“Sold! To the very possessive, Jaxon Riley.” Cole bent down and handed Jax his ticket so he could pay later. I watched as he whispered to him, “I’ll make sure you never get within fifty feet of her if you hurt her again.” Jax nodded his head once.

Instantly, he turned toward me and pulled me over his shoulder, so that my hands and face hit his back. I would kill him. This couldn’t be more embarrassing. I was in charge of this event and he was dragging me out over his shoulder. I didn’t fight it because I didn’t want to create more of a scene in front of everyone. Thank God, I didn’t wear a skirt today. He didn’t stop until he got to his truck out in the parking lot where he sat me down onto the passenger seat and closed the door to walk around to the other side.

When he put the keys in the ignition I finally spoke, “I’m not leaving, Jaxon. This event was my responsibility.”

He pulled his cellphone out of his pocket and began calling someone. “Woods, yeah… can you cover the rest of the event for Emerson? ... Yeah… I f**king know… I understand… Okay, thanks, I’ll owe you.” I’m pretty sure I had entered the twilight zone.

“You just called Micah?” I said shocked. “Why would you even have his number?”

“I had to call him today to talk to him about stuff,” he responded, but I could tell he didn’t want to talk about it. He drove past our apartments and I had no idea where he was headed.

“Why would you need to call him today?”

“Emerson, I don’t want to talk about Micah.”

“He’s my friend, so I do. Why would you need to talk to him?”

“If he’s really your friend, and he’s going to Africa with you, I needed to apologize. I’ll need him to watch over you when I can’t. It’s pissing me off, but there’s nothing I can do about that, the internship is full.”

“You tried to get in the Africa internship?” It was one surprise after another with him. He nodded his head. “Why do you need someone to watch over me?”

“Isn’t it obvious? Because I’ll need at least an ounce of peace while you’re away from me for three months. Because I love you so damn much. Because if something happened to you, I wouldn’t survive.”

“Why do you say that kind of stuff to me? It only hurts me, you know,” I whispered. He pulled the truck into an empty parking lot at the beach and put it in park.

“I can’t live without you. I’m done trying,” he said, looking into my eyes while pulling me across the seat closer to him. He sat me in his lap facing him with my back leaning up against the steering wheel. I stayed quiet, not sure how to continue this subject.

“I ended things with us Emerson because I didn’t think I was strong enough to be with you. When you went off the deep end that night before… your birthday, Quinn told me you usually got sad and became a little reclusive during that time. When she said you had never acted the way you did that night, I knew it was because of me. I was hurting you, somehow making you worse. I knew you deserved to find someone who could build you up, not tear you down. When you ran off with Devon, I figured that’s what you were searching for as well.”

“Jaxon… that’s not it at all. I got a voicemail right before that party from a lawyer who spoke of my mom and dad. Hearing their names so close to the anniversary of their death set me off… I know I never should have left.”

He nodded his head, “Quinn told me about the lawyer. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you during that; I beat myself up every damn day. After she told me that, it had already been a week since we broke up. You seemed sad at first, but then it seemed you were getting over me, and I didn’t want to hurt you more by asking you back. I started going to parties you were at because I had to know if you had found someone new. It sounds awful, but I was elated every time I saw you just sitting down talking to Cole, Jace or Quinn all night. You never left with any guys. I figured you would move on quickly. But week after week, you still came out to that tree by yourself and I started wondering if you missed me as much as I missed you.”

“A smart lady,” he continued, “once told me that I would screw up, we both would, but that it was how I handled it afterward that mattered. I didn’t handle it the right way; I should have never let Cole take you away that day,” he said and I smiled at his sweet mom’s words.

“Jax… it’s been a hard month for me. That day in the courtyard is high on my list of most painful days. I don’t think I can put myself in the position to be hurt like that again.”

“Since that day you walked out of the Frat house with barely any clothes on, I‘ve been calling you mine. Before I’d gotten to know you, I knew I had to make you mine. It only got worse the closer we got. When Cole carried you away from me that day, I realized you weren’t mine at all. I. AM. YOURS,” he avowed, while pounding his chest. “When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is of you and every minute for the rest of my day is spent thinking about you in some way or another,” he ground out.

“Jax…” I didn’t know how to respond.

“How do I know that if I panic again and need space, you won’t walk away from me? I understand how hard I am to be with. I still have a mile-long list of issues with my parents’ death, and I’m sure I’m not done freaking out.”

He grabbed each side of my face and looked into my eyes. I loved being this close again to those brilliant blues. “You don’t walk away from your heart.”

I grabbed his shirt and pulled him closer to me. He stopped his lips from mashing into mine; instead, he stopped them right against me. We sat there waiting for the other, our breath intermixing. I could feel the softness of his lips on my mine, but he wasn’t moving any closer.

Without moving his mouth, he brought his hands up and slowly released each tiny button down the front of my blouse. When he finally had it open, he slowly removed it from my shoulders and tossed it in the backseat. I glanced out the windows to see if there were any people around. He caught me searching.

“Trust me, Beautiful. I’m not going to let anyone else see you.”

With his reassuring words, I closed my eyes and let him take charge. I realized that five months ago, I wouldn’t have cared if anyone else saw me. Now I understood that I wanted to save everything I had for this man right here. I couldn’t imagine sharing any part of me with anyone besides him. For that, I’ll always be grateful for him.

“You do make me stronger.” I opened my eyes to look at him as he was freeing me from my bra.

“What?” he asked while trying to stay focused on my eyes.

I grabbed both of his hands and interlocked my fingers with his. “You said you thought you made me weaker and that’s just not true. You make me stronger. You make me appreciate what I have and want to be a better person for you.”

I finally moved his hands to my br**sts and he moaned. I couldn’t handle it any longer so I kissed him fiercely. My fingers moved to thread through his hair, which was longer than it was a month ago. I know we had just been together yesterday, but I hadn’t been able to appreciate any of it. It had been full of angst and need, and I was too busy thinking about how destroyed I would feel afterward. This time, I could revel in the changes that had happened in a month, like the length of his hair. I pulled his shirt over his head, needing to press myself up against his skin.

I bent down and started kissing the lines of his tattoo, from his collarbone down to his bicep. If I hadn’t been admiring it so closely I would have missed it, but there was definitely something different. I felt his body freeze when he knew I had found it. Wrapped in the already existing lines was a black heart with an “E” carved out in the middle. It was amazing how the artist could make it seem as if that heart had been there all along. It was perfectly tucked behind one wide sweeping black line. I traced the outline of it.

“You’re my heart. You don’t walk away from your heart,” he whispered in my ear.

I looked at it in awe. This was permanent. This meant he wanted me in his life permanently. I couldn’t stop kissing him; it was freeing to be able to whenever I wanted again.

“Did Jace get one too?” I giggled as he pinched me in the side with a faux-angry expression.

His face turned serious again, “Emerson, have you… been with anyone else?” he asked nervously.

I gave him a disgusted face and he sighed in relief with a chuckle. “Absolutely not. Have you?” I responded.

He cupped my br**sts and lifted them up so he could kiss the swells of them. “No, Beautiful, you’ve ruined me. No one else compares.”

“Do you still want to stand next to me holding my hand?”

I nodded, “Not at the best time either. It was after we had that fight by my tree.”

“The night I started playing your CD out loud for you, instead of playing it through my headphones?”

Now this made my eyebrows rise. “You listened to it before that night?”

“Every night. I’ve listened to it every single night since you gave it to me.”

Later that week, we had our official date that he paid for at the auction. He came into my room while I was getting ready, handing me a huge present wrapped in light blue paper with a massive black bow on top.

“It’s fitting for the present, open it,” he said nervously.

All I saw was black at first. When I reached in to pull everything out, I realized it was a black leather jacket and helmet that matched the one Jaxon wore to ride on his motorcycle, only smaller. I looked up at him with wide eyes, considering what he was telling me with this gift.

“You’re going to take me on the bike?” I asked excitedly.

“I may only be able to do it once, but you’re going to wear all of this stuff. I don’t want an inch of you exposed. It probably won’t be any fun because I’m going to drive about twenty miles an hour. But yes… I’m going to take you,” he said, taking in a deep breath.

We walked down to the bike and he immediately went into education mode. “Don’t put your legs down at all. Never touch this,” he pointed to some metal pieces, “it gets really hot. Tap my shoulder, once to slow down and twice if you want me to stop. Always hold my waist and try not to lean against my turns; it’ll make it harder for me.” He was getting nervous.

“Jaxon, I trust you.” I patted each side of his face.

“It’s not me I’m worried about. I’m an excellent rider; I’d never put you in danger. I worry about the other idiots on the road.”

“Jaxon, I trust you,” I repeated and stood on my tiptoes to kiss him.

He mounted the bike and I swung my leg over to get behind him. I knew I would love this. The way I was molded against his backside was sexy already. He started up the engine and I could feel the vibration underneath me. He ran my hands along his sides and over his stomach until my arms overlapped. I hugged myself even closer to his back.

The ride was exhilarating; he wound up and down the road that ran parallel to the beach. Each turn he made with his body had me pulling in closer. Eventually, I tuned out the ride altogether and focused on the body I was holding onto. My hands started roaming across his stomach and chest, and he quickly pulled over next to an ocean-side picnic area and turned off the engine. I slid off and he followed behind. He unsnapped his helmet and then did the same for me.

“Your roaming hands are a distraction.” He nuzzled into my neck as he picked me up and walked us to a picnic table.

He sat up on the table with his feet on the bench. I laid my head down onto his shoulder. We sat there, enveloped in a peaceful silence while he rubbed my back softly.

“I love you, Beautiful, more than you can imagine.” The feel of his lips on mine was heaven.

“I think we need to go back home now…” I whispered to him with a guilty smile on my face.

He leaned back to look at me confused, until he saw the lust and desire in my eyes. It hit him hard and I saw the same flames in his. He grabbed me up and almost sprinted back to the bike and I laughed the whole way there.

The longest three months of my life were finally coming to an end. If I have any say at all, I’ll never let Emerson be away from me for that long again. But let’s be honest, that girl has me so wrapped around her finger, I’ll do anything she wants. I knew it would be difficult not to wake up next to her every morning, seeing that blonde hair spread out across my pillows or the way she started smiling just a little bit in her sleep. She began doing that after I took her to her parents’ grave before she left. That day was so hard for me; I hated to see her in so much pain. But she got to say what she should have said to her parents long ago, and I could tell when we left she had a little more peace. Damn, I missed that little, peaceful smile, but I never imagined how painful it would be just to be away from her for so long. The fact that I couldn’t talk to her whenever I wanted made it even more difficult. So many times I would wake up in a pool of sweat just needing to call her to make sure she was safe and okay. I could never go back to sleep after those moments, so I got up and went for a run instead. I ran almost every night this summer; at least Coach would be happy.