Had it gotten to that point?
Was this his way of ending things?
Oh my God.
What if he’d left and wanted me gone before he came back? And here I was, sitting on the couch, still in his shirt, like a dumbass? This was totally possible. He was pissed, because I’d insinuated that he’d been hooking up with Aimee.
I jumped to my feet, hands shaking as I pushed my hair out of my face. Jax was a nice guy. For real. He wouldn’t want a scene. Hell, he’d been nice to Aimee up until she called me a name. He’d probably just wanted me gone.
God, he really had defended me and I’d been so . . . dumb.
I darted upstairs, stripped off his shirt, and dropped it on his bed. I quickly changed into mine, pulled my hair into an unbrushed messy bun, and then shoved all my crap into my oversized tote.
As I pulled the zipper closed on the bulging bag, I stopped for a moment and the little voice in the back of my head cautioned me to slow the f**k down, to think, because I might be overreacting, but the fear of being here when he returned and him not wanting me here was too much.
I started to leave, but then I wheeled around and I grabbed the shirt of his I’d worn to bed. I don’t even know why I did it, but I grabbed it and took it with me as I grabbed my purse and then left his house.
Too much was whirling in my head as I drove, at first not sure where I was going, and then I recognized where my subconscious was leading me.
I don’t even know how I got there, because I didn’t remember the drive. The house was silent, warmer than normal because I hadn’t been around to turn the air on. I dropped my tote on the couch and then dug out my cell.
There were no calls or texts, and I don’t know why I thought there would be. My heart was racing superfast, the insides of my stomach twisting, and I started to call Teresa, because I needed to talk to someone, but she didn’t know Jax.
I made a couple of rounds around the couch before I hit Roxy’s name on my contacts list. She answered on the third ring.
“Hey,” she said, voice throaty with sleep.
I cringed. “I’m sorry. It’s early, right? I can call back.”
“It’s okay.” She cleared her throat. “Is everything all right?”
I almost said yes. “No.”
“Is it your mom or Clyde?” The sleepiness was gone from her voice.
“No. It’s not that. It’s . . .” I wetted my lip. “I think Jax and I broke up.”
There was a pause and then she shrieked, “What?”
I plopped down on the couch. “I mean, we were together. I guess. We didn’t call each other boyfriend or girlfriend. Like we didn’t have that talk.”
“Girl, I don’t think people have that talk. It just sort of happens. You two are totally together.”
“He did say he was my man, so yeah, but then last night . . .” I trailed off, feeling sick again. “I don’t know. He’s gone.”
“What do you mean he’s gone?”
That sick feeling traveled up my chest. “When I woke up, he was gone and he didn’t sleep with me last night.”
“Where are you?” she asked suddenly.
“I’m at the house.”
“No. My mom’s house. I just couldn’t stay in his place. I don’t even know if he wants me there and I didn’t want to be there when he came home if that’s the case.” My hand tightened around the phone. “So I’m . . . I’m at Mom’s house.”
“Do you think that’s a good idea?” she asked, and her voice changed like she was moving around quickly. “With everything going on?”
My heart turned over heavily. Holy crap. “I’m an idiot. I’m like more than just your normal idiot. I’m your uber-idiot. I didn’t even think about that.” Holy shit, I really hadn’t thought about that. I jumped to my feet and then raced to the front door and made sure it was locked. “I’m seriously too stupid to live.”
“Okay. You’re stressed. Not thinking clearly. Not too stupid to live. Or maybe just a little,” she replied, and then her voice sounded farther away. “I got you on speaker. I’m getting dressed. Stay where you are. I’m coming over. Text me the address.”
My eyes widened. “You don’t have to do that.”
“Yes I do. I’m your friend. You’re having boy problems and you were almost kiddie-napped a few days ago. This is total friend duty and I’m so coming over. So stay right there, lock your doors, and hide the kids. I’m coming on.”
I giggle-snorted. “Did you just quote Antoine Dodson?”
“Maybe.” Roxy drew the word out. “I’ll be over in like fifteen minutes tops. Okay? I just need to brush my teeth and maybe my hair.”
“All right. I’ll be here.”
I didn’t even think twenty minutes passed, which made me wonder where she lived exactly, because I didn’t know, and how fast she was driving, but she rolled into the house wearing cutoff jean shorts and an oversized tank top that barely covered her sports bra, and her hair in a messier knot than mine. She looked unbelievably cute, in a way I couldn’t hope if I dressed like that.
She was also carrying a white box that she plopped down on the coffee table. “I brought doughnuts. We need fat for this conversation.”
I didn’t think I could eat without hurling, but it was supersweet of her. She sat on the couch and leaned forward, slipping open the lid and revealing an assortment of goodies. I grabbed some leftover fast-food napkins off the kitchen counter and joined her on the couch.
She’d already demolished half a chocolate-covered doughnut. “Tell me everything.”
Exhaling a pent-up breath, I sat beside her and told her everything, starting with Aimee, something she was well aware of, and ending with this morning. I even told her about making plans for when I returned to school. When I finished, I surprised myself by picking up a glazed doughnut.
“Okay.” She plucked up her fourth doughnut and I wondered where she’d put the other three. “Let’s start with Aimee. The girl does not think any guy will turn her down and I’m pretty sure she has to know he’s into you, because everyone knows. Hell. They see it.”
Roxy grinned around a mouthful of doughnut. “From the minute you showed up, Jax had his eyes on you, literally and figuratively. It’s pretty obvious.”
Warmth buzzed through me as I mulled that. I liked knowing that people thought that. Then I felt kind of dumb, because it probably wasn’t as awesome to other people as it was to me.
“You know I’ve noticed the way Aimee hangs on Jax,” she continued. “I’ve been perfecting my death glare on her since she hit the bar. Sadly, it isn’t working.”
I cracked a grin at that as I popped a small bite in my mouth. Her death glare also wasn’t working on Reece, either.
“Jax doesn’t feed into it. Granted, he could do more to make sure she got the message, but he’s not returning the sentiment. Not once. But he’s a nice guy.” Picking up a napkin, she wiped at her fingers. “It takes a lot to get under his skin. You’ve seen that. And he’s way nice to us females. He was simply raised right.”
“He was,” I whispered.
“But you also have a right to be pissed with everything.”
“I do? Right?”
Thank God, I wasn’t completely crazy and a giant screwup.
“I’d cut a bitch if she showed up in the middle of the night at my man’s house, if I had a man, but whatever. I’d probably want to cut him, too, and it would take me some time to get over it, but . . .”
I sat back, tucking my knees to my chest. “Here comes the ‘I f**ked up’ part?”
“Yes. And no.” Roxy smiled as she twisted toward me. “This is your first relationship and your first fight. Hopefully it’s your only relationship, but it’s definitely not going to be your last fight. This is probably going to happen a lot of times.”
I knew that. I just forgot about that because I was an idiot.
“And you did basically accuse Jax of being an active man-whore while he’s been with you, so he’s going to be pissed, but he’s not going to stop liking you. And if he’s does, he isn’t worth your time. But that’s not how Jax is. He’ll cool down and you two will be fine.”
Nibbling on my lower lip, I let her words bang around what was going on in my head. Everything she said was reasonable. Hope sparked. “Do you think I should call him?”
“I think you should give him a little time,” she suggested. “It’s never wrong to let the guy come to you. Right? You both were wrong and you need to remember you weren’t the only one who messed up.”
“You’re right.” I sighed, tipping my head back against the couch. “Do you think I should’ve left this morning?”
“Um . . .” She adjusted her glasses. “Well, if you didn’t have all this crazy stuff going on? It probably wouldn’t have mattered. Jax probably isn’t happy, but he’ll see you tonight.”
“No. He’s going to the party. You and Nick are working tonight, remember?”
“Shit,” she groaned, collapsing against the arm of the couch. “I completely forgot.”
“Did you make plans, because I’m sure we’ll be fine tonight.”
Roxy laughed. “I’d need to have a life to have plans, but I was planning on lying out, reading, and eating junk food into the wee hours of the night like any hot, single twenty-two-year-old.”
Her smile widened and then our eyes met as she reached over and patted my arm. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
I smiled back, and even though I’d been on the verge of a complete breakdown this morning, I felt a lot better, like everything really would be okay. “Thank you.”
“If not, I’m sure your mom has a little black book around here and she probably knows someone we can hire to kick his ass.”
“Oh my God,” I said laughing.
She giggled as she curled up against the arm. She was so tiny, she barely took up half a cushion. “We’ll call that Plan B.”
“What’s Plan A?”
“You show up at his place wearing nothing but a sleek black trench coat and when he opens the door, you jump his bones.”
Laughing again, I shook my head. “I like Plan A.”
“And I bet he would, too.”
Wednesday night, I was a bundle of nerves. My stomach was full of them, and I could barely hold down the late lunch I’d grabbed with Roxy after we visited Clyde, which was nothing more than half a chicken salad sandwich.
For a crap ton of girlie reasons, I’d taken my time as I got ready for my shift as Roxy waited for me. I put waves into my hair, expertly applied my eye makeup, and glided on a shade lighter than crimson on my lips. I knew the guys from the bachelor party would probably hit the bar at some point; meaning Jax would be with them.
I hadn’t tried getting a hold of Jax until I’d gotten into my own car and Roxy was in hers. I’d sent him a quick text saying that I hoped I’d see him tonight. Then, because I’d been scared like a little girl with a monster in the closet, I’d dropped my phone in my purse and turned the music up. I didn’t check to see if he responded until I got to the bar.
“Not a big deal,” I’d told myself as I climbed out and headed in, but my heart was pounding.
There’d been no response at six.
There’d been no response by nine.
And to make everything all the more screwed up, Aimee was conspicuously absent from the bar. Granted, she could’ve finally gotten the message, but my heart hadn’t slowed down, and I was beginning to think that maybe Roxy had been wrong this morning. Maybe he’d changed his mind.
“You feeling okay?” Roxy asked after I handed over an appletini I wasn’t sure I made correctly.
I was feeling totally paranoid. “Yeah.”
She watched me carefully. “You haven’t heard from him, have you?”
Clamping my jaw shut, I shook my head.
“Calla, I didn’t—”
The door opened and my gaze swung toward it sharply and my heart jumped like it had done every time tonight. It wasn’t Jax.
Katie strolled in, rocking heels that could double as stilts. She didn’t teeter in them. Nope. She sashayed herself over to the bar, tapping a woman on the shoulder. “You’re in my seat.”
Roxy laughed softly.
The woman must’ve been accustomed to Katie, because she muttered something under her breath as she exited the seat. Katie dropped down, hitching the sparkly tube top up over her br**sts. “Whiskey. Straight up.”
My brows rose. “Bad night?”