Still Obsessed (Obsessed #4) by Deborah Bladon
"You're not serious, beautiful?" He's leaning against the door to my studio, his hands tucked neatly into the pocket of his jeans. The growth of hair on his face makes him look even more stunning than he usually does. I'll never get over how absolutely handsome he is.
"I'm dead serious, Jax." I just need him to accept the inevitable. If he can do that, my life is going to be so much easier.
He taps his shoe against the floor as he studies his fingernails. "You think you have that much authority over me?" He's trying hard to cover the amusement in his voice but it's not working.
I try to suppress a wide grin. I've got him in a place he never saw coming. Now all I have to do is go in for the kill and this nightmare will finally be over and done with. "I know that I do. You're wasting my time."
"I'm wasting your time?" The question accompanies a deep chuckle. God, how I love his laugh. It's so smooth and natural. It means he's comfortable and happy. This is how I want him to always be. This is what fills me with a feeling of being utterly content.
"Yes." I nod and look down at the silver earring I'm working on. "I have a lot to do today. You can pack up your things and leave." I can't meet his gaze again. I just need him to go before I change my mind.
"Just like that? You're going to throw me out on the street?"
"I called Leonard. He's waiting downstairs to drive you home." I know the reference to his driver will hit a nerve within him. Arranging to have Leonard waiting with the car downstairs means that as soon as Jax leaves the shop he'll be on his way home, not on his way back up here to persuade me to reconsider.
"You have this all worked out." His voice deepens. "You were planning on firing me even when I was inside of you this morning and you were screaming my name."
I feel an ache rush through me at the reminder of Jax making love to me just as I was waking up. Being pulled from a dream by the feeling of his lips coursing hot over my right nipple was the perfect way to begin any day. Living with Jax was heaven, but working with him was quickly becoming my own personal hell.
"You can't take it personally," I say curtly. "You're the one who taught me that business is business. That’s all this is."
"You don't think I've done a good job?" His voice is clipped. "You're firing me because I f*cked up?"
"I'm letting you go because you stalk the customers when they're just browsing the showcases." I suck in a measured breath before I continue, "I see you harassing them when they're walking out of the store without buying anything. It's bad for business."
"It doesn't make sense to me."
"What doesn't make sense to you?"
"None of this makes sense." That's all he offers. He's going to make me put two and two together and decipher what he means on my own.
"Jax, I love you." I pat the empty spot on the edge of the table I'm working on.
He leans against the table. "I love you endlessly, Ivy. Endlessly." His hand reaches to cradle my chin. "I would do anything for you."
"Then leave." I plead with my eyes. "Let me do this alone, please."
"You don't think I'm helping?" A slight frown skirts over the corners of his lips.
I stand and wrap my arms around his neck. "This is my store. I want to make it a success."
"We've been doing that together." I shiver at the touch of his hands on my waist. Even through the heavy material of the knit dress I'm wearing, Jax's touch still makes me weak and desirous.
"Let me do this alone. You need to do something more." This was the part of the conversation I'd been dreading for weeks. Ever since Jax sold off most of his business interests six months ago, he'd been unsettled, unhappy and there was an emptiness within him that was unmistakable.
"I gave up everything for you, beautiful." He bounces the earring in my ear against the tip of his finger. "So you could have your dream."
"It wasn't just about that." I cup my hands around his cheeks. "You know that."
"I was scared." His voice is so low I have to lean in to hear each word. "I was becoming too much like my father. I was being driven by money. I almost lost you because of it."
"You were chasing your dad's dream." I lightly brush my lips across his forehead. "You need to start thinking about what your dreams are."
"I have been thinking about it," he offers. I'm taken back by the words. Every time I've tried to bring up the subject of Jax finding a new business focus he's quieted me by professing his undying need to be by my side twenty-four hours of each and every day.
"You already have something in mind?" The question pains me. I've sensed for weeks that he was lost in thought and not sharing. Even though I know Jax Walker isn't one to share everything openly, it still stings knowing that he's been contemplating something as important as his next step in business without throwing any thought to my opinion.
"We'll talk about it soon." He lifts his head and stares into my eyes. "Right now I have to get off the premises before my former boss calls the authorities to remove me."
"She wouldn't go that far." I grin.
"I'm not taking my chances." His lips brush against mine in a tender kiss before he turns to leave the studio. "What about my severance package?"
"There isn't one." I bite my bottom lip to hold in a broad smile. "You were working for free, remember?"
"Goddammit," he teases as he breezes out the door. "Fired and kicked to the curb with nothing in return, all in one day."