Authors: Billi Jean
Tags: #Erotic Romance Fiction
“Yes, I got that when I interrupted your blonde-fest. How did that go, by the way? Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella forgive you for having to dump me in a cab?”
She frowned when he looked away, almost as if she’d embarrassed him, or he’d embarrassed himself. But why? Why would that bother him? He’d been clear enough with her.
Look, Joe, we had fun, right, but this is a club for a certain kind of woman.
Women not like her. Beautiful, tall Victoria’s Secret women, obviously.
“Joey, I had you leave to protect you. You’ve got to listen to me—”
“No, no, I don’t.” She centred her gaze on him and exhaled, already weary of the verbal sparring match. Angry wasn’t her norm. She made certain her life was full of fun, not turmoil and drama. She’d thought Jaxon shared that with her. Looking at him now, the anxious, oddly concerned expression he wore, as if what he said mattered, as if she mattered, confused her.
He anchored his fists on his lean hips and gave her one heck of a manly stare down. Her toes wanted to curl, the traitors.
“I was protecting you. I’m trying to—”
“From what? Seeing the two blondes? I saw them with you when I first walked in and yet I ignored you while you couldn’t seem to get it on with me there. It wasn’t like I was asking for a playback, Jax. You could have just had your fun with the women, who was I to say shit about that? No one, obviously.”
The concern in his expression faded with each of her words, replaced with a look that any other time might scare the piss out of her, but with her own anger and hurt boiling up it made her smirk. He looked ready to choke as if everything she said made him want to strangle her.
“It wasn’t like that—”
She waved his denial off with a hand. “It looked like that from the little lap dance you were getting.”
“Fuck! Joey that was show, just show, a cover. I never touched those girls. I—”
“Ah! God, don’t. I mean, come on.” She threw her hand up, almost lost her sheet and gripped it tighter to yell at him some more, because hell if it didn’t feel good. “Stop! I get it, really. Men need variety and all that. I mean, what was wrong with me looking for the same? Were you afraid I’d lose in the Jell-O pit and end up with one of those hot bouncer dudes? Did that bother you for some insane reason? I mean, I can get that, I guess—”
“You don’t get shit!” he bellowed, nearly stopping her heart. If he freaked her out, he definitely shocked himself. He tugged his dark hair off his brow, shaking his head after, and tried several times to say something before he muttered, “Shit, sorry, I suck at this.”
He looked so distressed she sank down on the chair. What was going on? She didn’t know, and now she was even more confused. She’d known him for months—really not very long, but those months meant a great deal to her. He’d come in and talked to her, not making a move, but chatting with her and seeming to enjoy her company. For weeks he’d let the sexual tension brewing between them reach a point when they finally did move on it, they fell into each other’s arms. She’d even thought he was
. The one guy in this world she’d never dreamed existed. Her other half and all that candy-coated crap.
When the silence went on and on, she finally cleared her throat.
Jaxon jerked as if she’d shouted at him again. “Joey, I just—”
When he halted again, looking miserable and unable to go on, she let go of the anger and spoke from the heart. “Why? Why did you do it? There are so many women in London—so many more beautiful women.” He snorted as if she’d said something ridiculous but didn’t look at her. Still, the sound gave her heart a little jolt of courage. “Explain. So many women want sex and nothing more out there. Why did you pretend to be interested in me, in…more—for months! Why do that, if you never were?”
He looked up at her slowly—simply stared at her for so long she got nervous enough to turn away—unsure of why she’d even said something like that to him.
something like that to him.
“I never pretended shit,” he finally said.
When she glanced at him for his seething tone, he looked even more pissed off, but also oddly nervous. He shoved both hands through his hair, and she grew weak in the knees seeing how his cut stomach hardened all the way down to that v at his hips. The bulge under his low jeans wasn’t a joke either. Jaxon was hung, so big and thick she’d known exactly what it was to be branded by his possession. She’d sworn for days afterwards she’d still been able to recall every thick inch of him filling her so perfectly. Even now she grew wet just thinking of him unbuckling his belt and—
“Joey, we have some serious shit to discuss here.”
Her eyes jerked back to his face, reading the concern on his expression. He looked like he hadn’t shaved in days. His brown hair was nearly black it was so dark, but the hair on his face grew in even darker, making her shiver with the need to experience the touch of his jaw, all rough like it was now, against her breasts.
“I thought we were,” she replied, not liking how her voice sounded choked up.
Jaxon erased the distance between them before she could do more than tense.
“We are.” He gripped her shoulder and squeezed lightly. The contact made her ache with memories of his hands doing much more. His blue eyes were bloodshot, she noticed, tight too, almost as if he’d not slept in days. He had stubble on his jaw that looked ages old, as if he’d not shaved in a week. “I fucked up, but I’m trying to make amends here, Joey. No one spiked your drink that I know of, but you were…” He paused and her heart started beating so hard adrenaline rushed her system. “Darlin’, someone attacked you. I got you out, but there are…complications.”
“Someone attacked me?” Her body hurt, as if she’d hit something or fought against someone much stronger. Her chest hurt, and her leg ached. She felt a bit battered, but really, not enough to make her worry. Until now. She didn’t remember anyone hurting her though. “I was…” She couldn’t finish, because the pain suddenly grew too tight and hard in her stomach. Jaxon’s light eyes darkened as she froze in shock. He gently touched her jaw and traced her lips with the pad of his thumb.
“Nothing like that—you weren’t raped, I mean.”
I wasn’t raped
. What else would have him so hesitant to explain? She could see it now, how he’d stalled out—not because he’d tricked her here. Jaxon wouldn’t do that. It wasn’t his style, she knew that now her temper had settled down. But something had him tiptoeing around and that scared her.
“What…” She swallowed and tried again. “What are you trying to say?”
He squeezed her hand in his bigger one, and the lines around his eyes whitened out against his natural colouring. “Do you remember?”
“No, no, I just…” She paused as a warmth started to spread in her chest, almost as if she had eaten too many hot peppers with her pizza. “I don’t feel very good right now.”
His face slowly blanched and his grip on her turned almost painful.
“What? What is it?” His alarm freaked her out. The night a man had tried to drag her into an alley came back, along with the image of Jax diving in to knock the man on his butt. The guy had carried a knife too, a big, long, deadly-looking blade, but Jaxon had hauled the guy off her as if he weighed nothing. She’d never seen a man jump to her rescue before—heck, she’d never needed one until Jax had swooped in like Superman—but he’d saved her with such complete lack of fear and such easy strength that his reaction now scared her.
looked scared. Jax scared wasn’t good. Not good at all.
“Joey,” he murmured, sounding so sincere, she dug her nails into her palm to keep from crying. He ducked his head and of all things, rested his forehead on her shoulder. As if for support.
“Jaxon…you’re freaking me out.”
“Just hear me out. I tried to help,” he said, lifting up to meet her eyes with such sincerity she felt tears rush her eyes.
He grimaced, but the intensity didn’t leave his face. “I tried to keep this from you. Can you trust me? Now, after what I did?”
She swallowed past the dryness in her throat. This was bad. Very bad. This went beyond him sneaking out on her. This went beyond her seeing him with those bozos. This was…bad. Jaxon had never spoken so gently. He was arrogant, self-confident in the extreme and intelligent in a sharp, quick way that thrilled her, but gentle, soft-spoken? Not the Jax she knew. Even the night he’d finally made love to her, he’d been in charge, confident and so hot she’d thought at times that she could feel him surrounding her and filling all her empty places.
“Joey, this is serious.”
A sharp, unexpected stab of pain pulsed under her ribs, like a cramp heading straight for her heart.
“What the hell?” She grabbed hold of him, and shuddered as another unexpected bout of pain shot from her toes all the way to the top of her head. All of a sudden, she felt sick to her stomach. Her cheeks grew wet in that way that meant she was going to hurl, and she shoved out of Jaxon’s arms.
“Oh, God, oh God, I’m going to be sick,” she groaned, fighting the instinctual need to gag. If she was going to cast up, she wasn’t doing it on his lap. The pain in her chest hit again and her knees gave out. Jax grabbed her in his arms, stopping her fall.
“I got you. I have you, just breathe.”
She barely comprehended Jaxon’s rough curse, followed by his surprisingly gentle arms and hard, solid chest against her cheek.
“Just hold on for me, okay? Hold on to me, okay?” he demanded.
Another shot of agony proved that the ones before had only been teasers. This one left her panting. Sweat covered her body, making her shiver from the air touching her skin.
“I think we agree on something finally,” she whispered.
His dark eyebrows lowered and his blue eyes filled with worry.
“This is pretty serious,” she managed.
Another flush of heat swelled along her stomach and she swallowed, abruptly aware she wasn’t going to be able to hold back from spewing. She managed to swing her head away from Jaxon, but couldn’t do more, as everything she’d ever eaten in her life chose that moment to forcibly exit her body.
“This is so not good,” Joey whispered brokenly.
Jaxon held her as tightly as he dared. Inside he was a wreck. She shouldn’t shift to a vampire—not without the blood exchange from her maker. But she was shifting and he had less than a minute now to explain to her what was happening.
“Joey, darlin’, I’ve been trying to tell you that you were attacked. I found you at the club, but you weren’t alone, you were unconscious, near death and I…I got you out of there, and thought—” He stalled like a Cadillac. How could he tell her this? She looked at him then, her hazel eyes so full of pain he wanted to howl. Would she turn evil?
He shut that thought down. He’d make sure she never turned evil. He’d guard her, protect her and if she’d have him, he’d damn well claim her in every possible way a man could claim a woman.
“And they poisoned me? It’s going to kill me?”
“No, shit, no, darlin’,” he assured her.
Sweat beaded on her forehead, scaring him bad enough that he reached over and gently wiped it off, then pressed her bright silky hair back. She leaned into him.
“Then what is wrong? Take me to a hospital, Jax, I need a doctor, I think.”
Her voice had gone so low he had to strain to hear her, and he was a vampire. He shook his head. He couldn’t take her to a hospital. In response, her eyes rounded out. He hugged her closer, trying to forestall another passionate outburst.
“I can’t take you to a hospital. Joey, they can’t help you, but I can. I can help you, okay? I can make this pain go away.”
Slowly he eased her back down and held her hand, dreading to see her face when he finally told her everything.
“Jaxon, please, you don’t understand, this is bad, very, very bad,” she cried, hunching over and gripping his hand tightly in her own.
“I do understand, Joey, and I’m sorry, darlin’,” he murmured, soothing her with a hand on her back, rubbing the painful spasm away as best he could. She breathed easier after a moment more and turned her head to watch him.
“You have to trust me now, Joey.”
“I do, Jax, I do, but a hospital—”
“Can’t help you. I can. I’m a vampire. The men that had you were also vampires. They nearly drained you and when I killed them, I brought you here, trying to save you from becoming like me—a vampire. But you’re changing, your body is dying, preparing for a new life.”
He stopped and stared down at her face. She gaped at him like he’d told her something she couldn’t get her head wrapped around.
No shit, Sherlock, she can’t.
Sweat beaded on her pale brow again. No doubt the pain was growing unbearable, but she didn’t make a sound. He’d never felt what she experienced, never known the pain of the gift taking over your life and remaking you. He’d been born a vampire hundreds of years before, in the midst of a battlefield, and lost his mother before she’d even finished giving him life.
“Jaxon,” she whispered his name and grimaced, “are you insane?”
He couldn’t stop the quick grin at her serious expression, but assured her quickly, “No, darlin’, but—”
“Stop,” she whispered, lifting a hand to cover his mouth and tried to weakly struggle from his arms. “Clearly you’re insane. You never called me anything like
before. Maybe you hit your head and you’re sick.”
He kissed her palm and took her hand off his lips. He’d never dared call her any of the endearments rising in his brain. He’d wanted to, hell had he wanted to—and more—but he’d tamped it down, forced himself to calm his desires so he didn’t harm her. He hadn’t harmed her, but someone else had, hadn’t they?
“You’re going to suffer, and I want to put you out, make you sleep through it, that’s all.”
“Before I turn vampire.”
He tipped her chin with knuckles, grinning at her worried little frown. “Yes, before you turn.”
She peered at him, clearly still following her own logic. “You’re nuts. I knew it.” She fell back on the bed with her hands by her head. “I give up. That’s it—I mean, life, can you fuck me over some more, please?”