“Hi, Jill,” Emma says, refusing to be ignored, which only serves to make me crazier about her.

Jill casts her a chilling look. “Hello, Emma.”

If Emma notices, and she has to, she’s nothing but gracious in return. “Can I do anything to help?” she offers.

Jill purses her lips. “I don’t know how you’d help.”

“Right,” Emma says flatly. “Of course, you don’t.” She turns to me. “I’ll just go into the brunch and have a chocolate-covered breakfast. Chocolate sounds really good right now. Is it in the same area as the other tastings?”

Amused by her delicate but rather cutting dismissal of Jill, my lips curve. “If is,” I confirm, pleased that she’s comfortable enough to go on ahead of me. “I’ll join you in a few minutes.” I glance at my watch and then her. “I have a good half hour to make the guest rounds before my meeting.”

“Sounds good.” She eyes Jill. “If I see a problem, I’ll jump in and help, but you know where to find me if you need me.”

Jill gives a curt nod and when Emma would walk away, I catch her hand, walk her to me, and kiss her. “Watch out for Sawyer. He’ll be here.”

“He is here,” Jill says. “And don’t even get me started about that man.”

Emma glances her direction. “I heard he was a bit of trouble for you last night. I hope he wasn’t too inappropriate.” She turns her attention to me. “Don’t worry about me, I’ll handle him if necessary.”

Jill makes a disgusted sound. Emma smiles at her response, as if at this point, she can do nothing but be amused, and heads toward the brunch. I step closer to Jill and lower my voice. “Emma’s not going away, Jill,” I say, “and most people find her quite charming.”

“Can we have that private conversation?”

I motion her forward. “Lead the way.”

She turns on her heels and marches toward her office. I follow her and shut the door. She doesn’t walk around her desk. She stands her ground on this side of the small office. I make use of her visitor chair and place it between us, my hands on the back. “What’s up?”

“Sawyer tried to recruit me away, groped me, and then vow that we won’t get his business if we’re doing business with the Knight operation.”

Savage said otherwise, but physical contact is too serious for me to dismiss and I’m feeling pretty done with Sawyer anyway. “The groping alone is good enough for me. We won’t do business with him.” I push off the chair, intending to leave.

She holds up a hand. “Wait. I’d rather you do business with him than the Knights.”

“Sawyer will slit our throats if we give him the chance.”

“Better than pushing us off of a ledge, now isn’t it?” she snaps back. “Her father was here, Jax. He visited Hunter often. He messed with Hunter’s head. I don’t know what went down, but he was not the same after that man came around.”

“And yet, you never came to me.”

“I did. I came to you.”

“Too late.” I lean across the chair, anger burning in my words. “Too damn late, and you know it.”

“How can you have that woman in your bed?”

“Who is in my bed is not your business, but Emma is not her father. That man barely acknowledged her as his daughter. And yet, you’re a bitch to her. And don’t even get me started on Brody. My brother damn near shoved her off the ledge Hunter fell from.”

She blanches, a stunned look on her face. “What?”

“You heard me. He hung her off the ledge. And yet, she’s still here, and honestly, anyone else would be gone.”

That fires her up. “Then why isn’t she? Think about it, Jax. Why isn’t she?”

“Because I asked her to live here with me.”

She blanches all over again. “You—you asked her to what?”

“That’s right. And I’m telling you, right now, that if you make decisions based on revenge and bitterness, you won’t be here for another Harvest. I need you here, Jill. You are valued, but that kind of motivation is dangerous. And I will choose her over you.”

She hugs herself and tears up. “I just—I just don’t know how, I don’t know how to let it go.”

“Then take some time off for the holidays to cope. You never took any time off after Hunter died. Take some time.”

She swallows hard, tears pooling in her eyes, and for once, I’m not thinking about her as guilty of anything but grief. “This place is all I have left of him,” she whispers, driving home that point.

“But, is it rubbing the loss in your face?”

“I need closure. I need someone to pay for what happened to him.” She looks away and then back at me. “He left me nothing. I think maybe he didn’t love me like I loved him.”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Naked Trilogy Erotic
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