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I felt my lip curl in disgust then I watched his lips twitch in amusement as his hands at my neck gentled entirely and one thumb stroked the skin under my ear.

“You good?” he asked softly.

“About what? You and me? My living room being a disaster? Or war with Tack which, by the way, I should note, is not my fault.”

“Any of that,” he answered.

“No,” I told him truthfully.

His lips twitched again and advised, “You need to quit bein’ such a smartass.”

“Why?”

He went on like I didn’t speak. “At the same time bein’ so cute.”

“That I’ll agree with, cute is becoming a problem.”

The lip twitch turned into a grin. “You gave Lawson sweet and cute and you gave Tack smartass and cute.” His fingers flexed again and pulled up as his head came down while he muttered, “Lucky for me, I’m the only one who’s got it all.”

“Hawk,” I said when his lips were against mine.

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“What?” he asked.

“I need you to feed me.”

“Right,” he murmured then brushed his mouth against mine but when he pulled away he didn’t go very far and his eyes locked to mine.

“Don’t try dodgin’ me again, Gwen,” he warned and I tensed at his tone. “Your friend’s man is a cop or not, I’ll come and get you. You almost got dead today. That’s twice in a week. That shit’s gonna stop and it isn’t Tack who’s gonna make it stop for you. Got me?”

“I’ll quit being a smartass if you quit being so bossy.”

“I see you didn’t take me seriously.”

“I’m being perfectly serious.”

“It’s impossible for you not to be a smartass.”

“Likewise for you and bossy.”

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He stared into my eyes.

Stalemate.

Then he let go, took half a step back and dug in his cargos for his phone.

He handed it to me and ordered, “Call your Dad.”

I took it and muttered, “Bossy.”

Hawk sighed.

I flipped the phone open and called my Dad.

Chapter Seventeen

Protect Gwendolyn Kidd Duties

I woke up and I knew I was in Hawk’s bed.

I stretched out an arm and found the bed empty so I opened my eyes and listened. I could hear nothing.

I rolled and looked across the wide expanse of his warehouse to see the sun shining in everywhere. I tucked my hands under my cheek and as I let sleep drift from me, I let thoughts drift in about the night before.

Dad was freaked and Meredith more so. Firebombs were bad enough, automatic weapons ratcheted it up to a new level of bad. Especially when reports came in that my car was at the front of the house and my purse and bag were on the couch “at the scene”. My disappearance wasn’t handled very well and though it wasn’t my fault, I felt badly about it.

What was more than a little frightening about this was that when Cam got the call at dispatch and when she couldn’t contact me, she contacted Dad and Dad immediately got hold of Hawk. Somewhere along the line they’d shared phone numbers and Dad had become “Bax” to Hawk and Hawk had become Protector and Knower of or Go-to-Guy to Find out All Things Gwen to Dad.

I wasn’t sure this was good.

I handed over Hawk’s phone after I spoke with Dad and Meredith and he made a call and gave his orders. These were carried out to the letter and they included more than an order for Chinese. I knew this when commandos arrived and there were three of them. They brought Imperial but they also brought King Soopers bags that when I unpacked them I found had diet cola, diet grape, two percent milk (Hawk only had skim and, seriously, what was the point of skim? – this a thought I relayed to him prior to his call to the commandos), eggs, bacon, lunchmeat, bread, a variety of chips, two rolls of chocolate chip cookie dough, two of sugar cookie dough and a plethora of condiments.

Hmm.

They also brought my desk and when I say that I mean they brought my desk – my chair, my desk, everything on it and in it, my computer all the way down to my box of Kleenex. They boxed it all up and delivered it, putting the desk in the opposite corner to Hawk’s, setting the boxes around it but hooking up the computer.

They also brought my purse and, scarily, my two big suitcases. Yes, two of them. Upon inspection I found the suitcases packed carefully and full. Clothes, underwear, nightgowns, shoes, face products, my sweet pea lotion and bath gel and a good selection of makeup. This would have stunned me, the ability of commandos to pack, but I was told by Hawk that Elvira had been activated to do my packing. I wasn’t certain how I felt about an unknown woman going through my stuff but it couldn’t be denied the results were excellent.

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Lawson showed and I ate my food while I gave my statement. Lawson didn’t look happy and this had to do with the fact that I’d endured a drive-by, the fact that Tack essentially abducted and detained me afterwards and the fact that he was taking my statement while I was sitting cross-legged in one of Hawk’s recliners in his seating area while spooning up hot and sour soup. How I knew this, I didn’t know, I just knew it.

When Lawson was done, he came to me and bent over me, getting close right in front of a stony faced Hawk.

“Head up, sweetheart, eyes open, stay safe,” he whispered.

“Okay,” I whispered back because I figured that was good advice and because he called me “sweetheart”.

He tucked my hair behind my ear and gave me a smile then he straightened and gave Hawk an unhappy look. Then he left.

I spent the rest of the night sorting out my cell and suitcases while Hawk talked on his phone. I didn’t unpack clothes but I did unpack toiletries and I populated Hawk’s shower, shelves and medicine cabinet with girlie shit.

I didn’t ask if I could do this. He wanted me there, I was going to be there.

Though he also didn’t complain, comment or even give me a look and he knew I’d done it because I had a lot of girlie shit, it was everywhere, and he’d visited the bathroom.

I didn’t know what to make of that so I decided to ignore it and then let it freak me out at random which was when stuff I buried that I should deal with usually freaked me out.

I had twenty-seven missed calls and fourteen texts, all from a freaked out Dad, Meredith, Cam, Tracy, Leo and even Troy. Word had got round about the drive-by. I returned Cam and Tracy’s calls but I shied away from Troy. I hadn’t had any cookie dough and Imperial was good but it didn’t set me up to deal with Troy.

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