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Ruin Me, Page 15

Jessica Sorensen

  "Well, I was hoping you could point me in the direction of your mother." He pops a cigarette between his lips and strikes a match, lighting up old school.

  "Sorry, but I haven't seen her," I reply coolly as Clara presses her rigid body against my back.

  He takes a long drag from the cigarette, the smell of the smoke awakening my nicotine addiction. "That's strange since your mother mentioned she saw you last night."

  "My mother's a liar." My voice is firm, despite my nerves being rattled. "You should know that."

  He sticks his hand out the window and grazes his thumb across the bottom of the cigarette, scattering ash to the ground. "That I do." He pauses, and I hold my breath, praying he'll leave. "Well, Jax," he sits back in his seat, "it's been a pleasure meeting you. I'm sure one day we'll cross path's again." He starts to roll the window up, but pauses. "And if you do by chance hear from your mother, please let her know I'm looking for her. And remind her how determined of a man I am." He grins one final time. Then the car drives off, kicking up a cloud of dirt behind it.

  "Are you okay?" Clara asks, rushing in front of me.

  I watch the car pull out onto the street. "You know what, I think I am. Whatever my mother's done, it's no longer my problem. I'm not going to worry about her anymore. I'm sick of getting involved and letting her try to ruin my life."

  "Good." She grazes her finger across the inside of my wrist. "She may be your mother, but she's a terrible person and you don't owe her anything.

  "I know." I meet her caring gaze and my anger evaporates. "Are you ready to go home?"

  She eagerly nods. "More than ready."

  Minutes later, we're driving past the final gas station in town. I glance one last time in the rear view mirror, watching my past slip out of sight, knowing it'll be the last time I ever see it.

  I'm never coming back, I silently promise myself. No matter what.

  As difficult as it is to say goodbye, I know it's for the better. I allowed my guilt over leaving my mother gnaw at me for too long.

  For the first time in forever, I'm able to breathe freer as I let my past go and head into the future.

  The best part is, Clara's at my side.

  Chapter Seventeen


  "I think this is about as high as I can go up," I tell Jax, hugging the black vase that carries my father's ashes.

  "Are you sure?" He stands on a shallow ledge just above me, staring out at the sparse fields below us with his hands on his hips. He peers up at the pointed, sloped incline of the mountain behind us. "We could go higher if we need to."

  I shake my head and remove the lid from the vase. "I can't go higher. I'm already experiencing vertigo."

  "Are you afraid of heights?" Jax asks, bounding down onto the small rock I'm standing on.

  I nod with a shallow breath. "I actually am."

  The wind dances up from behind me and through my hair as I inch toward the ledge. It's cold this high up on the mountains, even in May. I zip my jacket up to my chin while Jax steps back a ways to give me some privacy, which I appreciate.

  "Hey, Dad," I whisper as the breeze encompasses me and tears sting at my eyes. "It's me, Clara, your Little Spitfire. I know I've been pretty absent, at last being the spitfire girl you knew, but I'm slowly getting there again, getting happy again. Mom's doing... well, as okay as she can in the condition she's in. I wish I could tell you she's doing great, but I don't think she'll ever be in a place where she's herself again. She does seem pretty happy, though, and Nelli's helping me take care of her." I shrug as I stare at the grassy field below.

  "I'm sorry it took me so long to get you up here." I stretch my arms out with the vase grasped in my hand. "I hope you can finally have some peace now." I slowly tip the vase and the ashes float forward with the wind and snow down to the land below. Tears drip from my eyes. "Goodbye, Daddy."

  I'm not sure how long I remain standing still, but eventually, Jax moves up beside me.

  "Are you going to be all right?" he asks.

  I utter one last goodbye then look up at Jax. His hair is sticking up and flattened on one side, and his cheeks are kissed pink from the wind.

  "I will be. It's good I did this, good he finally got to be where he wanted to be."

  Jax offers me a smile, and then we hike back down the hill to where the Jeep is parked. An hour later we're on the main road again, heading east, heading home.

  "Goodbye, Wyoming," I singsong, cranking up "Creep" by Stone Temple Pilots. "I'm not going to miss you at all." I slip my shoes off and relax back in the seat while Jax laughs at my made up song.

  "I'm glad to see my hometown made a great impression on you," he remarks, glancing down at the gauges. "I'm with you, though. I'm more than ready to get the hell out of here."

  "Are we going to stop anywhere on the way back?" I ask, taking my phone out to text Nelli and tell her my father's ashes have finally been laid to rest.

  "Oh, yeah. I have big plans."

  "Do I even want to know what those big plans are?"

  He slants his head, and hunger gleams in his eyes. "That all depends."

  My pulse is throbbing in so many places I can barely sit still. "On what?"

  "On how adventurous you feel."

  "I'm feeling pretty adventurous."

  A sly grin carves his lips. "Okay, then."

  His response is so open-ended, so full of possibilities. Surprisingly, I can't wait.

  With a lot of effort, I look away from him and focus on texting.

  Me: Hey! Just wanted to let you know I'm headed back. I scattered Dad's ashes at the Tetons about an hour ago.

  Nelli: How are you doing with that? Are you holding up?

  Me: I'm fine. I mean I cried a little, but I don't know... It felt kind of nice to be going through with his final wish, like he can finally be at peace. That probably sounded weird.

  Nelli: Not at all. And I'm sure he's at peace.

  Me: Can you tell my mom?

  She doesn't respond and I figure she's distracted, but then my phone rings, and her name flashes across the screen.

  "Hey," I answer. "Thought you'd call me huh?"

  "Hey, sweetie." It's my mother's voice that flows through the line, not Nelli's. "I just wanted to call you and say how proud of you I am. I'm sure your father's happy, wherever he is."

  She sounds so much like herself I start to cry again.

  "I'm sure he is, too," I whisper through my tears.

  "I can't wait for you to be home," she says. "We've missed you."

  "I've missed you guys, too." I dry the tears with the back of my hand. "A lot."

  "Take care, honey." She hangs up.

  The conversation is short and sweet, but I'm okay with that. If it had gone on longer, I'm sure she would have faded.

  When I set the phone down, Jax slides his arm across the console and threads his fingers through mine. "You good?"

  "You know what?" I smile through my tears. "I really am."

  We spend the next eight hours holding hands and playing road games. Around midnight, we decide to get a room, even though Jax is still okay with driving. But the stop isn't really about the break.

  The moment we step into the room, I stand on my tiptoes and press my lips to his. He reciprocates my kiss, backing me toward the bed until my legs brush against the mattress.

  "Are you sure you want to do this?" he asks breathlessly through each swipe of his tongue. "Because we can wait."

  Shaking my head, I move back and pull his shirt off. He does the same thing to me, tugging my shirt over my head.

  My chest heaves as he deliberately reaches around behind me to unfasten my bra. His eyes remain fastened on me, making sure I don't protest. When my lips stay fused, he unhooks the clasps, and the straps fall from my shoulders.

  "You okay?" He sounds a bit hoarse as his gaze consumes every inch of me.

  I nod then weld our lips together before I can panic. But it's been so long since anyone has seen me this expo
sed that I do feel a little jittery. My nerves begin to settle, though, when he presses our bodies together and lays me down on the bed. The warmth of his body drowns out my worry and I fall blindly into kissing him.

  We only break apart to finish getting undressed. Once he has a condom on, he situates above me.

  "What? No Standing Wheel Barrow this time?" I joke, my jitters revealing through my voice.

  Jax shakes his head as he stares down at me. "I'm saving that for another time. Right now, I just want to enjoy this."

  He shuts his eyes and sucks in a deep breath before easing into me. He moves torturously slow and I fight back the urge not to lift my hips. By the time he's all the way in me, my skin is already damp.

  He starts to rock in and out, our bodies conforming together. He gradually starts to pick up the pace, hitching my leg over his hip, sinking deeper into me. I clutch onto his shoulder blades, my nails splitting his flesh. My skin hums as he drops a kiss on my mouth, parting my lips with his tongue. I bite on his lip and he groans, pounding me hard until I'm so breathless my vision starts to spot. My muscles wind tight, and I start to lose focus as I drift off, grasping onto him.

  Seconds later, Jax joins me, burying his face into the crook of my neck. His teeth nick my neck and his body gives one final jerk before he stills, his cock pulsating inside of me.

  I swear, in the midst of our heavy breathing, I hear him whisper, "I love you." But he utters it so softly I can't be positive what I heard. What I do notice is that the idea of him saying it doesn't seem too terrifying.

  We lie that way for what feels like forever, yet at the same time when he pulls away, I feel as though I could have lain there for so much longer.

  He sweeps my damp hair out of my eyes and drops a featherlike kiss on my lips.

  "Thank you." He's dead serious and looks very un-Jax like at the moment.

  "For what?"

  "For letting me in."

  My heart misses a beat. "Thank you," I reply back.

  "For what?" he wonders.

  "For not ruining me when I let you in."

  "Never," he promises then leans down to kiss me again. After a minute or two, he pulls away with a crooked smile on his face. "Ready for round two?'

  I shake my head, but laugh, feeling more happy and content than I have in a long time.

  "Always," I reply and wholeheartedly mean it.



  Three weeks later...

  "Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, My God!" I run around the living room like a madwoman because there's a damn mouse scurrying around on the floor.

  "Clara, what on earth are you doing?" my mother asks from the recliner.

  I squeal like a wimp as I hop onto the coffee table. I have flour on the front of my shirt and cake batter on my hands. Up until a few moments ago, Nelli had been giving me a tutorial on cake baking. Jax's birthday is in less than a month and I need to be prepared to bake the best cake ever.

  I'd been doing well, mixing and sifting, while Nelli took a bathroom break. But all of a sudden I was no longer alone in the kitchen.

  "There's a mouse..." I search the floor for the little rodent. "Where'd it go?"

  My mother gives a noncommittal shrug, and then turns back to the television screen. "He's probably in one of the cupboards again."

  My gaze whips in her direction. "What do you mean again?"

  "I mean, I saw him in there the other day, chewing on a box of crackers."

  My gag reflex kicks in and vomit burns at the back of my throat. "Did you throw the box away?"

  She shakes her head as she pops a piece of chocolate into her mouth. "Nope."

  "Dammit." I mentally psych myself up then jump down from the table and sprint over to the kitchen area. The counters are covered with eggshells, flour, and butter. I pull open all the drawers and open the cupboards, searching for a sign of the mouse. Sure enough, a few boxes of crackers and cereal have been chewed on.

  I cringe as I throw each box away into the trash, then I wash my hands and grab my purse from my bedroom. By the time I head back out to the living room, Nelli is back in the kitchen.

  "What happened to the cake?" she wonders as she takes in the mess on the counter and stove.

  "I ran into a bit of a problem." I drape the handle of my purse over the table. "And now I have to run to the store to get mousetraps."

  "We have mice now?" Nelli sits down on the sofa and collects the remote from the armrest as she crosses her legs.

  "I guess we have for a while." I give a pressing look at my mother.

  My mother shrugs. "It's just a little mouse, Clara. Nothing like a rooster." She smiles at me.

  If I didn't know any better, I'd swear she's enjoying my discomfort.

  My fingers fold around the doorknob and I crack the door open with my focus still on my mom. "Mice aren't just little; they're gross and disgusting."

  "You have mice?"

  I jump at the sound of Jax's voice.

  "Jesus, you scared me." I press my hand to my racing chest.

  "Yeah, I can see that." His brown hair is styled, his grey shirt is just tight enough to show off his solid build, and he's sporting his classic amused grin I've grown to love over the weeks. His grin broadens when he notes the flour on my shirt. "Were you practicing for my birthday?"

  "Maybe..." My gaze deliberately scrolls up and down his body before landing on his eyes. I knew he was going to come over this evening to meet my family, which I've been fretting over for weeks. Now that he's here, I'm starting to panic. "What are you doing here? I thought you weren't moving in until later tonight?"

  "I got things packed up quicker than I planned." He leans to the side and peers over my shoulder into the living room. "So, you have a mouse?"

  "Yeah, it's running around the house." I glance back at my mother who's watching television and then at Nelli who's watching me.

  "Are you going to introduce us to your special gentleman friend?" Nelli asks as she unwraps a chocolate bar, staring at us like we're live entertainment. "The one I'm guessing the cake's for."

  I shoot her a warning look then turn back to Jax who looks extremely amused.

  "Look, she thinks I'm a gentleman," he teases with a lopsided grin.

  "Yeah, well I'm sure her opinion would change if I told her about all the very ungentleman things you do to me when we're out late."

  "Don't pretend you don't like it." His voice drops to a husky whisper. "Besides, I promised you I'd show you those positions, didn't I?"

  We exchange a look of desire and my skin erupts with heat. I zip my lips together, unable to deny how much I love being with him.

  "Do you want me to see if I can catch it?" he offers. "That is kind of in my job title as boyfriend, right? The guy who gets rid of all the scary things."

  "I guess so." I glance back and forth between him and my mother. "Are you sure you're ready to come in... to all of this?"

  "Absolutely." He brushes his fingertip across my bottom lip. "Relax. This is a good thing."

  I give an unsteady nod. "I know it is."

  He moves toward me and drops a kiss on my mouth. "I love you," he whispers in my ear. "So relax."

  "I love you too," I whisper to him then step back and let him all the way into my life and heart.

  About the Author

  Jessica Sorensen is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author that lives in the snowy mountains of Wyoming. When she's not writing, she spends her time reading and hanging out with her family.

  Other books by Jessica Sorensen:

  The Coincidence Series:

  The Coincidence of Callie and Kayden

  The Redemption of Callie and Kayden

  The Destiny of Violet and Luke

  The Probability of Violet and Luke

  The Certainty of Violet and Luke

  The Resolution of Callie and Kayden

  Seth & Grayson (Coming Soon)

  The Secret Series:

  The Pre
lude of Ella and Micha

  The Secret of Ella and Micha

  The Forever of Ella and Micha

  The Temptation of Lila and Ethan

  The Ever After of Ella and Micha

  Lila and Ethan: Forever and Always

  Ella and Micha: Infinitely and Always

  The Shattered Promises Series:

  Shattered Promises

  Fractured Souls


  Broken Visions

  Scattered Ashes (Coming Soon)

  Breaking Nova Series: