She grabs my shirt. “I need you to listen to me. There was more than a note left for me.” She swallows hard. “I don’t even want to tell you. Now that it’s time to tell you, I wish I could just pretend I didn’t know.” She presses her hands to her face, and I catch her wrists and ease them between us.
“Someone is just trying to fuck with us, Emma.”
“No. I shouldn’t have thrown it away. It was a stupidly rash move, meant to protect you and Chance.”
“Two people with motives to kill Hunter, who now I believe was murdered. Those two people are you and Chance.”
“Because I’d inherit.”
“Yes, but so might have Chance.”
“What the hell are you talking about, Emma?”
“There was a DNA test included with the note, Jax. Hunter was my father’s son. He was—he was my half-brother, too.”
Those words rip through me. “Too? No.” I release her and step back. “He wasn’t my half-brother, Emma. He wasn’t your brother at all. The test was a fake.” I turn and leave the room.
What just happened?
Is he leaving?
I tug my dress back in place and hurry out of the bathroom. “Jax?!” I call out, rushing down the hallway and entering the living room to find him pacing in front of the fireplace, his phone to his ear. “Just see what you can do,” he says, before he disconnects and shoves his cell back into his pocket, his jaw hard, his expression tight, a raw, rough edge about him, that I’ve never seen. He doesn’t look for me, and the idea that this is his rejection cuts. He walks to the chair framing the couch, where he sits down, tilting his chin downward, fingers spiking into his hair, a man tormented, a man lost in that torment.
I don’t care if he’s rejecting me, even blaming me in some way for all of this. I close the space between us and sit down on the end of the coffee table just in front of him. I know he knows I’m here, but he doesn’t look at me.
“Jax?” I whisper.
He drops his hands to his powerful thighs, his gaze lifting to mine, and there is no blame there. His blue eyes are nothing but unbridled torment. “Hunter was my brother.”
“I know that,” I say catching his hands. “Nothing that happened tonight, and no DNA test, changes that. You grew up with him. You were—”
“His brother,” he says, his voice roughing up, his mood shifting, sharpening like a blade ready to strike. “This is all a game someone is playing, and I’m going to find out who that someone is. And I’m going to make them pay.” There is something I can only call brutality in those words, his need for revenge back, and it’s a living, breathing being all of its own. His words “make them pay” stirring memories of when we first met. When he’d wanted someone to pay for Hunter’s murder. I understood that need then, as I do now. If it were Chance that had died, I’d want answers; I’d want peace. Maybe I’d even want to make someone pay.
A muscle in his jaw flexes. “I told Savage I need a copy of that test.”
He wants the test. I shouldn’t have destroyed it. Of course, my father would say, “Regret not what makes you look like an ass. Just don’t do it in the first place.” Based on that DNA test, he lived a life of being an ass, and so am I right now. I’ve denied Jax answers. I’ve made this worse for him.
Feeling as if I’m suffocating in my own decisions, I try to stand up. Jax catches my legs. “Emma—”
“If someone told me that Chance wasn’t my full brother, I wouldn’t believe them. I’d want proof. I should have known you would, too. I just—I wanted—”
“You wanted to protect me.”
“Yes.” I flash back to the encounter with Randall, and his threat. “Jax—”
“And you wanted to protect your brother.”
My chest is tight. “Yes, but—”
“Which one of us do you think killed Hunter, Emma?”
I blanch, “What? No. No, I don’t think—”
“The only reason you would feel like you needed to protect us is if you felt like one of us was guilty. Do you think that I killed my brother?”
“No. I don’t think you killed your brother. When we met, you told me that you wanted revenge. You wanted answers. That’s not a man who killed his brother.”
“You just wanted to protect me,” he repeats.
“Of course I wanted to protect you. Stop saying that like it proves that I think you’re guilty. It doesn’t. I need to tell you about the party.”
“You wanted to protect me, but you told me about the test. That means—”
“No,” I insist. “No, don’t keep going there. Let this go. It doesn’t mean that I thought you were guilty. But someone wants me to believe that you killed Hunter.”