The Morning After
The room is tiny.
I don’t mean I’m rich and this is average kinda tiny, I mean shoebox tiny. I stroke my jaw, wondering where the fuck a cot would fit in here, let alone a changing table and a wardrobe.
I cast my eyes over the boxes of shit belonging to my friend, and exhale loudly.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Shitmas.
Boxes of photographs, a broken guitar that I know belonged to Rad’s father, a stack of records and books fill the room.
I glance down at the photos, and notice one of Rad and Jolie. My heart drops at the way she’s looking at him, all gooey eyed and devoted.
How did she break his heart?
I drop it back into the box, deciding that I’ll store his shit for him. Jolie needs the space for a nursery, and there sure as hell isn’t room in here with this shit here.
I need to speak to him.
“Hi,” says a voice from the doorway, and I whirl around to see Jolie gazing at the box of photos, a distant look in her eyes. “I haven’t been in here...for a long time.”
She’s wearing jeans and a loose t-shirt that slides over her shoulder, revealing a neon pink bra strap. Her hair is tugged into a loose bun, and her eyes mist over with memories only she can see.
“What happened to you and him?” I ask gruffly, watching her as she looks up in surprise.
“You’re friends, did he not tell you?”
I shrug. “We’re hardly besties, Jolie. All I know is that you broke his heart by leaving him.”
Her mouth drops open, and she folds her arms across her chest, gazing at me in disbelief.
“Oh really?” She juts her chin out, frowning. “That bastard shagged someone else when we were together.”
“I’m sorry,” I murmur. “I didn’t know.”
“Yeah well, now you do,” Jolie says bitterly. “I love him so much—” she stops, biting her lip.
Love? Present tense?
“He still loves you,” I find myself saying, wondering why the fuck I’d be telling her that.
The hope in her eyes makes me annoyed, and I can’t help but add to my words.
“Clearly not enough, to do that to you.”
Her eyes flicker with pain, and I clear my throat.
“We need to tell him about the baby,” I mutter, pushing a hand through my hair.
Jolie stills, and her body stiffens.
“I know,” she whispers. “But I don’t know how he’ll take it.”
I frown, wondering what she meant by that. Rad was a deadly guy to cross, but he was respectful to women as far as I’d seen. Yet Jolie looks afraid.
“He still calls me,” she admits, leaning against the doorframe.
I pinch the bridge of my nose, remembering Rad saying she wouldn’t lay with him anymore.
“I’ll talk to him.” I say, and her eyes lift to mine.
“It would probably be better coming from me.”
“Then I’ll be here,” I shrug, nodding at the boxes. “I can store these at mine, if you want to get started with the nursery.”
“Jax… I don’t think Rad will be okay with this. With us,” Jolie swallows, fear in her eyes.
I study her, narrowing my eyes.
“What’s he done to you?” I demand, and she frowns.
“Nothing, other than cheat on me. But he’s possessive…” her voice trails off, and I nod.
He loves her. Despite cheating on her, he loves her. I know as much from the way he is when he speaks about her.
“Yeah, well, you’re pregnant with my baby,” I say, shrugging my shoulders. “It’s not like we’re in a relationship or anything. We had a one night stand, and now we are working together as parents.”
I try to ignore the hurt in her eyes, knowing that she was probably thinking about last night.
Shit, even I'm still thinking about that.
“No, we aren’t, but last night—” Jolie starts, and I nod.
“Look, it’s complicated isn’t it,” I say, walking over to her. “But I’m here for you. You needed that. That release. You know that with me, it’s safe, and I don’t get all territorial over you or think things are happening that aren’t.”
She frowns, looking up at me with her hazel eyes.
“But you were territorial, Jax.”
“Because you’re pregnant, Jolie,” I mumble, placing a hand on the wall beside her.
God, this is difficult.
“The only reason you did that last night was because I’m pregnant with your child?” Jolie splutters with disbelief, and I bite my lip.
“Well, that and the fact you’re crazy hot.”
“Charming,” Jolie mutters, sighing her minty breath into my face.
“If you want to make a go of things with me, you know, for the baby’s sake—” I begin, as she laughs harshly.
“No thanks. I’m not a charity case, Jax.”
“I didn’t say you were,” I snap back, as she narrows her eyes at me.
“Look, last night was good. You’re talented in the bedroom, and I needed it. But I’ll deal with Brad, and I’ll deal with my sexual needs from now on.”
“Jolie,” I sigh, as she glares at me. “How is that offensive? I said if you wanted to make a go of it together as parents, we could try. We’re clearly compatible, in one way or another.”
“Because neither of us wanted a relationship, Jax. This is a situation that we have been thrown into, and we need some kind of normality. You can’t be involved with my sex or love life though.”
I lift my eyebrow at her as she moves away from the door, casting her eyes down at the boxes.
“I’ll ring Brad today.”
I swear, I can’t do right for doing wrong with this girl. A relationship with Jolie would be alright, I’m sure. The sex is dynamite, and we clearly find each other attractive. We’d do the right thing by the baby, and Imogen loves her.
I follow her out of the room and downstairs, as she slumps onto the sofa with a sigh.
“Are we ok?” I ask quietly.
Jolie doesn’t even look up at me as she flicks the television on, frowning as she shrugs. “Sure. Just don’t treat me like a charity case and we’ll be fine. We need boundaries.”
“No more orgasms. Noted,” I smirk, and she cuts her eyes at me.
“I mean it Jax,” she rolls her eyes but she smiles, and I know we’re good.
I sink down on the sofa beside her, and she peers at me curiously.
“I’m curious though. Who is going to scratch that itch of yours?”
“Jax, it doesn’t concern you!” Jolie groans, and I hold my hands up.
“It does, you’re carrying my baby.”
“Our baby,” she corrects, leaning on her hand as she looks at me with a puzzled expression.
“What?” I ask, yawning.
“You want to try to tell me who I can and cannot fuck?” She laughs, and I frown.
“No, but fucking hell, your options are shit. One is my mate, the other my employee.”
I’d have to listen to them gloating about fucking her.
“I like Chris,” Jolie admits, and I feel a wave of annoyance wash over me.
“He’s hardly the settling down type,” I drawl, pretending to watch the television show. “I’m not being funny, but what guy wants to get down and dirty with someone who is pregnant with someone else’s child?”
“Jax!” Jolie hisses, and I snort with laughter as she hits me with a pillow. “You can be such a dick, I swear. Don’t you ever think before you speak?”
“Sorry babe,” I coo, as she shakes her head.
“Don’t babe me.”
“Ok babe,” I laugh, as she gives me a dark look. “Look, are you hungry? I saw Loverboy brought you breakfast but then left with it when I arrived.”
“I am, actually. I was going to make bacon cobs.”
“Yes Jolie!” I clap my hands together, jumping up before she can move. “I make the best bacon baps. Stay there,” I instruct, grinning at her.
“Don’t burn my kitchen down!” Jolie calls after me, and I roll my eyes at her.
I’ve been cooking since I was nine. My mother was obsessed with teaching me to cook, and the first thing I made was scrambled eggs on toast. Who knew that adding butter to nearly cooked eggs made then so damn fluffy and creamy?
Tugging open the fridge, I notice the twenty pound note has stuck to the back wall.
“Your fridge is too cold,” I call out, adjusting the thermostat.
“It is, you’ve got ice at the back!”
She silent then and I can’t help but smirk, knowing her silence shows her defeat.
I grab the pack of bacon, and locate a pan, managing to get the hob on reasonably easily. I trim all the fat off the bacon, allowing that to crisp up whilst I butter the bread. My stomach growls when the fat starts to sizzle, and I notice the eggs on the windowsill, in some sort of decorative hen.
“Huh,” I chuckle, taking a few eggs. My eyes move across the road, and I see Chris striding around in his bedroom with no top on.
What a view she has.
I focus on the bacon and eggs, and once I’ve got it all down to perfection, I take it in to Jolie.
“Wow,” she says, taking a bite. Yolk runs down her chin as she groans, her eyes rolling in her head. “What. Is. This.”
“Cohen’s finest. Burnt bacon, crispy bits and runny egg.”
We’re silent as we chow down, and She gets up, taking our plates into the kitchen. I follow her, guiding her back out as she protests.
“I’ll make the tea, and do the dishes.”
“No buts, mama. Go sit down.”
I’ve just put the kettle on when there’s a knock at the door, and I stiffen.
From her door knocking history, this probably isn’t going to be good.
Jolie sends me a side glance as she passes the kitchen, opening the door with a sigh of relief.
“Hey,” she smiles, and I’m entranced again by how beautiful she is when she’s relaxed.
“Hi! You missed the drama this morning. You know the shoe woman? I picked up on shoe, this woman picked up another—Jole, I nearly hit her with it—”
The excited voice gives way to a cute brunette that stops mid sentence when she sees me standing at the sink, her eyes widening.
“Oh, my God, I didn’t realise—” she breathes as I push my hands into the soapy water, swirling a sponge over the plates.
“Lauren, meet Jax. Jax, this is my best friend, Lauren,” Jolie smiles, and I nod at her, giving her a soapy wave.
“At least you’re not another lover,” I joke, and Lauren flushes, making me wonder what I’ve said.
“Jax is making tea,” Jolie says, shooting me a look. “Do you want one?”
“Coffee please,” Lauren mumbles, openly checking me out. “Two sugars.”
“Not sweet enough?” I ask innocently, as she laughs.
Jolie looks between us before walking away, and her friend follows her.
This should be interesting.