what he can do to hurt the business. I need to do what I can do on my end to control York. You can’t do that. I need to do it.”

“How?”

“I’ll call you back.”

“When?”

“An hour. Give me an hour.”

“If you don’t call me back in an hour,” he warns, “I’m going to the airport to come and get you.”

“Don’t give me deadlines,” I say. “That’s what York just did to me by voicemail, and I don’t need that right now.”

“I’m worried,” he says. “About you and the business.”

“Then don’t talk to Monroe yet. For once, I need a member of the Knight family to actually trust me.”

“I trust you. Where the hell is that coming from?”

“Prove it.”

“Fine. Fuck. This is killing me. You there, me here. These secrets.”

I think about his offer on the castle and how off his excuse about the will reads to me. “Yeah. Well. Secrets really do suck, Chance. We shouldn’t have any.” I disconnect and meet Jax’s stare, aware that I may or may not have bought us time. York knows my bother. They went to college together. He knows that when Chance decides to act, he acts. And I know how York will spin this because I know a man that evil far too well. I have to tell Jax my secrets now before TMZ tells the world. I have to make him see why he has to let me go and let me go now.

CHAPTER THIRTY

Emma…

I set the phone down on the island with only one focus: Jax. Gorgeous, intelligent, perfect, all words to describe him. Passionate. Intense. Dominant. Powerful. Gentle. Tender. Who is all of those things? What girl is lucky enough to find that man? What girl is unlucky enough to lose him this quickly?

“I was selfish,” I admit. “I never even considered that my past could come back on you. York was gone from my life, and then suddenly, you were here, but he was back, too. And you and I were all kinds of right and—”

“We still are, baby. He doesn’t change that.”

“He does, Jax. He does.”

He steps toward me, and I step back.

“Emma—”

“Listen.” I hold up a hand. “I need to say this and then make the call to York, Jax. I need to try to do some kind of damage control. So just listen, because it’s going to be hard to get it out. Please.”

“I’m listening. I’m right here.”

“Okay. You’re listening. And I’m talking.” I bite my lip and look away, telling myself to just do this. Do it, Emma. I force my gaze back to his. “He was a normal guy fighting for his father’s approval, and, on that, we connected. Then his father died and—he changed.” I blow out a breath. “How did he change, you ask?” I laugh, a choked bitter laugh. “Not the average way someone might change. He started holding sex parties on his boats. Really raunchy sex parties. He’s going to connect me to those.” I hug myself, embarrassment and shame overtaking me, tears sliding down my cheeks. “I went,” I say, and somehow, I’m rambling and can’t stop the words from falling out of my mouth. “I went to some of the parties. I didn’t do things. I was just there, but I saw things. Okay, and I dressed sexy. He made me. No. I wanted to please him, and I was clearly lost and confused. My father and the company and it doesn’t matter. What matters is that I’m pretty sure he filmed everything, so I wore those outfits. I was there, and it looked like I was loving it, but I hated it so much. I hated those damn parties, but he was the only person I was connected to. I thought I loved him, and my family—I didn’t seem to fit. I went along with him. I didn’t want to lose him. I was pathetic. Embarrassingly pathetic, but I tried to get out. I tried and that’s when things went really wrong.”

Suddenly, Jax is in front of me, folding me close, sliding his hand over my hair. “You are not pathetic. You’re human. And you left him.”

“You don’t understand. I had—” I swallow hard, “I had—” I press my hand to my forehead. “Something happened. Something bad, Jax. And I can’t. I can’t do this now.”

He cups my face. “Then don’t. I know enough. You feel like there might be photos. You feel like this could hurt your hotel brand.”

“It will. Jax, it will, especially after my brother just took over, and this will be seen as our brand falling apart. We’re a luxury brand. This will hurt us. And if you’re connected to me romantically, it’s going to hurt you, too. Let me go home.”

“You are home, baby. You just don’t know it yet.”


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