“You don’t get how bad this is, Jax.”
“I get it. All of it, even beyond what you’ve said. I’ve put it together. I know what he did to you.”
“You don’t know. You don’t know.”
“I know enough, Emma. And know this, baby, I will not betray you. I will not cause you pain or fear. I am always your friend, and I hope, a whole lot more. I got you. I got this.” He kisses me, lips to lips, a kiss that is tender, strong, warm. A kiss that is filled with all the possibilities that I can’t believe still exist. And when his lips part mine, for just a few moments, we linger there, breathing together. “We don’t end here.” His fingers caress my hair from my face, brushing it behind my ear. “I’ll be right back. Don’t make that call. Trust me to handle this. I got this.” He starts to pull away, and my heart lurches.
I grab his sleeve. “What are you doing?”
“I’m going to handle York Waters.”
“No. He’s evil, and there’s more. Jax, there’s more I need to tell you.”
“Tell me the rest your way, when you’re ready. He doesn’t get to force that on you now, too.” He strokes my hair. “I know just what to do now to control York, but I need to talk to Savage now.”
“Yes, but—” He kisses me and strides away.
“Wait!” I call out desperately.
He pauses at the archway to face me, and I all but reach in my mouth and yank out what comes next. “The night that I told him no,” I say. “The night that I tried to walk away, things happened to me. Bad things, Jax. There could be photos.”
His eyes narrow and darken, and he closes the space between me and him, catching my hips. “He raped you.”
I nod, and my eyes burn. “He tied me up. He shared me. It was, it was so bad.”
The air crackles with anger, his anger, and his hands go to my face. “Remember when I told you, you convinced me revenge wasn’t necessary. I was wrong. Revenge is going to taste good, to both of us. Don’t do anything. I’ll handle this.”
“I need to call my brother.”
“Not yet. Wait on me. I’ll be right back, and York Waters will be gone for good.”
I want to kill York Waters. I want to put my hands around his neck and kill him, but if I do that, I’ll be in jail, and Emma will be out here, in this hellish mess, by herself. I’m not leaving her alone. Ever. I have no idea why that has to be how it is. She’s right. We’re new, but it doesn’t matter. That woman was meant for me, and I was meant for her.
I cross the living room and exit to the front porch, the early fall chill off the ocean doing nothing to cool the heat of my state of pissed off. Savage is standing there, staring at me like a damn statue, where he’s clearly been waiting.
“He raped her,” I say, not to betray Emma, but because Savage is too smart not to already have this figured out. He also needs to know just how badly I want to burn York. “He took pictures,” I add. “And while I consider myself an ethical man, I still want him dead. I’ll settle for destroyed, but I want him fetal and crying like the little bitch that he is. Are you in or out?”
“You had me at dead, but I’ll settle for fetal. That’s a job I’ll do for free. What’s his story right now?”
“Chance found out that his father had an affair with Marion from Breeze Airlines. He told York he’s going to tell Marion’s husband.”
“And the fucker is afraid Marion’s husband will pull his business loans.”
“Exactly,” I say. “In turn, Emma thinks he’s about to go public with photos he took of her as payback.”
Savage snorts. “If he does that, he looks like shit. He’s bluffing.”
“He’s not bluffing.”
At the sound of Emma’s voice, I rotate to find her stepping onto the porch, her dark hair lifting in the breeze, her cheeks flushed, eyes glistening but dry. Strong. Brave. So damn beautiful. “He has a company and reputation to protect, just like us,” I say. “That’s on our side.”
“He runs a sex operation on his boats, Jax,” Emma says. “This isn’t just parties. It runs deeper. He’s that bold.”
“He’s in deep with Marion’s husband for money,” Savage says. “He doesn’t want to lose that money.”
I glance over at him. “How deep?”
“A whopping forty-nine percent of his stock,” Savage announces. “And per a look-see at his books, the boy doesn’t seem to have any of his own money left.”
“Ripe for a hostile takeover,” I say. “Maybe I need to lend a hand to make that happen.”