by Joyce Lamb)
What a great way to start off a new week — with an exclusive excerpt from Sylvia Day's upcoming Aftershock (March 11), the finale of the series that kicked off the Cosmo Red Hot Reads from Harlequin with Afterburn.
Aftershock by Sylvia Day
"Open the damned door, Gia."
My jaw clenched. There was no way in hell the hotel had given out my room number. It irritated me to no end that Jax had the connections to circumvent the rules everyone else lived by.
"Get a clue, Jax. I don't want to see you."
"You can't stay in there forever, Gia, but I can put a guard on your door who'll make sure that when you come out, you come straight to me. It's your choice how you want this to go."
Narrow-eyed, I slapped the security bar back and yanked the door open. Jax immediately crowded me, forcing me back into the room. I caught barely a glimpse of a guy in a dark suit behind Jax's big frame, then Jax kicked the door shut behind him.
He'd said I was sexy as hell when I was mad at him and I understood what he meant when confronted by over six feet of angry, bristling masculinity. The angles of his gorgeous face were tight, his jaw rigid, the sensual curve of his lips firmed into an unyielding line. He looked dangerous and fiercely sexual.
"I'm getting real tired of you cutting things off," he said, clenching his teeth.
"That's what you want, isn't it? You want me to end things because you can't."
His face revealed no expression, but something in his eyes changed. "Why would I want to do that?"
"Because you're afraid of me. Especially the way you feel about me."
"That, or your dad has you running scared. Which is it?"
"I've told you what he's like," Jax said softly.
That stopped my retreat. "I guess I have more faith in you than you have in yourself. I think you can take him on, Jax. I trust that you'd watch out for me."
He laughed and it was a horrible, humorless sound. "You think I'd protect you from the big bad wolf?"
I stared at him, shocked, never having seen this bitter side of him. The next thing I knew, he had me in his powerful grip, his body curling into me and his face close to mine. He was impossibly beautiful. The most stunning man I'd ever seen. And he was seriously pissed.
"I am the big bad wolf, baby," he growled. "You want to be with me? You want to go to parties with me…events…have dinner with the family?"
"Yes!" I lifted onto my tiptoes. "I'm sick of being your booty call, Jax. I deserve better!"
"You want the whole deal?" he snapped. "Fine. Your life is about to change completely. Your privacy is a thing of the past. Gia, every questionable thing you've ever done is about to become tomorrow's news. And that goes for your family and friends, too."
I swallowed hard.
"Afterburn/Aftershock" by Sylvia Day.(Photo: Harlequin)
"You're going to move in with me. You'll be safe in my apartment, but I can't say what your brothers will have to deal with. Or your sister-in-law. There'll be security with you at all times. And I don't want to hear about how inconvenient it is to constantly have someone with you."
"You can't scare me," I whispered, but it was a lie.
"Oh, I will," he warned darkly. "You've had nothing but the best of me so far, but if you want it all, that's what you'll get. I'll tell you what to wear, what to say, how to act. Image is everything in politics and business, but you've already figured that out, haven't you?"
I rebelled, yanking myself away from him. "I'd face all that and more for a guy who really loved me. But I'm not putting up with this s*** from a jerk."
"I give it to you straight and you flip."
"No," I corrected. "You wanted to scare me straight and you're getting what you wanted."
"Damn it." Jax stepped forward, reaching for me.
I backed up quickly. "Don't touch me."
His dark eyes bored into mine. "You might as well tell me to stop breathing. What the f*** do you want from me, Gia?"
"You could've said something like, 'Listen, Gia, sharing my life won't be easy, but I love you. I'll do the best I can to make sure our private life is worth the public hell.' Or something like that!"
"Jesus." He made a frustrated sound. "This isn't a g********* romance novel! I'm just a guy trying to give in to what you want so I can have you."
As if. He knew what I wanted and he was fighting it all the way. "Well, now you can have your life and me—when I'm in the mood." I held up a warning hand. "Not now. I'll call you when I get back to New York."
"Fine. Whatever." He pivoted and strode out the door, his back stiff and shoulders rigid.
Jax yanked the door open and stepped out to the hallway. I swallowed the words stuck in my throat and reached for my smartphone on the bed, using it as a distraction to avoid watching him leave.
I heard the door shut and closed my eyes, breathing out a shaky exhalation. We weren't going to recover from this. This was going to change what we'd had. Forever.
My lungs seized in surprise at the sound of Jax's voice.
"I love you. Okay? I love you so much it's driving me crazy."
I reached for the desk chair, trying to support my weakened knees. I'd wanted to hear him say the words, but now that I had, they didn't sink in. I didn't realize how upset he was until his hands gripped my upper arms and he buried his face in my neck.
"I want you in my home," he said softly. "I want to wake up to you, go to sleep holding you, to come home from work and eat dinner with you. I want what we had in Las Vegas, but things were different then. I had you all to myself. It's not going to be that way now."
I reached up with my right hand and set it over his left. "I get it. I can deal with it."
"I hope so," he murmured, turning me around. "Because I'm not going to be able to let you go after this, Gia. For better or worse, you're mine."
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