Page 60 of Conceal

“How did she . . . ?”

I close my eyes. Behind my lids, the images flash. Glass. So much glass. The smell of burning rubber. My head shakes as if to pull myself out of the nightmare I’m stuck in. It happened so many years ago, but it’s like I’m there right now. “Car accident.” My eyes open, and Jax is staring at me.

“I lost my dad.” His shoulders drop, his palm rubbing against his chest. I don’t think he realizes he’s doing it.

I can feel my heart lurch in my chest, but the words still leave my mouth. “I don’t have a family.” I pause to draw my bottom lip into my mouth. “Anymore.”

Unspoken questions linger in his eyes, but I won’t answer. I’m not ready.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay.”

Pulling my gaze away from him, I take in the spread of food. With a reach of my arm, I place my fork in the dish and pull it up. “Let’s see if this is as good as you say it is.”

He knows the conversation is over, and like always, he gives me exactly what I need, taking his hand off mine and grabbing his own fork. He then takes a bite too. When I place the fork in my mouth, I’m not prepared for the taste explosion. Salty and sweet all at the same time.

“Oh my God,” I say with a mouth full of food. I swallow. “That is soooooo good.”

“Would I steer you wrong?” His voice is cocky and confident.

“Apparently not. Because that was legit heaven.”

“Wait until you take a sip of the milkshake.” He winks.

I grab the glass, place the straw in my mouth, and take a sip.

It’s exactly everything he says it is. And with the smirk on his face and my own moans, I sigh.

He’s right.

Best thing ever.

So good it makes me savor the moment and not dwell on the pain that was holding on to my heart only a few minutes ago.

I look at him from under my lashes. “Thank you.”

I’m not thanking him for the drink, and he knows it.

It’s so much more than that.

Before I know it, the early morning sun is peeking through the clouds.

It’s not bright, barely illuminating the black skies, but it makes me realize I’m not sure how much time has passed. I pull my phone out and check the time.

“Damn,” I say.

“What’s wrong?” Jax asks.

“I didn’t realize how late it was.”

Jax pulls his wrist up and looks at his watch. “Fuck.”

“I know.”

“I guess the saying is true,” he mutters.

“And what’s that?”

“Time flies when you’re having fun.”

I roll my eyes. “The lines get better and better,” I quip.

“You know that’s why you like me.” He smirks.

“It is. Actually.” At my words, his smile widens.

“We should go,” he says, reaching into his pocket to grab his wallet.

“I’m not letting you pay again.”

“Sure you are.”

“You’re impossible.”

“That’s the least of what I am, but you’re still not paying.”

“Fine,” I huff, but as much as I huff, it’s not real. I appreciate him doing this for me. He throws some money on the table, and I raise my eyebrow. “We don’t even have a bill.”

“Trust me, it’s enough.”

This time, I do roll my eyes at him as he stands.

“Come on, it’s late. Let’s get you home, and maybe I’ll actually sleep an hour before work.”

“Oh my God, you have to work today?”

“I do.”

“How will you manage?”

“I’ll be fine.”

“You’ll pass out at your desk,” I say.

“Probably, but at least my brother won’t be there.”

“Well, that’s good.” I follow him out, pulling my coat tightly around my body.

“You’re cold. Do you want—”

I shake my head. “I’m fine. Plus, you’ll freeze.”

“I don’t get cold.”

“Oh yes, I forgot. You’re a superhero.”

He laughs at that and then continues to walk. “My car is right there.” He points up the block.

“Are you okay to drive?”

“Yeah, I’m good.”

“Okay.” We walk together to his car, and ever the gentleman, he opens the door. After I sit, he closes my door and walks around to the driver’s side.

We both sit in the car, heat now blasting but we don’t move.

“You do realize you have to tell me where you live?”

I can’t help but laugh. “Shit, you’re right. Stuyvesant.” I can’t believe I’ve known Jax this long and still haven’t told him this. It feels like we are old friends, like I have known him forever, but he doesn’t even know I’m basically homeless.

It makes me feel like an awful person. Like every word out of my mouth is a lie.

“Really?” he asks.

“Yeah. I’m crashing with Maggie.”

“What do you mean you’re crashing with her?”

I can feel his eyes on me.

“Not much to tell. I haven’t gotten around to finding my own place. But I will. Soon.”

I expect him to say something, but he doesn’t. He pulls the car out of the spot and weaves his way through traffic.