The room is light, and I can only assume I’ve overslept.
Stretching my limbs, I stare at the empty bed beside me. My stomach growls, adding to my theory that it must be pretty late in the morning. I raise myself to a sitting position, a yawn overtaking my mouth which forces my eyes closed.
How can I still be so tired?
I pad over to the windows, allowing my fingers to rest against the cool glass. Jax’s room overlooks the pool, and my heart skips a beat when I see his strong body slicing through the water. Imogen is trying to keep up behind him, and for a ten year old she’s got some strength.
But Jax is a natural. His head moves up for air rhythmically from side to side, his arms gliding through the water as his feet create momentum, moving him effortlessly through the water.
He stops when he reaches the pool's edge, turning to grin at Imogen who is still following him loyally. Jax laughs at something she says, and he throws his head back, and his gaze falls on me.
Instantly I step back, feeling guilty for spying on him whilst he swims with Imogen. I turn away, my gaze falling on my bag. I sift through it, locating my phone and checking the time.
“Early birds,” I breathe, finding a text message from Rad.
Are you okay, baby?
I exhale, my hair blowing away from me as I do. Movement at the door makes me jump, and I drop my phone back into my bag. Jax fills the doorway, a towel wrapped around his waist as he studies me. His hair is slick with pool water, and the stench of chlorine fills the air as he lifts an eyebrow.
“Morning. You hungry?”
His gaze travels down my body, and my cheeks flush in response.
“Yeah,” I admit, as he nods, turning away.
“Marianne is making omelettes. Come on down.”
I follow him downstairs, watching helplessly as his back muscles ripple beneath the water droplets escaping from his hair. I watch one trail down his back, disappearing from sight into the cream fluffy towel. The thing about spiral staircases is that if you’re following someone like I am, you end up being face to face with them unexpectedly as the staircase twists, and I was now staring into the electric turquoise eyes of Jax Cohen. A smirk pulls at his mouth, but he has the grace to look away, allowing me to heave a sigh of relief.
I don’t want him to know I’m ogling him.
Even though I am.
Burning chorizo and bacon make my tummy rumble loudly, and Jax turns to grin at me.
“Someone’s hungry. Marianne, meet Jolie.”
Marianne is a large woman with a kind face, that erupts into a smile at the sight of me.
“Morning Jolie! Sit down my love, and tell me what you want in your omelette.”
“Daddy!” Imogen calls from the garden, her hands poised over her head as she bends her knees. “Watch me dive!”
Jax moves past me, his fingers dancing across my lower back as he does. “Excuse me.”
I shiver as he walks away, turning back to Marianne who is watching us with intrigue.
“What do you fancy?” She asks, winking at me.
“What?” I ask, frowning.
“In your omelette,” she chuckles, her eyes crinkling up at the sides. Her grey hair is swept into a chic bun, and her apron is spotless. An array of food sits beside the pan on the hob, and I lick my lips.
“Chorizo and tomato please,” I say, watching as she cracks four eggs into a Pyrex jug, whipping them furiously as she adds a dash of milk.
“Cheese?” Marianne chirps, and I nod gratefully.
“Ooh, yes please.”
I watch with fascination as she drops chunks of chorizo into the pan before slicing up cherry tomatoes. She is frowning with concentration, and the smell of the food makes my stomach ache. Moments later she’s pushing a plate full of goodness towards me, complete with a tall glass of tropical juice.
“Thank you,” I say, overwhelmed.
“You need to eat, and you need vitamins,” Marianne smiles knowingly, her eyes dropping to my tummy. “Or rather, baby Cohen does.”
I stop mid chew, and she waves her hand dismissively.
“Jax told me. He didn’t want me to be shocked when a beautiful pregnant woman emerged from his bedroom this morning.”
“Oh,” I whisper, closing my eyes at the taste explosion currently going off in my mouth.
“He’s a good man.”
I look up to see Marianne wiping the sides down as though she hadn’t said a word. I say nothing, and I’m grateful when Imogen sails in, a fluffy pink towel surrounding her.
“Hi, Imogen,” I grin, polishing off my omelette. I slide from the stool, walking over to the sink as Marianne waves me away.
“You’ll have me out of a job, Miss Jolie.”
“I don’t mind washing my own—”
Marianne arches a brow at me challengingly, and I back off.
“Tea?” Her eyes twinkle as I shake my head.
“No, thank you. I should be going—”
My words are cut off by Imogen calling her father into the room.
“Daddy! Jolie is going!” she pouts, and Marianne clears her throat.
“Imogen, let’s get you dressed.”
“I can dress myself!” She protests, as Marianne winks at me.
“I know, but I love your clothes. Let me help you pick an outfit at least. Say goodbye to Miss Jolie.”
Imogen sighs, looking up at me with her fathers eyes.
“Jolie,” Jax says, leaning on the kitchen counter.
He’s still not fucking dressed.
My heart does a happy dance, and I swallow, remembering the state we were in last night.
“Jax. About last night.”
Jax watches me, tilting his head to the left as he waits.
Why does he have to have such a beautiful face?
“I don’t think it was appropriate for Imogen to see me in your bed.”
My voice is trembling slightly, but I’m determined to get my point across.
“I mean, I was naked,” I groan, rubbing my temples.
Jax holds my gaze, moving around the counter towards me, his fingers dragging along side as he does.
“I know,” he smirks, and I close my eyes, trying to ignore the effect he is having on my body.
“Jax, it isn’t right. Her mother won’t be happy.”
Jax stops, raising his eyebrows in my direction.
“Larah? Yeah, I guess it will really piss her off that you comforted Imogen so well after a nightmare that she fell asleep in your arms,” he sighed, lifting his fingers to stroke my face.
“I mean it, Jax. Imogen will get the wrong idea,” I back away from his touch, but instantly regret it.
“Jolie,” Jax says, his hand on my hip as he moves me softly towards him. My body deceives me, and I can’t help but bite my lip hard. “Spend the day with me.”
“What?” I frown, looking up into his unreadable gaze. I want to reach up and stroke his wet hair, run my hand down the stubble of his face, burying my head in his neck—
“I know what you’re thinking,” he says, his thumb slowly stroking the curve of my jaw, rendering me useless. “But I feel something for you, something a lot deeper than baby momma shit.”
Oh. My. God.
“You don’t even know me,” I whisper, swallowing the lump in my throat as I try to back away. “You’re only in this situation because of a stupid fucking one night thing.”
Jax moves closer to me, his hand slipping around my waist as he pulls me closer to him. His skin is still damp, and he presses his forehead against mine, shaking his head.
“I know that when I’m with you, sweetheart, I feel like I’m home.”
My breath leaves my body in a whoosh then, but the panic that takes over is something else.
He’ll leave me.
He won’t understand why my own mother didn’t love me.
He’s only saying this because of the baby.
“I’m not perfect, Jax, and there are things about my past that I don’t want you to know.”
Jax stares into my eyes, and for a brief second my anxiety eases. Just for a brief second.
“I couldn’t give a fuck about your past. Do you need help hiding a body?”
“What? No,” I gasp, as he moves closer to me, pinning me against the counter between his hands.
“Hey, look at me.”
I’m terrified, and I don’t know why.
“I can see the pain in your eyes, Jolie. I want to make it better. Let me make it better.”
His lips brush against mine, and I respond instantly, his hands lifting me effortlessly onto the freshly cleaned counter. He tugs me towards him, and my legs wrap around his waist, my hands running over his broad shoulders as I allow him to kiss me.
This isn’t kissing.
It’s heaven on earth.
“I’m not Rad, Jolie,” he says gruffly, pulling away from my mouth. “I’d never hurt you.”
“It’s not just Rad,” I say, hanging my head. “I’m just…complicated.”
“Yeah? I like complicated.”
I stare up at him, my heart screaming to be released so it can jump into his chest and cling to his. His eyes burn into mine, and I swallow, unable to believe that he truly wants me.
“Slow,” is all I say, dropping my eyes from his. “We take it slow.”
“Whatever you want,” he says, lifting my chin up with his finger. “But you need to know, I want you. I want you, and this baby, and us.”
“Even though you don’t know everything?”
Jax chuckles, kissing my lips softly, massaging my heart with his next words.
“I don’t care.”
Despite the anxiety in my chest, I allow him to pull me close to him, my lungs inhaling his scent as he strokes my back.
I’m still not sure, but I’d be stupid to ignore the way Jax makes me feel.
Like I’m special.