“Meet Jason Stone, the only brother of Jax Stone, sweetheart,” Dewayne announced loudly.
“Seriously?” Rock said, glaring over at Dewayne.
“What? He was taking for-fucking-ever to say it. The suspense was killing me,” Dewayne replied.
Me, on the other hand—I just stood there and stared at Jason. How had I not seen it? He looked so much like Jax. I had seen Jason in tabloids and on television with Jax. He’d been seen with Star at the music awards. Everyone had talked about Star moving from one Stone brother to the next. Before that, I’d seen him in some tabloids with a girl from one of Jax’s newest music videos. They had been pretty hot and heavy at a club. I couldn’t believe this.
“I should’ve recognized you,” I said.
Jason shrugged. “I’m not Jax.”
Although his tone was void of any emotion, I could see it in his eyes. He was testing me. He hadn’t told me who he was because he assumed I would treat him differently. Truth was . . . he was probably right.
My momma didn’t raise an idiot. Sure, there were a lot of things in life I didn’t know. Like algebra, for instance. I sucked at it. But men—I knew men. I had been watching my mother manipulate them for years. Jason wanted to be normal. Fine. I’d treat him like any other guy.
“No, you’re not Jax,” I replied. I glanced over at Dewayne. “Get me a beer, please.”
I didn’t miss the way Dewayne’s pierced eyebrow lifted in surprise. I never said please. At least, not to him. That had been for Jason’s sake.
“Time to dance, island boy,” I said, shooting Jason a wink and walking toward the crowd, not waiting to see if he followed me. I had no doubt he would.
Suddenly a guy stepped in front of me and grabbed my hips. It was Will Fort, Hank’s best friend. “Hey, sugar, coming to see me?” he asked. I had only used Will once to make Hank mad. Wasn’t worth it. Will had one too many screws loose.
“Keep dreaming, Fort,” I replied, taking his hands off my hips with a shove. He stumbled backward and bumped into another couple. It wasn’t that I was that strong, it was that he was already that drunk.
He just cackled with laughter. The amusement on his face made me want to slap him. “I can play rough, sugar. Hank said that’s how you like it,” Will slurred.
I opened my mouth to tell him where I was going to kick his balls when a new hand settled on my hip. Startled, I turned to see Jason glaring at Will. This hadn’t been expected, but it sure was a nice turn of events. I was surprised he even cared.
“It’s probably best you step back and leave her alone. From the look in her eyes, the rough she’s planning on sticking you with is gonna leave you crumpled on the ground.”
Will shifted his gaze to Jason, and I could see the surprise in his eyes. It was obvious Jason wasn’t one of us. I mentally cringed. I needed to get Jason away from Will before he said anything humiliating. Normally, he went for jokes about my momma.
“Let’s go,” I said to Jason, turning to face him and move him back into the crowd.
Jason went willingly, but his eyes never left Will as he backed away. I liked the protective streak, but the truth was, even drunk Will could have beat his ass. Guys like Jason didn’t have the skills to take on a guy who had grown up being beaten by his father until he was old enough to start hitting back.
“Friend of yours?” Jason finally asked when we were deep enough into the crowd that Will was no longer in sight.
“Small town. The locals all know each other,” I replied, which wasn’t exactly true. But I didn’t want to give Jason a history lesson on my life.
There was a good chance Will would alert Hank to my being here with a guy. Hank still hadn’t paid me back for bashing his truck, and I wasn’t in the mood to face him. Especially with Jason here to see it.
“This was a bad idea,” I told him. “I have a better one.”
Jason didn’t reply, but he was curious.
“Can you swim, island boy?”
A crooked grin tugged at his lips. “Yeah.”
“Good,” I replied, grabbing his hand and pulling him through the bodies until we were at the door. “I know a place a lot less crowded.”
When Jess had asked me if I could swim, I hadn’t anticipated this. I wasn’t one for breaking the law.
I watched as Jess climbed a tall iron gate, and I considered the stupidity of what I was about to do. She knew I had a direct line of sight up her skirt, and she was using that to her advantage. Glancing back at the empty beach house, I wondered if this was a common thing with locals. This obviously wasn’t her first time doing something like this.
“You coming?” Jess asked as she threw a leg over the fence and grinned down at me. I wasn’t one to back down from a dare, but then I’d never been dared to scale the fence of a house that wasn’t mine. “Don’t let me down,” Jess said, and began her downward climb on the other side of the gate.
I glanced around to make sure we weren’t drawing attention before I reached up and grabbed ahold of the cool metal. The trip up was much easier than Jess had made it look, but she’d been wearing a short skirt and boots. Which, to be honest, was the selling point to this whole thing. It was hard to tell those legs no.
When my feet hit the ground on the other side, I turned to see Jess standing by the pool, dipping her toes into the water, wearing a pair of hot-pink panties that did little for coverage and a matching bra. She lifted her eyes and shot me a teasing grin. “Come and get me,” she taunted before diving into the water.
Knowing those pink strips of satin that did so little to cover up her centerfold body were nice and wet was all the incentive I needed to strip. Glancing up at the house in front of us, I really hoped she was right and this place was actually a rental that was currently empty.
I dropped my jeans and shirt over the closest lounge chair before turning back to see Jess watching me. The tip of her tongue peeked out as she licked the water off her bottom lip.
Hell. This might be worth the possible trouble we could get into. I saw her shiver and decided it was probably best that I dove on in. I needed some cold water at the moment.
When my head broke the surface, Jess was treading water and grinning. “I have to admit, I didn’t think you were gonna do it. I was afraid I might be swimming alone,” she said, then moved closer to me.
“I almost didn’t,” I told her honestly.
She tilted her head and a long lock of hair fell over her shoulder. “What changed your mind?”
I glanced down at the water. The pool lights illuminated her body. I could be a gentleman and lie, but I decided Jess wasn’t the kind of girl who wanted the proper response. She wanted the truth. “Those panties,” I replied.
Jess’s eyes went wide, and then she threw back her head and laughed. There was no teasing, coy act. It was refreshing. The girl knew she was sexy as hell and she liked it. She used it.
When she looked back at me, there was a wicked gleam in her eyes as she moved closer to me. The water was only six feet deep, so my feet were still touching the bottom with ease. I let her do this. She seemed to be sure of what she was doing, and I liked the show.
“Normally, I do this naked,” she said in a whisper.
“I wouldn’t have complained.”
She put her hands on my shoulders to hold her up. “You want me naked? Then finish undressing me.”
As tempting as that was, I wasn’t taking the bait. I had done the meaningless sex thing. One-night stands with groupies weren’t something new to me. I just didn’t want that with Jess. Something was off in her eyes. Sure, she was throwing herself at me with an open invitation, but there was this silent pleading there, almost as if she was begging me not to.
I reached up and touched her full bottom lip. “Not tonight.”
A small frown touched her lips as insecurity flashed in her eyes. She hadn’t been expecting that. “Changed your mind on slumming it?” she asked as she shoved away from me and swam back out to where she couldn’t touch the bottom.
I didn’t like the term “slumming it” or the way it had sounded coming out of her mouth. “Don’t sell yourself short, Jess,” I replied. The urge to go after her and jerk her into my arms so I could kiss that hurt look off her face was hard to resist.
She let out a hard laugh. “I don’t play games.”
Yeah, she did. Her life was one big playbook. “I don’t get a girl naked if I don’t intend to fuck her.”
Jess stopped treading water a second and filled her mouth up with water before spitting it out. “I can’t believe you just said that.”
“What? The truth?”
She shook her head. “No. I just . . . You seem so clean-cut and polite. I didn’t expect you to actually get me naked, so that wasn’t a big surprise, but you said ‘fuck.’ ”
This time I laughed. She really had no idea. “Don’t forget who I am. Jax may be taken, but I never have been. I enjoy his life even more than he does.”
Jess was starting to say something when flashing red-and-blue lights lit up the darkness. She looked out toward the gate we had climbed to get in here, then back at me. “Time to run,” she said, before swimming to the edge of the pool and climbing out.
We only had time to grab our clothes before the cop at the gate pointed his flashlight on both our faces. “Jess, I thought we went over this,” the cop said in an annoyed tone before pulling out a set of keys and unlocking the gate.
I watched as Jess’s body language instantly changed. She dropped her clothes to her side and sauntered over to the cop as he stepped inside. “But I got hot, Walt, and I needed to cool down.”
The cop sighed and glanced over at me. “I bet you got hot. I told you that the next time you did this shit I was taking you in.”
Jess moved closer to him and tugged on the front of his shirt. “But then that wouldn’t be any fun. Momma’s working tonight, and I’ll be stuck there all wet until she comes to bail me out.”
It was working. The cop had forgotten my existence as he stared down at Jess in her wet undies. “You shouldn’t have been . . .”
“Swimming, I know. I’m sorry. I really am. But I got all sweaty dancing, and a nighttime swim sounded so good. I was a bad girl. You know I have weak moments.”
Her hand was now lying flat on his chest as he tugged on his collar.
“Who have you got with you?” he asked, still not looking away from her.
“He’s innocent. I begged him to come with me.” She patted his chest. “Why don’t you let him go, and then you can take me in if that’s what you want.”
I wasn’t letting the perverted cop take her in without me. I appreciated the fact that she was trying to get me out of this, but the guy was old enough to be her dad.
“I need to do something to make you stop this,” he said, his eyes looking down at her chest.
“Just let him go. If you promise to give me a blanket so I don’t freeze, I’ll wait in your office until Momma gets off work.”