His jaw worked as he walked forward and knelt in front of me. “I promised you that you wouldn’t get hurt.”
“And you did.” His hands curled around the back of my knees and he tugged them apart as he leaned in. He was staring at my arm, and my gaze followed his. There was a bruise there, too. “I’m not okay with that. Fucks with my head—just the thought of what if. I’ve been down that road before.”
I didn’t get what he was saying at first, and when I did, I shook my head. “This isn’t like with your sister.”
Jax said nothing.
“You know that, right? I’m not your responsibility. Not like that,” I insisted. “And neither was Jena.”
He looked away, jaw clenched.
“Even if you were—”
“Calla,” he warned.
I ignored him. “Even if you were home, Jax, there would’ve been no what-ifs involved.”
“Just . . . just drop it.”
“No.” I was not backing down from this. “She would’ve overdosed if you were in the room next to her. You being there wouldn’t have changed the outcome. One way or another, she would’ve found a way.”
His gaze swung back to mine. “How do you know that?”
“Because I lived through it, too.” I held his gaze. “There was nothing I could do to alter Mom’s path and I tried. I tried a million times. You know deep down it would’ve been the same with your sister.”
Several moments passed, and then a deep sigh shuddered out of him. “I don’t know. Calla. That’s . . . yeah, that’s hard to really accept.”
“I know.” Oh God, did I ever know, and I also knew there wasn’t much I could say to really change whatever guilt Jax harbored. That was something that would take a lot of time, and he’d have to find that in himself.
“I think you need to stay here for a few days,” he said after a moment.
My brows pinched. “I’m already staying here, aren’t I?”
“That’s not what I meant, babe.” His fingers brushed over the finger marks above my elbow. “Stay out of the bar until . . . well, until this dies down.”
“What?” I pulled my arm away, and his chin lifted, eyes back to mine. “I’m not hiding in this townhouse or anywhere. And it’s not because I don’t realize what’s going on, but I need the money.”
His hands curled around the back of my knees again. “Calla . . .”
“I seriously need the money. Over a hundred thousand in debt, Jax. I’m not making a crap ton of money, but I’m making something. I can’t afford to chill out in the Jax Relocation Program.”
His lips twitched “Jax Relocation Program?”
My eyes narrowed.
He chuckled and some, not all, of the anger eased out of his expression. “I like the sound of this program.”
“I’m sure you do,” I retorted dryly. “I just . . . I need to be more careful, more aware of my surroundings and stuff. I mean, I’m sure Mo didn’t look too harmless in the bar. I need to pay more attention.”
“So did I,” he agreed firmly.
I started to deny it but figured there was no point. Some of the hardness was still in his face and I remembered the near-murderous fury in his eyes when we’d been at the bar.
As I watched him, something shifted in his eyes. The color was still dark, but it was warmer, hotter. It was late. Or early. Depending on how one looked at it. And there was a lot we needed to talk about, namely Aimee with an i and two e’s and his “you got to trust me” solution to her feeling him up like he was tenderized meat.
Yeah, we really needed to talk about that.
But as he stared up at me I could tell what he was thinking—I could feel what he was thinking. And after almost being kidnapped and after finally opening up to Teresa and Avery, the very last thing I wanted to do at four something in the morning was talk about Aimee, her wandering hands, and how that made me want to turn into a rabid kangaroo and kick her head off her shoulders.
I did need to talk to him. It was serious, and he was right, there would be some miles between us in the fall, and I needed to trust him.
And I did.
My brain sighed, literally sighed.
But then my body did a happy sigh when Jax’s hands moved up my thighs, reaching the hem of my shorts. One side of his lips quirked up in that sexy half grin.
We could talk later.
Not giving my brain a chance to argue that that was a bad idea and I was tossing girl power or whatever crap to the side for some bow-chick-a-wow, I grabbed the sides of his shirt and tugged up. Wordlessly, Jax backed off and lifted his arms. In no time, he was shirtless and my hands were on his hard, rough chest, and once again I wondered how I’d gone so long without knowing what a man’s chest—Jax’s chest—felt like under my fingers.
I lowered my head, and Jax went the distance, meeting me before I was even halfway to him, and the kiss was sweet, it was careful and gentle. The tender sweep of his lips reached right down into my chest and squeezed my heart.
God, I was so gone for him.
His hands slid up my sides, catching my shirt and then he had it off me. I was bare from the waist up and the cool air washed over my heated skin as Jax rose, placing his hands on my shoulders. He kissed the corner of my lip softly and then his mouth trailed over the bruised skin of my jaw as he pushed me onto my back. Crisp hairs from his chest teased over my chest as his mouth glided down my throat. My hands settled on his arms, feeling the muscles flex in his biceps as he held himself up.
Then his lips closed over the tip of my breast, and my body sparked alive. My back arched and my mouth opened in a soft whimper.
“You’re so sensitive,” he said against my breast. “Makes getting you turned on and ready so easy.”
He was right. “Sorry?”
Jax chuckled. “Only you would apologize for that.” Then he flicked his tongue over the hardened nub, and my fingernails dug into his skin. He shifted his weight to one arm and then his hand got involved with my other breast, and it was Calla happy land, especially when I could feel him hard and pressing against my thigh.
Sensation trilled throughout my veins as his hand left my breast and skated down my belly. His hand flattened just below my belly and then slid under the band of my shorts. I cried out as he sucked deep and hard, as if he could draw me right out of my body.
And I really thought he could.
He nipped at the sensitive flesh and then lifted, rolling completely off me as he sat up and got a hold of my shorts and undies. Off they went and then his clothes were off. He disappeared and came back, a foil package in his hand. Once he was done getting that taken care of and his body was over mine again, he started all over, kissing the corner of my lip gently, moving across my bruised jaw and then down, to my left breast and then my right.
A moan escaped me as my back arched. “Jax . . .”
“Damn.” His voice was rough, deep as his h*ps rolled against mine, and I spread my thighs, welcoming him, wanting him.
When he started to draw away, I knew he meant to slow this down, to draw this out and drive me out of my mind, but I was having none of that.
“No way,” I breathed, panted really. “I want you. Now.”
One eyebrow rose. “Patience pays off, babe.”
He chuckled, but his laugh ended in a groan as I reached between us, wrapping my hand around the base of his cock. “Damn, babe, you really are impatient tonight.”
My fingers curled around him as his h*ps punched again, giving me an eyeful of those sexy muscles on either side of his hips. “Maybe a little.”
One of his hands smoothed down my hip, along my thigh, and as he lifted my hip, I guided it right to where I wanted. The tip of him pressed in and everything centered into my core. I moved my hand, circling my arm around his neck
Stronger than me, Jax held back. His grin turned smug.
“Jax,” I whispered.
Positioned right there, he slid in maybe an inch as he lowered his mouth until it was mere inches above mine. “You want this?”
“That’s a dumb question.”
“Oh? Is it?” He smoothed his thumb over my breast, and he caught my nipple between his fingers, and I cried out at the exquisite feeling.
I gasped. “Not fair.”
“Not sure how I feel about you saying the question is dumb.” Lowering his head, he trailed kisses over the slope of my shoulder as he kept tugging at my nipple until my br**sts were heavy and swollen. He nipped at the skin. “Still a dumb question?”
“Yes,” I forced out as I wiggled my other leg free. I hooked it around his hip and with both of my legs, I pulled him in as I pushed my h*ps up.
Air hissed out between his teeth as he sank in, straight to the hilt. The bite of him filling me was a feeling I could never forget. “Babe,” he groaned out. “I think you’re hungry for me.”
And he wasn’t moving. Nope. The guy had self-control out the wazoo. He was completely still, buried deep, and I was completely out of patience. I rocked my h*ps and we both moaned in unison.
“God, you really do want this like right now.” He kissed where my pulse pounded. “You’re ready for it.”
I felt my cheeks heat as I said, “I am.”
Jax dipped his head, running his tongue along the center of my lips until I opened for him. He kissed me deeply, still somehow aware of the cut on my lip, and then he lifted his head. “You with me?”
Remembering him saying that before, our first time, I nodded and whispered, “Yes.”
He kissed me again. “Then stay with me.”
Before I could question that, he broke the hold of my legs and pulled out. My whimper of protest was lost when he caught my h*ps and flipped me onto my stomach.
My hair had flipped over my shoulder and my back was completely exposed to him, the worst part of me, and he’d seen it before, but this was different, way different. I started to push up, to turn back over, but he gripped my h*ps and lifted me onto my knees. His front was against my back, and the panic mixed with the thousand other emotions I was feeling.
“Stay with me, baby,” he said to the back of my neck.
“Jax—” I lost the ability to speak as he thrust into me from behind.
The feeling of him was different, fuller and tighter. I was on my knees and hands and he was rooted to me. I couldn’t breath. The feeling was intense, overwhelming, and powerful.
“You still with me?” he asked.
I was. I couldn’t believe it. But I was. I was completely with him.
He smoothed a hand over my shoulder. “Calla?”
“Yes,” I breathed out. “I’m with you.”
“Good,” he murmured.
And then he gave it to me hard.
He moved inside me deep and fast, slowing every couple of thrusts to grind against me, and in this position, from behind me, it was nothing like the other times. A different riot of sensations lit me up. My fingers dug into the comforter as my h*ps naturally tipped back against him.
“Oh my God,” I whispered. I didn’t know a lot about sex and every time I’d done it with him, I’d been surprised by it, but I never knew it could feel like this.
The rumble of approval from him radiated through me, and he circled an arm around my waist, sealing his body to mine. Then his hand was between my legs, his thumb pressing against the center of me, and it was too much and it was everything. My body shook as sharp pleasure rose so quickly I was dizzy, and I held on as he slammed into me, and my movements became frenzied as I pushed back against him.
Against my neck, he grunted, “It’s never been like this. Not with anyone else. Only you.”