“If you weren’t stalking us, I would have been worried.” He takes back his phone.
My heart starts beating so hard and fast I’m sure He can hear it. A wave of pure adrenaline and terror snakes up my spine. Why? Why did I think I could face him? I can’t turn around. Shit, shit, shit. I look around for an escape. God, why do I do this to myself? Suddenly, I hate Brance for not being here.
The smell of chlorine reminds me—I could jump into the pool. It’s right there. I could swim away from him, show him I’m done and free of him. It’s tempting, but instead I reach for Jax. Maybe I’m hearing things. After all, I have blond hair and my back is to him.
“What the fuck is going on, Jax?” he snarls.
Nope, not hearing things. My hands are shaking, and I’d give anything for some water. My tongue feels like it’s stuck to the roof of my mouth.
“I know it’s you, Tess. You might as well turn around.” His voice is deep and strong.
Taking a breath, I look at Jax’s handsome face, his turquoise eyes, full of challenge.
This is ridiculous. I’m not that girl who lets Reed control me. I’m completely different. Flipping my hair, I turn and face him.
Jesus! He can’t be standing in front of me with no shirt, his tan six-pack teasing me. He looks so good, I almost stomp my foot. He’s supposed to look like a skinny drug addict drowning in despair and nothingness! I feast on his face. He has the five-o’clock shadow thing going on, and his incredible eyes are latched on to mine. And. I. Literally. Can’t. Breathe.
He doesn’t seem to be breathing either and I feel slightly better. He’s taller and way more muscular. Obviously, he is still working out. His dark hair is, as always, longer than Jax’s. I can’t help but be happy to see he still has his curls. So cute! My heart flutters in my chest. I chastise myself for staring. So, he’s hot. That’s nothing new. That doesn’t excuse his deserting me. Breaking me, tearing my heart out, so that I had to fight and claw my way back.
“Stay away from me, Reed.” I haven’t uttered his name out loud in so long, the pain of speaking it slices through me.
He’s bad for me and he hasn’t stopped staring. His eyes caress my face, hair, body as if he wants to memorize it over and over again. He moves closer and I step back into Jax’s strong chest.
“Jax can’t save you, Kitten.”
Anger awakens me. “Don’t call me that! Don’t ever call me that.” I’m almost screaming. He’s like a beautiful predator stalking me.
“I don’t need Jax to save me.” I look into those pretty eyes. “You should probably go find your girlfriend.” The need to punish him is still alive and breathing inside me.
If it wouldn’t be weird, I would kiss Jax. But it would, so I do the next best thing. I pull my dress up slowly over my hips. Suddenly the DJ and his loud music are gone. Jax and the group of friends vanish. I only hear his breathing. I only watch his eyes. His stiff muscles flex as he clenches his hands. His jaw ticks. He looks at me like I’m his kryptonite. I want him to look at me this way. I hope it hurts him, fucking tortures him. It’s spilling out of me, like a volcano exploding her ash.
His eyes darken, lingering on my breasts. As I whip the dress off, I smirk. Yes, I look good. Brance picked this red bikini so I could get this very reaction from Reed.
Jax leans into my ear, breaking the spell. “Tess, you should probably put the dress back on.”
Slowly I turn from Reed, knowing everybody is staring. “That would be silly. After all, we’re at a pool party,” I say, dropping my dress next to my bag.
Reed reaches down and grabs it. “Put it on, Tess,” he commands.
Rolling my eyes, I smile at the guy behind him. “Hey, Andrew.”
“Tess, damn…” He shakes his head, his eyes staring at my breasts. “Sorry, I didn’t recognize you at first. I mean, I thought it was you, but with the hair and all.” His eyes go up and down the length of my body. He moves to hug me.
Reed grabs his arm. “Touch her and you lose a limb.”
“Dude, relax! I was only trying to welcome her back.” He holds up his hands, backing away.
Before I can comprehend what’s happening, Reed has me, pulling me toward the house.
“Reed! Fuck…” Jax moves to stop him.
“What?” he yells, getting in his face. “You knew she was back, and you said nothing?”
Jax winces. “Everyone is watching, man. Think of Lexi.”
He snorts. “Right! Lexi. Like you give a shit about Lexi! Back off, Jax. I’m warning you.” His voice is tinged with desperation.