Aftershock / Page 4

Page 4


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Author: Sylvia Day


“Jesus.” He made a frustrated sound. “This isn’t a goddamned romance novel! I’m just a guy trying to give in to what you want so I can have you.”


As if. He knew what I wanted and he was fighting it all the way. “Well, now you can have your life and me—when I’m in the mood.” I held up a warning hand. “Not now. Believe me. I’ll call you when I get back to New York.”


“Fine. Whatever.” He pivoted and strode to the door, his back stiff and shoulders rigid.


There was still a part of me that wanted to cave, to drag him back and tell him to stay, to sleep with him and feel that incredible intimacy and sensual closeness I’d never felt with anyone else. But we had a lot of thinking to do and we needed time—and space—to do it.


Jax yanked the door open and stepped out to the hallway. I swallowed the words stuck in my throat and reached for my smartphone on the bed, using it as a distraction to avoid watching him leave.


I heard the door shut and closed my eyes, breathing out a shaky exhalation. We weren’t going to recover from this. This was going to change what we’d had. Forever.


“I...”


My lungs seized in surprise at the sound of Jax’s voice.


“I love you. Okay? I love you so much it’s driving me crazy.”


I reached for the desk chair, trying to support my weakened knees. I’d wanted to hear him say the words, but now that I had, they didn’t sink in. I didn’t realize how upset he was until his hands gripped my upper arms and he buried his face in my neck.


“I want you in my home,” he said softly. “I want to wake up to you, go to sleep holding you, to come home from work and eat dinner with you. I want what we had in Las Vegas, but things were different then. I had you all to myself. It’s not going to be that way now.”


I reached up with my right hand and set it over his left. “I get it. I can deal with it.”


“I hope so,” he murmured, turning me around. “Because I’m not going to be able to let you go after this, Gia. For better or worse, you’re mine.”


3


“IF YOU’RE STILL trying to scare me,” I whispered, overcome, “you’ll have to do better than that.”


Jax laughed softly, huskily. “I’m scared enough for both of us.”


He cupped my face, tilting it up to kiss me. The moment his firm lips touched mine, love pierced my heart, making it ache. I caught his waist, pushing up onto my tiptoes to deepen the kiss. Heat and hunger slid through me, provoked by the beloved smell of him...the feel of his warmth and hard body...the taste of him.


He groaned¸ drawing me closer. I’d been starved for him for so long that appeasing my craving seemed impossible. My tongue tangled with his, licking into his mouth, my mouth slanting across his with unabashed ravenousness.


“Come here.” He tugged at the tie of my robe, pushing it open and then down to where my elbows were bent.


I let him go only long enough to allow the sleeves to slide off so the robe dropped on the floor.


“God.” He pulled me into him, molding my naked body fully against him.


The buttons of his vest pressed into my skin, driving home the realization that he was clothed, dressed for work in a way I’d never seen when we were together in Vegas. Turning my head, I looked into the mirror on the wall and shivered at our reflection—Jax, so formal and dark, a dangerously sexy businessman; and me, naked and shameless.


“Look at us,” I whispered, watching as his gaze found us. Watching the lust tighten his face into primal masculine beauty.


His chin nuzzled against my temple, his eyes closing. “You’re so beautiful, baby. So goddamned hot you burn me up. I’m so afraid of fucking this up. Of looking at you one day and finding that you’ve lost that light in your eyes you have when you’re looking at me.”


“Jax.” He’d always made me feel as if no other woman had ever compared to me. But as thrilled as I was to finally have him, the pain he’d put me through still throbbed like an unhealed wound. “You hurt me,” I told him softly. “You broke my heart.”


His forehead touched mine. “I hurt us both. I wish I could say it won’t happen again, but I have no idea how this is going to play out or how you’ll take to living my life with me.”


“I’m sure I’ll make mistakes, too.” I started on the buttons of his vest, freeing them one by one. “We just have to love each other.”


He tilted his head and took my mouth again, kissing me with such tenderness my eyes stung. His hands slid up my torso, splaying under my breasts with his thumbs beneath the curves. The pads stroked the sensitive undersides, making my nipples harden. I whimpered, begging for a more carnal touch. The deep-seated ache in my core was painful, my sex already wet and ready.


It had always been that way with Jax, as if my body recognized his as the one it’d been built to take.


Jax exploded into motion, picking me up effortlessly and laying me on the bed. The towel wrapped around my hair loosened and fell off. He positioned himself over me, his hands planted at my sides. He ran the tip of his nose up my cleavage. “Tell me you have a condom.”


I bit my lip, regretting that I had to shake my head.


His eyes closed again and he took a deep breath. “I’ll keep my clothes on.”


“Jax...” There was a plea in my voice, because I couldn’t imagine not feeling him inside me. So hard and long and thick.


His head lifted and I shivered at the raging lust in his dark eyes, knowing exactly how it would feel to have it unleashed on me. “There’s no way I’d pull out,” he said, his voice guttural with desire. “No way.”


I opened my mouth to say it was okay...that I was on the pill...that I wanted to feel him come inside me without anything between us...but the doorbell rang, followed by a quick “Room service.”


I moaned.


A pained look crossed his face. Then he laughed softly. “Saved by the bell.”


“Wait—”


But he was already grabbing my robe off the floor and draping it over me. “Don’t move,” he ordered.


He got the door, barred the server from entering, and took care of everything in the hallway. When he reappeared, he was carrying the tray in one hand, deftly balancing the bottle of wine, wineglass, and a dome-covered meal.


Setting it all on the desk, he glanced at me as I sat up, my legs stretching out in front of me. “You’re killing me.”


“You deserve it.”


Jax’s mouth curved wryly. “I don’t doubt it. Still, there’s only so much a desperate man can take. I have to get out of here.”


I pouted. “Spoilsport.”


“Get your sexy ass back to New York, and I’ll give you all you can take.” He ran a hand through his hair, restoring order to it. “I’m going to start making the arrangements for your return.”


My brows rose. “You have to make arrangements to fuck me?”


“No, for you to move in. And I have to let you eat so you have the strength for everything I’ll do to you while fucking you.” He grabbed me as I pushed to my feet and gave me a quick, hard kiss. “And if you’re ready to go raw with me, we do it right—in our own apartment, in our own bed.”


I swallowed hard. “I have to talk to my brothers. My parents.”


“We’ll do it together.”


“You’re moving fast for a guy who just had his hand forced.”


A softness came over Jax’s face. “I’ve thought about this for a while. Tried to plan it in my head...come up with a way to make it work....”


“Maybe it won’t be as hard as you think.”


He brushed my damp hair back behind my ears. “The media is going to love you, Gia,” he murmured. “You’re a walking wet dream. You’ve got sex appeal, baby, and a body that won’t quit. They’re going to take a look at you and see me looking at you, and they’re going to imagine hot, salacious monkey sex. And that’s news.”


I shoved at him. “Be serious!”


“They’re going to get it wrong, and think I’m just having a good time with you. They’ll start speculating right away on how long it’ll last. They’ll pair us with other people, inventing news just to have an excuse to publish another picture of you.”


I’d seen it before, with other couples. But Jax and I were different. We weren’t celebrities. I was nobody, and even though he was a Rutledge, he worked behind the scenes of the political circles that had made his family so well-known.


“You don’t believe me.” He rubbed his temple against mine. “You’ll have to trust me. I’ve seen what can happen. I’ve seen the stress rip people apart.”


A niggling suspicion spurred me to ask, “Someone you cared about?”


“Yeah.”


“What happened?”


Jax pulled back and I saw that he’d shut down. “She checked out,” he said tonelessly. “I’m not going to let that happen with you.”


My fingers flexed into his lean waist. It was hard thinking about Jax loving someone else. It was harder still thinking about his former lover hurting him so deeply that he’d pushed me away to avoid becoming vulnerable again.


He kissed my forehead. “When are you coming home?”


“Day after tomorrow.”


“All right. See if we can’t get together with your family that night. We’ll get you moved in the next day.”


I felt as if I was standing on the edge of a cliff, about to jump, without any idea of where I might land. “You’re making my head spin.”


Backing up a step, he winked. “Just returning the favor, babe.”


* * *


“You’re miles away.”


The sound of Chad’s voice snapped me out of my thoughts. I looked at him sitting in the seat next to me on the plane and offered an apologetic smile. “Sorry.”


“Should I be worried?”


I shook my head. “It’s personal.”


His brows rose. “Good for me, maybe. Not so good for you it looks like. Wanna talk about it?”


I debated just how personal I wanted to get with Chad, then asked, “Have you ever lived with a girlfriend?”


“Not really. There were one or two who spent a lot of time at my house, which was convenient as far as sex went, but wasn’t great for privacy or hanging with the guys. I figure I’ll save that kind of commitment for marriage. Why do you ask?”


“I’m just thinking I agree with you about the commitment level.”


The amusement in his eyes faded. “Rutledge asked you to move in?”


“Something like that.” Told me was more like it, but...


He took a second. “I may have a problem with that.”


“Oh?” I twisted in my seat to face him more directly.


“You’ve known this guy a couple years, you said. But he only starts putting the heat on after you start working with me? He helps to break up my deal with Stacy, then follows that up with nabbing Isabelle. Now he’s wanting to share digs with you, the gal that’s got all my info and knows all my plans?”


Taking a deep breath, I processed what he’d said. “The day before yesterday, you seemed easier with it.”


“I’ve been doing some thinking.”


Okay. Crap. I felt like I’d been blindsided. “I don’t think it’s personal. In fact, I know it’s not. Jax always says business should never be personal.”


“It’s personal to me,” he shot back. That hit home. I’d said something similar to Jax when he’d thrown that line at me. “And it’s personal to Stacy. She’s not just going to want to succeed—she’ll want to be better than me. Have more than me. She’s going to want to prove that I made the wrong decision, and he’s on her side! Pembry’s got a lot riding on her. They’re going to want to keep her happy.”


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