“I’m still stunned. I mean, I know Brad is a little crazy, but to actually set fire to Jax’s car? Fuck.” Lauren tucks her legs beneath her, dipping her Doritos into the onion and chive dip with gusto.
It’s so nice to be sitting in my little front room with my best friend, but I did miss Jax. He’d insisted I have some girl time with Lauren when she’d suggested a girls night in, and I’d promised to drive over to his first thing in the morning.
I’m hooked. I can’t get enough of him.
Lauren is still raging about Brad's actions, reminding me that regardless of anything else, we need to alert the police.
“Enough about him,” I declare, fixing my best friend with a knowing look. “How’s things going with Jorge?”
Lauren’s eyes light up, and for the next half an hour I hear how wonderful Jorge is, and how moving in with him was the best decision ever.
“Honestly, I knew he was the one for me, he just couldn’t see it. But now?” She shakes her head as she sighs, gazing into the distance. “I didn’t think I’d be this lucky, to get someone like him. When I’m around him, I just want to jump his bones, and when I’m away from him, I miss him like fucking crazy,” she admits with an embarrassed smile.
I think of Jax, and the longing in my stomach for him makes me physically ache. I know how she feels.
“So you and Jax, hmm?” Lauren scoops another Dorito into the dip, watching me with wide eyes.
“He’s perfect, Lauren,” I whisper, sipping my Fanta. It was super fizzy still, and I cough as it burns my throat, my eyes watering.
“Duh, I told you that,” Lauren drawls, her smile almost wider than her face. “I just can’t believe you two are having a baby, and fell in love along the way!”
“Wait, I never said we—” I interrupt, as Lauren waves a hand in my direction.
“If you weren’t in love, you’d have been home at least once in the past week when I’ve dropped by. I’ve seen the way he looks at you.”
“Really?” I squeak, knowing Lauren hasn’t seen Jax since we have been official.
“It’s the same way he looked at you the night you left with him.”
I almost choke on my Fanta as Lauren nods, ignoring my coughing fit.
“Yup. I think he fell for you then.”
“He did not. That was sex,” I remind her, secretly pleased Jax had looked at me in anyway that made my bestie assume he’d fallen in love with me.
“Ask him. I bet it’s true,” she hoots, finishing off the Doritos. “How’s Jax doing now?”
“As gorgeous as ever,” I sigh, as she giggles.
“Can you believe how much our lives have changed? It’s insane!”
“I even met his ex, you know, Imogen’s Mum,” I tell her as her eyes almost fall out of her sockets.
I nod, raising my eyebrows as she gapes at me.
“Chilli hot?” Lauren asks, tilting her head at me.
Lauren arches a brow. “Curry hot?”
“Lauren. She is fire.”
Lauren gasps, clutching her heart dramatically before wheezing. “She can’t be hotter than you, I don’t even care. No one is. Except for maybe me and Jorge.”
I scroll through Instagram, and locate her account. She smiles back at me with her Hollywood white teeth, and glowing skin. I hand it to Lauren who immediately zooms in, pinching the screen as she scrutinises the photo.
“Yikes. Tell me she has met someone else,” Lauren swallows, sending me a sympathetic look.
“Cheers for the vote of confidence, Loz. But yeah, her girlfriend is called June.”
The look on Lauren’s face is priceless.
“My girl is a lesbian?” She stammers, her face flushing.
“Well, I assume so,” I shrug. “But she could just like both.”
“God, she’s beautiful. But gay, which is great news for females around the world,” Lauren muses, swiping through the rest of her photos. “Oops, I liked one!”
“Lauren!” I groan, yanking my phone from her Instagram-liking hands. “She’s going to think I’ve been stalking her.”
“Well, I bet you’re not the first,” Lauren points out unhelpfully, as I send Larah a follow request, hoping that covers my tracks. I like a photo, send a follow request—perfectly harmless.
“You’re yawning again!” Lauren laughs, clearing the dishes from the table. We’d had chippy takeaway, and somehow Lauren still found room to fit in some Doritos and dip. “Get yourself to bed.”
“Mmm, what time is it?” I ask sleepily, reaching for my phone.
“Late. Too late for a pregnant beauty like you,” Lauren grins, pulling me into a hug. “Call me tomorrow, I miss you.”
“More than you miss Jorge?” I tease, watching her walk towards her car.
She sticks her tongue out at me, before climbing into her car. I watch the drive away, waving until I can’t see her anymore. I close the door, locking it behind me before dropping the keys on the side.
I flick the lights off, heading towards my bedroom as I tug on my vest and shorts. I climb into the cold bed, wishing Jax was with me. I text him, and he replies instantly.
My bed is freezing. I miss you.
Ah baby. I miss you too. Did you have a good night?
Yes. I’m just super tired. See you in the morning. Love you.
Fucking love you, too. Sleep, my Queen.
I close my eyes, my hand wrapping protectively around my belly. For the past week, Jax had spooned me night after night, kissing my shoulder and back before pulling me tight against his body, his hand laced with mine over our baby bump.
I really miss him.
My brain decides to entertain my pre sleep state with images of Jax, the feeling of his kisses on my skin lulling me into a reality that I want to live in forever.
I’m inexorably in love with Jax Cohen, and there’s nothing I can do about it.
A sound wakes me up in the dead of the night, and despite my foggy state, I know that sound is real.
It’s the door closing. The front door.
What burglar comes through the front door?!
A burglar with a key.
“Baby girl,” drawls a voice, and my stomach churns with nausea, the sound of the all too familiar boots walking up the stairs.
My eyes dart around the room, and I grab my phone, forcing myself into the bottom of my wardrobe. I’m trembling, my fingers shaking as I dial Jax’s number. The call rings briefly before it’s answered, and I cover my mouth so I don’t make a sound.
“Jolie, where are you at girl? I know you’re here, don’t play fucking games with me.”
“Baby, don’t make a sound. Sshh,” Jax says into the phone, his calm voice the only thing keeping me from vomiting all over my clothes.
“Jolie!” Brad roars, and I hear a crash of something being thrown against the wall. I let out a whimper, but press my hand over my mouth and nose.
He cannot hear me.
“I’m coming, stay on the phone to me,” Jax commands, as I clutch the phone as though it’s a weapon, tears streaming down my face.
I’m fucking terrified. Brad has always let himself in, shit, he used to live here.
I should’ve changed the locks.
I’m cursing myself as Jax speaks again.
“I’ve sent a message to Stone, baby, just stay strong—”
“The fucking wardrobe? Come on now Jolie, let’s not act like we’re playing hide and fucking seek,” snaps a voice by my ear, and I cry out in shock, shoving the phone to the back as Brad hoists me out, his hands under my arms.
“What the fuck are you doing in my house?” I hiss at him, slapping his hands away from me.
He is sober as a judge, but he looks straight through me.
“Get on the bed, Jolie,” he commands, and I laugh in disbelief. He walks towards me, stroking my cheek as he stares down at my body. Suddenly, cold metal presses against my throat, and I know he isn’t playing.“I’m asking you nicely. I don’t want to hurt you, so get on the bed.”
Nausea swims at the back of my throat as I back towards the bed, knowing I have to try to stall this.
“Bradley, please. This isn’t you.”
He tugs at his belt, ignoring me as he climbs on top of me, making me instinctively push him away, protecting my baby.
“Don’t,” I plead with him, as he rolls his eyes at me.
“You’re right, I don’t wanna see your fucking gut,” he grabs my hips, flipping me over as I inwardly scream for Jax, the knife pressed against my throat as Brad yanks my underwear down. “But I’m not going to rape you, baby, so you need to tell me how much you want this.”
I can’t speak, the idea of what was about to happen to me was too much. He grips my hips, lifting me into his chosen position as I pray.
I pray that Jax comes. I pray Brad dies standing up. I pray for my baby, and for strength.
“I don’t want you,” I sob, as his lips caress my buttocks, his hand slapping the cheek lightly as I gasp. “What is wrong with you?!”
“Me? Nothing is wrong with me. You think Jax is perfect, huh? Think his little business is all above ground?” Brad snaps, slapping my ass harder as I bite my lip.
I’m clinging to the fact that Brad won’t rape me—he isn’t like that. Images of him battering Jax come to mind, and I break a little inside.
He is capable of anything, and I have to accept that.
“Brad,” I whisper, choking on his name. “If we’re going to do this, let me enjoy it.”
“Nice try bitch, but I’m not stupid.”
“Do you think this is how you get me back?” I say, my breath caught in my throat as he presses the blade closer.
“Oh, sorry Jolie, did you think that is what I’m doing?” He chuckles, positioning himself behind me, leaning on my back as I grit my teeth, trying to summon strength to kill this fucker myself. “I’m saving your baby from a lifetime of hell, with you as a mother, and him as a daddy.”
His head is close to my ear now, and his dick presses against me as my fight or flight kicks in, adrenaline pumping in my ears.
He’s going to kill you.
Just as he’s about to thrust into me, I slam my elbow into his cheek, the knife scratching my throat as he growls in anger. But it’s all I need, and I’m scrambling towards the bedroom door, my heart in my mouth.
He’s right behind me, and I’m tripping on the fucking stairs, losing my balance and crying out in fear as he catches me, lifting me from the floor by my throat.
It’s then that I see the look in his eyes, and I know he isn’t Brad anymore. The lust from earlier has left him, and now all he wants is blood.
“You cheated on me with that fucking pretty boy,” he slams me against the wall, my hair cracking against it as my vision blurs slightly. “Cheated on me.”
I’m going to die.
There’s nothing else for it, but to go down fighting.
“I never cheated on you,” I cry, as the door swings open, filling the room with bright light.
I swear, I must be dead, because the vision of Jax striding towards me followed by three men I’ve never seen before makes me believe in heaven. I slump to the floor, as Jax and the men drag Brad outside, throwing him to the floor at the feet of a wide set man, oddly wearing sunglasses despite it being nighttime.
Maybe God wears sunglasses.
Arms circle me, and the scent of reassurance and safety envelop me as I look up to see the prettiest eyes I’ve ever seen.
“I keep meaning to ask,” I say woozily. “Do you wear contacts?”
“Did he touch you?” Jax demands, his eyes searching my face as his gaze falls on my bare thighs, his face paling. “Did he—”
“No,” I whisper, wanting to see the light on his eyes again. “He nearly did.”
“We heard,” Jax closes his eyes, pressing his lips to my head. “He won’t ever hurt you again. I swear, on my life. You have my word.”
I nod, resting my head on his chest as he scoops me up into his arms, walking me out of the house and into the chilly air. I don’t want to see Brad, but strangely I don’t hear him either. I squeeze my eyes shut as Jax places me in the backseat of a car, before he slides in beside me.
“Where to, Jax?” Booms a voice, and Jax stares at me, swallowing hard as he strokes my head. His face changes then, and he blinks furiously, before his eyes darken.
“The hospital, now. Her head—just drive!” He barks, as the car jolts, and Jax pulls me into his arms.
“Stay awake, baby, stay awake.”
“I am, silly,” I say, closing my eyes as I rest against him.
“Jolie!” Jax says, stroking my cheek as I blinks slowly, heavy blinks, the sort that you do just before you yawn.
But I can’t.