Joy Is Found (Ocean Beach #3)(3)By: Emma James
“She wants you there on Sunday for her first lunch time gig at Joe’s. Is this private jet gonna bring you back for it?”
There goes the cursing again.
“Didn’t think so.”
“It’s not as simple as donning my Ajax camouflage and pretending one more time. Things have come up that I need to be present for in my other life. That was another reason Jai came looking for me. I disappeared off everyone’s radars, and people were starting to talk. I don’t need that, but Hope isn’t ready for the real me yet. I need to clear some things up, and then I can talk to her face to face as Raine.”
Jai steps outside the SUV, leaning on the open door. “Raine, it’s time to leave.”
Hudson nods, and Jai glides back into the driver’s seat.
“Keanu?” Shit, that’s Hope coming down the side of Harley’s house. She will be through the gate in no time.
Hearing that one word, Hudson scoops his clothes up, throwing them over his shoulder. “I’m gone.” Then he jogs to the SUV and gets inside.
Jai has to reverse all the way down the driveway. I can see he has done the quick getaway before—he’s very James Bond with the perfect one-eighty at the bottom of the drive. They are dust before she arrives.
Harley and Slade blend back into the shadows, giving us privacy as Hope opens the gate.
“Keanu, I heard voices.” Hope comes to my side. “I thought you were driving Ajax to where he needed to go.”
“Hey, Alley-cat. He didn’t need my help after all. He just left.” I pull her into my arms, hugging her tightly. I know her head has to be filled with questions she can’t answer and I can’t, either. Regardless, for now, I can hold her and reassure her that I’m not going anywhere.
“I don’t understand,” she murmurs, pulling back from my chest. “He’s not coming back, is he?” Her eyes connect with mine, and they are deep pools filled with sadness. “What did he say to you that he couldn’t say to me?” I hear a small amount of anger invading her words, mixed with a whole pile of hurt.
Christ! Way to go, Hudson. Man, I’m going to have to work some creativity into these answers. Hudson is going to owe me big time for this.
“We had a misunderstanding, and he wanted to clear the air. It was nothing for you to be worried about; he simply wanted to keep it private because he was a little embarrassed by it. It was just a guy thing.”
I try to make light of the situation, but she isn’t going to let what just happened slide, and I don’t blame her. Ajax was her rock. Therefore, I continue before she can push for more.
“I haven’t known you both very long, but what I do know is that you trust him, and I know for certain he loves you like a sister. But he also understands—I’ve made it very clear—that I don’t want to be your older brother, and I’m now here to look after you. I want you in my life.
“Alley-cat, he needs this time alone, but he will be back. I think you’ll see him again pretty soon. Just let him do what he needs to, okay?”
Before she can respond, I close the distance between us, making my intentions perfectly clear, and I kiss her.
And … I keep on kissing her.
Nothing else matters. Who needs air? I want to convey through our lips everything needed to reassure her that I mean what I say. She’s not alone and won’t be ever again. No matter what, she will always have her Ajax, and I will always be here for her, whether she wants more from me or not.
She is slightly breathless when we pull apart, and my dick is losing patience with my restraint. I want nothing more than to take her home and claim her as mine in every way, but third base isn’t an option at the moment. She’s not ready.
“In the meantime, you have me to look after you, and that is a bonus.”
I move her to my side and wrap my arm around her waist. “Come on. Let’s say goodbye to everyone and head on back to my place. I want to get you tucked up in my bed, and I need to taste your lips some more.”
The tiniest smile leaks out the corner of her mouth as she battles her confusion over Ajax leaving her.
Needing to keep her mind off Ajax, I whisper in her ear, “I know you want to ravish me when we get home, but we both need some shut eye because I have a surprise for you in the morning.”
Her eyes shoot up to mine, and I give her a little wink.
“What surprise?” Good girl.
“Now I know you are gonna try and get it out of me, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. Plus, I doubt very much that you have had a fun surprise in a long time, and I want to give that to you.”
She gives me a little surprise of her own by stopping and giving me a kiss. “Thank you. I know what you are trying to do, and I appreciate it.” Then she moves back around to my side, tucking herself in close as we resume walking.
“Just so you know, I’m up for you torturing it out of me with your feminine wiles.”
Now I have her beet red, but she isn’t telling me she won’t torture me.
A hand smacks me in the chest. What the hell? It is pitch black in my room, so it’s still early.