Authors: Bellus, HJ
Mr. Right Now, Volume 4
Copyright © 2015 by HJ Bellus.
Formatting: JRA Stevens
Cover Designer: Red Bird Designs
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Thank you for respecting the hard work of HJ Bellus.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to locales, events, business establishments, or actual persons—living or dead—is entirely coincidental.
Eli: They’re releasing Chloe and baby at 1
Cole: I’ll be there to pick you up, bro
So much has changed over the last four months. The club successfully opened and brought in record revenues, Kam checked himself into rehab, Dax spent a month in county jail for his assault charges, and Chloe gave birth to a little girl.
Cole has done nothing but hold everything together for the brothers. He was there for Birdy when Dax was handcuffed and locked away. He held her for nights, calmed her through panic attacks, and even took her to the hospital for new medications. They became best friends over that month, and he even found himself divulging all of his worries, from business life to losing Jax.
Jax hasn’t contacted Cole since that fateful night, and each day with no contact kills a piece of his soul. The parties in the penthouse have ceased with two of the brothers locked away and one focusing on his pregnant girlfriend. The only one left to party resides with a broken heart. Cole had no idea how much he’d fallen for Jax until she was gone.
His fingers grip the steering wheel as he drives to the hospital. He hasn’t been back since he lost her, but now he has no choice. Someone has to pick up Chloe and Eli.
“What are you thinking about?”
He almost forgot about the passenger seated next to him. Birdy. She goes everywhere with him and has actually become an asset helping him at the club. It was on their shoulders to put the finishing touches on the first Made To Sin on the West Coast.
“Liar. I can tell when you’re thinking about her.”
Cole gently pushes the brakes and brings the large SUV to a stop at a red light. “You’re so full of shit.”
“Cole, your jaw locks up and you drift away to another place, even when you’re right in front of me. I know. I’ve had to deal with you day after day.”
“Jesus, I now know what it feels like to have an annoying little sister.”
Birdy slaps his shoulder. “You know you love me.”
“Like a burning hemorrhoid.”
“What’s a hemorrhoid?”
Cole chuckles at Birdy’s innocence. She still surprises him with the things she doesn’t know.
“You can ask Dax when we pick him up in a couple days.”
“I love your brother so much.”
“I know you do, Birdy.” He pats her leg as she mindlessly stares out the window.
“You know, at first I thought it was just his looks and his protective manner around me, but I really love him.”
“He loves you, too.”
“Why haven’t you gone after Jax? I know you love her.”
“You don’t know shit, Birdy.”
“You love her and should fight for her.”
He brings the SUV to a halt in a parking spot near the entrance. “She could never forgive me. I don’t deserve her.”
“The way I look at it, Cole, she doesn’t deserve a life without you in it. We all fuck up and make mistakes, but I feel bad for her not having the opportunity to live the rest of her life with the love of a Sterling.”
Cole slams his fists on the steering wheel. “I don’t see her beating down my door.”
“She’s not going to come to you. I’m sure Jax is waiting on you.”
Cole shuts the door and meets Birdy in the front of the SUV, wrapping his arm around her shoulder. “You’re a real pain in the ass. And when in the hell did you become a love expert?”
“I started watching soap operas during the day while you’re at the gym.” Birdy shrugs and pats Cole’s abs.
They walk the remaining way in the same position, and Cole listens to Birdy reciting love quotes and different icebreakers he could use to open a conversation with Jax. Birdy is innocent enough, but just doesn’t understand the whole picture.
Cole freezes when he rounds the corner. Chloe is up and walking around the room, checking the drawers for any loose items. Eli’s half asleep, sprawled out in the hospital bed, and Jax sits rocking the baby. She doesn’t see Cole for a long time, and he takes the opportunity to study her face. Her adoring eyes study the baby in her arms. Seeing her again hurts worse than he expected.
“Hey, guys,” Birdy pipes up.
The three of them look up to see Cole and Birdy in the doorway. Jax and Cole make eye contact and don’t break it for several seconds. He offers her a weak smile and is shocked when she smiles back at him.
“I’ll let you happy parents finish packing. I just had to stop by and see baby Martha. She’s so beautiful.” Jax lays the little bundle of pink on Eli’s chest. “Congratulations, you two.”
Chloe bounces over to Jax and wraps her up in a huge hug. Birdy climbs onto the bed with Eli, peeking at the baby. When Chloe pulls away from Jax, tears stream down her face. Cole leans back on the wall and crosses his arms, trying to be a spectator.
“Cole told me it was you who fought to save me. There are no words to express my thanks.” Chloe pauses a second and covers her mouth. “Thank you for taking care of me.”
Chloe places a black box in Jax’s hand. “Just a small gift from us.”
Cole watches Jax as she fights to keep her emotion at bay, and he’d like to think him standing in small hospital room has something to do with it. She covers her mouth when the lid of the box is flipped up completely.
“You guys, thank you so much.” Jax pulls a silver chain with a heart locket from the box. All eyes watch her as she pops open the charm and the tears start.
Cole can no longer stand not touching her. In three long strides he’s by her side and plucks the locket from her trembling fingers. A picture of Martha is placed on the right side, and her full name on the other. “Martha Jax Sterling.” His eyes linger on his niece’s name and then re-reads Jax Sterling. He feels his throat begin to constrict. With steady fingers and a heavy heart, he unclasps the necklace, brushes her hair to the side, and then secures it around her neck.
Without thinking, he bends down and places a light kiss on the back of her neck before he drapes her hair back down.
“Sorry,” he whispers.
Jax steps forward, creating space between them. “Well, thank you. My shift is over and I’m heading home. I’ll cherish this necklace forever.”
Eli passes Martha to Birdy and makes his way to Jax. He’s not shy about wrapping her up in a hug and lifting her from the floor. “Thank you for never giving up hope.”
Chloe joins Eli, and the three of them hug and exchange thank-yous, and when Jax leaves the room, she doesn’t turn to say good-bye to Cole.
“Ready?” Eli places a tender kiss on Chloe’s forehead.
“Get my ass home. I hate this place.”
Chloe has lost most of her muscle definition, tan skin, and body weight, making her nearly unrecognizable. Between the vicious assault crime and giving birth, it’s nearly destroyed her.
“Yes, let’s get you home and fatten you up, momma.”
“Sounds perfect, Eli.” She pecks his cheek and then busies herself packing the remaining clothes.
“Birdy, want me to take her?”
Cole looks to Birdy, who’s seated Indian style on the bed, cradling Martha to her chest.
“Never. I love her so much.”
Cole leans back up against the wall as he watches his little brother fuck around with a car seat.
“Do you even know what you’re doing?”
“Shut up, fuckface.”
Chloe reaches out and slaps Eli in the back of the head. “Language, Eli. You’re a dad now.”
Cole chuckles at his brother’s scolding and knows it would be easy to taunt him into cussing again.
“Yes, I know how to use it. I had to take a class on how to properly strap her in.”
Chloe climbs up into the bed with Birdy and leans her head on her shoulder, staring down at Martha.
“I can’t wait until Dax sees her,” Birdy tells Chloe.
The two men stop and listen to the conversation.
“Yeah, you think he’ll like her?”
“He’ll love her, and can you imagine how tiny she’ll look in his arms?”
“How long until he gets out?”
“Then you two can start practicing making a baby.” Chloe giggles at her own joke as she strokes Martha’s cheek.
“My mom sterilized me when I was nine.”
The room falls silent. Cole watches Chloe stare straight at Birdy and the sheer horror that covers her face. He knows way more than even Dax probably does about Birdy from their bonding time, things that made his stomach turn. There were even points when he had to hold back his vomit.
He’d always been skeptical of Dax and Birdy’s relationship, but now believes some divine intervention sent her into his brother’s life. He’s a protector, and always has been.
“You never know, Birdy. Like I told you, Dax is a strong man and may have the little buddies to get it done.”
She chuckles at Cole’s joke like she always does. Chloe remains in shocked silence on the bed.
“It’s okay, Chloe. The only thing I want or need in my life is Dax.”
“Are we ready?” a gruff voice interrupts.
They all look to see the transport nurse behind a wheelchair. Eli jumps up and guides Chloe to sit in the chair, and then takes Martha from Birdy and places her in Chloe’s arms.
“There you go, momma.” Eli kisses her forehead and then reaches for the car seat and bags. Birdy and Cole help pack some other bags and vases of flowers. They stay several steps behind, giving the new parents their slice of glory. Several nurses and doctors stop them and hug the couple, wishing them well.
“Jax is going home.”
Cole looks toward Birdy with a raised eyebrow.
“Cole, I know you’re not that dumb. Are you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Jax gave you a huge clue in the room. She nearly begged you to go to her.”
“Er mah god, love doctor, she did not.”
“Then why did she feel the need to let the whole room know where she was going?”
Cole doesn’t answer Birdy, knowing it will only prod her into giving more love advice. He will suggest to Dax that he needs to hook her up as a writer for soap operas, or hell, maybe even a romance author. He has no doubt that with her imagination she could be the next big hit.
It takes both men to get the car loaded perfectly while Birdy and Chloe sit on either side of the car seat talking to Martha. The men have to pack and repack the luggage several times before it all fits. Eli snatches the keys from Cole, clearly proud as hell to drive his girls home for the first time.
Cole turns to go and feels a hand tapping his shoulder from the open back passenger door. He turns to see Birdy pointing back toward the hospital. Jax is sitting on that damn bench waiting for the bus.
Cole only stares.
“Go give her a chance to have a Sterling for life.”
He shakes his head, steps up to the passenger door, and places his hand on the handle. He slowly opens it, never taking his eyes from Jax on the bench.
“I need to take care of something.”
“No worries. I got this. Text me.”
Cole gestures with his head to Birdy, silently asking him to take care of her.
“I’ve got this, Cole.”
Cole shuts the door and takes the fucking scariest twenty steps of his life. He’ll never know if he doesn’t ask, and he can’t live with that regret. He loves Jax. He fucked up, but that doesn’t mean he should be punished for life.
She slowly lifts her head and looks him in the eyes with tears rolling down her cheeks.