Jax lifts my hand and kisses my knuckles. “This path is our best bet on being alone sooner rather than later.” His voice is a soft rasp of heat that warms me from the inside out, his tone low, rough, laden with the same emotions I feel, which translates to too many to name. He’s the warmth that will make the cold of this night heat. We need to be alone. I press deeper into the nook of his body, and we press deeper into the darkness.
I curse the darkness that consumes the walkway to the extended path leading to my tower, but there is no way in hell that I’m going to take Emma through the front of the castle. It’s a small miracle Emma is even still here, but come morning, when the shock wears off, she could easily bolt. Bottom line, we need to be alone. And then I need to deal with my brother, who has clearly lost his fucking mind. She yelps and wobbles when her foot hits a root of a tree. I catch her waist, holding her close. Holy fuck, I can’t hold her close enough after all that went down tonight. One wrong move on that wall, and she would have been dead. My foolish brother might have ended up on the rocks below with her, too. They both could have died, in the same damn night.
Catching Emma’s waist, I hold her close. “Just a little further, baby.”
“I’m fine,” she says, but there’s this quake to her voice that I’ve never heard before. She’s not fine. She was scared shitless on that wall, and truth be told, the castle isn’t what she finds scary. It’s my family. My family scares her. I think maybe hers does as well. I think she might have reason for both fears, and that’s a problem my gut says is dangerous beyond my brother.
We arrive at the archway framing my door, and I can almost feel Emma’s relief as we step into the warm glow of artificial lighting. “The power works here,” she says, as I guide her to the dungeon-style door, where I begin punching in a security code.
“I had a battery-operated power source installed two weeks ago,” I say, as the door buzzes open. “I have a contractor coming in to rewire the entire exterior of the castle.” I reach inside and flip on the lights. I resist the urge to pull her inside my doorway, press her against the wall, strip her naked, and remove every damn barrier this night has tried to erect between us. I want this woman, and if it was only physical, I’d do just that, but it’s not. Lord help me, she’s a damn Knight, and I’m not even thinking about walking away from her. And I damn sure don’t plan to make her walking away from me easy, which means I need her trust.
And so, I don’t pull her inside and take her against the wall. I motion her forward and step back, giving her room to enter first, and by choice. I want her to be here by choice. “Welcome to my home, Emma.”
Her green eyes meet mine, the artificial lighting catching amber flecks in their depths. “This is your home?”
It’s an odd question, considering our prior conversations, but I answer without hesitation. “It is.”
“And whose home was it before you?”
And there it is, the question inside the question that I read and answer. I catch her hand and walk her to me, and she doesn’t pull away. Her reservations are not about me. They’re about my brothers. Both of them. “Hunter never lived here, Emma. Savage is staying in his tower. My parents lived here in this tower. I sold my place after Hunter died, and I couldn’t live in his space. I didn’t have it in me. That’s how I ended up here.”
“I inherited the castle because I’m the controlling partner in the main whiskey operation. Brody doesn’t own or live in the castle. I do.” I stroke hair from her face and tilt her gaze up to mine. “I want you, Emma. So fucking much that I don’t even know what to do next but keep you close. And that doesn’t have to mean here. We can go to a hotel.”
“No.” Her hand catches my tie. “No, I don’t want to go to a hotel. I want to be here. I want to see where you live and know who you are. And your brother doesn’t get to run me off.” She presses to her toes and touches her lips to mine, and just that easily, I’m hot and hard for this woman. But it’s more than that. I am so fucking into this woman that I don’t want to know the moment she walks away. And if my brother has his way, she will. I cup her head, and my tongue licks into her mouth, sweeping deep, the taste of her, all sweet passion and demand, but there’s more this time. There’s a tentativeness that wasn’t there on that dock, a little piece of her she’s holding back when I want all of her. A tentativeness I plan to wash away. “Let’s go inside, baby,” I murmur, ready to do just what I’d fantasized about minutes ago. Strip her naked. Remove the barriers. Get back to the two of us and keep it that way.