Wednesday finally rolls around, and I’m on my way to Jolie’s, three large pizza boxes sitting beside me on the passenger seat.
She’s pregnant. Gotta feed the girl.
I pull up on her drive, beside her car. My truck towers over her little Mini, and I can’t help but compare them to us as humans. She’s tiny compared to me.
I’ve got the boxes in my hand, and before I even knock on the door opens.
“Hey,” Jolie smiles at me, stepping back to let me in. Her eyes meet mine, but she drops her gaze quickly.
She’s wearing some tight jeans and a cropped sweater, showing the curve of her hips as she closes the door behind me. Sweet vanilla and floral scents greet my nostrils when she strides past me into the kitchen.
“I wasn’t sure which to get so I went with a mix,” I explain, dropping the boxes onto the table.
Jolie groans, lifting the lids up as she inspects each one.
“I love them all. Thank you. How much do I owe you?”
I raise an eyebrow as she digs into her purse, tugging out a twenty.
“It’s on me,” I shrug, pulling a slice of double pepperoni.
“I like to pay my way, and I intend to eat this one all to myself,” Jolie grins, pressing the note in my hand. Her slender fingers touch mine, albeit briefly, and I’m shaking my head.
“No. My treat.”
Jolie moves her fingers, and the note flutters to the floor between us.
“Jax, take the money, please.”
I sigh, knowing she isn’t going to let this go. She sashays past me into the lounge, and I follow her with my eyes.
Our kid is gonna be gorgeous.
I scoop up the note, pretending to put it in my pocket. Instead, I open the fridge, putting it on top of some cheese. I smirk to myself, knowing she’ll be furious when she finds it.
I bring both boxes into the lounge, where Jolie has her legs tucked beneath her, groaning as she sinks her teeth into a slice of pizza.
“I need this so bad,” she says, her eyes meeting mine. “How was your day?”
“My day?” I echo, not knowing how to handle this civil version of Jolie. “It was shit. I’ve had no end of repairs today, and my office felt like a therapy suite.”
I have no idea why I’m telling her this shit, but the way she tilts her head shows her interest.
“I don’t see you as a therapist,” she mumbles, polishing off the pizza before reaching for another slice.
“I’m not,” I scoff, tucking into the delicious goodness of Toni’s Pizza. “My mechanic is having it off with his neighbour, and my…” I pause, trying to think of a job title for Rad. Enforcer didn’t seem correct. “Assistant is having ex problems. Both of them think I give a shit.”
Jolie laughs, and it’s like cold air hitting you after a hot day. Refreshing.
“Do you?” She asks, sucking the sauce of her finger.
“What?” I say through a mouthful of pizza.
“Give a shit?”
“No,” I answer honestly. “I have enough problems.”
“Thanks!” Jolie snorts, pushing the pizza box away. “Do you want a drink?”
She pauses in front of me, and my eyes are drawn to her belly button which sports a diamond stud.
I can’t remember that.
“Eyes up here, Mr Cohen,” she rolls her eyes as I shoot her a cheeky grin.
“Sorry, um, yeah I’ll have a cold one.”
“Shower or drink?” She shoots back, walking towards the kitchen.
I avert my eyes from her ass in those jeans, instead trying to focus on something else. The room itself is cosy and cute, but one thing I can’t see is any photos. Most people have at least one in their home.
“Cherry coke,” Jolie says, handing me a large glass tumbler.
“Thanks,” I say, noticing the coral pink polish on her nails.
Must be new. Can’t remember those either.
But then again she had left scratch marks.
“How are you feeling?” I ask, as she leans down, revealing her pert breasts through the v neck of her top.
“Honestly? I’m still feeling sick, but otherwise I’m just not myself,” she confesses, munching away.
“How so?” I ask, devouring another slice of pizza.
“I’m… uncomfortable. Like, I’m aching loads, especially in my lower back. I’m ravenous, and constantly exhausted. I’m also… well…”
She flushes, and it’s fucking sexy. She bites on her lip, and shakes her head.
“It’s just odd. All of it,” she shrugs.
“Wait, what were you going to say?” I press, leaning forward with interest.
“I keep thinking of my own childhood,” she whispers, her eyes showing a vulnerability I’ve not seen before. “It wasn’t the best, and I worry I’m not going to do well.”
“Listen, I felt the same when we were having Immie,” I find myself saying.
“Really? You seem so confident.”
“I know, but something about being responsible for a life kinda makes you question things. I was fucking terrified.”
She looks up at me, and her teeth release her lip, leaving it swollen.
“And now?” She asks, her eyes locked on mine.
“Now I’m confident. You will be great, don’t even question it.”
“But I wonder, you know?”
Her eyes glaze over, and I frown. What had happened in her life to make her feel this way? I don’t want to pry, but I’m genuinely interested. This was the mother of my second child, after all.
“Wanna talk about it? Your childhood, I mean.”
“Thought you said you aren’t much of a therapist,” she laughs, and I can’t help but gaze at her. “What?” She frowns.
“You’re really pretty,” the words spill out of my mouth before I can control them, and my cheeks burn under her surprised expression.
“Thank you,” she mumbles, and I blink a few times.
“Well, I guess our physical attraction is what got us here in the first place,” Jolie smiles, pushing away the pizza box. She pops open a button on her jeans, and holds her hands up. “Not anymore, I’m going to be a whale.”
“Stop,” I chuckle, watching as she strokes her stomach lightly. “You’re fine.”
“My mum was an alcoholic,” Jolie confesses, and her eyes drop to the floor with embarrassment. “She wasn’t always that way, it started when my dad died.”
“I’m sorry,” I say honestly.
“I just don’t want to ever end up like that, I want our child to have everything. Every opportunity.”
“They will,” I promise her, and our eyes meet once again. “You aren’t alone, Jolie. I’m here for the rest of their life.”
“And mine,” she says softly. “I hope we can get on for the sake of our baby.”
“Me too,” I agree. “I’m sorry I said I didn’t want a relationship that day at the school. I just panic with women. They seem to always want something I can’t give them.”
What the fuck am I saying?
Jolie watches me, nodding to herself.
“So are you quite the catch?” She teases, and I push the box away from my lap, joining her on the sofa. She pushes her hair back behind her ear, and twists her body so she is cross legged and facing me.
She’s all kinds of beautiful, but this isn’t some chick I can piss about. I have to focus on the baby.
Despite the effect she’s having on me.
“I’ll be blunt, I’ve got a bit of a reputation,” I admit, feeling odd for being truthful about something so personal. “I used to be a bad lad, but when Larah got pregnant I straightened myself out.”
Jolie doesn’t speak, she just continues to watch me with her hazel orbs.
“I started the car business, and it took off.”
I clasp my hands together, looking up at her.
“So you’re rich?” She says bluntly, but without excitement.
“I’m comfortable,” I say carefully.
“Me too. Don’t worry, I’m not after your bank balance. Just your consistency.”
She needs more than that.
“You’ll have that. I am truly sorry for questioning whether I was the father. It was rude of me.”
“I was in a relationship prior to the night we spent together,” Jolie says, tucking her legs beneath her. “And women have needs too.”
“I know,” I say, nodding. “I get it. What happened with your ex?”
Jolie rolls her eyes, folding her arms across her stomach.
“He cheated on me.”
What a dickhead.
“What about you and your ex, Imogen’s mother?” She asks curiously.
“Ha, that’s a complicated one,” I chuckle, raising my eyebrows. “We met years ago. We were on and off throughout those years, until she gave me an ultimatum. Her or the lifestyle I was living.”
Jolie’s eyes are like saucers, and I know she wants more detail.
“I chose her, because I loved her,” I say, my heart still aching with the pain of losing Larah. “All was going great, until she got pregnant. Hormones and all that changed her.”
“I get that.”
I shoot her a look of empathy.
“She left me when she was three months pregnant.”
Jolie grimaces, and reaches out for me.
Her hand covers mine as she rubs it softly, before retracting it. My hand feels cold without her touch, and I try to ignore it.
“It’s alright. We’re still friends.”
“That’s so good for Imogen,” Jolie beams, and I almost lose my breath at her beauty.
Panic rises in my chest as she gazes back at me, and my hand reaches out for hers again.
What the fuck am I doing?
“So yeah, that’s me,” I shrug, moving myself as far back into the sofa as I can. “Every relationship I had after that fucked up, so I’m done.”
“I see,” Jolie mumbles, her eyes dropping to my chest, trailing down my body as I try to ignore her heated gaze. “Do you like being single?”
“Do you?” I shoot back, avoiding the question entirely.
“It has its perks. You don’t get hurt, for one.”
“Agreed. It can be lonely, but I prefer it.”
We both nod, smiling at one another politely.
“I’m gonna go home, I’m so tired. I know you are too,” I laugh, as she waves at me mid yawn.
“Sorry, I’m not the best company am I?” She makes a face, and I pick up the pizza boxes, depositing them in the kitchen.
I turn to say goodbye, and she’s standing directly in front of me, her arms outstretched.
“You’re fine. Nothing wrong with you at all,” I mumble, pulling her into my arms. She squeezes me, inhaling my scent as we embrace without words.
“Thank you for being a good man, Jax.”
We pull apart, and without thinking I step away from her, alarmed by the desire to pin her against the wall and kiss her.
“Anytime you need me, Cinders, call or text me. Next time you come to mine and I’ll cook, yeah?”
“Only if Imogen is there,” she laughs, and I almost run through the door, leaving a Jax shaped hole in it behind me.
“Okay, gotta go. Take care, and I’ll see you Friday. Shall we go together?”
“I’ve got somewhere to be after, so I’ll meet you there?”
Somewhere to be. Another man.
I push away the jealousy, reminding myself that this is one chick I don’t want to fuck around.
“No worries. See you Friday.”