Ice cream. It had always been his favorite comfort food, which was exactly why he never allowed himself to have any at all these days. Or maybe he should say he hadn’t allowed himself any until three days ago, when he’d stalked out of his apartment building to go for a walk and had ended up stopping at a convenience store and buying an ice cream sandwich.
Steph would have told him it was perfectly fine, and maybe it would have been, it he hadn’t stopped a few blocks later and bought another one. All in all he ate four of them that night, then starved himself the following day in an attempt to make up for it. He’d gone to the gym too, guzzling water and working out until he’d gotten dizzy and had to stop, and even that hadn’t felt like enough to make up for it.
Work had been a disappointment. Steph wasn’t talking to him and the only piercings he’d done were a nose ring, a pair of tits, a couple eyebrows, and a poorly thought out Prince Albert. Jax still couldn’t believe how that had come about. When the couple had come in, only the woman was supposed to be getting a piercing, two of them, actually, matching little hoops in her nipples, the kind he did all the time. She’d sat like a pro and been thrilled with them when he was done. Unfortunately, she’d also insisted on taking pictures of her new piercings and posting them on the internet, a fact that set her boyfriend off. The two started an argument right in the middle of the shop, with the guy finally declaring that if she could get her tits pierced and show them off all over town, then he was gonna get his junk pierced and do the same.
Needless to say, that hadn’t exactly well and the guy had left with an ice pack on a very sensitive area, cussing up a storm. The first thing Jax had done after closing time was head to the corner store and buy a pint of ice cream, digging into it as soon as he got home and finishing it off before bothering with dinner.
He was doing the same thing now, spoon posed over a half empty container of black cherry, his thoughts racing a thousand miles a minute as he stuffed his face.
When his cell phone rung he nearly dropped the spoon it startled him so bad. Glancing around, he tried to remember where he’d put his phone but it seemed almost too much effort to bother. The ringtone wasn’t Steph’s, and if Max or Callum wanted him then they knew how to walk up the steps. Besides, it wasn’t their ringtone either, so he scooped up another spoon full of ice cream and shoved it in his mouth. At this rate, he’d have to get up early and spend the whole day at the gym to make up for this, or maybe he wouldn’t even bother, what difference did it make, he’d likely just grab another pint on the way home anyway.
Brooding, he finished the pint and threw himself face down on the couch, growling when the phone rang again. Same ringtone, wasn’t that the default? He couldn’t remember so he lay there and closed his eyes, ignoring it again.
Three more times it rang, three more times he ignored it. At one point he even chucked the phone across the room, he was so annoyed with it. He flipped the channels on the television restlessly, stopping on a hunted places show and dropped the remote on the floor beneath his head.
This move hadn’t gone the way he’d planned. Des Moines was interesting enough, but he wasn’t sure working with Steph was going to pan out, especially if she couldn’t stay out of his business. The last thing he needed was her giving him shit, or worse, the silent treatment, every time he fucked up another relationship. Hadn’t she figured out by now that the chance of him actually managing to make something work, with anyone, was pretty slim?
Jace sighed, grabbed a pillow and pulled it up over his head. It muffled the show but he didn’t really give a shit at the moment, his head was starting to ache, so before it could turn into a full blown headache he hurried to his room and swallowed a couple painkillers, then flopped back on the couch again.
Unwittingly, his thoughts went back to Danny and the lavender oil and how good it had felt to have him massaging his temples. No one besides Steph had ever taken care of him that way. A part of him longed for that again, but the other part was scared to accept it. What good would it do him to get attached to someone when people didn’t stick around. Even if they didn’t screw around on you, there were the arguments you couldn’t bounce back from, or they got transferred or disinterested, or died.
That fucking ring tone again.
Rolling from the couch Jax stalked across the room and retrieved his phone, flipping it open with an angry flick of his thumb and all but snarling into the phone.
“Who the fuck is this!”
“Jax,” the horrified voice on the other end gasped, and Jax just slapped his free hand to his forehead and groaned. “Is that any way to greet your mother.”
“Sorry,” Jax grunted. “Didn’t know it was you.”
“Well, that probably isn’t the best way to answer the phone, regardless.”
“Mom, I’m pretty sure you didn’t call to lecture me about the way I answer the phone.”
“No, I called because I’m going to be coming to Des Moines on the 5th and wanted to get together with you and Stephanie for dinner.”
Jax pulled the phone away from his ear and scowled at it.
“Jax, did you hear what I said?”
“Yeah, um sorry, just trying to figure out what you’re coming all this way for.”
“Why wouldn’t I want to see Stephanie’s new shop and where you’re living?”
“I don’t know, maybe because you’ve never come before.”
“If you’ll recall, I asked you if I could come visit and you told me you were too busy each and every time.”
“Yeah, and I was, I still am, Mom, what is this really about?”
“I’m getting married.”
“Please don’t yell Jax, I know you heard exactly what I said. I’m getting married. He’s a nice man, in fact, I’ve known him for longer than you’ve been alieve. We’ve been friends a long time and it finally blossomed into something more. We wanted to sit down with you both and celebrate.”
“Oh, fuck, mom you’re not marrying Mr. Russ are you?”
“I should have married him a long time ago, to tell the truth, I don’t understand why I never saw what was right in front of my face, Russ is a wonderful man, you know he is, Jax how many times did he step in to help out around the house while you were growing up?”
Jax’s brain tuned out her words, all he could do was stand there listening to the endless chatter, wishing he’d never answered the phone in the first place. Finally, after what felt like forever, she paused, and Jax cautiously focused, hoping she didn’t expect him to say too much.
“I would like it very much if you would be there,” his mother said.
“Sorry mom, I can’t.”
“I don’t understand why you have to be so difficult, Jax, I know I didn’t always get things right when you were growing up, but was I really so horrible to you that you can’t even spare one evening to have dinner with me?”
“If it was just dinner, maybe, but I’m not celebrating another marriage that’s just gonna end in less than a year,” Jax scoffed, wanting nothing more than to hurry up and get her off the phone. “How you actually convinced Steph that you’d changed is beyond me. You’ll never change.”
He heard her gasp of outrage and rolled his eyes.
“Look mom, I’ve gotta go.”
“Yes, I’d better get going myself, I’m sorry to have bothered you, believe me, it won’t happen again,” she said before handing up.
Jax closed his phone, then pitched it across the room, switched off the TV and grabbed his keys. Fucking hell, it never ended, it was always the same old shit, always the same crap from her time and time again. I’m getting married, meet the new stepdad. Fuming, he stalked to the corner store and picked up another pint of black cherry. This time he didn’t even wait until he’d gotten home to dig in, he snagged a plastic spoon and started shoveling it in on the walk back home.