Stay with Me / Page 18

Page 18

Holy mother lode, there was no mistaking what I felt pressed against me.

“Get it?” he asked in a voice that probably caught a hundred panties on fire.

I didn’t get it.

Jax liked me and he’d known me only a handful of days. That made no sense. If I looked like Avery or Teresa, I could get it. They were gorgeous in their own unique, practically f**king flawless ways. They had members of the Hot Guy Brigade, rightfully so. And I was Calla—Calla whose makeup, my Dermablend, most likely had sloughed off my face, leaving the scar a hell of a lot more visible. It wasn’t like I was Miss Shiny and Wonderful Personality, either. Hell, for all Jax knew, a piece of rock could be smarter than me.

So I didn’t get it and I told him.

“I like you, Calla. Yeah, I’ve only known you a couple of days. But you’ve made me laugh,” he said, his gaze never leaving mine. “I can also tell you’re nice and sweet when you wanna be. I think you’re cute as hell and you make me hard.”

Whoa. Did he seriously just say that?

“You’ve made me hard a couple of times in the last seventy-some-odd hours and I gotta say that’s not a bad thing,” he went on. “I want to f**k you, and all I need to want to do that with you is to like you. It’s really not that hard to get from point A to point C on that, honey.”

Double whoa.

He’d laid it out to me, right to the point and taking no prisoners, and I found something refreshingly . . . hot about that, which probably meant something was wrong with me. Or it was just lack of experience when it came to guys saying they wanted to get bow-chick-a-bow-wow with me.

Either way? Daaaaammmn.

Taking my dumbstruck silence as acceptance, he dipped his head again, and I didn’t freak out this time. He wanted me, and I honestly didn’t know what that felt like until . . . until now, and I was awed by the blossoming heat rippling through me. I forgot about the fact that most of my makeup had to have wiped off during the night. My eyes drifted shut and my toes did the curling thing once more. He was going to kiss me, and I wasn’t going to stop him. Maybe this time there’d be tongue. I was really interested in exploring that.

Jax didn’t kiss me.

Not my lips at least. His mouth veered off to the left at the last second, skating over my lips to my left cheek. He kissed the scar.

He f**king kissed the scar.

Emotion—violent and energetic—warred inside me. A mixture of a thousand screwed-up thoughts and feelings. Beauty. Fear. Panic. Lust. Ice. Heat. Revulsion. Confusion. I felt it all and it was too much.

I slammed my hands into his chest. “Get off.”

He froze. “What?”


Jax got off. It had to be something in my voice, because he rolled right off me, and I rolled right off the bed, coming to my feet. I backed up until I hit the corner of the dresser, sending a burst of pain across my hip.

He sat up and moved over the bed, both hands on the mattress. “Calla, baby, are you scared of me?”

“No. Yes. I mean, no. I’m not scared of you.” I squeezed my eyes shut briefly. “It’s not like that.”

“It’s like what then?”

We would never f**k.

There. I couldn’t say it out loud, but there it was. I would never get na**d with him. I would never get that close.

God, that shouldn’t be as disappointing as it was, but this with Jax—being in bed, tangled together and wanting each other—was normal. And I wouldn’t get any kind of normal, not with a guy like Jax. Not when he might’ve gotten over my jacked-up scar on my face, but hadn’t seen or felt the rest of me.

This wasn’t about having a low self-esteem, being inexperienced or weak or being too nervous to get na**d because I needed to drop twenty pounds. My body was wrecked. There was nothing attractive about it.

Drawing in several deep breaths, I forced the sting out of my eyes and the back of my throat. “This is what I’m about. Okay? So this isn’t going to happen.”

His dark brows rose.

Damn, he gave good brows.

I was distracted again. “I mean, you’re really hot. Don’t get me wrong. And I’m sure you know that, because there is no way you don’t know that.”

The corners of his lips started to tip up.

God, I needed to shut up. “And I’m flattered that you . . . um, that you like me, but that . . . it can’t happen. Okay? There’s no way. I’m not your type of girl.”

“How do you know my type of girl?” he asked, sounding genuinely curious.

I almost rolled my eyes. “I know. Trust me. And that’s okay. You’re nice and I appreciate everything you’ve done for me and are doing, but this . . . this isn’t going to happen. All right? You got that?”

He stared at me a moment, seeming to want to push the issue, but then he nodded slowly.

“Got it,” Jax said.

And then he grinned.

I didn’t think he got it at all.

Jax lived closer to the bar, in a neat and well-kept row of townhomes not even a mile outside of town. I hadn’t gone in when I’d dropped him off and I hadn’t hung around after he’d climbed out of my car. Having woken up the way we had and my subsequent freak-out had sent me clamoring for alone time.

Time where I could make sense of what Jax wanted and how he could want it. It shouldn’t matter. It would never be, but Jax was stunningly gorgeous. He couldn’t be hurting when it came to females willing to jump in bed with him. There was a crap ton of obvious reasons why I shouldn’t be anywhere near the top of his I Want to Hit It list.

God, there wasn’t enough time in the world for me to figure that out.

I actually hadn’t gone to the bar, either, when I’d dropped Jax off. That day I moved onto the shift that he worked and I didn’t have to go in until that afternoon. So I’d picked up just a handful of groceries that made me feel like I was going on a diet and then headed back to the house. During the day, I wasn’t too worried about junkies or crazy he**in drug lords, which was probably stupid, because it wasn’t like they were vampires and only came out at night.

Things were just scarier at night, and after my shift on Friday night—and after I made pretty decent tips, I would’ve dreaded going back to the house if I hadn’t been so damn tired. I’d stayed while Jax showed me how to shut down the bar, including how to close out the registers and cash out.

That entire shift he’d acted like nothing had happened between us that morning, like things were normal. Or at least what I thought was normal with him. He charmed and he flirted. For the second night in a row, he made a point of tying my apron when I worked the floor and his hands lingered on my hips, causing me to blush, but that was all.

I’d only made it to my car when I heard my name being called out. I turned, feeling my heart do a quick jump when I saw Jax.

“I’ll be right behind you,” he said, stopping at the side of his truck.

My brows furrowed. “For what?”

He fished his truck keys out of his pocket. “Heading to your house, babe.”

I stared at him, thinking my ears had taken a drive into crazy town. “You’re not coming to the house.”

And that started an argument over whether he was or wasn’t coming that lasted a good thirty minutes, and I ended up giving up, because I was yawning more than I was speaking.

So Jax followed me to the house.

He’d actually brought a change of clothing with him, for crying out loud—a change of freaking clothing.

When we’d gotten to the house, I tried ignoring him as I made myself a cup of hot tea, but it had seemed rude not to at least offer him one since he’d planted himself on the couch and had become my personal security system.

“Thanks,” he’d said as I’d placed the cup on the coffee table.

Tired and nervous, I’d found it hard to look at him as I’d cradled the cup between my hands. “I didn’t know if you liked sugar or honey in it, so I didn’t add a lot of either.” Out of the corner of my eyes, I’d seen him reach for the mug and take a sip. “If you want those things, they’re in the kitchen.”

“It’s perfect.” There’d been a quick pause. “You went to the store.”

“Yeah.” I’d shifted my weight restlessly.

“Why don’t you sit with me for a little while?”

A flutter had taken up residency in my tummy. “I’m really tired.”

“Not used to those shifts, huh?”

My gaze had slowly tracked over to him, and that was when I’d seen a book tucked in his lap. He read? Oh my God, guys that read were like unicorns. They only existed in fairy tales. I wanted to ask him what he was reading, but I didn’t. All I had done was nod.

Part of me had expected him to put up a fight, to kick up the charm, but all he’d kicked back was his feet when he stretched out on the couch. “See you in the morning, babe.”

And I’d stood there for a second, weirdly disappointed until I’d forced myself into the bedroom, where the door didn’t shut all the way. After I’d cleaned up and changed, too tired to shower, I’d fallen asleep within minutes and wakened to Jax making the eggs and bacon I’d picked up at the store.

Saturday night had been a repeat of Friday, with the exception of meeting Nick for the first time. Since my earlier theory about hot guys flocking together, I hadn’t been surprised when I saw that the tall, dark hair, and green-eyed bartender could be featured in the Hottie Bartenders Calendar I so needed to create. The kind of cash I could bring in featuring just Jax and him . . .

Nick was different than Jax, much quieter, more reserved. When we first met, he stared at me for a long moment, until I felt my cheeks heat. There’d been a strange pull to his face, a recognition in his gaze I didn’t understand, and I wondered if he was from this area. But then he said hello and moved on. We might’ve exchanged a couple of words that shift. It wasn’t that he’d come across rude. More like the kind of guy who didn’t talk unless he had something he wanted to say. He was kind of broody.

Like the night before, I closed down the bar and Jax followed me to the house. It was a little creepy thinking that he or someone felt the need to be there because of what could happen, so I tried not to really focus on it.

That night when I made tea, I didn’t bolt straight into the bedroom. I’d lingered in the living room and finally I’d sat on the arm of the recliner. The book was in his lap again.

“What are you reading?” I’d asked when I hadn’t the night before.

“Lone Survivor.”

My brows had rose. “Uh . . . ?”

He’d given me a half grin. “It’s a true story about the Navy SEAL, Marcus Luttrell and his failed mission. Not happy bedtime reading, but it’s good stuff.”

“So you only read nonfiction?” Curiosity was going to kill Calla, but I hadn’t been able to help myself.

“Nah. I like David Baldacci, John Grisham, and even some Dean Koontz and Stephen King.” He’d looked away as he’d rested his head on the back of the couch as I’d started to see a theme there. “I didn’t do a lot of reading in high school, but being overseas, there were periods of time when there wasn’t much to do. Picked up reading and it stopped me from going bat-shit crazy from boredom and . . .”

“And?” I’d asked when he didn’t finish.

Jax hadn’t responded, and I hadn’t needed my imagination to figure what reading had helped him with besides boredom. I thought about his background—a military man. That explained why he was so protective, but there had to be better things he could be doing on a Saturday night, because he wasn’t going to be doing me.

I want to f**k you.

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