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The lovers surrender no.., p.10
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       The Lover's Surrender (No Exceptions), p.10

           J. C. Reed
 
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“The cops searched your place, Jett.” I cleared my voice to stop it from shaking as I remembered the morning but failed miserably. “I took whatever I could, but what if the murder weapon was there and I didn’t see it? That could happen, right? What if it’s too late, and they’re convinced you’re guilty? I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

  Jett kneeled and placed his hand at the back of my head, pulling me against his chest. “Baby, stop worrying about me,” he said, his tone soothing. “I can take care of myself. I have friends who take care of me. And you. We’re not alone in this.” He touched my womb, more purposefully than intuitively, reminding me of my condition and the need to stay calm—for our daughter’s sake.

  “But if there’s a trial—” I started again, unable to stop the tear running down my cheek.

  “There won’t be one.” He shook his head vehemently, his determination forcing me to look up, to believe him. “They can accuse me all they want, but they can’t prove I’m responsible for the murder. I didn’t kill Gina, so whoever’s planning this would have to produce real evidence that could hold up in court. As things stand, my team of lawyers would shred their charges to bits.”

  Emphasis on ‘team of lawyers.’

  The realization that Jett wasn’t just anyone made me feel a bit better.

  Jett cupped my face and forced my chin up until I had to face him. “I promise I’ll get us out of this fucking mess. I also promise that, if it’s his fault, I won’t let my brother get away with this.”

  His voice was composed, eerily so, but his expression made me flinch. He had never looked so serious.

  I frowned. “I don’t want you to do anything stupid, Jett.”

  “I won’t, ” he said. For a second, I felt relieved, until I noticed that his expression carried more determination. His jaw stiffened, and there was no doubt that the anger from before had turned into fury at some point.

  When he spoke again, the tone of his voice sent a chill up my spine. “I won’t give up, and particularly not when it’s about you, Brooke. When it comes down to it, I’ll stand and fight. I’ll find a way, because there’s no way in hell I’ll give up my life. And you’re my life, Brooke. Whoever’s messing with you, I’m going to kill him. I promise I’ll make him pay someday.”

  “No,” I whispered. “No. Promise me, Jett, that you won’t do anything that could get you in trouble.”

  He turned away. “I can’t,” he whispered. “That’s the one promise I’ll never make to you. I promised myself a long time ago that he’d pay the price. I won’t back down on my word.”

  Barely thirty minutes had passed when we reached the gang’s place. As soon as we parked the car in the garage, Jett killed the engine. I expected him to head straight inside, but instead he turned to face me, his hand wrapping around mine, the gesture both determined and strangely imploring, as though he was trying his best to avoid a fight but couldn’t shift his position.

  “Your keys,” he demanded.

  I fished them out of my bag again and handed them to him. Our fingers touched, and a spark ran up my arm. Under any other circumstances, I would have welcomed it. Now, with Jett absentminded, it felt like enjoying time with him was too much to ask for. He had read the letter, and his already bad mood had now plummeted to something much worse. Whether it could be attributed to the poem or our earlier conversation about his brother, I couldn’t tell, but the fact that he was unreachable remained.

  Distant.

  Secretive.

  Lost in his own world.

  I hated when he was like that. His stance reminded me of a statue he might turn into any time.

  Or worse yet, he might be hatching a plan without involving me.

  “So, what are we going to do?” I asked carefully when he made no move to get out of the car. Our eyes locked ever so shortly, before he turned away to gaze out the window. The garage was empty, the silence oppressing.

  “There’s this big charity fashion show today,“ Jett said quietly. “I think we should attend, keep up the appearance, let us be seen, and proceed as if nothing’s wrong.”

  I let the thought sink in for a moment.

  Attend a charity event?

  I could do that, but what about the cops? Maybe whoever was trying to frame Jett had tipped them off. What if they were looking for him? My pulse spiked as I thought of his apartment and the state I had found it in.

  “Is it really a good idea?” I asked.

  “Our options are limited.”

  He was right, of course.

  Hiding would only make things worse.

  “What about Gina?” I asked casually. “What will we do with her stuff?”

  “We’ll get rid of it.”

  My head snapped toward him in shock. “You want to—” I broke off, lost for words.

  “We’ll burn everything,” Jett said coolly.

  My jaw dropped open. An icy sensation rose through me.

  “Burn the evidence?” I choked on my words, the blood rushing from my veins hard and fast. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea, Jett.”

  “Do you have a better idea?” He cast me a sideways glance as he flipped the keys in his hand. “Because if you do, I’m dying to hear it.” His cold response rendered me silent.

  Holy cow.

  Forget the part about me not wanting him to be angry. His wrath was much better than the calculated and stony air about him.

  I bit my lip, my thoughts racing.

  Did I have a better idea?

  Not really, but burning the only evidence sure didn’t sound like something any human in their right mind would do.

  “Jett,” I said carefully. “Your plan’s crazy. It’s not just Gina’s stuff we’re talking about. Whatever’s in that bag could be real evidence for whoever killed her. There’s a necklace that was soaked in blood. That’s hardcore evidence, if you ask me.”

  He stared at me, taking in my words for a few seconds. “Did you take it?” he asked quietly.

  “Huh?” I threw up my hands. “Of course I did.’”

  His eyebrows rose in question. “Did you find anything else that was soaked in blood?”

  “No.” I sighed. “Just the necklace. No sight of the murder weapon. But still. I think we should hide everything until we know for sure what’s going on. For all we know, we might need it later, and the actual killer could be brought to justice.”

  “No.”

  His harsh tone of voice shocked me. I inhaled a sharp breath, taken aback. “No?”

  “No,” Jett replied again, his voice colder than before. “I don’t see the point in hiding it.”

  I paused as I considered my next option. “What if we ask Sam to run a few tests and see if something comes up before we do it?”

  “Find out what? That it was her blood?” Jett’s face remained cold as his next reply slashed at me. “We would be wasting everyone’s time because there are not going to be any clues.”

  “How do you know?” I retorted, suddenly angry.

  “I just do.” He paused, keeping the rest unsaid. When he spoke again, I felt scolded. “In all seriousness, I don’t think we’d discover any fingerprints. If any were left, her stuff would never have been at my place in the first place. Don’t you think?”

  I shut up, but only for a moment.

  “Maybe so, but what if there are?” I leaned forward, suddenly more eager to stand my ground. “Think about it, Jett. What if we’ll need it later?”

  “Later? As in, if there’s a trial?” Jett’s face distorted into anger, and my heart gave another almighty thud. “Fuck, Brooke. How often have I told you there won’t be one? Anything else is not an option.”

  I remained silent, struck speechless by his anger. When he resumed the conversation, there was a sudden bitter twist in his voice. “We’ll burn everything. Full stop.”

  “But…” I bit my lip hard.

  “If you keep doubting it, by all means ask Sam to test the necklace, but you’ll see it’s just a waste
of time. If the cops come knocking in the meantime, we’ll have a problem.”

  “That’s the other thing I wanted to talk to you about. Maybe we should see a lawyer first,” I suggested.

  “A lawyer? You think a lawyer will help?” He laughed darkly as his eyes met mine. “You’re so naïve, girl. An attorney’s first priority is to make money out of any case. In my case, that would be representing me as long as possible in a drawn-out murder case that spans months, if not years.” He shook his head, his lips tight. “No, we have to destroy it. Burn it and don’t involve anyone else. If nothing’s found, they can’t prove it ever existed. No evidence equals no proof. The last thing my company needs is another big headline or a lawyer who sees an opportunity to supplement his bank account.”

  He had a good point.

  But he was still a dick for calling me ‘naïve’ and ‘girl,’ especially in that demeaning tone of his. I was an adult woman expecting her first child. No way would I keep my mouth shut about his attitude.

  “No need to be a jerk, Jett. I was just trying to help you,” I said and watched him get out of the car. He took his time reaching my side. When he opened my door, an amused expression had lit up his face.

  “Did you just call me a ‘jerk’?” he asked. His cold tone had softened a little.

  “Yeah, I did. So what?” I got out and slammed the door. “Excuse me for saying this, but you can be so narrow-minded at times. Burn the evidence all you want. If you make a mistake, it will be all yours.”

  As I tried to walk past, he stopped me. I glanced at his hand on my arm and heaved a sigh. “What?”

  “Thank you.”

  His words took me by surprise.

  Frowning, I looked all the way up to face him. He let go of my arm.

  “Say that again,” I said, confused.

  “Thank you,” he repeated. Slowly but unmistakably, his lips curled into his usual panty-melting smile.

  The kind of smile that should have been forbidden.

  The kind of smile that turned anger to lust and made me want to do anything for him.

  To give in so easily felt wrong, and yet my heart gave a knowing jolt.

  Weak, Stewart. Weak. That’s how bad you’re in love with him.

  I crossed my arms over my chest to protect me from his sinful smile and stepped back. “Rein in that ego of yours, Jett. It wasn’t a compliment.”

  “It was to me, coming from a beautiful, stubborn woman with her own mind like you.” His grin widened, exposing perfect white teeth.

  I stared at him, confused by his sudden change of mood. Barely a minute ago, Jett had been angry, and now, it was as if his irritation had evaporated, which was impossible.

  I concluded that his perfect smile could only be forced.

  “What?” Jett asked, probably reading the puzzlement written all over my face. Usually, I was kind of an open book.

  I shook my head. “Is this fake?”

  “What?” He asked, cocking one sexy eyebrow.

  “Your smile.”

  “This?” He pointed his hand at his lips. “I’ll let you decide what to make of it.”

  Before I knew it, he’d inched closer, and, without warning, he cupped my face in his big hands, his lips crushing mine in a heated kiss.

  When his tongue slipped into my mouth, I could have rejoiced, happy to escape our problems for a change, happy to oblige.

  His lips were warm, inviting, and yet unexpected. They were like an ambush of the good kind, washing away my annoyance with him. The ice I had felt before crumbled under the weight of heat. His kiss, like lava, burned through my very soul. My arms went around his waist, eager for more.

  So, when he stopped, his kiss left behind confusion and emptiness.

  “That’s not fair.” I stared at him, tracing my fingers over my tingling lips. “You kissed me.”

  “Yeah. I did. So what?” He grinned as he leaned forward, a hand on each side of me, trapping me between his strong, sexy arms and Kenny’s car, a mischievous grin on his face. “You don’t know how cute you are when you’re angry.”

  I shook my head, suddenly annoyed with his game. “And you don’t know how close I am to kicking your ass for being an ass.”

  “You know what? I would love for you to try that.” His eyes twinkled, his voice hoarse. “Wanna see how far that gets you?”

  I eyed him, more puzzled than doubtful that he had uttered a threat.

  It didn’t make any sense.

  Was he wearing a mask?

  “I don’t understand, “ I said, deciding that any attempt to figure him out on my own would be a waste of time. “I thought you were angry. You sure looked angry to me.”

  I sort of expected him to deny it. Instead, he softly cupped my face again, forcing me to meet his gaze. Thinking he was about to kiss me again, I held my breath when he explained, “I was angry, but my anger was never addressed at you, Brooke.” He wet his lips, his face tensing abruptly. “I’m angry with my brother for causing trouble when it should be over. I’m angry with myself for putting up with him for so long. I’m angry that we can’t enjoy our first pregnancy and what should be a wonderful time, and not being able to spend every fucking minute with you. There are so many hindrances—none of which I can resolve right now. But most of all, I can see that you’re scared, and that makes me want to beat up that motherfucker. The fact that I can’t right now, that I’m stuck in limbo, makes me want to break a few rules just to get to him and force him to pay the price.”

  “Jett.” I touched his arm, my fingers gently trailing up his hard muscles. “Right now, I’m happy that we’re safe. That’s all that matters. You and me and our baby. As long as they keep him under surveillance, Nate can’t get to us.”

  “You’re right.” He cradled me against his chest, his muscles still tense—the only indication that he was in turmoil. “I overreacted. If it makes you feel any better, I’ll have Sam test the necklace.”

  “Jett…” I trailed off, unsure of the right thing to say.

  “Don’t say anything. Just think about it. I’ll leave the decision up to you. After all, like you said, we’re in this together, and it was about time you shared my burden, right?”

  I grinned at him. “That’s right.”

  We smiled at each other, caught in a moment of closeness that didn’t need words and reassurances. Jett’s soft lips curled up into another sexy, wicked grin.

  “I’m already wondering what would happen if I were to kiss you again. Is that bad?” he murmured.

  Oh yes, please.

  I eyed him for a moment, his smile igniting sparks of heat between my legs. Not just between them, but traveling into my core, through my belly—warming my soul and every fiber of my being. My lips twitched, and my insides clenched. Mustering all my self-control, I cocked my head to the side, unable to stop the cocky smile spreading across my lips.

  “That depends,” I replied cheekily. “Will you stop being a jerk?”

  He let out a short laugh. “I can’t promise that, girl. Sometimes I swear I was born one. It comes as part of the package.”

  “Seriously?” I pulled my brows up. “You did it again.”

  “What?” He spread his hands, palms out, feigning confusion.

  “You called me a girl.”

  “A girl?” he echoed in the same tone.

  “Yep, that one.”

  He let his arms fall to the side. Standing back, he removed his black jacket and dropped it onto the hood. Rolling up his sleeves, he casually leaned against the car. “What’s wrong with it?”

  “It’s presumptuous, offensive, if not annoying, especially when you say it with that attitude of yours. When you’re pregnant, you don’t want to be called a ‘girl.’ It just doesn’t fit anymore, not when you’re about to become a mom.”

  “Even if you’re the one girl in the whole world for me, baby, and I intend to keep it that way?” he whispered quietly.

  Holy cow.

  Big words.

>   That was all I could think.

  As if sensing my one moment of weakness, the one moment I felt like my whole being was split open, he chuckled—a deep, infectious laugh that would get every woman’s panties wet.

  “For a jerk, you really know how to charm your way in,” I whispered, feeling the blush on my cheeks.

  He laughed out loud. “For a woman, you really know how to make me want to be a bigger jerk.”

  “Are you blaming me?” I asked under my breath.

  “Well, ever since meeting you, I’ve been a different man. Doesn’t mean I’ve turned nice, though.” His eyes twinkled with mischief as his hands cupped my ass. “But you’re right. Sometimes I’m a jerk. However, the way I see it, it’s a good thing.”

  I scoffed. “How so?”

  “Let me think,” Jett started, putting on a thoughtful expression. “First, it gives me a reputation for being a hard-ass. No one tries to walk over someone who doesn’t take shit from anyone.”

  “Earns you respect.” I nodded.

  “That’s right, baby.”

  Which was kind of true. Jett might be a jerk, but what truly earned him respect was the way he was: strong, tall, risky, and way too ruthless—at least according to stories and his reputation.

  I opened my mouth, but he held up his hand to silence me. “When it’s about you, I really like saying ‘sorry’.”

  Jett almost never said sorry, so his statement made me look up, meeting the devious glint in his eyes.

  “Now that’s a lie. You don’t like saying sorry,” I said.

  “You’re wrong. I do.” I stared at him, confused when he continued, “See. It gives me the opportunity to make it up to you. Like, for example, I want to say sorry for the next thing I’m about do.”

  “About?” I frowned at his insinuation when it hit me. He was about to do something naughty. My lips curled up. “You can’t say sorry in advance, Jett. It doesn’t work that way.”

  “Well, trust me, in this one case it does.”

  “Really?” I narrowed my eyes. “What are you sorry about, then?”

  “I’m going to say ‘sorry’ three times.” Biting my lip, I looked away, amused as I let him continue. “Well, let me think. There’s one for kissing you before. And there’s two for always, and I mean always, making you wet.”

 
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