Jax slumped down on a wooden chair next to a small, off-keel hardwood table. He tossed one of the sweatshirts to me and took off his shirt to pull on the other one.
Hell yeah, I looked. You better believe it. Once again, he wasn’t ripped or bulging with appeal, but then again…somehow, he was.
I pulled the other sweatshirt over my head – it was much too big for me – and went to work pulling my tank top off underneath. I took the spot across from him, waiting for him to explain the little incident with his friends who called him “Beau.” Then I remembered that I was dealing with Mr Mime.
I pulled a croissant in front of me and sip my coffee. My eyebrow cocked, I asked, “So are you going to tell me what that was about?”
He stared at the fire, his body slouched, one hand on his coffee, the other slung lazily over the back of the chair. A minuscule shake of his head told me I wasn’t going to get any more intel on that situation.
I shoved the croissant in my mouth. When I tried to speak, bits and pieces flew everywhere. “So…this place is quaint. You come here often?” Even with my rude hailstorm of food particles, he still barely flinched.
I tried a different tack. “What exactly do you do out here? Frak hand? Oilfield supplier? Stripper?”
His chest shook with laughter and I got another peek at that breathtaking smile. But still not a word. He looked over at me momentarily, then took another swig from his coffee cup.
I tossed my croissant on the table. “Okay, what’s the deal. If you’re just going to ignore me then why did you even bring me here?”
He turned to me, his eyes wide and flitting around. He then took one last long, hard stare at me while I arranged my purse and ran my fingers through my wet brown locks, debating whether or not I was going to leave. Seriously, this guy was incorrigible. Maddening. And still refusing to talk.
At last, he placed his cup on the table and grazed a hand over his stubble. “Maintenance Manager. Frak company.”
It came out almost like a whisper but deep and gritty like gravel shaking underneath an earthquake. My stomach felt into my knees at the sound. What was with that voice?.
I still kept my bag close, fingering my house key threateningly. “What do you do exactly?” I challenged.
His face looked pained. He slid his coffee between his hands on the table.
I stood up to leave.
He stood up and blocked my exit.
“Talk. Or I leave.” I placed my hand on my hip. “What. Do. You. Do.”
He crossed his arms over his chest, a wicked look in his eyes. He cocked his head slightly to the side as he spoke, pronouncing the words carefully. “Maint-en-ance.”
I fumed. Treating me like a child, was he? That was his plan? I grabbed the rest of my croissant, shoved past him, and stormed to the door to the tinkle of the words “a la prochain!” from the shop owner.
I was admittedly no less than hugely relieved when I heard Jax’s footsteps coming after me. Still, I threw my shoulder into the door and headed out into the night, determined that this game was not going to be one-sided. I walked down the dirt path to the road, heavy boots clomping behind me.
A hand grabbed my arm.
I ignored the tremor that shot through me and faced him, ripping my arm from his grasp. “What are you doing? Let me go. I’m walking home.”
He dipped his head and raised his eyebrows as if to say, Really? How exactly are you going to do that? I was reminded that I had no clue where I was or where I needed to go. My shoulders sunk.
He jerked his head in the opposite direction where his Jeep sat.
I pursed my lips and narrowed my eyes. “What? What’s over there? Why would I go that way?”
He returned my glare with gritted teeth. I savored the moment, but not for long. After a few seconds, his face relaxed and a small almost undetectable smile brushed his lips. His look changed to pity, he shrugged, and turned around and walked away.
I stood there in shock for a minute, waiting for him to turn around and come back.
“God fucking dammit!” I screeched. I clenched my fists at my sides, refusing to follow him. I could find my own way. Someone would find me.
Someone… In an oilfield town…full of men, not all of which were trustworthy…
I cursed again, kicked the ground with my foot, and gave in.
By the time I caught up to Jax he was almost to the Jeep. I half expected him to drive off without me, but instead he walked around to my side first and opened the door.
I did my best to keep my frustration under control. “Thank you,” I said with measured precision. I pulled myself in onto the cloth seat.
He didn’t go back around to his side right away. Instead, he pulled a five point harness down from the chair and snapped it at my pelvis.
I looked down at what appeared to be a adult sized baby seat. “Just a little paranoid, are you?” I said.
When I looked up, his hand was resting behind my seat, and he was leaning over me, watching me carefully. My heart pounded, my breath stopped, as if my body was trying to kill me and keep me alive at the same time. I couldn’t resist the urge to touch his face, to run my fingers across his rough stubble, to touch his hair. I wanted to lean in, tell him it was okay to kiss me, but I didn’t dare.
I ran my fingers down his neck and almost died when he shut his eyes and released a small moan. As my fingers played with the collar of his shirt, he exhaled, wound his hands into my still damp hair, and leaned in.
And then he stopped. Just as I was about to taste those famous, delicious lips, he fucking stopped. I’d have murdered my own mother to get him to go that extra two centimeters, but even my small hand on the back of his neck, softly edging his head closer was met with resistance.
Once again, as if my life was on eternal repeat, he moved that irresistible mouth to my ear. “I like you,” he gruffed, melting me yet again.
Really? You like me? Are you sure about that?
He kissed me on the forehead, shut the door, and walked back to the driver’s side.
I felt so humiliated, so disappointed, so burning with confusion I almost jumped right out of my baby seat and opted for the more dangerous route home.
But I didn’t. And when he pulled into his seat and the Jeep the roared to life, he took my hand in his.
I immediately calmed. He looked at me with a smile, just a hint of apology in his eyes, and I couldn’t stay angry. He kissed my knuckles and pulled out of the parking lot.