Page 22

Thrusting my hips forward I fill her in one long stroke, our eyes never breaking contact. I settle for a moment, circling my hips to ease her body’s acceptance of me. The pressure builds from deep within, the minute I begin to move again, a fast and furious rhythm takes over me. Eyes glued to the mirror watching her, I pump in and out, my pace building faster, each gyration of my hips bringing me closer and closer. Her eyes glaze over and I know she’s feeling it too. Feeling each and every incredible sensation as her muscles convulse and she clenches down around me and I swell at feeling her greedy pu**y milk me.

Swift thrusts turn into rugged pounding and I struggle just to keep my own unrelenting pace. Lily’s eyes start to roll into the back of her head as her own orgasm takes over her. But I call her name, her eyes jarring back to awareness momentarily, then glazing over as she calls my name back. Over and over again, my eyes glued to her lips moaning my name, the sound consuming me as I find my own release. The heat from my own orgasm spilling into her causes my body to spasm with delight until I’m finally empty.

Leaning over her, our bodies both covered in a sheen of sweat, I bury my face in her neck as I catch my breath. Eventually my panting slows and I can finally find my voice. “That was seriously f**king incredible.”

I can’t see her face, but I watch as a goofy grin slowly spreads across her face. “Remind me to find someone to piss you off more often.”


Lying in bed, both sated from a physically and emotionally intense night of passion, I watch her face as she deliberates for a few minutes before she speaks. “How long are you staying in New York?” She trails her fingers lightly back and forth across my chest, her head snuggled into the crook of my shoulder as I gently stroke her hair in the dark.

“I was only planning on staying until the deal with Ralley’s is finished.” It would be the perfect moment to tell her the group of investors I’m bringing to the table is a group of one. Me. But I want to wait till the deal is done, not influence any of her and Joe’s decisions because of our relationship. Plus, the bank hasn’t signed off on the financing yet and things could still fall through. Lily may not be happy when she eventually finds out I’ve hidden that I’m the investor, but I think she’ll understand my reasoning. I don’t want what we have to sway her in negotiations – keeping silent protects her more than me.

“How long is that?” she asks hesitantly.

“Not too much longer. There’s this woman that gives me everything I need over at Ralley’s. Got the financing fast tracked by having it all put together so nicely,” I tease. “Should be done within a few days.”

“Oh,” she says sounding deflated.

I turn us, gently maneuvering her onto her back, so I can see her face. The room is dark but there’s enough moonlight peaking in from the open window to see her eyes. I wipe a stray lock of hair from her face. “But I didn’t plan on meeting you.”

She nods, but says nothing.

I lean in, kissing her on the neck. “Guess my plans have changed.” I leave a trail of wetness as I lick my way up to her ear where I whisper, “You’ve changed my plans, Lily St. Claire.”

Chapter 21


There’s almost always a lull in the middle of a powerful storm. The eye that catches people unprepared because they’ve let their guard down. I should feel calm, happy even. Lord knows I’ve had twenty-four hours of bliss. I smile as I walk from the subway, cutting across the parking lot on the way to Advanced Linear Drawing class, thinking of Jax last night. Seeing his face in my mind warms me all over. Yet something sits in the pit of my stomach, warning me that I shouldn’t give in to the lull, even though allowing myself to wouldn’t take much.

Cars fill almost every spot in the lot, yet there are few people milling around. Early morning college classes tend to be for commuters rather than the younger crew that lives on campus. The kind that come and go with purpose, rather than hanging out with their friends beforehand. I look around, no one seems to be near, yet I have the odd sensation of being watched. Just as I’m about to enter the building, I catch sight of a black town car slowly rolling by. The windows are tinted dark, so I can’t see inside, but I have the distinct feeling whoever is inside is looking back at me. It drives off without incident a moment later.

Headphones on, Dave Matthew’s soulful voice fills my ears as I allow myself to get lost sketching. The model isn’t nude today, but he’s shirtless. Thin, more boyish than man. More Reed’s type than mine. Adding charcoal, I shade the fine line of his pectoral muscles, the definition coming more from being thin and lacking body fat than the development of actual muscle. Unlike Jax.

My mind drifts as I sketch, to the swell of his chest. The deep defined crevice of each bulging muscle. I exhale audibly as my mind pictures the deep indents of his narrow waist, the deep v that I watched deepen in the mirror last night with each powerful thrust forward.

Pulling me back to reality, my teacher points to the drawing in front of me. “Less bulk, more bone,” she comments. I nod noticing for the first time what the drawing on the pad in front of me looks like. I’ve been drawing more from my own memory and fantasy of a man I can’t stop thinking about, and less from the model in front of me.


The parking lot is bustling when I leave. Again I look around, finding no one in particular focusing on me. Yet I get that feeling again. I’m sure it’s my paranoia kicking in, but Caden having backed off so easily leaves me feeling unsettled. The fight between Jax and Caden is in seven days, I hadn’t really expected Caden to keep away until then.

The packed late morning subway car actually brings me comfort. Oddly, being crammed in like sardines makes me breathe easily. I ride the dozen or so stops to Ralley’s Gym and notice a few photographers outside. Jax must be at the gym already. The paparazzi have dwindled over the last few days and only a few diehards follow him back and forth to his hotel now.

I take a deep breath before pulling the door open, even though Joe told me Caden wouldn’t be there till the fight next week. Jax is sparring at the back, but he catches my eye the minute I walk through the door.

“Everything okay?” Joe comes out from the back office.


His eyes drop to my neck. The black and blue has faded to a lovely shade of yellow and purple. His jaw tightens. “Caden’s been keeping away?”

“Haven’t heard from him or seen him since that night,” I confirm.

Joe nods. “Good.” He eyes Jax in the back, who just knocked Marco on his ass. “He’s got good hands. Very good hands. Caden’s my nephew, but his ego gets the best of him sometimes. Thinks he’s better than he is. The only way he stands a chance against Jackson is if his crazy comes out and fuels a fire of adrenaline.” Great. Just great.

A few minutes later Joe comes back to the front desk, boxes in hand. “I’m going to head out, run uptown to drop off the new gloves that just came in. I almost forgot…” He hands me an oversized cream envelope with beautifully scribed calligraphy on the front. “That was delivered for Jackson this morning before he came in. Messenger brought it.”

“Thanks Joe. I’ll see that he gets it. Have a good afternoon.”


After Jax finishes up his training, he comes to the front desk. He’s sweaty and his muscles are pumped up from a vigorous workout. My eyes roam his chest, the way his t-shirt clings to his pecs is a feast for the eyes. Unconsciously, I lick my lips.

“I thought you asked me to keep things low in here.”

“I did.” I snap out of my worship trance.

“Then stop looking at me like that.”

“Like what?”

“Like you need to be bent over this counter.”

I stare down at the counter, visions of our encounter in the closet flood my mind.

Jax chuckles. He hooks one arm around my neck and pulls me in for a kiss. “Going to shower. You’re locking up tonight, right?”

I nod.

A dirty grin on his face, Jax looks at the counter and then back to me, arching an eyebrow. My cheeks start to pink just from the thought he puts in my head.


We’re back in my apartment before I realize I’ve forgotten to give Jax the envelope that came today. It’s odd that someone would deliver what appears to be a wedding invitation to the gym. His hotel would have made more sense, someone apparently knows Jax’s routine.

“Sorry. I almost forgot. A messenger brought this for you today. Joe gave it to me and I put it in my bag. I got busy and it slipped my mind till now.” I hand Jax the envelope and he furrows his brow.

“What is it?”

“I don’t know. I didn’t open it.”

Jax opens the envelope and glances at the first few lines, he quickly discards it on the table.

“A wedding invite you weren’t expecting?” I ask curiously.

“No. An invitation to a birthday party.” He doesn’t add more, his unhappy face relaying the surprise of the invite wasn’t a good surprise.

He’s quiet the rest of the evening. We’re getting into bed before he shares what upset him. “My father is throwing a birthday party for my mother.”

“Oh.” I’m not quite sure how to respond.

He stays silent as we get comfortable and I snuggle into him. His voice is quiet when he eventually begins to speak again. “My mother’s best and worst quality is the same. She’s loyal to a fault.” Jax says as he rubs my bare shoulder. Head on his chest, I trace the outline of a figure eight between the bulk of his pectoral muscle in the dark. My fingernail scrapes lightly in the plain between the ridges as I respond.

“I think loyalty is always a good quality. It’s our choice of where to place it that can be a fault.”

He nods and kisses the top of my forehead. “You’re right. I just don’t know how she stays with him after everything he’s done to her. Why didn’t she walk away?”

“Love isn’t something you can turn off. When it happens, it takes a little piece of who you are. I think sometimes people keep fighting because they’re more afraid to lose that piece of them, rather than lose the person they love.”

Jax exhales deeply. “Jesus, Lily. You may not know her, but you couldn’t be more right.”

We’re both quiet for a few minutes. “Have you ever been in love?” Quietly, I ask, tilting my head up to look at him even though it’s dark.

His hand rubbing my shoulder freezes. “You first.”

“Why me first?”

“Because now you have me thinking that you’re lying there thinking about another man.”

I laugh. “I’m not.”

“Good because I don’t think I could handle that.” He rolls us so I’m lying on my back. “So have you?”

“I thought I was once. But I realize now that I wasn’t really.”

He kisses my lips gently.

“Have you?” I ask again.

“I think so.” He kisses the corner of my mouth, then the other corner, before softly kissing the center of my mouth again. “Every day I become more sure.”

Chapter 22


After a night of tossing and turning, I’ve finally made up my mind. “I’m going to go back to D.C. for my mother’s birthday party. I need to spend a few hours with Brady anyway. He’s trying not to let on he needs me, but I know spending an afternoon in the office would give him a little relief.”

Lily nods and smiles politely. “Okay.”

“It’s about my mother. Not him. Or me. I’m going to go for her. She had a breakdown after the news of my father’s endless string of affairs hit. I’ve been holding a grudge against her for too long. Taking it out on her for loving him, because he doesn’t deserve her love or loyalty.”