Hope, fear, anger, frustration.
I feel all of these things as I sit down on the hotel couch with the envelope in my hand, my brother’s script, so like my father’s, on the front. I reach for the flap, and my God, my hand is trembling. Why is my hand trembling and why won’t it cooperate and just do what I intend? I grab my wrist and draw in a calming breath. This is silly. I’m letting way too many things control me when I, long ago, learned how to compartmentalize and just get on with life. I need to do that now.
Jaw set, I release my hand and open the envelope to find a simple rose on the front of the card. Inside the card is a folded letter. I pull it out and start to read:
Yes, I know you hate that name, but I won’t ever stop teasing you. It’s just too fun. I also won’t stop loving you. I know I made mistakes. I should have done what dad never did and included you more. I should have given you the chance to help.
Obviously, you would have had influence over Jax. The two of you could have come up with a solution when I couldn’t, that worked for us all. Dad trapped me. I believe that he believed that if he gave me a good reason—saving yours and mom’s inheritance—to do a bad thing, I’d do it. And he thought that meant I’d be successful in the future. I’m pleased to say he failed to make me him, but he almost didn’t.
You saved me.
I know you don’t understand that, but you did, little sis. Finding out you were kidnapped and left naked in your bed destroys me. I would never let someone hurt you like that. Never. I want you to feel like I protect you. I will protect you, but I guess considering all that I have confessed, it’s important to add that I won’t disappoint you in the process. I made mistakes. I know this. I’m writing to beg for your forgiveness. I’m writing because I miss my sister. Because we’re family like mom and dad never understood family. I need you. I fear who I’ll become without you.
Love your big brother,
Tears are streaming down my face as I set the card down and dig my borrowed phone from my pocket. There is no hesitation in me as I dial Chance’s number, only hope. “Chance Knight,” he answers. Thank God, he answers.
“It’s me. I never found my phone and MacBook, which I guess I should be worried about for work reasons, but—”
“Work is not important right now,” he says. “You got the card?”
“Yes,” I whisper, the thrum of emotions playing on my heart. “It made me cry.”
“See, the last thing I want is to make you cry, sis.”
“Good cry. Don’t make me bad cry. I’m still mad at you. In fact, I’m furious.”
“I know. I deserve that. I handled all of this like a prick.”
“Yeah,” I agree. “You really did.”
“I’m sorry,” he says, his voice a low, rough timbre. “I’m sorry.”
“I know. That matters. Do I accept your apology? Yes. Can I deal with needing another one like this ever again? No, Chance. I can’t.”
“You won’t have to. Can we have dinner? Tonight? Or tomorrow night? Whatever you feel up to. I can come to the hotel. Or we can have coffee and then dinner with Jax. You love him. I need to work this out with him.”
“I’ll talk to Jax. Let me call you back.”
“Okay. Yeah. Call me back.”
I disconnect and walk back to the dining room, where Jax and Savage now have papers all over the shiny walnut surface of the table. “How’s it going?” I ask.
Jax’s gaze jerks to mine, his pale blue eyes scanning my face, concern etched in their depths. “How’s it going for you?”
“Better than expected,” I say. “Can we talk?”
“She means without me,” Savage chimes in. “Good thing I’m not one of those little bitch sensitive guys.” He glances back at me. “I even have a new phone and MacBook headed your way, and you still oust me. No love, no love.”
“Thank you for the phone and MacBook,” I say, as Jax stands up and heads in my direction, all long-legged swagger and intensity. I love it. I love him.
“Where do you want me?” he asks when he steps in front of me.
I bite my bottom lip and consider that truly loaded question. I want him back on the bed and naked. But alas, now is not that time. Thank you, Savage and Chance. Jax’s hands, those perfect hands that I want all over my body, press to my waist and he leans in close. “If you keep looking at me like that, you’ll get Savage kicked out.”