Chapter Seventeen

***intensity***

Jax didn't have a solution. The means for escape remained a mystery. He glanced at Sabrina who walked quietly beside him. There was no aura of blame coming from her. She didn't look to him for answers. He didn't expect her to. Her independence was as much a part of her as her dark brown eyes and flawless, tawny complexion...

Independent.

She definitely wasn't like the women who came after her. He supposed that choosing women who had a princess-complex was a conscious decision. He loved Sabrina and lost her. Maybe it was her fierce independent spirit that kept them apart. They were becoming too close. She felt threatened, so she pushed him away. For fifteen years, pride kept him from seeking her out and demanding the truth. As it turned out, Fate stepped in and brought them back together again.

What a helluva way to have a reunion, Jax thought.

"This is useless!" Sabrina stopped suddenly and glared up at him. "We're wasting our time. The maze doesn't end. We'll die in here, walking around in circles--"

He grabbed her arms. "Don't say that!"

She pulled herself free. "You know it's true. I'm not a little girl who needs the truth sugar -coated for her. I can see what's happening here, Jax! Some fucking coward threw us in here to die! A slow, cruel death." Sabrina stormed away from him with her arms wrapped securely around her waist.

Jax moved behind her. He reached out to comfort her. She flinched from his touch.

"No, don't," she said, moving away from him. "Starvation. Dehydration. Your body retaliates against you. It punishes you for not giving it what it needs," she said. "I never imagined this would be the way I'd go. I always thought it would be something wild. But not like this. Where's the class? The excitement?"

Jax's gaze narrowed on her rigid back and the firm set of her shoulders. That independence again.

"You're giving up," he stated quietly. "Just like that, Dr. Sabrina DeLane, the biggest risk-taker in modern medicine, is giving up. She's wimping out."

"I'm not a wimp," she bit out. She turned and rushed to stand just inches from him. "What do you suggest, Jax? You're the knight in shining armor! The one fair damsels call on when they're in distress--" She stopped speaking and inhaled a deep breath. After slowly releasing the air, she said in a much calmer, neutral tone, "Where's the way out, Jax? We've been walking for hours. What have you seen that I've missed? Where's the secret passage that leads home?"

He stared into those lovely brown eyes. The orbs held fierce independence in their depths, but also there was fear. Defeat was nowhere to be seen. The sparks of jealousy he'd seen as she lashed out about knights and damsels were gone. But having seen them, he wouldn't forget.

Reaching out, Jax took her hand. She didn't try to pull free. He glanced at their linked hands and then back into those expressive chocolate windows to her soul. "If there's a way in, there's a way out."

"There had better be," she said, squeezing his hand tight, "or I'll make one with my bare hands!"

*+*

Paris.

Keesha swore to herself that when she returned to the City of Love, it would be on her own terms. And when she was ready. And with the quiet, stoic man beside her, Keesha was far from ready.

"Parisians prefer that Americans speak to them in French."

"I know, Jason," she responded in the most even tone she could muster. "I've been here before."

"With Jason Quartermaine," he said as they headed for the car that waited for them. With a wave of his hand, Jason declined the attendant's move to open the door for them. Jason took the keys and pulled open the passenger door in one move.

As he headed for the driver's side, Keesha watched him. She pondered his last statement. How did he know about that trip? He always turned a deaf ear to any comments about his former persona. The people he associated with didn't know the details of her past with the Quartermaine version, and she certainly didn't talk about it. After all, that part of her life ended. Remembering her first love was time wasted. Besides, she had a new life to think about. The WSB and Stefan Cassadine gave her more than she ever dreamed of.

So, why was she in Paris with Jason Morgan? After she swore it would never happen?

The slamming driver door silenced the barrage of silent questions. After pulling on his seatbelt, Jason started the ignition of the 500 SL. He glanced at her before he pulled into traffic. "Put your seatbelt on."

The urge to slap him was strong. His arrogant tone made her blood pressure rise. But she couldn't negate the fact that he was right. God, how she hated she couldn't negate the importance of safety just to spite him.

"Where are we going?" she asked, watching him guide the Benz through the streets of Paris as if he lived there.

"The Tuileries Gardens."

"Are they there?" she asked. "How do you know? And don't tell me that you have resources. I realize that. Who are your resources? Where do they get their information?"

"A question for a question," he said.

"What?"

"I'll answer you if you'll answer a question for me."

Keesha turned away from the passing scenery to look at her companion. His profile was chiseled, reminding her of the Presidents' faces at Mount Rushmore. Hard as stone.

"What is your question?"

"Why did you change your mind?" he asked.

"And come with you?" she asked. "Lives are at stake."

"So you put aside your personal reasons for strangers?"

Keesha stiffened. "My previous refusal to accompany you wasn't personal."

"You're lying," he said without emotion. "Paris, France is where you and Jason Quartermaine became lovers. You didn't want to come here with me because of that. You were scared the memories would return."

"You flatter yourself."

"I'm honest." He found a parking space near a hotel. "I booked a suite for us here. The gardens are walking distance."

Keesha stepped onto the sidewalk in front of the entrance to the Hôtel Bourgogne et Montana. The historic lodging dated back to 1789 and was centrally located to Paris' main attractions, such as the Palais Bourbon and the Tuileries Gardens. The opulence of the old building was impossible to ignore. She shook her head.

"I have to get WSB approval in order to stay at a place like this."

Jason grabbed their bags from the trunk and joined her on the sidewalk. "You don't need WSB approval. The cost is covered."

He moved to enter the hotel. Keesha's feet remained rooted on the ground. He stopped when he noticed she wasn't beside him. He gave her a look that said, 'what?'

"Who's covering it?"

He arched an eyebrow. "That's your question for a question?"

She inhaled sharply to keep from cursing him. "I won't play games with you."

Something akin to a smile sparkled in his sapphire eyes. "Games can be fun, Keesha."

He turned on his heel and strode inside the Hôtel Bourgogne et Montana without looking back. Keesha knew she had no choice but to follow him. He'd won this round, she conceded, but the next one would be hers.

*Sabrina DeLane belongs to Pamazon aka DarkDiva.

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