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“Am I interrupting something?”

“No,” I said hurriedly.

“Yeah,” Lawson replied at the same time.

I took a careful step back and Lawson’s hands fell away.

This was when Lawson and Hawk went into a macho man, death match stare down.

I stepped into the non-verbal, motionless fray before it became verbal and full of motion.

“He just came by to ask me to call if I see or hear from Ginger,” I explained to Hawk.

Hawk’s eyes had cut to me when I spoke but the second I finished, they cut back to Lawson.

“Thought I made myself clear,” he growled.

“You did,” Lawson returned. “But you’ll remember, I didn’t agree.”

“You do not use my woman to make your career,” Hawk went on like Lawson didn’t speak.

I pressed my lips together and got tense mainly because I felt anger, and a lot of it, rolling off Lawson then I heard it in the rumble of his quiet voice.

“Careful,” he warned.

“She is not in this,” Hawk continued. “Ginger doesn’t exist for her. That’s what’s in here and that’s what’s communicated on the street.”

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“Last two nights proved that wrong, Hawk, Ginger’s unpredictable and you know it.”

“Right, but any of that shit goes down, it gets communicated through me, not Gwen.”

“She gets desperate,” Lawson started, “and by the way, Ginger Kidd passed desperate about a week ago, she’s gonna make extreme choices. Gwendolyn is in that line of fire. You and your boys are good, Hawk, but you can’t cover her twenty-four, seven and keep your other shit in line.”

“Let me worry about that,” Hawk returned.

“She needs to know what to do,” Lawson replied.

“Yeah, and I’ll tell her,” Hawk shot back.

Another macho man, death match stare down ensued but luckily before it could advance to hand-to-hand combat, Lawson broke the stare down and looked at me.

“You have my card,” he said and I nodded because I did have his card, I just didn’t know what happened to it. He nodded back and finished, “I’ll let myself out.”

Then he leaned into me, right in front of Hawk, bent and kissed the hinge of my jaw, his lips causing goose bumps to rise on my skin.

Oh boy.

He lifted his head, looked in my eyes and whispered, “Stay safe, you need anything, even if it’s just to talk, call me.”

I nodded.

His gaze sliced through Hawk then he walked out of the kitchen and into the living room.

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I watched while practicing deep breathing. Then, slowly, I turned to Hawk to see he hadn’t moved. He was still standing there with his hands to his hips, the Nordstrom’s bag hanging from his fingers, his eyes on me with a look in them that could only be described as un… hap… pee.

Uh-oh.

Chapter Twelve

The Us You Wanted Us to Be

I stared at Hawk and Hawk stared at me. When his unhappy look didn’t shift, I decided to speak.

“Hey,” I said.

He kept staring at me. Then he moved to the table lifting the Nordstrom’s bag and pulling out a familiar box with the words “Jimmy Choo” on the top. It wasn’t familiar because I owned a box like that, just that I’d seen them the multiple times I’d tried on a pair of Jimmy Choos. He dumped the bag on the table and then put the box on the table. Then he sent it sliding down the table toward me.

As it was shoes, and Jimmy Choo shoes, reflexively I moved fast, my hand carrying my clutch darting out to catch it before something tragic happened, like a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes falling to the floor.

With my hand resting on the box, I looked at Hawk, my heart beating fast.

“What’s this?” I asked.

He dipped his head to the box and growled, “Open it.”

Hmm. Still unhappy.

I dropped my clutch and wrap to the table, picked up the box and opened it.

Then my heart seized.

In it was a pair of silver, watersnake, platform sandals – slim slingback strap, peep toe, four and a half inch spiked heel. Elegant. Gorgeous. Scary expensive.

The shoes Tracy had been hiding in the shoe storeroom at Nordstrom’s for me for the last six weeks. Shoes I wanted so badly I could taste it. Shoes I told myself I would save to afford. Shoes I was never going to buy because I could never afford them, even with Tracy’s discount.

But my mission was to own a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes before I died. Some women had career goals. Some women wanted to be good mothers. Some women wanted to do their bit to save the world. My life goal was owning really beautiful, really expensive shoes.

My eyes lifted to Hawk.

“I don’t understand,” I whispered.

“Those the shoes you wanted?” Hawk asked.

I blinked.

“Yes,” I answered.

“You got ‘em.”

It took some effort but I succeeded in not hyperventilating.

“You bought them for me?” I asked as it hit me. Security system. Panic buttons. Window repair. Shoes that cost over seven hundred dollars.

What was going on?

“You wanted them,” he answered like it was as simple as that.

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I felt my head get light. “How? Why?”

“Babe, you gonna put them on or what?”

“How? Why?” I repeated.

He sighed. “Your friend said you had them on hold. I know where your friend works. I sent my girl to find them. She found your girl, your girl got ‘em off hold, I bought ‘em, now they’re here.”

He stopped speaking so I prompted, “That’s the how, what’s the why?”

“Gwen, you wanted them.”

“That’s it?” I asked.

“That’s it,” he confirmed.

“I also want my own personal tropical island paradise,” I told him. “Are you going to get that for me too?”

The unhappy look shifted from his face and his mouth twitched. “That might take awhile.”

I stared at him and my belly felt squishy, my heart felt like it had grown a couple sizes and was threatening to burst out of my chest and something tingly was happening in my throat.

Then I forced out, “I don’t know what to say.”

“Don’t say anything,” he returned. “Just put on the f**kin’ shoes so we can go eat. I’m hungry.”

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