“I want to know what you are scared of.”
She held his gaze. “Me.”
“Why?” he asked.
She stared at him. “I think I want to go first and ask you a question.”
She opened her mouth and went for the jugular. “You ever been in love?”
Sophie held her breath for Jacob’s answer.
He shrugged. “Thought maybe I was a few times,” he said casually.
She didn’t know whether to be curious or jealous. She settled for both. “A few times?” she asked with what she thought was remarkable calm. She knew nothing about falling in love the right way and he’d done it a few times?
“My second year in the army,” he said. “Jessica was one of our IT specialists overseas.” He smiled with the memory of this Jessica. “We toyed around at something for a while.”
Yeah, definitely jealousy, she decided. “If you loved her, what happened?”
“I said I thought I loved her.” He tapped a finger on the chin she’d jutted out, giving her a little smile. “How come you’re braced for a fight again? Was I supposed to pretend I’ve never cared about anyone before you?”
She blew out a breath. “No. I’m being ridiculous. Carry on.”
He eyed her. “You sure you’re not going to try to kick my ass?”
“Try?” she asked coolly. “There won’t be any trying. If I wanted to kick your ass, it’d be kicked, buddy.”
He laughed. “I stand corrected.”
“Jessica,” she said, and gave him the go-ahead gesture with her hand.
He shrugged. “We were young and stupid.”
He looked away. “Stupid.”
Her gut sank. What if he’d cheated on this Jessica, like Lucas had cheated on her? She wasn’t sure she could understand it if he had, but she attempted to keep her cool. “Can you define ‘stupid’ with a word other than ‘stupid’?”
He drank his OJ, taking his sweet-ass time about it too. “She didn’t see a problem with being young and stupid—uh…” He searched for a word. “Naked with every guy who turned his head to look at her. And since she was gorgeous, that was a lot of heads.”
“Wait—she cheated on you?” she asked in shocked disbelief, pissed off for him.
He laughed a little. “You’re good for my ego.”
“No, but seriously. Have you looked in the mirror? Why would she cheat on you?”
Slipping an arm around her waist, he palmed her ass on the counter and dragged her closer to him. “You want to beat her up for me?”
Yes. “I think you’re capable of fighting your own battles,” she said, and wound her arms around his neck. “Did she hurt you, Jacob?”
His answer was a soft smile and a kiss. “Not too much,” he said. “Because looking back, I know I couldn’t have ever given her enough of myself. I didn’t have it in me to give.”
She wanted to ask him if he had it in him to give now, but she’d lost the right to ask that question. Boundaries. Knowing it, she tried to pull free but was easily tugged back in.
“Not so fast,” he said. “You thought I was the one who cheated.”
“No, I…” She sighed. “Okay, yes.”
He didn’t looked thrilled at that. “I get that we’re all dicks. But we’re not all cheating dicks.”
“I know,” she said.
He nodded but didn’t look convinced, so she changed the subject rather than let him poke at the festering wound deep inside her. “You said you thought you’d been in love a couple of times,” she said. “Who else?”
“Mindy. Three years ago,” he said, and smiled. “A sweet nurse in Germany I met when I was flown in with injuries.”
She tightened her grip on him and Mindy was completely forgotten. There were lots of scars on his warrior body. She knew because she’d kissed every single one of them, several times over now. His life and the danger in which he’d lived it, terrified her.
And he was going back to that… “Were they bad? Your injuries?”
“I healed,” was all he said.
Her heart actually squeezed so much it hurt. “I’m glad,” she managed. “What happened with Mindy? And don’t tell me she cheated on you, too, or I’ll go after the both of them.”
He smiled. “No,” he said. “She didn’t cheat on me. But she did fall in love.”