My heart is racing; cold wind off the Maine coastline blasting over me, biting at my legs beneath my skirt, the black space and drop behind me suffocating. The man holding me over the edge of the tower, brutally handsome and brutal is quite literal. “Do you think he jumped or was he pushed?”
I grab for him, but he’s out of reach. I can’t breathe. “I don’t know what happened to your brother, Brody,” I whisper, but then self-preservation kicks in and I shout. “Let me go!” But he doesn’t listen. He won’t listen, and I shout out beyond him, hoping someone hears me. “Help! Help! Help!”
“Stop shouting,” Brody bites out. “Stop fucking shouting.”
“If you hurt her, I will kill you.”
At the sound of Jax’s voice, I start crying. “Jax,” I plead, tears streaming down my face. “Jax.”
“Brody, you fuckhead,” he bites out. “She matters to me. She’s not one of them. Give her to me now.”
Brody’s jaw trembles, and I can see the struggle in his eyes. He wants to push me. He wants to push me badly. “I didn’t know who my father really was until he died,” I say. “I swear to you, Brody. I’m not like him. I’ll help you.”
“Why would I believe you?” he demands.
“Because I’m not him. Please listen. I’m not him.”
He draws in a breath and turns me, pressing me against the wall of the alcove where we stand. Jax grabs me and pulls me down to the room below, molding me close, his hand on the back of my head, his lips at my ear. “I’m so fucking sorry. So fucking sorry, baby. Are you okay?”
“Yes,” I breathe out. “Yes, now I am.”
“I’m crazy about you. I am so damn crazy about you. Do not listen to anything he’s saying to you.” I sink into him, clutching at the blue jacket of his suit, holding on for dear life. I don’t want to let him go. I was so certain I would fall to my death. “Go, Emma,” he orders, his hand brushing my hair from my face as he tilts my gaze to meet his. “Go now, okay? Go back to the main room. I’ll find you.”
His emotion is a storm that thunders and roars, washing away everything but my fear for where those feelings might lead him and his brother. My cheeks are cold and hot all over but when my hand settles on his jaw, he’s fire, anger burning through him. Anger that could prove dangerous, and I force myself to calm, to calm him as well, but all I manage at first is, “He’s grieving. I know he’s grieving.” Somehow, I don’t tell him how certain I am that Brody would have pushed me, not now. “Come with me,” I add. “Come down from here with me before you talk to him.”
Brody chooses right then to interject. “That bitch needs to go now before I grab her and throw her out of here,” he snarls.
Jax is all about control. I know this about him. I’ve seen this in him, and in this moment, that control is tested. That storm inside him charges the air, and still, he kisses me before he turns me toward the exit. He steps into me, leaning in close, his lips at my ear. “I need you to leave now, Emma. Leave, baby. I’ll find you.” The words are tender, but there’s a whip to his tone, an absoluteness to it. This is an order, a command, and when he sets me away from him, my awareness of a war between siblings that cannot be fought by another bids my compliance.
I stumble forward and exit the chapel-like room, but the minute I’m out of sight, I hear Brody demand, “Why would you bring her here?”
“This is my home,” Jax growls. “And she is my woman, and if you forget those things again, you will not be welcome here.”
I stop walking and turn around. They’re family, and as much as I hate Brody right now, I read my father’s journal. I know that he might really have taken a life, a life that meant everything to two brothers, and Jax is one of those brothers. I can’t let my family be the reason the two brothers who are left lose each other. I can’t let me be the reason. “No,” I shout out, stepping back in the room by way of pure instinct. “He’s your brother. He’s angry and hurt, Jax. Don’t let me be the reason you two divide.”
Brody scowls at me. “We’re supposed to believe you want to save our family?” he demands, turning his attention back to Jax. “Are you fucking kidding me with this shit, man?”
“She’s not like the rest of them,” Jax says.
“The rest of them?” I ask. “You think my brother is like my father?”