Home > Beneath This Man (This Man #2)(5)

Beneath This Man (This Man #2)(5)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

Drew knocks on the door calmly. It’s laughable. If Sam’s relentless hammering doesn’t get a response, then I doubt Drew’s gentlemanly tapping will.

He steps away from the door and drags Sam over to me. ‘Ava, have you tried calling him?’ Drew asks.

‘No!’ I blurt. Why would I do that? I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t want to talk to me.

‘Can you try?’ Sam asks pleadingly.

I shake my head. ‘He wouldn’t answer, Sam.’

‘Ava, will you just try?’ Drew pushes.

I reluctantly get my phone from my bag and pull up my contact list, dialing Jesse and holding my phone to my ear while Sam and Drew watch nervously. I’m not sure what on earth I’m going to say if he answers.

Drew’s head snaps towards the door. ‘I can hear it ringing.’ He returns to me, obviously waiting for me to speak down the line, but it goes to voicemail. My heart constricts. He doesn’t want to talk to me. I go to re-board the elevator, the hurt enflamed by his rejection of my call, but then an almighty crash sounds out around the foyer.

Sam, Drew and I all whip our heads around to the double doors leading into Jesse’s penthouse and find John on the other side, surrounded by a splintered doorframe. He nods at us, and Sam and Drew fly forward into the penthouse. I follow tentatively behind them and the only thoughts going through my mind are of my last discovery here. Why am I walking this way?

Turn around! Get in the elevator! Go, NOW.

But I don’t. I stand in the doorway and from what I can see, nothing has moved. Everything still seems to be in place. I step a little bit further into the open area and hear the guys running around upstairs and down, searching for Jesse, and as the bottom of the stairs comes into view, I notice the empty bottle of vodka is still on the console table. Then I see the terrace doors wide open. I take cautious steps towards them, still hearing the guys running around the penthouse, doors opening and closing, his name being called.

I, however, am being pulled towards the terrace. I know why. It’s the same magnetism that pulls me towards Jesse every time he is near, except do I want to see what is beyond the threshold of those doors? I know it won’t be my Jesse. Do I want to face him again when he is in such a terrible state, when he is so vicious and hateful? No, of course I don’t, but I can’t seem to turn away either.

As I approach the doors, I try to prepare my eyes for a drunken mess, sprawled across one of the sun loungers, clenching a vodka bottle, but instead, I’m greeted by Jesse’s naked, unconscious body face down on the decking.

I choke on my heart and my pulse starts pounding in my ears. ‘He’s here!’ I scream, running towards his lifeless body and throwing my bag down as I collapse by his side.

I grip his big shoulders to try and turn him over. I don’t know where I get my strength from, but I manage it, yanking him over so his head is cradled in my lap. I start desperately smoothing my hands over his bearded face, noticing his hand still swollen and bruised, with dried blood all over his knuckles.

‘Jesse, wake up. Please, wake up.’ I plead, giving into hysteria as I look at the man I love, unconscious and non-responsive, lying in my lap. Tears pour down my face and spill onto his cheeks. ‘Jesse, please.’ I desperately run my hands over his face, his chest, his hair. He looks hollow, he’s lost weight and his jaw is covered in a week’s worth of stubble.

‘Mother f**ker.’ John rumbles when he finds me on the terrace with Jesse supported in my lap.

‘I don’t know if he’s breathing.’ I sob, looking up through glazed eyes to the mountain of a man stalking towards me. Why haven’t I checked this yet? It’s the first rule in first aid. I grab his wrist, but my shaking hands won’t allow me to maintain a stable hold to establish a pulse.

‘Here,’ John gestures, kneeling down and taking Jesse’s arm from me.

I look up and see Sam skid to a halt at the door. ‘What the…’

Tears are invading me eyes uncontrollably and everything has gone into slow motion. Sam makes his way over and lowers himself down next to me. He starts rubbing my arm.

‘I’ll call an ambulance.’ Drew says urgently as he finds us all crowded around Jesse’s motionless form.

‘Hold up,’ John barks harshly, leaning over Jesse and pulling his dried lips apart, inspecting every part of his limp body. ‘The stupid mother f**ker. He’s drunk himself into a f**king coma.’

I look at Sam and Drew, but I can’t fathom their reactions to John’s conclusion. How does he know this? He could be half dead for all John knows. He certainly looks it. ‘I think we should call an ambulance.’ I push between sniffles.

John looks at me sympathetically. I’ve never seen anything but a completely impassive expression on his hard face, so the way he is looking at me now, all sorrowful and like I’m a little naive, is strangely comforting.

‘Ava, girl. I’ve seen him like this, more than once. He needs his bed and some care to get him through this. He doesn’t need a doctor. Not that sort, anyway.’ John shakes his head.

Oh? How many times is more than once? John sounds like he knows the drill. He’s not at all concerned by the condition of Jesse lying in my lap, whereas I am a hysterical wreck. Sam and Drew are not all that good either. Have they seen him like this before?

John clucks my cheek and hoists himself up off the floor. I’ve never heard him say so much. The big, silent giant turns out to be the big, friendly giant, but I still wouldn’t want to cross him.

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