I could not believe it, not even with Jax sitting right in front of me. He’d agreed to go out with me. I mean, I had lost all hope already. I had been just about to pay Caleb and be done with the bet. After getting my neck burned and Jax had continued being hostile to me last Monday, I had decided to quit. At that moment, I had given up for my own sake. My mental health couldn’t take the constant physical and verbal attacks.
But here we were, eating pizza, and Jax seemed… almost friendly. I finally felt like I had a connection with him. I finally felt like he was opening up to me.
I… couldn’t believe it.
“So… Is there something I could ask about you?” I asked.
He squinted his big eyes at me. “What do you mean?”
I shrugged. “You don’t like talking about your personal things, and I get it, don’t worry, but is there a topic you don’t mind talking about?”
He smiled at me. It was a sarcastic smile. “Makeup,” he said, clearly believing it was something I’d refuse to talk about.
I didn’t actually mind, and I was desperate for any chance to get him to like me, so I pressed my elbows on the table and gave him a curious look.
“Oh, yes, you’re always wearing makeup,” I said. “I have to say, your makeup is always on point. You’re doing it way better than most of the girls I’ve met.”
That wasn’t even a lie.
He was unamused. Of course he was.
“I have a lot of practice,” he just said.
“Is it for your image or do you actually enjoy using makeup?” I asked, trying to keep my expression as neutral as possible so he wouldn’t get angry again.
He tilted his head a little, taking his time with the reply. That alone told me he enjoyed wearing makeup, but he wasn’t sure if he should admit it. But he was hesitating! That was a huge step forward!
“You don’t have to answer me, of course,” I said quickly to release him from the pressure and focused on my pizza.
“I… enjoy it,” he finally said in a quiet voice. That was a victory on its own, but then he went ahead and added, “I like trying new hairstyles, too.”
“Really? How come I’ve not seen any other styles?”
“Guys don’t curl their hair,” he said and grabbed a slice as well.
“Honestly? If you curl your hair, no one would say a damn thing about it. You’re too scary to be teased,” I told him with a chuckle, but for some reason, he wasn’t amused.
Far from it. He looked at me slowly, a hint of something negative in his eyes. Like I’d hurt him with my words. Then he looked at his food again.
“True,” he only said.
“I’m sorry, I… I’m not sure what I said wrong, but I’m sorry,” I said quietly.
“You didn’t say anything wrong, don’t worry.”
Maybe he really wanted to curl his hair, but behind that frozen shell of spikes and razor blades, he was… insecure?
“Well, I think you’d look absolutely adorable with curly hair,” I told him.
Ha grabbed his fork like a weapon and pointed it at me as he leaned over the table. “I’ll show you how adorable I can be,” he hissed at me.
I just smiled at him. “I can’t wait.”
He gave me a murderous look and sat back down to eat. He kept giving me pissy glances over his food, but he couldn’t take away my confidence for as long as he stayed with me. He would definitely march out the door the second he felt like it.
“What do you usually do in your free time?” I asked.
“Plan your murder.”
I laughed at his words, shaking my head. “Is that why we’re here? So you can poison me?”
“Yes,” he said so confidently I had to look down at my pizza. When I looked back at him, I saw a smirk playing in the corners of his lips. “Getting nervous?”
“I’m hanging out with you. Of course I’m nervous,” I said, conjuring a confident smile on my face.
He watched me closely. “No, you’re not. You don’t care if I beat the crap out of you. You just keep coming back.”
“Maybe I like it,” I said with a wink.
He squinted his eyes, and slowly took a bite of his pizza. He ate in silence, studying me closely, and I waited without turning to look away. In a way, this was exciting. After Cecilia and her inability to stay silent, it was a nice challenge to get Jax to talk to me. One wrong move, and I’d get a concussion, so finding the right words was rewarding.
I really had to pay attention to him. Jessica would be proud of me.
And I really spent my time with him bending over backwards to keep the conversation going. I tried so hard to get him to talk. I didn’t even care what he was talking about, but he mostly refused to tell me anything during the rest of the night. I tried asking about school, his family, his friends, his hobbies, again about the makeup, his taste in music, favorite movies, favorite anything, but by the end of the date, I hadn’t really learned much about him.
But I had no new injuries, so I took it as a win.
“Hang out with me tomorrow,” I told Jax after we stepped out of the restaurant.
“I can’t,” he said. “I have work tomorrow.”
I raised my eyebrow in amusement. “That almost sounds like you’d like to hang out with me.”
He glared at me, and I assumed he’d deny everything, but instead he only said, “Fuck you Gabriel.”
I laughed as we reached my car, but instead of unlocking the doors, I pulled Jax behind the corner and gently pushed him against the wall. He looked at me with murder in his eyes when I stepped so close to him our bodies almost touched.
“I do love the sound of my name on your lips,” I murmured in his ear, blocking his way to freedom by pressing my hands against the wall on both sides of him. “Now… About that kiss you owe me…”
There was a challenging smile on his lips when I looked at him. Then, slowly, he brought his lips to my ear.
“Fuck you Gabriel,” he whispered back.
Something went momentarily wrong in my head, and I pushed him back against the wall and kissed him hard. I just lost my sanity. It felt like he did, too, since he kissed me back just as roughly as I was kissing him. I cupped his cheeks to keep him close, and I felt his hands on my shoulders, our bodies pressing tightly together.
I completely forgot it was a guy I was making out with in such an intense way. That had to be the only reason why I was feeling so hot and bothered at that moment. I was not into him. I was not into guys. But it sure was hot…
I didn’t recover my sanity even when I suddenly felt his teeth biting my lower lip, and he didn’t let go. It wasn’t enough to break my skin, but hard enough to leave me completely at his mercy. I could see a smile dancing in his eyes as he held my lip as his hostage. I had no choice but to wait, no matter how impatient I was. His hot breath on my face, his body against mine, and that victorious expression on his face refused to let me snap out of whatever heat there was building up inside me.
He finally let go, but surprised me when he pressed his lips back on mine. I was still in pain, but I still had to kiss him back. It was a slower kiss this time, more intimate. And much shorter.
He pulled away, his gray eyes not leaving mine. A crooked smile appeared on his lips, and he pushed me away, again surprising me with how strong he really was.
“Now I owe you nothing,” he said and started walking. “See you around, Gabriel.”
“What? No? What?” I stammered and hurried after him. “Let me take you home.”
“No. Bye,” he only said, not even looking at me.
I stopped to stare after him. I didn’t have the guts to follow him. I was so confused… He didn’t mean bye forever, right? No, he was just… I wasn’t sure what, but after a night like this…
It couldn’t be it, right?
I couldn’t sleep well that night. I was too goddamn restless and anxious to fall asleep. Jax was on my mind more than I cared to admit. I still couldn’t believe I’d kissed him like that. Like he was a girl… No, not even that. I couldn’t remember if I’d ever kissed anyone like that.
This bet was really making me lose my mind.
I somehow managed to catch a few hours of sleep in the morning, and even though I had the luxury to stay in bed until Dad would insist on teaching more about law, I still got up right after opening my eyes. It was barely eight. I took a long shower, trying to calm myself down, but when I stepped out of my bathroom, I felt even more restless, if possible.
Only the maids were up by the time I left my room to get breakfast. They scurried around in silence, wishing me a good day in warm tones. I nodded politely at them all, suddenly feeling like I was suffocating, so I sprung around and returned to get my phone and my keys before leaving the house.
I drove around the city for a while, but my anxiety was only growing worse. I couldn’t calm down. I couldn’t understand why. It was like all the things I’d been bottling up in the past months were trying to burst out of me. I didn’t even know what I was bottling up.
I had to stop the car at the side of the road and turn the engine off. I was not fit to drive at that very moment. I wanted to scream and shout and rip my own head off so I didn’t have to deal with it. I didn’t even have anything to complain about, so why did I feel like I was about to have a mental breakdown?
Letting out a deep breath, I rested my head against the steering wheel. I kept taking deep breaths, trying to push everything out of my head, failing miserably.
Nothing makes sense anymore…
I wondered if Jax was already at work. I hadn’t had breakfast yet, and they had a coffee shop. Maybe I’d feel better if I managed to make Jax throw a hot cup of coffee on me, or at least hit my head through a table.
I let out a humorless laugh when I turned the engine back on. I was so fucking messed up right now.
Jax’s shop was thankfully open already, but when I entered the place, he wasn’t there. I went to order a big bagel and a big cup of soda, and then sat down next to the windows. I just stared outside, watching the people passing me by. People with real problems and real issues. People struggling to pay their rent, unable to get a good education, unable to land great jobs. People with disabilities. Old people. Sick people. Dying people.
And then there was me, sitting on a golden train paid by my parents while it took me safely over every obstacle I didn’t even have to know about as I headed to the end of my perfectly planned life.
The opening door caught my attention, and I turned around just in time to see Jax stepping in. He glanced around, and immediately spotted me, his posture dropping and expression turning annoyed.
“You got to be kidding me,” he sighed, and stormed to a door behind the registers.
I smiled and continued eating. I’d been afraid he had a later shift. It took him a while before he stepped back out, wearing that amazingly adorable outfit of his. He pretended to ignore me as he started his day, but he couldn’t stop himself from glancing at me every now and then. His eyes were filled with murder every time they met mine.
I finished my breakfast, but didn’t leave. I stayed in my seat, mostly watching outside the windows. When Jax came to my view, I gave him a smile, but didn’t bother him otherwise. He was working, after all. Little by little, he got used to my presence or simply got tired of giving me angry glances and focused on helping the customers and ringing them in.
The atmosphere was so calm and nice that I finally started feeling better. Honestly, I was ready to sit there for the rest of the day. I feared that if I returned home, the anxiety would return as well. Even the thought of it conjured something heavy on my chest, so I turned to see Jax.
He stood behind the registers, not really doing anything. There were no customers around and he looked a bit bored as he stared outside the windows. Then he glanced at me and squinted his eyes when he noticed me staring at him.
I assumed he’d continue ignoring me, but he left the registers and made his way to me. Without saying a word, he took the seat opposite of me.
“You’re acting suspicious,” he noted.
“I’m not,” I said with a chuckle. “I was having breakfast.”
“And you chose the place I work at by coincidence?”
“Oh, no, I wanted to come harass you.”
“So why aren’t you harassing me?”
“Do you want to?”
I laughed, shaking my head. “I wanted to harass you but… I guess I’m not in the mood, after all,” I said with a shrug.
“You do look tired today,” he noted quietly.
“Didn’t sleep well last night,” I muttered, rubbing my temples. “Things are just… No, never mind.”
I was not sharing my frustrations with Jax, a guy who had to work in a candy store. He didn’t even ask about what I was going to say, but I had the feeling it was more out of respect than him not being interested.
“My life is so perfect,” I said with a smile. “So goddamn perfect.”
“Give me an hour and I’ll fuck it up,” Jax said, making me laugh.
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said and took a deep breath. “Don’t worry. I won’t harass you today. I just want to sit here for a moment longer before heading back home.”
“Sure,” he just said and stood back up.
I expected him to leave, but he leaned in and pressed his lips on mine for a brief kiss. I was honestly shocked. I was so shocked that I completely froze in my seat. After he pulled back, he gave me a small smile.
“Take your time,” he said and walked away.
And all I could do was stare after him.