Jax looks pissed.
Like, majorly pissed.
His jaw muscles are clenching, whilst he chews on the inside of his mouth. He stares straight ahead whilst I sip my tea, thoughts racing through my mind.
When Brad spoke to me earlier, it was the Brad of old. Soft and caring, his eyes searching mine as he stroked my face.
But I can’t go back.
“Why’d you agree to have a Chinese with him?” Jax asks, his eyes trained on me.
“I don’t know,” I admit, and exhale. “He just has this effect on me sometimes, and I can’t say no.”
Admitting it is awful. Admitting that someone who hurt you has a hold on you so tightly that you’d do anything to have them hold you and comfort you. Jax squints at me, and I know he’s judging me again.
“You don’t understand,” I say, and he looks at me, his beautiful eyes searching mine.
“Hey, it doesn’t matter what I understand and what I don’t. You make your own decisions,” he strokes his stubble, leaning back to gaze at me. “But I think you’re giving him the wrong idea.”
“How?” I snort, shaking my head. “He knows it’s as a friend.”
“Jolie, you’re horny as fuck. You’ve admitted yourself he has an effect on you that you can’t control—”
“All you care about is whether I’m going to fuck him or not,” I exclaim, as he cuts his eyes at me.
“Fuck who you want, but I don’t want someone like that around my kid.”
Silence falls between us, and I realise I’ve got nothing to say. I don’t want someone like Brad around them either, but who is Jax to judge?
“So now it’s about the baby?” I sigh, rubbing my temples. “I don’t get you.”
“Why?” Jax unlaces his fingers, holding them up. “Is it so hard to understand that I care about you and the baby?”
“No, but Brad is my ex. He won’t hurt me or the baby.”
Jax nods stiffly, standing up.
“Fine, I’m going. You know what you’re doing, don’t you?”
It’s a rhetorical question, his sarcastic tone riling me. On one hand he’d soothed the situation between Brad and me regarding the pregnancy, but as much as I hate to admit it, maybe it would be giving Brad the wrong idea.
The door slams behind Jax, and I groan out loud.
All of this because of a one night stand.
I run myself a bath, and text Brad.
I think it’s best we leave it tonight. I don’t think it’s wise. Sorry.
Great. So now I’ve not only pissed Jax off, but Brad too. I sink into the bubbles, watching the steam rise as I try to clear my mind.
Except turquoise eyes keep gazing at me from the corners of my mind, and my heart skips a beat when I recall kissing him in this very bathroom.
Jax is gorgeous, and he’s done the right thing by me and the baby so far. He’s even handled Brad, and I can’t fault anything he’s done. He’s been judgemental, sure. But I can forgive that.
He’s even asked me to be in a relationship with him for the sake of our child—but I’m not entirely sure if that is a redeeming quality or not. I’m not having a pity relationship.
I want a relationship that is built on passion, yes, but mainly friendship. It’s important that I trust a man.
Right now, I really don’t. I have Brad to thank for that.
After my bath, I eat half a run of ice cream which gives me a stomach ache. I’m still cursing my stupid decisions when I finally fall asleep, my arms wrapped around my pillow.
I wake up feeling refreshed and content, and well enough to go out hunting for bargains. I text Lauren who’s busy with Jorge today, and I decide to drive further out.
I find myself in the village of Luxton, all rolling hills and quaint coffee shops, but the charity shops here are like little treasure troves. I don’t mind if I don’t find anything of value—sometimes I can find a book I used to love or a charming piece of jewellery. I love losing myself in the streets, where no one pays me any attention.
After an unsuccessful morning, I stop off in a coffee shop, ordering a slice of carrot cake and a latte. I’m gazing out of the window, idly listening to the hustle and bustle around me. It's mainly older couples, retired with nothing to do and nowhere to be. How I’d love to have no agenda.
I locate a seat at the back, and tip half a sachet of sweetener into my drink as my phone beeps.
Morning darling. Well, actually it’s afternoon, but I’ve not long been up. I was wondering if you and Jax wanted to come round for tea one evening? We’d love to meet him. Hope you’re okay my lovely.
This was odd. I didn’t want to sit with my Aunt and Uncle, the only family members I had left, with Jax, who wasn’t even talking to me right now. I’d not heard from him since he left last night.
Hi! I’m okay, morning sickness has subsided, finally! I’d love to see you, not so sure about Jax. We’re not exactly seeing eye to eye at the moment. When were you thinking?
As I shoot the text off, my phone vibrates in my hand, alerting me to a phone call.
Feeling like a coward, I let it go to voicemail. I turn my phone over, not wanting to speak to anyone right now.
Everyone wants something from me.
Polishing off my cake and latte, I stroll back into the winter sun, dawdling down the main road. The windows are beginning to prepare for Christmas, reds and golds replace the autumnal hues of deep orange and brown, and I watch as staff dress a Christmas tree with smiles on their faces.
I’d not even thought about it despite it being just around the corner. I usually spent it with my Aunt and Uncle, but last year I’d spent it with Brad.
A pain hums in my chest as I inhale, pushing it aside.
I can’t help the decision he made, the one that ended us.
By the time I reach my car my Bluetooth connects to the phone, and I realise it’s ringing again.
“Fuck,” I mutter, pressing answer without checking the number.
It’s him. His voice fills my car, and I shiver with desire. I really need to get this shit sorted out—I’m a walking horn dog.
“Jax,” I exhale. “Sorry I missed your call. I'm working.”
“It’s alright,” he goes quiet. “I just wanted to make sure you were alright after seeing Rad.”
His tone is flat, but I feel bad for ignoring his call earlier. He might’ve thought the worst.
“I didn’t see him,” I say, swinging the car out of its parking space. “I had a bath and went to bed.”
“How very civalised,” Jax drawls, but I notice his voice has lifted a few octaves.
“My aunt has invited you to dinner,” I blurt out, and I swear I hear him inhale sharply.
“I know. She knows we’re not together, so don’t worry about that. She’s…the only family I have left.”
What am I saying?!
“Oh, uh, sure. Let me know when,” he clears his throat, and he moves the phone against him as I hear it muffle. “Look, I’m sorry if I was out of order last night. But I’m worried.”
“I know. I don’t want to fall out with you, Jax,” I say softly.
“Me neither. I’ve got to go, but I’ll call you tonight, okay?”
“Okay. See ya,” I say, clicking the red buttton to end the call.
“That was your daddy,” I say aloud to my unborn child. “He’s very protective. He barely knows me and he looks after me, imagine what he’ll be like with you,” I purr, smiling to myself.
More importantly, I can’t help but look forward to him calling me tonight. I have to admit that Jax is heavenly, inside and out. But I’m also aware that he is happy to try a relationship with me because he has failed once already with a child, and doesn’t want to do it a second time.
I don’t want to be his pity girlfriend.
If I was anything, I’d want him to want me for me. Not for the fact I’m having his child, and Jax isn’t capable of that.
So yet again, I push Jax from my mind, focusing instead on the road ahead.