Her fingers tighten around mine. “I’d love to go to the place your father took you, Jax, but what am I sensing in you right now?”
She sees too much. She sees what no one else sees in me. “That I’m fucking crazy about you?”
“It’s Kent Sawyer, Emma.”
She draws in a breath and lets it out. “Oh.”
“Oh? That’s it?”
“What am I supposed to say? We both know you know that he was the architect behind a failed hostile takeover a few years back. He’s our enemy, and your enemy’s enemy is your friend.”
I cut my stare because I want to deny the truth, but I can’t do that anymore than I can lie to her.
“Jax,” she urges softly, and I force myself to look at her.
“If I thought your family killed my brother, I’d damn sure align myself with your enemies. I like that you fight for those you love. All I ask is that you let me fight with you.”
“I am fighting with you. I could have hidden this from you.”
“I know that, I do, and it matters to me that you didn’t. I don’t doubt my father could have done this, but my brother is a good man. Please don’t make him pay for my father’s sins.”
“And if he isn’t, Emma? What if he’s involved?” She tries to free herself, but I hold onto her hands. “Don’t pull away,” I order softly. “That solves nothing. We do this together, remember?”
“I know that.”
“Then we have to face the tough questions. We have to decide what comes next, together.”
“I’m not going to help you destroy my brother.” Her voice vibrates with emotion. “This can’t work if that’s your plan.”
“Is that what you think? That this, us, all of this, means so little to me that I’d do that. Damn it, Emma. You’re right. If that’s what you think of me, this can’t work.” Anger starts to burn in my chest. I release her. “I need to get dressed.”
I step around her, and she doesn’t even try to stop me. Of course, she doesn’t. No matter how hard I try to make us one, we’re North and Knight in her mind. Fuck. In my mind, too. I’m full of shit every time I say this doesn’t matter.
I enter the bathroom, and I don’t stop until I’m in the closet where I drop my towel and start to dress. “Are you going to tell me that you didn’t align yourself with him to ruin us?”
I take that well-deserved punch and pull on my pants before I turn to face her. She’s right. I did. Her family killed my brother. “I’m fighting for my family, Emma, just like you are for yours, but for me, everything changed when I met you. I told you that. I meant it. You need to decide if you believe that or if you don’t.” I grab a shirt, hang it on a standalone rack and start unbuttoning it.
Emma steps between me and it. My hands come down on her arms. “I need to get rid of him. That means I need to get dressed.”
“My brother is all I have, Jax.” Her hands settle on my chest, heat radiating off her palm. “My mother took off. She’s always half gone. My father was never there for me. Now he’s gone. My brother was it for me. I don’t want to lose him and—and I think I’m going to lose him.”
I catch her chin in my fingers and drag her gaze to mine. “You have me. You don’t know that yet, but you will. You have me. Whatever happens, this doesn’t end any other way.” I turn her and walk her into the corner, next to a line of my suit jackets, and I make damn sure she knows how serious I am. I say exactly what I’m thinking. “I didn’t bring you here to plot against you or your family. I brought you here because I need you with me. Now that you’re here, I don’t want you to leave. I want you to move in with me. We’ll fly back and forth to San Francisco if we have to, but move in with me.”
“We just met. Like literally just met.”
“I knew from the minute I kissed you, hell, the minute I met you, that you were like no other woman before you, Emma. I don’t want our families to have the chance to divide us. That means we stick together, but don’t answer now. Think about it while you’re here. Just know that’s what I want.” I brush my lips over hers, and the sweet little sound she makes tightens my groin. “I want you,” I say. “I want you so fucking badly it hurts, and when I say want, I mean want, Emma. Really fucking want. You matter to me, woman.”