I didn’t want to think about the sweet, little girl being fatherless. If I teared up again, I would seem ridiculous. “You’ll get tired of me quickly. I’m boring,” I admitted out loud before I realized it.
He slipped a finger under my chin and tilted my face up. “Nothing about you is boring. Just watching you think is entertaining.”
I frowned, and he kissed my head much like he did the little girl’s and laughed softly.
“Don’t frown, beautiful. You fascinate me.”
My face grew hot, and my heart pounded so hard in my chest I feared it might burst its way out. It wasn’t fair that he could affect me with so little effort.
The vehicle stopped, and I realized we were sitting outside my apartment. I frowned at him. “I never told you how to get here.”
He grinned and went to open my door. “You work for me, Sadie. I made it my business to get your address from your file and give it to Kane before we left.”
“I hadn’t thought about that,” I muttered.
He exited the vehicle and held his hand out to me. I slipped my hand in his and stepped out.
“Can I take your bags inside for you?” he asked.
“No!” The thought of Jessica seeing him, or even worse, the thought of what she might be wearing, terrified me. “Um, I, it’s just my mom is not real big on people coming in these days.”
He opened the back. “Well, at least let me carry them to the door.”
“Okay.” I walked with him to the doorway and took the bags from him, and then I reached in and took out the gum. I didn’t know what to say, so I handed it to him and his face lit up. A smile I remembered from the photos of him as a little boy appeared on his face. It wasn’t a smile the world ever got a glimpse of in magazines.
“I take it I was good.”
I nodded. “Thanks again for the ride and the company.”
He bowed teasingly. “Anytime.”
I looked at him one more time and went inside. I closed the door and leaned up against it. Jax Stone had just rocked my world, and I wasn’t sure what to do about it.
* * *
Three days had passed since my trip to the grocery store with Jax. I hated that I caught myself searching for glimpses of him. Somewhere, deep down, I really thought he would seek me out again. However, after three days of not laying eyes on him, I knew our night at the grocery store apparently meant much more to me than him. Yes, he took me shopping, and then home, but only because of his promise to Marcus. Sure, he held my hand a few minutes, but who was I kidding, Jax Stone probably held hands with a different girl every day. I needed to find the humor in my stupidity for assuming it meant more to him, or I would curl up in a ball and cry. He did say I fascinated him, but he really should have clarified to me that I was just the fascination for the day. I hated to think badly of him for not seeking me out again because I couldn’t forget the way he’d treated the little girl, and I knew he wasn’t a shallow teen idol. After all, to Jax Stone, I was just another girl.
He hadn’t promised his undying love to me, or even told me he would see me again. We’d said our goodbyes at my house with no promises. Nothing he said told me he would seek me out again. Sure, he said he liked spending time with me, but it didn’t appear as if he was going to make good on his words. My thinking about it made me crazy. I needed to focus on other things. I’d turned Marcus down on his invitation to go boating with him and his friends on Sunday. I skipped out on time with my friend because I chose to sulk over Jax. I needed to move on and let it go. My night with Jax would be a really good memory I’d never forget, just like the little girl.
When I arrived at the Stone Mansion, Ms. Mary met me at the door. “Sadie, we're entertaining tonight. Master Jax is having over some friends, and there is to be dancing and an open bar as well as lots of food! Now, I need all my younger employees to serve all night. We got some special uniforms for this. Marcus will be here shortly with the new server, William, and they are bringing a few friends who will also be helpin' out. Don’t worry about changing just yet.”
She turned and grabbed a large bucket of something very unappetizing. “Have you ever peeled and deveined shrimp before?” Words failed me, and apparently my face showed my horror because she laughed out loud. “Of course not, you’re a Tennessee gal. Come here and I'll teach you how. We have ourselves twenty pounds of fresh shrimp we need to peel and devein for different appetizers.”
I nodded and prayed I would have the stomach of steel I knew I would need for this horrible task. Ms. Mary directed me to a wash sink, pulled out an empty bucket, and placed it inside. She brought a large stainless steel bowl and put it on the other side of the sink.
“Here.” She handed me a shrimp, which I did not like to see or touch battered and fried, much less uncooked. “First you peel 'em, just like this, then you take this here deveiner, you slip it into the top right here, and use it to pull out this black string. Throw all the peeling and black strings in here, and then put the clean shrimp in the bowl.”
I gave her a small nod then swallowed the bile in my throat. “What is that black string?” I asked.
She smiled at me. “Girl, from the color of your face, you do not want to know. Now, you just ought to be glad Mr. Greg got here early and beheaded these fellas for you because if you are thinking this is gross, you would have a fit pinching the heads off.”
I held up my hand in protest. “Please, no more, stop,” I said, my stomach churning.