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Jinx sighed. “Let’s sit, and I’ll tell you everything. They gave me a pain pill, and I’m dead on my feet.”

“Oh, yes, sorry. Of course. Would you rather lie down?”

He shook his head. “No, baby, sitting’s good. But first.” He cupped her face and leaned down, placing a sweet, lingering kiss on her lips. She closed her eyes and sank into it until her brain kicked in, and she stepped away.

“Are you supposed to be bending like that? Sit.”

“Those lips are worth any amount of pain,” he said with a wink.

Do not swoon.

She followed him to the couch and sat with about a foot separating them to keep from hurting him. He rolled his eyes and hauled her closer as though he didn’t have a fresh wound on his side.

“Jinx, you’re hurt.”

“It’s just one stab wound. Didn’t even hit anything vital, and they stitched me all up. I’ll be good as new in a day or two.”

She froze, a complete block of ice. “Stabbed?” she whispered as cold waves washed over her.

“Shit. You just got fucking pale as fucking powder. You’re not gonna pass out on me, are you?”

As he reached for her, she batted his hands away. “Stabbed?” she asked again.

Jinx sighed, long and with a hefty dose of regret. “All right, here’s the story. We got a tip about the guy who hurt Lock. The address of a place he hangs out. Tracker, Spec, and I went to check it out. He was there, but shit went sideways, and he sliced my arm and nicked my side.”

She blinked at him. “You said the three of you were picking up money someone owed you, and it would be a quick in and out. You said there was nothing to worry about.”

He had a wary glint to his gaze. “I did say that.”

“So you lied?”

Jinx swallowed. “I didn’t want you to worry.”

Was he for real? “Didn’t want me to worry?” she parroted.

“Yes. You’re new to the club. I didn’t want you to think I could be in danger.”

She scoffed. “But you were in danger. And I was the one who found Lock at his house. Don’t you think I deserved to know you found the guy?”


“Oh my God.” She covered her mouth with her hand. “Did the other ladies know where you were?” Had she been the only fool in the dark?

“I don’t know exactly what their ol’ men said to them, but they knew at least some of it.”

Harper groaned. No wonder they’d been all quiet whispers and covert glances. They were probably having a good laugh on her behalf—the naïve little idiot who had no idea what was going on behind her back.

“Nicked your side?”

His mouth flattened, and he rolled his eyes. “He stuck the knife in my side. Tracker had to wrap it up and drive me to the hospital with the fucking handle sticking out. He couldn’t pull it because he didn’t know what was hit or if I’d hemorrhage. Is that what you want to hear?”

Harper gagged, then jumped off the couch. “Yes! That’s what I wanted to hear, but I wanted to hear it hours ago! And I wanted to know where you really were and what you were really doing like the other ol’ ladies. You lied to me, Jinx. You lied to me after you told me I could trust you.”

“The other ol’ ladies?” He stared at her hard.

She stopped pacing and planted her hand on her hips. “What?”

“You said you wanted to know like the other ol’ ladies. But you’re not my ol’ lady, are you?”

“That’s not fair…” How dare he throw that in her face when she’d already given him so much.

“Maybe not, but it’s true, isn’t it?” Anger crept across his features.

Her shoulder’s sagged. Jinx didn’t get it.

“I’d have made you my ol’ lady in a heartbeat. I’ll do it right fucking now. We can head to the clubhouse, and I’ll claim you in front of all my brothers. In front of the whole fucking world. But every time it comes up, your thorns come out, and you put a wall between us.”

She threw her hands in the air. “What does it matter? I said I was yours. I say it all the time. Why can’t that be enough?”

“Because of this,” he said, waving a hand between them. “Because it’s your way of keeping distance between us. So when shit gets real, you can fall back on how grateful you are you didn’t give all of yourself to me.”

“Well, can you blame me?” she shouted. “You lied. Kept a secret. For crying out loud, you didn’t tell me you were stabbed! I held myself back because this is what happens when you give someone power over you. You get hurt. I get hurt. The last man I was with messed me up, and I didn’t even love him. I love you. Do you have any idea how you could destroy me?” Her eyes widened as words she never meant to utter flew from her mouth.