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I rushed to his boots and tee and met him with them in my hands.

He threw an arm around me and guided me to the sidewalk where my parents and Mrs. Mayhew were standing, now with Dog.

Hawk yanked his tee over his head but spoke as he tugged it down his abs.

“Wanna tell me why the f**k you’re here?” he clipped at Dog.

“Orders,” Dog replied.

“Gwen or Ginger?” Hawk asked.

“Gwen,” Dog answered.

Hawk’s face got tight but I was too busy freaking out because it was also covered in soot.

Therefore I got close and put my hands on his abs.

“Baby,” I whispered, leaning carefully into him and looking up, “you okay?”

He looked down at me. “Yeah,” he grunted.

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“You sure? You’re not burned anywhere?”

He had looked down at me but he hadn’t focused on me but then, he focused on me.

His arm slid around my shoulders and he pulled me closer.

“I’m good, Gwen,” he muttered to me then his eyes went to the house.

My eyes went to the house too. Then my arms slid around his middle, I pressed in close and I rested my cheek on his pectoral. That was when his other arm closed around me.

Neighbors came out, Dad, Meredith and Mrs. Mayhew moved close and we watched the firefighters battle the blaze.

Chapter Ten

Pros and Cons

I woke up but kept my eyes closed as I lay in my bed feeling bright, Denver sunlight against my eyelids.

Then I reached out a hand and slid it across my bed.

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I was alone, Hawk was gone.

I slid my hand back, tucked both under my cheek and curled my legs into my belly as I opened my eyes.

There were people in my house, the kitchen. I knew that because my bedroom was over the kitchen and I heard low murmurs drifting up from there.

This was likely Meredith and the commandos. She was probably making them homemade donuts they would refuse to eat and regaling them with stories of my former boyfriends (none of whom, except Hawk, she actually liked but she never told me that until I’d dumped them or they’d dumped me).

Dad was probably at work. His house had been firebombed, he’d battled the blaze then he’d watched firefighters battle the blaze then he’d talked to the police then one of Hawk’s boys came in an SUV, Hawk loaded Meredith, Dad, Mrs. Mayhew and me in it and Hawk’s boy (this one who looked half-wrestler, half-giant, was named “Mo”) whisked Mrs. Mayhew to her friend Erma’s place and Dad, Meredith and me to my house. Dad had taken a shower while Meredith and I pulled out the couch in my office and made the bed. Dad and Meredith hit the sack, I hit the sack and sometime later, likely right before the break of dawn, I felt Hawk hit the sack next to me. He’d rolled into me, curled deep but I fell back to sleep before I knew whether or not he was in dreamland.

Even with all of this I suspected Dad was still at work. The entire eastern seaboard could fall into the sea and Dad would go to work then get on the phone and call all his men and ask why they were still at home, grieving over loved ones and the loss of national monuments as the country came to grips with a colossal tragedy. Then he’d tell them they should be on the site, there was work to be done.

Of course, he only had his pajama bottoms and coat but that wouldn’t stop him.

I closed my eyes and sighed.

Detective Mitch Lawson had showed last night. He’d talked to Hawk first, then Dad and Hawk, then Meredith and me. When he got to Meredith and me he mostly wanted to know if we were all right and didn’t ask probing questions. Then he’d given my arm a reassuring squeeze as he gazed into my eyes, his intense (but still soulful) then he took off.

Dog had disappeared prior to the cops and Lawson showing up. This was why Hawk didn’t come with us to my house. Hawk went to find Dog. I didn’t know why but I didn’t ask questions. I was in an extremely rare Do As I’m Told Mood so when Hawk got bossy, I didn’t give him lip. I did exactly what he ordered me to do. I got in his boy’s SUV, got my family to warmth and safety, got them settled and went to bed.

On that thought, my eyes tipped down the bed and I saw Hawk walk into the room. This surprised me. I thought he’d be out doing Hawk things, covertly gathering intel for top secret assignments, interrogating suspects in windowless rooms made of cement, beating infidels into submission, stuff like that.

It also surprised me he had on a fresh pair of Army green cargo pants and a skintight, but clean, long-sleeved burgundy tee. Guess his boys delivered changes of clothes. I wondered if they took orders and had credit at Nordstrom’s. If they did, this would be on the pro side of my Should I Explore Things with Cabe “Hawk” Delgado List.

Hawk’s eyes didn’t leave me as he walked to the bed, sat on his side of it and leaned deep, his torso across the bed, his forearm in it, his face ending up close to mine.

“How you doin’, Sweet Pea?” he asked quietly.

“Can you do me a favor?” I asked quietly back.

“Depends,” he answered.

Figures.

“Next time you’re in a house that’s firebombed, can you pause to put on a shirt and shoes before you sally forth into the inferno?”

I watched from close as he grinned and his dimples popped out.

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Then his eyebrows went up. “Sally forth?”

“Okay, you didn’t sally, you raced. You know what I mean.”

Something about his face changed and I couldn’t put my finger on it because his eyes moved to my hair. Then he fell to his front, bracing his weight on his opposite forearm as he lifted his other hand. He ran his fingers along my hairline, down around my ear and he shifted the hair off my neck. Then his eyes came to mine.

I held my breath because they were heated and intense like at dinner last night.

“Yeah, I know what you mean,” he whispered and I wanted to tear my eyes from his, I really did, I just couldn’t. “You were worried about me.”

“You were fighting a fire in a pair of cargo pants,” I explained, trying to sound casual and probably failing.

His heated, black eyes held mine for a long time, so long I felt my lungs start to burn.

Then he said, “All right, next time I’m in a house that’s firebombed, I’ll put on a shirt and boots before I tackle the inferno.”

“Thanks,” I whispered.

His eyes moved over my face then he asked, “Now that we got that outta the way, you wanna answer my question?”

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