At the mention of her past, I want to dig a hole and throw myself inside. I was supposed to be the one person to treat her right, the one she could count on. “Shit man...I pussied out and should have told you all of this over a month ago.”
“I think I need to go get some coffee,” Mom mutters. She gives Jax a kiss on the forehead and scurries out, obviously uncomfortable with the idea of hearing about her sons’ sex lives.
“Don’t beat around the bush, Jace,” Em says and then turns to Jax. “Audrey was the girl Jace was kissing up against his truck back in high school, the same day you met Audrey at Cole’s party. She was the girl Jace was gushing about meeting. She thought you were Jace, and then Jace didn’t want her after she had been with you.”
“Hey!” I quickly interrupt. “Don’t say I didn’t want her. I’ve always wanted that girl!” I pause and take a deep breath. “I just didn’t realize how much until it was too late.” Em shrugs her shoulders and snuggles in closer to Jax. He wraps her up in his arms and briefly kisses her lips.
“Wait...hold on, this is too much,” Jax rasps out. “First of all, what the fuck, Jace? Why didn’t you say something that night at Cole’s party?”
“Because I thought she was mad at me about something. I thought she wanted you.”
“Cole said you messed it up. What does that mean? What did you do?” Jax questions harshly.
“I freaked out, okay? I hadn’t told anyone about us yet. You were in a damn coma! Mom was coming. I had so much to explain and I just needed to focus on you.”
“So you chased her off?” he asks.
“Oh, more like threw a f**king fit until she left,” Cole adds.
“Cut him some slack,” Quinn chimes in.
“I yelled at her to leave...” I finally admit.
“In front of all of her friends?” Jax asks, and I shamefully nod my head. “You didn’t learn from me?”
“Nope. I guess I needed to follow in your footsteps, big brother.” I try to give him a snarky smile.
“Jackass.” He lies back and seems to let me off the hook for a little while, but I have a feeling it won’t be for long. “Quinn, wake up! Geez, I thought you’d be more excited to see me,” he calls out.
She smiles lazily and gets up to hug him. “I did miss you. Don’t do that again. I don’t like the Em you leave behind,” she says to him.
“She was perfect. I wouldn’t have been able to pull through without her,” he says, smiling down at her. Slowly, he pushes her up so he can look in her eyes. “Babe, seriously. You were amazing. I can’t imagine going through this without you. Comas. Life. I want you to be mine.”
“I am yours,” she sniffles, showing him her palm.
Immediately, I can tell where this is going and I thank the stars that I thought ahead. As he starts to speak her name, I rush to interrupt, “Dude, I grabbed something from your room.”
Jaxon holds out his hand as I dig around in his gym bag for what he wants. When he has a hold of it, I see him start to contemplate something and I jump to stop him.
“Don’t even think about getting up. Do it right there,” I assert, pointing at his bed and pushing him back by his shoulder. He groans, but then stops when he looks up into Em’s wide eyes. She cups his hand in between the two of hers and questions him with just a look.
“Beautiful, you charged into my life with barely any clothes on.” He stops to wink at her and she rolls her eyes in return. “I was hooked from day one. I couldn’t look at another girl from that point on. You ruined me, and I never want to be put back together. You molded yourself into my family so perfectly. I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone any better.” He stops and looks at the ground again, frustrated. “I wish I could do this on one knee, baby.”
She quickly swipes at her eyes and laughs through the tears. “It’s okay, it’s okay! Keep going.” She points to the box in his hand and he pops it open to show her the two-karat diamond I helped him pick out this past summer. Quinn and Em gasp at the same time when they see her ring.
“Emerson Moore, every day you find a new way to save me. Please, marry me. I love you and I promise to protect you for as long as I live.”
“Yes, yes! Of course, yes,” she cries. She grabs his face and plants her lips squarely on his. He sluggishly wraps one arm around her and straightens the other one out for me to bump knuckles with him.
When Em finally lets him breathe again, Jax turns to me and says, “Thanks for grabbing that for me, man.” I shrug my shoulders because that’s what we do. We all watch as Jaxon slides Em’s new ring onto her left ring finger.
“Dude, you totally pulled the ‘coma card’ to get her to marry you!” Cole bursts out laughing.
We all join in and Jax smiles widely, “Hey, I had to convince her somehow.”
Quinn bursts into sobs and runs to hug Em tightly. Girls are so damn weird. We all knew this was coming between Jax and Em, so why the tears?
“Jesus, the waterworks on this one lately...” Cole mutters, while pointing at Quinn with his thumb.
“You leave her alone,” Em snaps, wiping her own tears away.
“Well, aren’t pregnant girls supposed to be all emotional though? And tired. You said she’s been sleeping a lot,” Jax says. The room goes completely silent. Cole’s brow wrinkles, Em looks with confusion at Jaxon, and Quinn’s mouth drops open wide. I have no idea what the hell just happened.
“Pregnant girl? Who the hell is pregnant?” I question, since everyone else has obviously been struck dumb.
Jax looks at Quinn in bewilderment. “Didn’t you tell me...”
“You were in a coma! I didn’t think you could actually hear me,” she exclaims, trying to give him a dirty look.
“Oh shit, they don’t know?” Jax rushes to ask.
“WHAT?” Em yells. Quinn doesn’t answer Em. She doesn’t look at Jax or me. She just stares across the room at her white-as-a-ghost-boyfriend. Well damn.
“I...I just haven’t found the time to talk to you yet...” she stutters. It takes Cole three long strides to cross the length of the room before he falls to his knees in front of Quinn. Immediately, he latches onto her h*ps and looks up at her from his position on the ground.
“Are you trying to tell me that my baby is in here?” he asks, his voice starting to sound as hoarse as Jaxon’s. Quinn looks around the room uncomfortably. All eyes are on her and I feel for her.
“Well...I wanted to tell you privately,” she stammers. “I found out the day Jaxon got hurt.” She starts to fidget nervously. “I’m so sorry, Cole.” He stares at Quinn’s stomach as if he can actually see the baby growing inside. He gazes in awe, and I never thought I would be jealous of some guy who just found out he knocked up his girl unexpectedly.
“Don’t be sorry. I’m sorry you’ve been carrying this around all by yourself all week. I mean, a baby...” A quick look of terror crosses his face as he stands up. “Shit...I don’t know anything about babies. I mean, I literally know nothing. I’ll be a terrible father. Oh my God, I asked you to pick up that heavy box the other night. Pregnant women can’t pick up heavy stuff, right? Shit! No more getting your hair done, all those toxic chemicals and shit,” he rambles while pacing the room.
Abruptly, he walks over to a side table and grabs her coffee cup. She protests as he slams it into the trashcan. “Caffeine, Quinn? No. I need books. I need to know everything. We need to find a store that can teach me about babies. God, I’m going to be the worst father ever!”
I grab onto his shoulder with one hand to try and calm him. “Okay, first of all dude, breathe. You just learned some pretty major news. Chill the hell out,” I say. When Quinn walks his way, I pat him on the back and step aside. She stands on her tiptoes and wraps a hand behind his head, bringing his face toward hers and capturing his lips.
“Baby, I love you,” she says against his mouth.
“I love you too. I’ll try my best.” He rubs her flat stomach and kisses her again.
“You’ll be amazing,” she reassures him.
I look just in time to see Jaxon’s face freeze with his own terror. “You want one what? You want a puppy? I can get one of those. You want a bigger ring, baby, I’ll do that too. How about a nice long vacation, anywhere you want to go,” he says, obviously trying to distract her.
“Whoa. Let’s get married first, and then way off in the very faraway future, we can discuss the possibility,” he states, but I can see the panic in his face.
“Dude, you’ve been following this chick around like a puppy for over a year, and now it’s you that’s afraid of the next step?” I laugh.
“We haven’t graduated yet! We aren’t even married,” he squeaks. “I’m getting really tired,” the bastard says, feigning drowsiness. “I’m getting a headache. I was just in a coma, guys, and this is all too much.” I chuckle at his over-dramatic show of drowsiness.
“You’re not getting out this,” Em says sternly. Jax presses the button that calls the nurse to his room and she immediately pops her head in with a wide smile. She’s shown Jax a little too much helpfulness, if you ask me.
“I have a headache,” he whines to her.
“Of course you do, poor dear. I’ll administer some more pain meds,” Miss-over-attentive-nurse says, rushing to his side.
I laugh when I see Em rolling her eyes. Then she leans down close to Jax and purposely juts out her chest. I can’t help but stifle another laugh. This is classic Em. “Don’t you worry. Soon you’ll be home and na**d in our bed again, giving your fiancé a baby,” she loudly whispers, while winking seductively at him. Jaxon’s mouth drops open in surprise and Em says, “Yeah, I still got it.”
“Okay, okay we’re bringing the vixen out in her again,” Quinn interrupts. “Oh Jace, by the way, since you were home last night, did Audrey go by and grab her textbook? I know she really needed it.”
“What?” I ask. “That was a...she was really there?”
She looks at me with a confused expression. “I guess so. She left it in your room. I didn’t know you’d be home though, so I told her she could just go right in.”
“Dude, what did you do to the poor girl now?” Jax asks sluggishly. The meds are really starting to hit him.
“Nothing. I need to find her though. I gotta go,” I say, reaching for the door.
“I’ll be here...” he trails off.
“Oh, by the way, been meaning to tell you,” I start and then, as quick as I can possibly get it out, I say, “Long story short, I dropped Pre-med. I’ve been double-majoring in Business. I’ll be taking over Dad and Uncle Logan’s company. Cole’s joining and you should be there too. I know you never really had any interest in it but it just wouldn’t be the same without you. Okay? Just think about it, buddy. Love you, bro.” With that last confession off my chest, I hurry out the door.
On the opposite side of the closed door, I hear Jax say, “Beautiful, you’ll explain all of that to me when I wake up, right?”
“Just as soon as I figure it out myself, babe,” she responds.
All day. I searched for her all day and found nothing. I’m embarrassed to admit the amount of times I have called her phone with no answer. With my head hanging low, I make my way back into Jaxon’s hospital room. The second I step inside, I immediately step right back out.
I shouldn’t even be surprised to see Em straddling Jax, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it in a hospital bed. It looked like only her shirt was off at this point but I hightail it out, just in case. After some giggling and shuffling around, Jax calls for me to come back in. I step inside and smirk at the two guilty parties sitting casually on the white hospital bed with coy looks on their faces.
“You were just in coma, you remember that, right?” I ask.
“Hey, they told me to try and get back to normal. I’ve got a lot of muscle to build back up.”
“Where’s Audrey?” Em asks, while flipping her hair upside down and scooping the length of it up into one of those colorful hair bands.
I groan and shrug, making my way toward the chair nearest to his bed. I empty out my pockets and say, “I was hoping you would know. I took cold coffee to all of her classes today. Well, it was warm for the first forty-five minutes I carried it around. She’s not answering her phone, she’s not at home, and I can’t find Lane either.”
“Sorry, the last time I talked to her was when she brought the muffins up here for you,” she apologizes.
“What?” I gasp. “For me? She made those? You never told me that.”
“Would you have really cared at the time? She just wanted to help you in some way.”
“This really couldn’t get any worse. You and Jax are getting married, which I couldn’t be happier for you guys. You know that, right?” She nods her head and I continue, “Cole and Quinn are already starting their family. I’m just afraid I’ll be moving back to Texas without Audrey and she’ll disappear again, permanently.” I run my fingers through my hair in frustration. “I just had this whole fantasy about marrying her and building a house with her. Am I completely off my rocker?”