Chapter Twelve

Brenda's eyes scanned the room for a vase of flowers, but Jax caught her. "There was a reason I didn't bring you flowers for our date tonight. I've learned my lesson."

"I strongly doubt that, Jax. Now what the hell are you talking about?" She was intrigued, she admitted it. And Jax could tell. He was NOT going to let her get away.

"Well, you know what I want, and I'm going to take a wild stab in the dark, and say that you want your company back, so-"

"If I marry you, I get L&B."

"Precisely." Jax studied how Brenda's entire face seemed to be weighing the proposal, while Brenda inwardly cursed herself. How could she have been so stupid as to think for one second, that Jax REALLY wanted them to get married. She stood up and headed up the stairs, giving, in her mind, the proposal all the weight it deserved. He wasn't serious. He couldn't be.

He was a player. She'd read the headlines, and here he was standing in their living room-correction, HER living room-and playing the very same game, raising the stakes to suit his fancy, her emotions be damned. She wasn't going to be another man's puppet. She wasn't going to turn herself inside out, and her life upside down for a man. Not again.

And just when things were getting better. Just when she had met someone, FlyGuy, who really seemed to value her as a person. And even Jax, who desired her.

L&B was her life, she admitted that, since she had no desire to be in front of the camera after her contract with Deception was over. Not after what happened. How could he even want her? Think of loving her? Marrying her?

Jax saw the range of emotions play across Brenda's face, and when she sank down on to the stairs, tears running down her face, he was there, scooping her into his embrace. "Why are you doing this, Jax? Why now? Why me?"

"Because I know you, Brenda. I do. And I know that I'm the only man who will ever make you happy. So let me." She nestled further into his embrace, and was startled at what she found there. As his strong, steady heartbeat calmed and soothed her, she found the one thing that had always been missing from her life: from her childhood, from her relationship with her sister, and from her romance with Sonny. Safety.

There it was, right in Jax's arms. She hadn't even asked for it, but there it was all the same. But could she trust it?
"What if I don't want to be, Jax?" Her breath was soft and warm against his neck, and as he turned to face her, his fingers instinctively wiped away the lone tear that ran down her cheek. "What if I don't know how to be? Even you can't change that." He studied her face, which seemed to be searching for strength, security.

I think it's getting to the point
Where I can be myself again
It's getting to the point
Where we have almost made amends
I think it's the getting to the point
That is the hardest part

"Jax," she smiled as his name crossed her lips, and he smiled back. "You don't know me. That's the problem. That's part of it. If you did, you would know that I don't want to get married, that I don't want to get hurt," her voice trailed off, "again."

And so, sitting on the stairs of the cottage, in formal wear, words and emotions poured out of Brenda as she recounted to Jax being left at the altar by mob-boss, Sonny Corinthos over a year earlier, and the nervous breakdown she suffered as a result.

The more Brenda told him, the more he understood her, wanted to protect her, and wanted even more to marry her and be with her forever.

If you call, I will answer
If you fall, I'll pick you up
And if you court this disaster
I'll point you home, I'll point you home

Jax took her tear-stained face in his hands, and planted a kiss on her forehead. Brenda's eyes widened as a strangely pleasant sensation traveled from her forehead down through her toes. "I won't hurt you, Brenda. No matter what. That's the last thing I ever want to do. Trust that. You're safe with me."

You think I only think about you
When we're both in the same room
I'm only here to witness the remains of love exhumed
You think we're here to play a game
Of who loves more than who

"I know."

If you call, I will answer
If you fall, I'll pick you up
And if you court this disaster

Jax could see the exhaustion creeping into Brenda's eyes, and renounced himself to pleading his case only once more tonight. "Tell me you'll think about it, Brenda. Think about being happy. Think about moving on. Think about what it would be like to be together all of the time."

You think it's only fair
To do what's best for you, and you alone
It's only fair to do the same to me
When you're not home
I think its time to make this something
That is more than only fair

Brenda's eyes fluttered shut, as she snuggled as close to Jax as she could. "I want to, Jax. I want to be happy. I want to be safe. I want to...."

So if you call, I will answer
If you fall, I'll pick you up
If you court this disaster
I'll point you home

As Brenda's breathing became slower and more shallow, Jax stood up, and carried her upstairs, to her bedroom. Putting Brenda to bed was fast becoming his favorite part of living with her.

Laying her down on the bed, his slightly shaking hands found the zipper to her dress, but since he was a gentlemen, damn him, he first slipped a PCU T-shirt over Brenda's head, before sliding the strapless dress off of her perfect body. He couldn't tear his eyes away from her silky skin, and more than anything, he wanted to hold her, feel her against him, all night long.

I'm warning you, don't ever do
Those crazy, messed up things that you do
If you ever do I promise you
I'll be the first to crucify you
Now it's time to prove
That you've come back here to rebuild
To rebuild
To rebuild

Song credit: Call and Answer by the Barenaked Ladies, from the album, Stunt.