Despite how sure he was that he knew who the killer was, Jax was proved wrong in the end, much to the enjoyment of a smirking Danny.
“So nightcap it is,” Jax said as he laced his hand with Danny. The look of surprise on Danny’s face was more than enough to make him let go immediately and duck his head, his face turning a light shade of scarlet.
“It’s okay, I don’t mind holding hands,” Danny said as he reached out and took Jax’s hand in his own. Jax gave him a small smile before they began the short walk back to Danny’s car. One day, Jax hoped to get him on his motorcycle, his body tightening a little as he imagined the feel of Danny pressed against his back, his arms wrapped tightly around Jax’s middle.
“…so what did you think?” Danny asked, and Jax blinked, realizing he’d missed part of the conversation.
“Sorry,” he muttered, his face turning scarlet again. “What do I think about what?”
“The erotic art show,” Danny said. “It opens on Thursday and all of the proceeds go to a wonderful foundation that promotes heathy, sex positive lifestyle.”
“That sounds pretty cool actually, and I really enjoyed our trip to the museum a few weeks back. I’d be curious to see the artwork, actually, were you planning to go?”
Danny laughed. “That’s what I was trying to ask you. I plan to go opening night and since Thursdays are your day off, I was wondering if you’d like to go with me?”
Jax gave Danny’s hand a little squeeze. “That would be fun, I’d love to.”
“Perfect, maybe we can have dinner before hand?”
“Sure, have you tried the new seafood place over on Columbus Street, they have amazing clam chowder and their scallops are damn near perfect,” Jax said. “I found it a couple nights ago when I was on my dinner break.”
Danny grinned at the enthusiasm Jax showed for the restaurant and the food they served. He’d been surprised to see Jax clean his plate at the murder mystery dinner and eat his desert as well, and he couldn’t help but wonder what had changed in Jax’s life to motivate him to start eating properly. Unfortunately, he knew he couldn’t ask without risking a fight between them, and this moment just felt so right that the last thing he wanted to do was ruin it.
Jax opened the door for him when they got to the car, even though it was Danny who would be driving. The gesture only softened Danny more to the prospect of dating Jax. Yes, he had issues, and yes there was a great deal they would need to talk about if things were going to work between them, but when Danny looked at the big, tattooed bear of a man, he realized that despite his best efforts not to fall for him, he had done just that.
In the car, Jax sang along softly to the radio, an old classic rock song, and Danny listened, a little surprised at how well Jax could sing. It didn’t take long to reach the apartment, and as soon as they stepped inside they were greeted by Callum and Max whose door was open as they played cards and listened to an old George Carlin tape.
“How was the murder mystery dinner?” Max asked.
“Fucking awesome,” Jax replied his face lightning up with a smile. “I screwed up and picked the wrong killer though.”
“See, I told you that sometimes mysteries can surprise you.”
“The actors did an amazing job,” Danny said. “You guys should check it out sometime. Maybe we can all go together.”
“That would be pretty cool,” Jax said.
“Yeah, you’ll have to tell us when the next one is that you can actually get to.” Max said. “With your schedule, Jax, you’ll prolly have to wait for a day when you don’t have anyone booked.”
“Like that’s gonna happen anytime soon,” Jax muttered. “I’m already pretty booked for the upcoming week, but I will let you know when my schedule eases up.”
“Sounds good,” Max said.
“Well, we’ll talk to you guys later,” Jax said.
“Or you guys could always join us and have a couple beers,’ Callum offered.
“Nope,” Danny said with a grin. “Jax lost a bet when he chose the wrong killer, so we’re heading upstairs for a nightcap.”
Max snickered a little, covering it up with his hand while Callum just raised and eyebrow.
“We’ll see you guys later,” Jax said as he took Danny’s hand and led him up the stairs.
As always, entering Danny’s apartment meant being greeted by Lyric, Chorus and Inferno, who mewed and attempted to trip them up until they were given what they felt was the proper amount of attention. Danny watched as Jax rubbed Lyrics ears while trying to stop Chorus from climbing up his arm and onto his shoulder, a losing effort once Inferno decided to put his paws on Jax’s chest and rub his face beneath Jax’s chin.
Grinning, Jax took the attention in stride before Danny finally took mercy on him and shooed the cats away.
“You’re good with animals, did you have a bunch of pets growing up?” Danny asked.
“Mostly goldfish,” Jax explained. “But they always seemed to live a really long time. I had a couple gerbils too, and a hamster.”
“No cats or dogs?”
“Nope, my mom didn’t like cats, didn’t want there to be a litterbox somewhere that might offend her male callers, and dogs scared her.”
“That sucks, I’ve always had cats, but when I was growing up we had a dog too.”
“Sally was a Dalmatian, bouncy as hell and always full of energy. It was a good thing we had a huge backyard because she loved it when someone threw something for her to fetch.”
“What happened to her?”
“She passed away when she was eighteen, right in front of the fireplace, which was her favorite spot.”
Danny watched Jax’s face color a little before he ducked his head. “Damn, I’m sorry.”
“I’m not,” Danny insisted. “She lived a long, full life. Made my days a whole lot fuller having her in them.”
Jax frowned a little and Danny could see that he was struggling to understand. He decided to give him a moment while he headed to the kitchen to make them drinks.
“Hope coffee and whiskey sounds good, that’s really the only alcohol I keep around the place.”
“Works for me,” Jax said. “I know you have a thing about alcohol.
Danny chuckled as he put the coffee on to brew.
“I don’t have anything against alcohol, just the way it makes some people act.”
Jax’s frown turned into a scowl. “And what, you thought me and Callum and Max would act like assholes just ‘cause we were having a couple beers?”
“It’s not as if I knew any of you well, still don’t, really, but I wasn’t willing to take the chance.” Danny admitted. “But hey, at least now you know that I’m not completely reckless and irresponsible about who I let into my life.”
“Hey, I apologized for that.”
“Yeah, I know, just saying.”
Jax ran his fingers through his hair, lifting it from the nap of his neck before letting it fall back into place. His face was tinged lightly with red and I could tell that I’d embarrassed him a little. It hadn’t been my intention though I had to admit that it was easier dealing with that Jax than the one who was opinionated and in control.
“When I was growing up my mom dated a lot of jerks,” Jax said softly. “Guys like your ex, Sean, who’d call her names and beat on her. She’d run the whole gamut of bullshit dealing with them, from trying to change herself to be everything they wanted to excepting all of their apologies every time they decided she’d make a good punching bag. I guess seeing that shit with you and Sean just made me think too much about her and the past and I got pissed off all over again.”
Now it was my turn to feel a little bit of shame and discomfort as I headed back to the kitchen to pour the coffee and add the booze. He’d said he had issues but I never imagined they tied in with my experience, nor had I ever considered that what he’d witnessed and been forced to break up had affected him on a level that had nothing to do with me.
“I’m sorry, I thought you were just being a jerk because you thought I was weak,” Danny finally admitted.
“It was a little of that, I was mad that you didn’t fight back even if he was bigger,” Jax admitted. “Then I felt like a jerk, because he’d have probably hurt you more.”
“Yeah,” Danny admitted.
“Was that the first night he hit you?”
Danny nodded. “I don’t know what he was using that night. other times he’d come in pissed off and yelling, but I always tried to stay calm and get him to settle down. That night I was tired of it all and I wanted him to leave, maybe I should have waited until whatever it was had worked its way out of his system, but I was over it all by that point and wanted to move on.”
“No, I, umm, I’m glad you didn’t wait,” Jax said. “It might have gotten worse.”
He sipped his coffee watching me over the rim of the mug. I loved his eyes, the blue of them was so bright and vibrant I felt like I could almost drown in them. Like they were the ocean and I was lost at sea. Then he smiled and the view changed from beautiful to stunning.
“I’m glad you agreed to come to diner with me tonight,” he said. “I was afraid I’d messed things up completely. I…”
He started chewing on his lower lip, his gaze having turned from my face to the coffee he swirled in his mug.
“I felt like such an asshole when I left here the day you shut the door in my face. I was trying to find the words to explain to you that I really liked you a lot but that I had a lot of trouble liking myself and I didn’t really know how to do relationships well. I didn’t mean to make you feel as if I thought you weren’t worth dating, its um, more like I’m not worth dating.”
“Who the fuck told you that?”
Jax was blinking, and it took me a moment to realize that he was blinking up at me and that I had shot to my feet and was now shaking with rage and frustration in front of my chair with my fists clenched. Whoa, I needed to calm down a moment and take stock of why his words had pissed me off so badly. Maybe it was the tone and the soul deep realization I’d had that he absolutely, one hundred percent believed what he’d just said.
Taking a deep breath I forced myself to open my fists and step into his space. His mug was almost empty so I plucked it from his fingers and set it down on the table beside him. Dropping to my knees in front of him I press forward, forcing him to open his legs so I could slot myself between them. That put me face to face with him, though he was trying to look anywhere but at me.
That wouldn’t do.
I slid my palms against his cheeks, framed his face and titled it so I could see those gorgeous eyes again.
“Whoever told you that you weren’t worth dating lied. Anyone who’d make you feel that way is the one who wasn’t worth anything.”
I was shocked when his eyes teared up but more shocked when he kissed me. Gentle, slow, I could taste the tears that were flowing down his cheeks, my fingertips were wet with them. I slid my fingers higher, into his hair, puling just a little and he moaned and angled his head just right to slot our lips together firmly, his kiss growing more intense. Needing more I deepened it, needing to show him how I’d come to feel for him, how awesome I thought he was, despite anything that he might feel was wrong with himself.
How long we kissed I don’t know, just that when I pulled back we were both panting and his pupils were blown wide with lust and longing. He growled and it was the sexist thing I’d heard in a long time. Then he was kissing me again, and there was only wild, unrestrained passion. Holy shit it was like he was spilling electricity through my body, invading my soul with his tongue and the little nips he kept delivering to my lips.
“Danny,” he growled, pulling away, his hands going to my shoulders to hold me in place when I tried to move to kiss him again. “Danny we gotta stop or I’m gonna tackle you to the floor and beg you to fuck me.”
Oh. Holy. Shit. Never in my wildest fantasies of us together had I ever pictured that I might be the one fucking him. I’d taken him for strict top, yet another way that I’d misjudged him. We still had so much to learn about one another. It would be easy, so damned easy to give in to lust and desire right there on the floor. but I wanted to know him better, needed to share more of myself with him too. I wanted to take things slow and keep building on this thing between us, so I nodded, and scooted back more.
“I want you,” I told him softly as I gently caressed his cheek. “But I want to know you better first.”
“Me too,” he said as he pressed his cheek against my palm and closed his eyes. There was something so vulnerable about that gesture that for a moment I forgot which of us was the big, tatted up biker and which of us was the small theater geek. He made me feel…needed and not in the ways other had, that had just left me feeling used.
“Do you want to go for a walk tomorrow morning?” I asked.
“I’d like that very much,” he relied as he climbed to his feet. He reached for me, pulling me into a hug and holding me close, kissed the top of my head, and whispered goodnight before he slipped out the door. For several moments I simply stood there in the silence, a smile on my lips.
That had been the best nightcap ever.