Middle of Knight (Jack & Jill #2)


by Jewel E. Ann

Chapter One

Knight

The signs were everywhere. That twenty-twenty hindsight was an evil, gloating bitch. What incentive was there to ponder a question that had already been answered? The PTSD was a catch-all. AJ knew it. Jillian dismissed it. Fate seized it.

I love you. Why would he say those words? Jillian Knight pondered that question while her brother, Jackson, drove her home from the hospital.

“So you just ran out?” Jackson asked, making a quick sideways glance.

“Walked. I walked out. I told AJ I needed to do something.”

“And what was that?”

“I needed to get the hell out of there.”

“Why?”

“He said … ‘I love you.’”

“I see … Actually, I don’t. You’re going to have to help me out on this one.”

“Why would he say that? Was his accident some near-death experience that brought about this rush of irrational feelings? And it wasn’t just that he said it. It was the way he said it. It’s like someone had a gun to his head.”

“Do you love him?”

“No … I-I don’t know. That’s just it. What was I supposed to say? Thank you, or I’d rather you wouldn’t?”

“So what now?”

She sighed. “I don’t know. Food, beer, and then I’ll face him tomorrow.”

By eleven o’clock that night, with the help of four bottles of Heineken, Jillian had an epiphany. It was a new record for her. Most epiphanies didn’t happen until the end of the sixth bottle of Heineken.

“Jackie?” she whispered, opening Jackson’s bedroom door.

“What the hell did you call me?” he grumbled with his head buried in his pillow, the bed sheet draped low on his waist.

Jillian giggled, then hiccupped. “Jackie … I figured it out.”

He flipped over, raising up on his elbows, eyes squinted against the hall light. “Call me that again and I’ll knock you out before the beer gets to it.”

“Scooch over.” She stumbled to his bed.

“I’m naked.”

“So … scooch.” Jillian wedged her way into his bed.

Jackson retreated to the other side, securing the sheet around his waist.

“I’ve decided to love AJ.”

“Decided?”

Jillian rolled onto her side facing Jackson with her cheek rested on her folded hands. “Yes. Why not? Right? He’s mature, and good in bed, and he gets me, and he’s good in bed. He’s strong and grumpy, which I find oddly sexy. Oh … did I mention he’s good in bed?”

Jackson stared at the ceiling. “Yes, you mentioned that.” He chuckled. “Sex doesn’t mean love.”

“I never said that. God … all you guys think about is sex.” She slurred each word. “I’m serious. He’s my chance. You’re going to find that happily ever after, and she’s not going to want me living with you forever. AJ will take me.”

“God, you’re so drunk right now. That’s it, huh? You can just decide to love him, like love’s a choice? And you’re basing this deep emotion on the possibility that he ‘gets’ you, or even more pathetic … that he’ll ‘take’ you. You’re making yourself sound like a stray dog. You need to get off the booze. It’s beginning to rob you of your self-esteem.”

“It doesn’t matter. I’d rather he love me than hate me. He’s had a vasectomy so he’s not looking for a baby mama, and he’s definitely not clingy so in some ways he’s the perfect guy. And I have these feelings for him and maybe they’re love. I’m not going to lose him because my head is messed up. When Cage called and said AJ had been in an accident, I swear my heart stopped. It has to be love.”

Jackson rubbed his eyes. “You’re thirty years old and just like that you’re making the decision that you don’t want a family?”

Jillian tried to roll her eyes, but it was hard to do behind heavy eyelids. “That makes no sense coming from my twin brother that doesn’t want children.”

“I never said that.”

“You said you don’t like kids.”

“Misquoting once again. I don’t like other people’s kids. My kids will be awesome.”

“Will be?”

“Yes. The whole slew of them. My wife is going to be so hot I won’t be able to keep my dick out of her. She’ll be knocked up all the time.”

Jillian laughed. “I can’t wait to see that. My nieces and nephews … not your dick in my sister-in-law.”

“If you don’t want to see my dick then get the hell out of here.”

“Fine. Good night.” Jillian bumped into the nightstand and then the wall, trying to maneuver her drunk self out of Jackson’s room.

*

Morning didn’t care that Jillian had too much to drink the previous night. Neither did the incessant knocking at the door.

“Jackson!” she called.

Nothing.

Unaware of the time—fifteen minutes after noon—Jillian grumbled about the poor etiquette of someone knocking on the door so early. She winced at the throbbing side effect of too much Heineken as she shuffled her bare feet to the front door.

“Cage, hey.” The morning sun burned her retinas as her nipples saluted the crisp morning breeze.

Cage cleared his throat, forcing his eyes to stay on hers instead of her barely covered body.

“Uh … hey. I just brought my dad home from the hospital. He wants to see you. I have to get back to campus, but I’ll be back this weekend.”

“Yeah … I … um, yeah.” She nodded through her rambling of nothing that made any sense. “I’ll shower and be over.”

She started to close the door.

“Jillian?”

“Hmm?”

“Thank you.”

She narrowed her eyes. “For what?”

“For being here and putting up with him. Even if he doesn’t say it. I know he appreciates it. But mainly for me. It eases my mind to know that someone is … looking out for him.”

“Oh … sure.” She shrugged it off. “How’s he doing today?”

“Fine. I think. He’s quiet. Seems a little distracted. I think the accident really shook him up, which is a little weird because he’s been in crashes, around gun fire, and even ejected from a plane that was shot down.”

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