I’m trembling, so much so that Jax grabs my hand, his eyes flashing as he studies me.
“We can go, you don’t have to do this.”
“I want to,” I repeat for the hundredth time. “The DNA results said he’s my father.”
“So? It doesn’t mean you have to do anything, baby.”
It’s been a few weeks since Stone turned up and confessed he may be my father. Jax has arranged a private DNA test, and the results arrived two days ago.
Stone is my father.
I’m not sure how to feel about it, but I do know I want to see him. Jax is wary of the whole situation, but he supports me regardless.
We’re sat in a little pub not far from the town centre, and no matter what I do I can’t stop my body from reacting when Stone walks through the door.
Telltale leather jacket, complete with patches, flanked by two bikers who glare around the pub menacingly. Stone skins the room, his eyes landing on me as he turns to his two companions, clearly giving some kind of instruction.
He strides over to us confidently, sinking into the chair before me.
His voice is assertive, but he sounds tired. I study him, wondering how the hell he is my father. We share no physical similarities, and I can’t help but wonder why I don’t look like either of my parents.
“Hi,” I say, gripping Jax’s hand.
“You look like you’ve got something you wanna say, Jax.” Stone sighs, fixing his eyes on Jax.
“You know I have. I’ve told you already, this isn’t about me.” Jax snaps back, his voice dangerously low. “This is about the fact that you put my pregnant girlfriend in jeopardy, telling her shit like this when she’s on her own.”
“I’ve apologised for that. I just couldn’t wait any longer,” Stone says, moving his eyes back to Jolie. “I’m sorry, kid. Wouldn’t ever want to hurt you.”
“Why now?” I ask, as Jax traces his thumb around mine. He’s literally keeping me sane.
“I didn’t know, kid. You’ve gotta believe me on that. It was only when I found out who your mum was, and the resemblance between you and my mother, that I kinda put two and two together.”
“You’re a beautiful girl, you really are. I’m sorry I haven’t been there, but I wish that I had. I’ve heard about your… childhood.” Pain registers in Stone’s eyes as he purses his lips into a thin line. “It didn’t sound very pretty. I’m sorry.”
“I thought my dad was dead,” I say coldly, unsure why I’m so fucking angry with him. “When in reality he was running a fucking motorcycle club and fuck knows what other illicit affairs.”
Stone sighs heavily, his eyes flickering from me to Jax.
“Your past two relationships have been with bikers, darlin’. You know what we do.”
“I’m not a biker,” Jax mutters, raising his eyebrows at Stone. “Not anymore.”
“I just want you to know that I’m sorry for not being there, Jolie. I wanna get to know you, and your baby, if you’ll let me.”
“You can’t ask her that,” Jax snaps.
“Jax, it’s okay. Give us a minute,” I say, squeezing Jax’s hand. “Could you grab me a lime and soda?”
Jax glares at Stone, kissing my hand before he drops it.
“Don’t upset her,” he barks at Stone, before striding towards the bar.
“Well, he loves you,” Stone declares, leaning forward to gaze at me. “I can see why. Jax is a good man.”
“I know. I want to ask you something.”
Stone raises his eyebrows, waving his hand expectantly. “Go ahead.”
“Where’s Rad?” I whisper, not entirely sure if I want to know the answer.
Stone narrows his eyes, rubbing his chin as he sighs heavily.
“Now why do you wanna know that? Isn’t it enough to know he’s never gonna bother you again?”
“Just tell me. I’m a big girl, I can take it,” I reply, as Jax walks back over with my drink.
Stone eyeballs Jax, before addressing him directly.
“Jolie wants to know what happened to Rad.”
I refuse to look at Jax who stiffens beside me.
“Why?” Jax asks softly, turning his aqua gaze to me.
“Can someone just fucking tell me?” I demand, slamming my hands on the table.
Stone shrugs at Jax, who rests his head back against the wall, staring at the ceiling.
“Let me lie to you,” he whispers, and I whip my head around to him.
“No!” I turn back to Stone, who is tapping the table with his fingers, staring at me. “You. You tell me, you owe me.”
“That I do. But I’ll let you guess what happened to the man who cheated on my daughter, then tried to rape and attack her when she was pregnant. I may not have been your daddy for all those years, but violence against women is a fucking sin in my book. Let alone against my daughter.”
I let the words sink in, and I lift my eyes to Stone, my heart slamming in my chest.
“You didn’t know I was your daughter then…” I stammer, as he nods.
“Some questions need to be left unanswered. The truth ain’t always pretty, and I don’t like lyin’.”
I close my eyes as Jax reaches for me, lifting my hand to his lips.
“I think I need to go,” I whisper, feeling faint.
“Look, if you need anything, just holler. Alright?” Stone says, with a sad smile. “Anything. Oh, and Jax?”
Jax is halfway to standing, allowing me to slide out with my balloon of a stomach.
“That favour. I’m callin it. Look after my girl for me.”
It’s strange, hearing a grown man referring to me as his girl, after all these years.
“I’m not your girl,” I snap, pushing past Jax. “I’m his, and he’s got this. See you around, Stone.”