“I’ll cook if you brew,” he negotiates, just as his phone starts ringing again, drawing a groan from him and me that has us both laughing again. Laughter that fades into a charge in the air. We like that we laugh together. We like each other, which isn’t necessarily a prerequisite to wanting to have sex together. I learned that from York. I just kept having sex with him because I thought maybe it would make me like him again. But power and money had gone to his head, and sex didn’t save him, or me, from him.
Jax catches my face. “What just happened?”
I blanch. “What?”
“You went from laughter to just fading away.” I open my mouth to brush off the observation, to say “nothing’s wrong,” but that’s not what I want for us. I want honesty. I want truth. I want trust. And so I speak the truth, the real truth and nothing but the truth. “Nothing that you don’t make better.” I catch his hand. “You are—”
My phone rings, and we both groan again, more laughter following. “You too, baby,” he says. “You are, too.” He leans in and kisses me. “See you in the kitchen.” But he doesn’t move. He stays right where he is, his voice softens, roughens. “Our kitchen if you want, Emma.”
My cheeks flush with those words, and when he brushes his knuckles over my cheek, I’m melting right here on this couch. I’m always melting for this man. There’s just something bold and undeniable happening between us, something that can’t be ignored, that I don’t even want to try to ignore. I want to inhale it, live it, love it and him. “Get dressed before I don’t let you,” he says and then he pushes to his feet and leaves. I want to pull him back, to hold onto this moment, but it’s too late. He’s gone, leaving me far hungrier for him than I am food. So much so that I twist around to watch him walk under an archway I’ve not even noticed until now, disappearing into the presumed kitchen.
I grab my clothes and start dressing. It’s not until they’re back in place that my phone rings again, and I remember that I missed a call. I squat down to pick it up from the floor where it’s somehow landed, and it stops ringing. There are ten missed calls on my call log, but one stands out, a number I know. It’s one of the backlines at Waters’ Yacht and Boat. York is calling me again, and obviously, while I can block the main office, there are dozens of backlines he can use through his switchboard. He’s not going to stop coming at me, and I get it. He doesn’t want me to tell his Aunt Marion’s husband about Marion and my father, because Marion’s husband is his investor, but this just feels off. It feels like there’s something more going on here that I don’t understand. The unpredictable nature of his stalkerish behavior has me feeling the pressure to tell Jax my history, or York’s made-up version of my history. I’m just not ready. It’s too soon.
Who am I kidding? We just met, and we’re talking about moving in together. I can’t move in with him and call it too soon to tell him my secrets, but unbidden, I flashback to the yacht, the water, the darkness: that night and I swallow hard. It is too soon. I’m not ready. I’m not sure he’s ready either, and fast isn’t so fast anyway. I’m leaving for Germany for a month, and we can’t plan a move until I return. Maybe that will be enough time to get York to back off. Still, I need to talk to Jax about York’s persistence, so I hurry toward the archway where Jax disappeared.
I enter the sparkling white kitchen with stone and wood accents and a giant island as the centerpiece. Jax is at the opposite end, talking on the phone, a dozen eggs and a bowl in front of him, his hair a rumpled, sexy mess while the shadow on his jaw is somehow daring and rather naughty. Or maybe that’s just me thinking about it scraping my belly sometime soon.
He glances up at my entry, his eyes warming as I step opposite him, leaving the island between us. “I’ll call you back,” he says, disconnecting the line and setting his phone aside; his hands come down on the island, his attention all mine. “How long is your trip to Germany?”
I blanch with the incredible way his mind has gone where mine has gone. I set my phone on the island and York aside with it, for now, mimicking Jax’s position, hands on the stone, my attention all his. “You read my mind. I was thinking of the trip, too.”