Empty Bargains [Jason McCann]

"I have nothing else to offer you," Markus barked through gritted teeth, his fists clenched hard at his sides. Jason shook his head, chuckling. "I only want one thing, and it's in this room," he sneered. My brother took a step closer to me, trying to push me toward the door. Jason's eyes flashed over and caught mine, a glint in his eye while a shiver went down my spine. "What do you want?" Markus asked, impatient. Jason's head nodded in my direction. I froze and the room fell deafeningly silent. "I want her."


26. ~11.18~

    “This is amazing,” Jason moaned, biting into the meal I’d made for him.  He was sitting at the island as I pushed stir fry around in a pan on the stove.  “Name anything and it’s yours.  Seriously, I’ll give you anything you want for this food.”


    I smirked and turned to face him, leaning against the counter.  “A little birthday sex would be nice.”


    His forehead pulled together.  “It’s your birthday?”


    I shrugged and turned back to the stove.  “It’s not a big deal.”


    “A birthday is a pretty big deal in the world we live in,” Jason pressed.  “It means you’ve survived another year without dying at the hands of an asshole.”


    I laughed lightly.  I heard him slide from the stool and come to stand behind me.  His arms snaked around my waist and squeezed my sides.  He rested his head on my shoulder, peering down at what I was making.


    “Plus, I get to give you stuff.”


    I rolled my eyes and turned in his arms.  The spoon in my hand steamed as I pointed it at Jason’s nose.  “You’re not going to get me something because I don’t need anything.”


    “Don’t pull that on me,” he said before pushing the spoon away and kissing my forehead.  “We’ll go do something tonight.”


    “A day in bed would be nice,” I sighed, twisting my torso and reaching out to turn the front burner off.


    “I have to at least buy you dinner first.”


    I failed at hiding a smile.  “Fine.  But nothing too extravagant — I mean it Jason.”


    Jason held up his hands.  “Okay, okay.  We’ll leave around four, then?”


    I wrinkled my nose.  “That’s a little early for dinner.”


    “If you say so,” he sighed jokingly as he began walking away.  “That just delays the amount of time we can spend in our room.”


    Butterflies fluttered through my stomach at his words.  He’d started calling everything “ours”, and it made me smile every time he said it.


    “Four it is?” I prodded.


    Jason cast me a sly look as he came to a stop at the bottom of the stairs.  “Four.”



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    In all honesty I was looking forward to going out with Jason.  We hadn’t been out since the party, but that didn’t necessarily count.  I usually didn’t like making a fuss about special days, because it’s just that — a day.  But somehow, knowing I was going to spend it with him made it feel more than that.


    I brushed a last coat of mascara onto my eyelashes and stepped back to inspect myself in the bathroom mirror.  Liner was around my eyes sparingly, my hair framing my face in soft waves.  I bit my lip to try to flush color into it, since I didn’t have lipstick, and was satisfied with the natural coloring.  A gray sweater covered my torso, hanging down to the tops of my thighs, and dark jeans lead into my combat boots.


    “You look great,” Jason’s low voice came from behind me, causing me to jump.  He appeared behind me in the mirror and I watched as his arms snaked around my waist before he placed a kiss to my jaw.


    I hummed in response, turning to rest my forehead against his chest.  He smelled like a forest and cologne at the same time, and it was a wonderful combination.  A kiss was placed to the top of my head and I smiled even though Jason couldn’t see.


    “Love you,” I said, almost a whisper.


    “Love you too,” he answered just as softly.  The words sent a flurry through me, more intense than just butterflies.  It felt incredible to be able to say it now without feeling like I’d have to kill myself.  We’d never exchanged the phrase in front of anyone, but it felt all the more personal that only he and I knew.


    “I suggest we leave now,” I told him, my grin deepening.  “Before I decide I don’t want to leave the bedroom.”


    “As great as that sounds,” Jason chuckled lowly.  “I think we should go too.”


    Twenty minutes later we were driving downtown in Jason’s truck.  He seemed to know where we were going, but I hadn’t seen much of the area and didn’t have a clue.  I knew for sure it wasn’t the last place we’d been, but I was excited to see what other memories this city held for Jason.  It was oddly comforting to know he had a past before Poway.


    Jason turned into a parking lot between buildings and stopped the truck in one of the furthest spots from where I assumed we’d be eating.  He turned off the vehicle and swung out.  I moved to do the same but remembered why he’d put the lock on the door in the first place.  I bit the inside of my cheek and waited for Jason to open it for me, grin deepening as I stepped down beside him.  He reached behind me to close the door and lock it, then looped his arm around my waist and began leading us to one of the buildings.


    I’d never heard of the place before, and by the placement within the city and the fairly small building, I assumed it was a family-owned restaurant.  When we stepped in the dim lights casted a home-y feeling over the few people sat at tables scattered around the expanse.  Jason lead us over to a table in the far corner, giving us a good amount of privacy from anyone else.  As we sat down I looked around the place again, noticing the compact bar across from us and friendly waitresses moving from table to table.  I felt strangely relaxed, given that my average stress level was probably higher than normal.


    “What are you thinking?” Jason asked.  I turned my head back to him, noticing his somewhat nervous expression.  “Do you like it?  You said nothing crazy.”


    I couldn’t help the smile that spread across my face.  “Yeah.  It’s perfect.”


    He seemed to let out a breath and returned my grin.  “Good.”


    I gave another glance around the room, then addressed him.  “What kind of food place is this?”


    Jason shrugged.  “It’s a cafe, so there’s a variety.  I haven’t been here in a long time, so I have no idea if it’s still any good or not.”


    “What can I get you two to drink?” a kind voice asked.  We both turned our heads to find a short woman with a pleasant smile on her face holding a pad and paper.


    I ordered a soda while Jason asked for water, and the woman soon disappeared into the kitchen.  Lacing my fingers together, I rested my chin on my knuckles.  Jason stared back, watching me with curiosity.  I thought it was sweet he wanted to do this for me, and found myself grinning again.


    “What?” he asked.


    “Just you,” I answered, feeling my cheeks heat.


    He smiled and looked down at his lap, messing with his car keys.  I bit my lip and sucked in a long breath.  There wasn’t much we hadn’t talked about in the past week and a half, and finding a new topic wasn’t always easiest when I could be content just looking at him.


    “Did you ever pin something down with Uriah?” I asked.


    Jason lifted his head with his brows furrowed.  “We’re out for your birthday and you’re worried about Uriah?”


    “Just wondering.”


    A smiled tugged at his mouth.  “I haven’t talked to him since the party at our place.  I’m sending Leo out to find one of his guys in a few days.”


    I kept my mouth shut about making Leo work all the time.  It hadn’t been getting any better, but considering the last time I’d said something to Jason he’d walked away from me, the topic wasn’t negotiable.


    I nodded.  “Everything’s going okay outside, right?  You’re not hiding me away because there are people lined up and down the block trying to kill us?”


    He huffed.  “I’m not trying to ‘hide you away’.”


    “That’s not what I meant.”


    “I know, but I wish it didn’t feel like that,” he sighed.  The woman came back with our drinks and Jason reached for his water right away.  We both ordered food and he looked back at me apologetically after she left.  “If you want to go out more, we can.”


    I shrugged.  “It doesn’t matter.  I actually like the house, and it’s kind of nice to lay around all day.”


    He bit his lip.  “You’d let me know if you hated it, wouldn’t you?”


    I rolled my eyes.  “Believe me, you’d know if I were unhappy.”


    We continued to talk about everything that’d been going on over the past few weeks even when our food came out.  There were more moments of silence than what might have been normal, but they weren’t weird or uncomfortable.  I’d found more and more in the past few days that I liked to simply be around Jason — we didn’t have to be saying anything to smile.


    We’d been at the cafe about an hour when Jason finally paid the bill and we stood to leave.  The evening out had felt short lived, but it’d been nice to at least know that Jason cared to take me out as opposed to just sleeping together.  He held the door for me and I turned to head back to the truck, but felt his hand wrap around my wrist and tug me to his side.


    “We’re not done yet,” he chuckled, placing his arm around my waist and leading us in the opposite direction.  “A dinner isn’t all you’re getting.”


    I bit my lip and bumped my hip into his as we walked.  Several storefronts lined the street, all lit with fluorescent lights and window signs.  The days had gotten much shorter already and the small shops illuminated a majority of the area surrounding them.  We walked for a block or so before Jason turned inside a small outlet.


    It was a rustic-looking shop with all different types of patterned clothes and jewelry.  The lights were dimmer than most of the shops we’d seen and the space smelled strongly of lilac perfume, creating an atmosphere that I loved but couldn’t quite describe.  Two workers stood behind the counter at the back talking quietly.


    “Take your pick,” Jason encouraged.


    “What?” I asked, looking at him confusedly.


    “Anything you want in here is yours,” he replied.  “Everyone I asked said their girlfriends loved this place, so I thought I’d take you here.”


    More and more, Jason was shocking me with how much he could show he cared.  It was insane, the contrast between the first side of him I’d seen and this one I was now living with.  My heart swelled at the thought that I was the only one who got to see him like this.  With the added bonus that Jason was now referring to me as his girlfriend, I didn’t think all the presents in the world could beat what he was giving me by just being around.  My grin was untamable.


    “I already have clothes from the first time you got me some,” I told him.


    Jason shrugged.  “And?  It’s your birthday, and I’m sure you get bored with the same things.”


    “How about a necklace?” I suggested, gesturing to the tables of jewelry across from us.  “I don’t have any with me.”


    “I didn’t even think you wore any,” his eyebrows rose.


    “Just because I don’t wear earrings doesn’t mean I don’t wear anything else.”  I laced my fingers through his and pulled him to a stand of necklaces.  There were many with large pendants and small charms, but others were simpler silver and gold chains.  “You should pick one for me.”


    “I’m definitely not any good with this,” he admitted, rubbing the back of his neck.


    “With what?  Picking out a necklace you like on me?”  I laughed.  “It’s simple.  I’ll just try one on, and you tell me if you like it or not.”


    I began modeling different pieces, making faces at him as Jason tried pick one.  After about five minutes of deliberating, we mutually settled on a thin gold chain with a simple celtic knot charm.  A few minutes after that, we were back on the sidewalk and looking around at the different people walking by us.  Rush hour crept up on Jason and I and getting across streets became difficult, so we stuck to one side that lead up to a lake.


    The setting sun was reflecting across the water and quite a few people were walking along the path that went around the water.  It was set in a large green space and surrounded by more of the city, giving the illusion of a small oasis in a concrete jungle.  We made our way to a bench near the water and sat, Jason’s arm on the back rest behind me and my body leaning into his side.  I breathed in the outdoor air, and though tainted by car exhaust and industrial fumes carried over a few miles, it still felt amazing to be outside.


    I didn’t notice my eyes drooping until my head bobbed onto Jason’s shoulder.  My cheeks grew hot and I sat up, trying to keep myself awake.  For some reason I’d been hit with a wave of tiredness, and staying out didn’t have quite the nice ring to it as before.


    “Ready to go back?” Jason asked, pushing a section of hair back from my face.  I nodded, and he stood with me to go.


    Jason carried the bag with the necklace he’d bought while I held onto his other hand, letting him lead the way back to his truck.  Once we’d made it to the parking lot he unlocked the vehicle and pulled the passenger door open before helping me up.  I waited as Jason strode around and slid into the driver’s seat, then drove us through the busy traffic and soon back to the house.


    After pulling into the garage, Jason went to open the truck’s door for me again.  Instead of letting me step down, though, I giggled as he slid his arms under my knees and behind my back to carry me in the door leading to the house.  When we entered, no one was in the main room to see us.  I assumed they were all either out or in a different room, but was immediately distracted by Jason stepping up the stairs two-at-a-time to get to our room.


    He set me down to let me change as he did the same.  I pulled on sweatpants and a t-shirt of Jason’s that’d made it’s way into my closet, then threw my hair into a high bun before stepping back out into the room.  I kneeled onto the bed when Jason came out of his closet and curled into a ball as he came to sink beside me on the mattress.


    “Did you have fun tonight?” he asked in my ear, sending a chill through me.


    I nodded, placing a kiss to his jaw.  “Thank you.”


    Jason wrapped his arms around me and pulled me to his chest.  He let out a few long breaths before looping his leg through mine.  “I love you.”


    “Love you,” I whispered back, and I was content as I let myself fall asleep.

That was an incredibly short chapter and for that I am sorry.  The purpose of this was to be a filler for the events to come, a pitstop along the way instead of skipping three weeks and throwing you all right into the thick of the climax.  Oh yeah, that's coming up.  2-3 chapters are all that's left.  Be prepared, things get messy.  Thank you all so much for reading and I look forward to hearing from you all in the comments!

Tell me your predictions!!!!!!  So interested to hear them :)


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