“We need to call the police,” Nick said. I opened my mouth, but he went on. “We’re going to have to wait and not do it here.”
“We need to do it where it’s not public,” Jax confirmed, his hand curving around my waist. “I’ll call Reece, let him know what’s going on. You got the bar for the night?”
Nick lifted his chin in universal boy-speak. “I’ve had it before you did.”
There was a beat of silence and then Jax said, “True.”
Clyde was beyond pissed, in a fit, when Jax filled him in on what had happened. I hadn’t wanted to tell him, but then again, he shouldn’t be left in the dark, either.
“I’m going to kill him,” Clyde all but yelled.
A lot of people were going to kill Mack.
Clyde gave me one of his bear hugs that felt so good and promised that this would be taken care of. He did this with a spatula in one hand.
I loved the guy.
We waited an hour, and even though I felt out of it, I worked the bar during that time, keeping up appearances. Jax had warned, as did Clyde and Nick, that the bar could be watched—that there even could be people inside the bar watching. Not people who belonged to Mack, because everyone swore he was still a low-level wannabe gangsta, but Isaiah’s people, and Isaiah was anything but low level, I would learn later that night.
It was closer to midnight when Jax and I left Mona’s, and I hated leaving that early on a Friday, one of the best nights for tips, but money—unbelievably—was the least of my problems.
We drove to my house, and Jax followed me in, staying close. He wasn’t really talkative as I quickly changed into a fresh pair of jeans and a shirt that didn’t smell like a bar.
“We’re going to meet up with Reece,” was all he’d said before I headed into the bedroom.
I freshened up my makeup out of habit and then we were in Jax’s truck, driving back toward town. My stomach was in knots by the time I recognized the road his townhouse was on.
“We’re going to your house?” I asked.
He nodded, eyes on the road. “Reece will stop by here. If you’re being watched, hopefully they’ll think he’s just coming by to see me. Everyone knows we’re friends.”
My hands curled inward. “Do you think I’m being watched?”
His hand tightened on the steering wheel. “It’s possible.”
“God,” I breathed, shaking my head slowly. All of this . . . it seemed unreal.
We didn’t speak as he pulled into a parking space, hopped out, and jogged around to my side by the time I had the door open. He took my hand, holding it firmly as he walked me toward the door that had 474 in silver numbers on it.
I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked into Jax’s house. I hadn’t been in a lot of guys’ houses, at least not any that didn’t have a girlfriend, so I was expecting the place to be a mess, full of pizza boxes and beer cans.
That’s not what I saw.
Just inside the door were a couple of pairs of sneakers, neatly stacked against the wall. One of the pairs reminded me of basketball shoes, and an image of a young boy with blond hair racing through a house, holding a basketball against his chest, filled my thoughts.
Shaking those thoughts out of my head, I kicked off my flip-flops, but Jax left his shoes on. Straight ahead was a stairwell that led upstairs and downstairs, to what I assumed was the basement level.
I followed him into a very male living room—dark brown couch and recliner positioned around a TV the size of a small car. There were a couple of potted plants in front of the window. Blinds were drawn shut. The dining room had a small dark-colored wood table set, and it led right into a kitchen that looked like it was recently cleaned. With the open floor plan, it was nice and airy.
“I like your place,” I said, and then flushed, because I was pretty sure I sounded like a dork.
He grinned over his shoulder at me as he dropped his keys. “It works for now, but eventually, I want a place with a yard and no neighbors right on top of me. Every once in a while, the couple next door gets into it. Hear everything. Sometimes it’s entertaining. Sometimes not so much.”
For some reason, I felt my stomach topple over. He was only a few years older than me and he already had what he wanted now and knew what he wanted in the future. I didn’t know if I’d like living in an apartment, a townhouse, or a home. I never thought that far in advance and I didn’t know why. It was something I seriously just realized right that moment.
My Three F’s plan really wasn’t much of a plan.
I blinked slowly, finding Jax watching me curiously from the kitchen. “Yeah, just a lot on my mind.”
“Understandable.” Jax moved to where I stood just inside the dining area. Well, he didn’t move. He stalked forward with the grace of a dancer. Stopping just short of being seriously on me, he placed both his hands on either side of my neck and tilted my head back with his thumbs under my chin. “Everything is going to be okay.”
My heart did a little pitter-patter, and for the life of me, I couldn’t prevent it. I wanted to ask why he was getting this far involved, but words like “I like you” and other stuff he’d said came to the forefront of my mind. And he’d kissed my forehead in front of Nick.
He dipped his head and brushed his lips across my forehead. “Want something to drink? I have soda. Water. Apple juice.”
I didn’t realize that my eyes were closed until I heard his deep chuckle and I opened my eyes. “Water,” I said, clearing my throat. “That’s good.”
One side of his lips tipped up. “Yeah, I’m really looking forward to that date on Sunday.”
What the what? If I recalled correctly, I hadn’t agreed to the date. He let go, his hands sliding off my neck, leaving a trail of shivers in their wake.
Goodness, he’d just kissed my forehead again.
I didn’t know what to do with this or how to respond. My hands were shaking again, but for very different reasons. I hurried into the living room and sat on the couch. I didn’t feel twenty-one right then. Fourteen would’ve been pushing it.
“Actually,” I called out, twisting around. I couldn’t see where he had disappeared to in the kitchen. “Can I have apple juice?”
Another deep, sexy chuckle traveled to where I sat. “Sure thing.”
I bit down on my lip and flipped around. Jax came out, holding a juice box with the straw poked through the top. My gaze shifted from his face to the box and back to his face. I couldn’t help it. A laugh crawled up my throat and burst free. Here he was, this gorgeous guy who had this sexy, rough side to him, and he had juice boxes in his house.
My lips curved up as I took the juice box. “Thank you.”
Jax stared down at me. There was no one-sided grin this time. He smiled, and boy, he gave a great smile. It reached his eyes, turning them into melted chocolate. “You have a great laugh,” he said. “And a gorgeous smile. You should do it more often. Both things. Smile and laugh.”
The juice box almost slipped from my fingers. Again, he struck me speechless. I had no idea what to say, and the only thing I could come up with was “Thank you.”
Did I just thank him for that?
My mouth was still blabbering on, because I zoomed right into deflection mode. “But you really do have a beautiful smile. I mean, it’s actually kind of breathtaking, and your laugh? It’s wow. I think it’s your lips—you have great lips . . .”
Did I just say that out loud, seriously? Said he had great lips?
Jax’s smile seemed to have widened, and hell, it was like the only star in the sky it was so bright.
Yep, I’d said that out loud.
Oh my God, I was an idiot.
Luckily, the doorbell rang, saving me from saying more stupid stuff. He reached out, swiping his thumb under my lower lip, absolutely stunning me. Then he turned and headed to the door.
I sucked a huge gulp of my apple juice and had barely recovered by the time Reece stepped inside the house and Jax closed the door.
Reece was in his uniform, and I was so used to seeing him in jeans, I gaped at him with the straw from my juice box resting against my lower lip. Somehow his shoulders looked broader in the dark blue uniform that had been tailored to the extreme, displaying the flat stomach, narrow hips, and strong legs.
“Hey, Calla,” Reece said with a grin.
I snapped my mouth shut. “Hi,” I murmured, taking another slurp.
Reece’s grin went up a notch as he looked to Jax. “Sorry it took so long. I switched out the cruiser and drove my personal car here just in case there were eyes on the road.”
I shuddered at the idea that there could be people watching the bar, the roads, and even Jax’s house.
“Good plan,” Jax said, sitting down beside me on the couch. And he really sat beside me. His entire thigh was pressed against mine. “But what I want to know is how come one of Isaiah’s f**king minions is out running around threatening Calla when you were supposed to warn the f**kers off.”
Reece narrowed his eyes on Jax, and he was no longer some random hot guy who hung out at the bar or just some hot cop dude. His whole stance changed. Shoulders squared, eyes sharpening, and legs spreading as he stood in front of the recliner. “We haven’t been able to track the ass**le down. It’s not like he’s easy to reach, but we will get to him.”
“Make it easy,” Jax said in a low voice.
“Jax,” Reece warned.
“Your job is to serve and protect, right?” Jax fired back, jaw hardening. “So f**king serve and protect.”
For a tense moment, I thought they were going to throw down in the living room, but then Reece took a deep breath. “You’re lucky you saved my ass in the desert or I’d be knocking you on yours.”
Jax had saved his ass? I wanted to know more about that.
He smirked at his friend. “You’d try. Key word being try.”
That comment was ignored as Reece sat on the arm of the recliner, his attention on me, and I knew I wasn’t going to find out about saving asses. “I need you tell me everything, Calla.”
I glanced at Jax for some unknown dumb reason, and when he nodded, I sucked up more apple juice, found the box empty, and sighed. So I told Reece everything—starting with the money Mom had stolen from me, the real reason I was here, and why I was working at the bar. While I’d told him that, Reece had sent Jax an odd look I couldn’t figure out, but his attention centered on me when I told him about Greasy Guy, the heroin, and then what Mack had said to me outside the bar.
“Shit,” Reece grunted when I was finished, and I figured that summed everything up quite nicely. “This is definitely some shit you’ve waded right into. It doesn’t take a leap of logic to figure out that that he**in at the house wasn’t your mom’s. There’s a good chance she was holding it for someone, and when you look at that kind of amount, then it was probably Isaiah’s. And God only knows what kind of shit he has on your mom that she’d willingly hold that kind of dope. That’s a huge f**king liability to be responsible for.”
By the way my heart was beating, I didn’t like how any of this sounded. “Who is this Isaiah?”
“He runs drugs, lots of drugs, among other illegal activity. The thing is, when you see Isaiah, which will be next to never, he doesn’t look like a damn dealer. He comes across as a businessman.” Jax’s lip was curled in disgust. “I think the last time I saw him, he was wearing f**king Armani.”
“He has legit business dealings and he’s pretty damn powerful,” Reece added, and I really didn’t like what I was hearing. “He’s got eyes and ears everywhere, and a shit ton of people in his pocket, even cops. He’s the real deal when it comes to people you don’t want to f**k with. Your mom and the shitheads she runs with aren’t people he typically deals with. How she’s involved with him is beyond me.”