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“Even Kane Allen, he decides to play a Good Samaritan, is gonna drop the victim of a drive-by at the police station. Not claim her as his and ride out to hunt down the perpetrators unless he’s,” he leaned forward, “claiming her as his.”

Uh-oh.

“Okay, I can see that as bad but he’s doing it. I made no such declaration.”

“Then you wanna tell me why Tack was there during the drive-by?”

“He was at my house when I got home this morning.”

“So?”

“He wanted to talk.”

“So?”

“So, he promised not to say anything to freak me out so I agreed to talk.”

“All right, Sweet Pea, let’s go back to why you weren’t somewhere else this morning, for instance,” he took a threatening step forward, “here.”

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Uh-oh.

“Hawk –”

I stopped talking when he took another threatening step forward and seeing as his legs were so long, this meant he was close. Too close. Really scary close.

“Yesterday,” he said in a terrifying, quiet voice and got closer so I slid away from the column and took a step back. “I left here,” he kept coming at me so I kept stepping back, “and when I left here,” I kept moving, he kept coming, “you were sweet and cute.”

I hit bookshelves and was forced to stop. Hawk didn’t stop. He pinned me in, his head tipping down to look at me but he didn’t touch me. He pinned me in with the sheer force of his badassness.

“Then,” he went on, “yesterday afternoon, I get this f**kin’ note with a f**kin’ check. The note, I don’t get. The check, babe, the check is a smack in the f**kin’ face.”

Hmm. Maybe I didn’t think that out very well.

“So I check the device on your car and see you’ve holed up with a cop,” he continued.

“You have a device on my car?” I whispered and his scary, angry face turned scarier and angrier so I shut my mouth.

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“I come home,” he stayed with his subject, “and I got a message from Gayle. So I get the note because I get that you heard her message and then you listened to some bullshit that your friend fed you and you didn’t pick up the phone or get your ass to my place so you could talk to me. You went off half-cocked and, doin’ it, pissed me way, the f**k, off.”

All right, so we were on this subject then we had to talk about this subject.

“I know about Your Days,” I whispered.

“Yeah? You do?”

“Yeah,” I kept whispering, “I do. And I know I’m filler.”

“No,” he returned. “You know a bunch of cops with shit for brains and nothin’ better to do with their time called you that. And somethin’ else, babe, that shit is totally made up. It’s complete bullshit. Gayle calls herself Thursday because she’s got another man who doesn’t do it for her and he goes out and gets shitfaced on Thursdays and doesn’t come home until the bars close so I feel like her, I visit her. I don’t have a schedule. The only woman I’ve investigated with any thoroughness and the only one I watch is you.”

“But you said when you make a woman yours, you do your –”

“No, Gwen, forget about what you thought you read into what I said. I’m tellin’ you now, straight out, how it is. And I’m not gonna feed you shit about there not bein’ others, there are others. And I think you get that I’m not a man inclined to waste my time doin’ precisely what I’m doin’ right f**kin’ now, explaining myself.”

Oh shit. Now I was getting mad.

“I see,” I stated quietly. “We’re right back where we started.”

“No, if we were back where we started, somewhere in the last couple of days I’d have had a piece of your sweet ass.”

My mouth dropped open.

He could not be believed!

“I don’t believe you!” I yelled.

“It’s not true?” he asked.

“No, see, the last couple of days my sister’s shit has leaked into my life. Did I do anything wrong? No! I don’t live in your world. I knew Dog. I knew he was good for Ginger. I figured he’d sort her out. I didn’t know what would happen when I went to Ride! How the hell would I know? I didn’t open the door to the guy who broke in! I didn’t guide the firebombers to my parents’ house and hurl a flaming bottle through the window! I went home today, that’s it. I just went home and got caught in a hail of gunfire! But after that was over, I just did what I was told. I’d never been shot at before. Tack seemed to know what he was doing so I figured it would be good to be with someone who knew what they were doing. I didn’t know he was going to lock me in his Compound and start a war! I’ve just been doing the best I can do in a seriously bad situation. No! In multiple seriously bad situations!”

“Gwen –”

“And I don’t need you to be a jerk on top of it.”

“Gwen –”

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I threw my hands out to the sides. “My living room was shot up today. With me in it!” I screeched.

His hands came to my jaws. “Baby, calm down.”

“You calm down! You can walk through walls and silently down bikers. I don’t have those abilities, Hawk. I was in another situation where I needed a crowbar! That sucks! And after that, I need cookie dough. Or at the very least really good Chinese food, from Twin Dragon or, better yet, Imperial.”

His thumbs swept my jaws and he said quietly, “All right, baby, I’ll get you Imperial.”

I shook my head but unfortunately didn’t shake his hands free. “No, the other night, I liked you. Tonight, I don’t,” I announced. “I mean, thank you for saving me from biker prison but now I want to go home…” It was then I realized I didn’t have a home, my parents’ didn’t have a home and therefore I was f**ked so I finished lamely, “Or… wherever.”

“You are where you’re gonna be until whatever the f**k is happening is over, babe,” Hawk declared.

“Hello?” I called. “Let me remind you that you live in Badass World and I do not. You can’t tell me where to be.”

“I sure as f**k can, Gwen,” he replied.

“No, you can’t,” I returned, his hands slid to my neck and his fingers curled deep.

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