“Okay,” I whispered, because I didn’t know what else to say.
As I lay there, trying to swallow a loud, obnoxious yawn, I remembered something he’d said when we first met, about life being too short. I imagined he had firsthand experience with shortened lives while he was serving. That mentality came from experience. I got that now. Could even understand it, but there was something I didn’t understand.
“Why?” I asked.
There was a beat. “Why what?”
Jax sounded tired, and I should shut up or point out that I was now tired and could sleep, so he could leave. But I didn’t. “Why are you here? You don’t know me and . . .” I trailed off, because there really wasn’t anything left to say.
A minute went by, and he hadn’t answered my question, and then I think another minute ticked on, and I was okay with him not answering because maybe he didn’t even know. Or maybe he was just bored and that was why he was here.
But then he moved.
Jax pressed against my back, and the next breath I took got stuck in my throat. My eyes shot open. The sheet and blanket were between us, but they felt like nothing.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Getting comfortable.” He dropped an arm over my waist, and my entire body jerked against his. “It’s time to sleep I think.”
“You can’t sleep when you talk,” he remarked.
“You don’t need to be all up on me,” I pointed out.
His answering chuckle stirred the hair along the back of my neck. “Honey, I’m not all up on you.”
I freaking begged to differ on that point. I started to wiggle away, but the arm around my waist tightened, holding me in place.
“You’re not going anywhere,” he announced casually, as if he wasn’t holding me prisoner in the bed.
Okay. The whole prisoner thing might be melodramatic, but he wasn’t letting me up. Not when he was getting all kinds of comfy behind me.
Oh my God, this was spooning. Total spooning. I was spooning with an honorary member of the Hot Guy Brigade. Did I wake up in a parallel universe?
“Sleep,” he demanded, as if the one word carried that much power. “Go to sleep, Calla.” This time his voice was softer, quieter.
“Yeah, it doesn’t work that way, Jax. You have a nice voice, but it doesn’t hold the power to make me sleep on your command.”
I rolled my eyes, but the most ridiculous thing ever was the fact that after a couple of minutes, my eyes stayed shut. I . . . I actually settled in against him. With his front pressed to my back, his long legs cradling mine, and his arm snug around my waist, I actually did feel safe. More than that, I felt something else—something I hadn’t felt in years.
I felt cared for . . . cherished.
Which was the epitome of dumb, because I barely knew him, but feeling that, recognizing what the warm, buzzing feeling was, I fell right asleep.
It was warm and oh so very toasty when I woke up, and I didn’t want to leave the bed. I was in this snug cocoon of awesomeness and I wanted to snuggle down, cozy up against—
My eyes peeled wide open. All drowsiness disappeared and I came wide awake.
I wasn’t alone.
Oh hell no, I so wasn’t alone in the bed and I knew I hadn’t gone to bed alone, but if I remembered correctly, I hadn’t fallen asleep with my cheek on a hard male chest. Which was really strange, because I was one of those sleepers who never moved around once they fell asleep. I stayed in that position all night, so this . . . this was weird and I took no responsibility for my current position.
Oh my golly God, every muscle in my body locked up as I fully became aware of how I’d been sleeping.
My cheek wasn’t the only thing all up on Jax. My shoulder and my br**sts were smushed to his side, as in there was not even a centimeter of space between us. My left arm was thrown across his stomach, and with every breath he took, I could feel the hardness of his abs, tightly rolled. He still had a shirt on, thank God, because I’d probably combust in flames if he hadn’t. One of his legs was thrust between mine, pressing against an area that pretty much had had nothing that didn’t belong to me pressed against it. Our legs were literally curled together.
Jax shifted slightly, causing his leg to move between mine. I bit down on my lip as my lower stomach tightened and a wave of sharp tingles shimmied up my spine. His breathing hadn’t changed, it was still deep and steady, but the hand curved along my hip started to slide.
A shiver chased after his hand, and my chest rose sharply against the side of his body. His hand slipped lower.
Jax cupped my butt cheek.
Totally hands-on, cupped my butt cheek.
Holy shit balls raining from the sky.
I should’ve been ticked off that he was copping a feel in his sleep, but that wasn’t what I was feeling at all. A languid heat invaded my body, sinking beyond the skin and muscles, spreading through every cell. A slight throbbing picked up in certain areas of my body. My breath came in short inhales as my h*ps jerked against his thigh. The feelings intensified, rushing through me like molten lava. The throbbing between my legs increased.
This was bad, because it wasn’t fair. There was no reason to allow myself to get so worked up when nothing would ever come from it, so I needed to get out of this bed. Panic swirled around in me like a dust storm, mixing with the acute and rapidly swelling arousal.
Jerking back, I started to rise, but I didn’t get very far. The hand on my rump moved to flatten across my stomach as his arm tightened along my back.
“Where you going?” His voice was raspy with sleep.
My gaze shifted down to him. His eyes were heavily hooded, lips parted. Dark stubble spread across his jaw, adding to the ridiculously sexy, bed-messy look.
He turned his head to the side, looking at the clock on the nightstand. A groan rumbled through him. “It’s too early. Go back to sleep.”
Too early? It was almost nine o’clock! Granted, being a bartender meant one’s idea of early and late were two different things.
When I didn’t move, Jax tugged me back down so that I was half sprawled across him once more.
“Sleep,” he grumbled.
What the hell? I managed to wiggle back enough to get my hand between us. I pushed back as I rose. “I’m not going back to sleep and I don’t think this is really appropriate. I need . . .” I trailed off as I stared down at him.
Jax’s head was tilted back against the pillow, exposing his long, tan neck, and the tips of straight white teeth bit down on his full lower lip. The look on his face, like he was stopping himself from doing something very naughty and very fun, confused me.
And then I realized why.
I’d planted my hand on his lower stomach, like way lower stomach, and my thigh was now pressing in between his legs. “Oh God,” I whispered, feeling my face heat as I jerked back my hand.
Jax moved lightning quick, capturing my wrist in his hand. “You probably should’ve just gone back to sleep.”
My heart flounced in my chest. Yes, literally flounced.
He rolled suddenly, and before I could take my next breath, I was flat on my back and he was hovering above me, one hand still curled around my wrist and the other planted in the bed beside my head, his lower arm curved into the mattress.
“What are you doing?”
Not immediately clueing me in, his warm brown gaze traveled over my face—my face—before fixing on my mouth. “You know what they say about guys in the morning?”
One side of his lips kicked up, and then I got it and then my face really was burning. A deep, husky chuckle shook him. “I’m kind of glad you didn’t go back to sleep. This is by far more interesting.”
My brain emptied.
The hand around my wrist slid down my arm, stopping at my elbow, where it was jabbing into the side of my stomach. “You know what else I find really interesting?”
“What?” Why was I asking? Why did I care?
His head lowered until I felt his nose brush mine, and I tensed. “It’s interesting how much I liked waking up with my hand on your ass and my leg between yours.”
“You were awake!”
He grinned. “Maybe.”
Using my other arm, I pushed my hand against his chest. “Get off.”
“Would love to.”
My eyes narrowed with irritation. “Yeah, that’s not what I’m talking about, jackass.”
Totally unfazed, he moved his thumb in a slow circle over the inside of my elbow. That tiny, almost unconscious touch sent a shock wave of sensation through my system. One second I was ready to knee him in the nuts and the next I was thinking of other more pleasant things involving said nuts.
“What are you doing?” I asked again, my pulse racing and even pounding.
His chest expanded, brushing mine, and my toes curled in response. “Doing something better than sleeping.”
That really wasn’t an answer.
Jax dipped his head and the tip of his nose grazed my right cheek. “I like you.”
My heart stopped flouncing and did a twirl on one toe. “What?”
“I like you,” he repeated, voicing dropping to a whisper that glided over my skin.
“You don’t know me,” I pointed out for what felt like the hundredth time in the short time I had known him.
“What I know of you I like.”
Perfect answer. It really was. I swallowed hard. “But—”
“Don’t overthink it, honey. Life’s too short for that shit,” he said, his lips grazing my skin. Every muscle tightened in the most delicious way, and his thumb, it was still swirling, still dragging out an array of sensations. “I like you. That’s all.”
“But you can’t.” The words sort of popped out of me.
His lips stilled against my cheek and then he lifted his head. Our gazes collided, and I wanted to look away, but couldn’t. “I can.”
Then Jax lowered himself, and all the air in the world was sucked out of that room. His weight . . . I’d never felt anything like it before. He was heavy, but it was good, and his h*ps were cradled between my legs, and . . .
Holy mother lode, there was no mistaking what I felt pressed against me.
“Get it?” he asked in a voice that probably caught a hundred panties on fire.
I didn’t get it.
Jax liked me and he’d known me only a handful of days. That made no sense. If I looked like Avery or Teresa, I could get it. They were gorgeous in their own unique, practically f**king flawless ways. They had members of the Hot Guy Brigade, rightfully so. And I was Calla—Calla whose makeup, my Dermablend, most likely had sloughed off my face, leaving the scar a hell of a lot more visible. It wasn’t like I was Miss Shiny and Wonderful Personality, either. Hell, for all Jax knew, a piece of rock could be smarter than me.
So I didn’t get it and I told him.
“I like you, Calla. Yeah, I’ve only known you a couple of days. But you’ve made me laugh,” he said, his gaze never leaving mine. “I can also tell you’re nice and sweet when you wanna be. I think you’re cute as hell and you make me hard.”
Whoa. Did he seriously just say that?
“You’ve made me hard a couple of times in the last seventy-some-odd hours and I gotta say that’s not a bad thing,” he went on. “I want to f**k you, and all I need to want to do that with you is to like you. It’s really not that hard to get from point A to point C on that, honey.”
He’d laid it out to me, right to the point and taking no prisoners, and I found something refreshingly . . . hot about that, which probably meant something was wrong with me. Or it was just lack of experience when it came to guys saying they wanted to get bow-chick-a-bow-wow with me.
Either way? Daaaaammmn.
Taking my dumbstruck silence as acceptance, he dipped his head again, and I didn’t freak out this time. He wanted me, and I honestly didn’t know what that felt like until . . . until now, and I was awed by the blossoming heat rippling through me. I forgot about the fact that most of my makeup had to have wiped off during the night. My eyes drifted shut and my toes did the curling thing once more. He was going to kiss me, and I wasn’t going to stop him. Maybe this time there’d be tongue. I was really interested in exploring that.
Jax didn’t kiss me.
Not my lips at least. His mouth veered off to the left at the last second, skating over my lips to my left cheek. He kissed the scar.
He f**king kissed the scar.
Emotion—violent and energetic—warred inside me. A mixture of a thousand screwed-up thoughts and feelings. Beauty. Fear. Panic. Lust. Ice. Heat. Revulsion. Confusion. I felt it all and it was too much.
I slammed my hands into his chest. “Get off.”
He froze. “What?”
Jax got off. It had to be something in my voice, because he rolled right off me, and I rolled right off the bed, coming to my feet. I backed up until I hit the corner of the dresser, sending a burst of pain across my hip.
He sat up and moved over the bed, both hands on the mattress. “Calla, baby, are you scared of me?”
“No. Yes. I mean, no. I’m not scared of you.” I squeezed my eyes shut briefly. “It’s not like that.”
“It’s like what then?”
We would never f**k.
There. I couldn’t say it out loud, but there it was. I would never get na**d with him. I would never get that close.