“I resemble that remark,” she says. “A little too well. As for your mother. No wonder your father built the beach house. He wanted to get you away from the painful memories.”

“He did,” I say, taking a drink and setting my mug back down. “In some ways, I wish he hadn’t.”

“Why?” she asks. “The beach house is amazing, and it became your family home.”

“It did, but I think living there, instead of here, allowed us kids to hide from the loss of our mother instead of facing it, which teaches you to hide from things. If I ever have kids, I don’t want them to learn to hide.”

“Do you want kids?”

“Right now, I don’t know if I could handle the fear for their safety. You?”

“I don’t know. Honestly, I’ve never given it much thought.”

“You were engaged to York. Surely, you talked about kids.”

“No,” she says, running her finger around the rim of her mug. “We never talked about it. We were so young when we first got engaged. And then, he became a different person after he inherited.”

“As was Hunter after my father’s death.” I inhale and let the air trickle from my lips, thinking about those changes, about how damn divided we were when he died. “I don’t want to hide from Hunter’s death, Emma. I owe it to him to make this right. And we can’t hide from it anyway. If we try, it will come back to haunt us later.”

“I’m not asking you to do that, Jax. I don’t want you to do that.”

“Even if it leads to Chance?”

“I told you. If Chance killed Hunter, he’s not the man I thought he was. He’s already not the man I thought he was. I don’t know if he killed Hunter, but I think he’s covering it up. I think he knows.”

“What specifically makes you feel that?”

“I was considering that while we made the coffee. He wants my father’s journal in a bad way. What if he thinks there is something in there that exposes Hunter’s killer?” She presses a hand to her face and drops it. “What if it’s my mother, Jax?”

“Your mother?” I ask, and the earnest look on her face tells me she’s given this real consideration. “You mean because she didn’t want the bastard son to rule the kingdom?”

“Yes. Exactly. Maybe she lived with the affair but couldn’t live with whatever my father planned for Hunter’s future. She is currently hiding in Europe.”

“Grieving in Europe,” I amend.

“Yes. Maybe. I don’t know.” She sips her coffee. “And, in what might seem like a change of topic, but isn’t, I had Savage take me to your office.”

“You’re welcome to use my office anytime, but we should set you up with your own as well.”

“I’d love to be here and have an office here, but I didn’t go there to work. That hourglass we found on the bookshelf—do you remember it?”

“Yes, sure. You said those were sold in the gift shops in your hotels.”

“I was wrong about that. I called my mother’s old assistant—yes, she did work for the business for a while, a short while, but she did. Anyway, it turns out that those hourglasses were designed and ordered by my mother. They were high-end gifts she gave out to important clients.”

“My father was a vendor, not a paying client. Why would she give it to my father?”

“Well, according to my mother’s ex-assistant, they were all close. They went to dinners and took trips and my mom and Jax’s mom were close. Aside from that, the idea that my mom gave it to your dad really never crossed my mind. The idea that my father gave it to your dad didn’t cross my mind, either. That’s not his thing.” She swallows hard and amends her statement. “Wasn’t his thing. He didn’t do gifts. Of course, Savage being Savage, heard this tidbit and asked if they were swingers, which also never crossed my mind.”

“Of course, he did. Only Savage could take an hourglass, with an uncertain history, and turn it into a swingers situation.”

“Exactly, though, it’s a pretty horrible thought, right?”

“Ah yeah. I might be a grown adult, but thinking about our parents, not only swinging but doing it together, is drinking territory.”

She laughs. “Right. I said that to him. Thank you, Savage, for the visuals my mind conjured that I did not need.”

“Aside from swinging, do you think your father gave it to my mother? He’d have access to the hourglasses, and my mother might have left it behind. Though I have to say, my father got rid of everything that reminded him of her.”

“I know I said my father didn’t give gifts, which is true, and important, to what I’m going to say next. Despite that statement, I believe my father did, in fact, give that hourglass to your father under the guise of a gift that wasn’t really a gift. It was his way of mocking your father, with a ‘fuck you, I’m fucking your wife and you can’t stop me,’ message inside. And I mean that quite literally. I found out each hourglass has a spot for a secret note at the bottom.”


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Naked Trilogy Erotic
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