I catch her waist and turn her to face me. “You trusted the man you were supposed to marry,” I say. “That’s not weak.”
“We could debate that, but instead,” she says, “I’m going inside to call my brother and tell him everything. And then I’m going to call Monroe. And then I’m going to drink some of that coffee your father loved, and do some of my work because York doesn’t get to take any more of this day or my life.” She presses her hand to my chest. “Or you. You were right. He doesn’t get to be our end.”
I cover her hand with mine. “Damn straight, baby. He doesn’t get to be the end of us.”
She pushes to her toes, kisses me and says, “Thank you, Jax North,” before she walks to the door and adds, “and you, too, Savage.” With that, she enters the house.
My lips curve, and this time, my smile is about pride. Emma deserves that and a hell of a lot of respect for what she just did. Even Savage smiles. “She’s a keeper, man,” he says. “What do you want me to do?”
“Make sure we have him by the balls ten different ways and then we’ll talk.”
“That goes unsaid,” he replies. “And if given the right opportunity, rest assured, I’d chop his off and deliver them to you to feed to the fish.”
“I have a feeling there’s a long list of people who’d like to see that happen,” I say. “I think it’s safe to assume the list of people Emma’s father was investigating all have sex scandals that York created for him.”
“And that you can now relieve them of,” Savage says. “I’ll connect some dots and confirm. We have this place secured. You two staying here?”
“Yeah. We need to be here, away from the castle.”
Savage gives me a mock salute and heads down the stairs, while I head inside to help Emma end this once and for all. Or at least the part that can end right now. I’m not done with York, and unfortunately, Emma isn’t either. He’ll be in her nightmares, but she won’t live them alone. I’m here to stay.
I’m not shaking. I’m not crying. I’m standing tall.
I walk into Jax’s kitchen, the same stunning kitchen that he’s declared as our future kitchen, should I so choose, and I actually feel free enough to open my mind to that possibility and more. Standing up to York, owning him instead of him owning me was empowering. For the first time in years, if not ever, I’m owning my life, not York or my father or even my own insecurities. I walk to the coffee pot, fill a cup, sweeten it up, and then sip. I like it. I like this place. I like the idea of a life outside an apartment I rent from my father’s empire. I like Jax. Maybe I’m falling in love, too, but the like part matters. It matters so very much.
Setting my cup down, I dial my brother, and he answers on the first ring. “Talk to me, Emma.”
I pause, because this is the part where he pushes me for all the things I just said in front of Jax and Savage, but I remind myself that I’m empowered. I don’t need to do anything I don’t want to do. “York is a bad person, Chance,” I say simply. “He does bad things. He did bad things to me.”
“What bad things, Emma? I need details. That way I can decide how badly he hurts before I kill that fucker.”
Warmth spreads through me at the reminder that he’s my big brother, that he loves me, but the reason I need that reminder is present, too. Jax and I might have York out in the open, but Hunter is still dead. We can’t bring him back. We can’t turn back time. “I’m going to spare you the details,” I say, “and the need to hurt York. He’s handled, and for the record, thank Jax for that. He made a difference in ways you can’t understand.” On that, I choke up and swallow hard, delicately clearing my throat. “Make the call. Tell Monroe about dad and Marion.”
“What does ‘handled’ mean, Bird Dog? Because I heard that crack in your voice.”
I ignore the comment about my voice. That’s the overflow of years of baggage. “It means,” I say, “that while he was gloating about certain nefarious details of our past, I recorded him with witnesses present, as back up. And he knows it. I have him by the balls. He’s not a problem.”
“He’s handled. He’s not a problem. But Monroe might be. Maybe you should let me call. I’ve spent more time with him than you. He’s going to associate cheating with our brand, and let’s just face it, you with dad, otherwise known as the cheater.”