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Then he walked in, the Great Mystery Man, now known as Cabe “Hawk” Delgado.

I’d fallen in love with him at first sight. No joke. He was hot but it wasn’t lust. It was love.

Okay, it was part lust but it was mostly love.

There was no explaining this, even now, looking back. There was just something about the way he was, wearing faded jeans, a tailored black shirt and great black boots, clearly comfortable and confident in his style and in himself; the way he moved, graceful yet powerful, masculine, with his prowl, his confidence, his natural charisma and his looks, he owned the room; and the way he could sit at a booth and eat all alone and seem totally cool with that. He fiddled with his phone, receiving and sending texts, taking calls, he glanced here and there and he seemed like he was naturally alert to every nuance of the room but he was at ease in his own company and it was freaking awesome.

To my delight, they’d seated him at a booth on my side of the bar.

As usual when going out (Hawk did not lie, when I went out, I showed skin but that was me and Meredith taught me to embrace my own style so I did), I’d worn a skimpy, clingy, stretchy dress that showed lots of leg due to it being uber-short, lots of arm due to it being sleeveless and lots of back due to a low vee. At the time I’d owned eleven little black dresses and that dress was number three in my ranking of how hot they were (now I owned thirteen and it had slid down to position five). I had on spike-heeled, strappy sandals, my hair was out to there and my makeup was “do you come here often?”

I wasn’t on the prowl, I was there to have a nice night with my girlfriend who was f**king up at work and needed moral support but that didn’t mean I couldn’t look hot.

Sitting on my barstool, drinking cosmos like they were diet grape soda, I did everything I could to get Hawk’s attention, twisting and turning on my stool, crossing and uncrossing my legs, sucking and twirling a cocktail straw, flipping my hair unnecessarily.

And as he ate (and as I surreptitiously watched him eat, and sit, and fiddle with his phone, etc.), he didn’t even look at me.

So when he paid his bill, slid out of the booth and it was clear he was about to leave, I was devastated.

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Yes, the feeling was devastated.

I knew in my cosmo-drenched brain that that man walking out the door was the end of my life. It was the loss of my last chance at happiness. It was the death of a dream.

And I’d turned to the bar, downed the last sip of my cosmo and contemplated hare kare when, suddenly, I felt a warm hand on the skin of my lower back.

I twisted my neck, looked up and there he was.

I held my breath and he asked, “You comin’ or what?”

That was it. That was his pickup line. “You comin’ or what?”

I went. I grabbed my purse, gave the high sign to a staring Tracy and walked out of that restaurant with him. He loaded me into a black SUV, asked my address, took me home and f**ked my brains out.

I’d never done anything like that before in my life, not even close. It was an unbelievably insane thing to do.

And it was magnificent.

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Until I woke up the next morning and he was gone.

I knew I’d f**ked up. He was amazing. I was a drunken one night stand, I didn’t have his number and didn’t know his name.

I’d instantly plummeted into the depths of despair and washed away my hangover that very night with more cosmopolitans at Club, this time with Tracy bartending and Cam at my side where I explained the depths of my despair at length and every time the door opened or there was movement in that direction, I craned my neck, hoping he was coming in looking for me.

He wasn’t.

It wasn’t until three days later when I felt my comforter slide back, waking me from a deep sleep, my mind and body froze in terrified panic, then his weight hit the bed, his never to be forgotten voice said, “Hey babe,” his arms wrapped around me and he kissed me. Then he did other things to me, really, really good things.

Thus it began and even though at the start I was hopeful it would change – I’d manage to ask his name or he’d ask my number or he’d knock on the door during the day or he’d spend the night and take me out to breakfast – it didn’t change.

And sitting there in my office, staring out the window when I should have been working, I realized that I was right there with Tracy all this time. I was hopeful. I wanted that feeling back that I had when I first saw him and the feeling I got, but I foolishly denied, every time he came to call. The butterflies in my stomach. The certainty that was borne of nothing but instinct that he was the one.

But a year and a half slid by and I kept my hope while losing my dignity again and again and again.

Now things had changed.

And now I was learning that he might be hot, he might be confident, he might move with grace and there might be a multitude of things that were fascinating about him but he also could be an annoying, bossy jerk who told me what to do, didn’t listen to me and could hurt Troy’s feelings without batting an eye.

On this thought my phone rang and I jumped. It was the house phone which never rang. Everyone called my cell. But I’d turned off my cell so I could get some work done thus Tracy coming by for a surprise visit after she heard about my break-in and she couldn’t get hold of me.

Automatically I reached out and took it off its base then wished I didn’t as I beeped the button and put it to my ear thinking it was probably a marketer because on the rare occasion my phone rang it was always a marketer.

“Hello?” I asked hesitantly, ready to beep it off the instant I heard a marketer.

I didn’t hear a marketer.

“Ohmigod!” Cam shrieked.

I blinked and my chin came off my knee. Camille Antoine was not a girlie shrieker.

“Cam?” I called.

“Ohmigod!”

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Oh boy. I knew what this was.

“Cam, the break-in… it’s cool, it’s –”

“You will not believe what happened!”

My back straightened.

Ohmigod! Leo proposed! Tracy, Cam and I had been waiting for-flipping-ever for Leo to propose (Cam obviously more than Trace and I but just barely). None of us could figure out, since they’d known each other for five years and been living together for four, what was taking so long.

Now it had happened.

Yay!

“Oh Cam, I’m so –” I started to gush.

But she cut off my gushing with, “Mitch asked to be taken off the case!”

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