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I tensed and turned, putting my coffee cup to the counter.

What now?

“Gwennie, sweetie, she wouldn’t –” Meredith started, her eyes glued to me, she didn’t even glance at the Delgados.

“Gwendolyn!” the woman I didn’t know shouted then broke into a run toward me. “My God, my God. A drive-by!” Then she passed Meredith and threw her arms around me as I froze, my eyes on Meredith. “My baby, nearly shot to death!” the woman wailed, swaying me side to side.

“Uh,” I started. “Do I know you?”

She jerked away, her fingers curving around my upper arms so hard I could feel her nails through the material of my hoodie.

“Do you know me?” she whispered.

“Gwen –” Dad began but the woman let me go and she whirled on Dad.

“Does she know me?” she shrieked and even Santo and Javier stopped scampering and stared.

“Libby,” Dad clipped but I felt the color slide from my face as I took a step back.

“Libby?” I whispered and she swung back to me.

“Yes!” she snapped. “Libby! Your mother!”

Oh my God! Gus was a voodoo master. One mention and then, poof! there she was!

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My eyes flew to Hawk to see he was closing in on me as I swayed. Luckily, he made it to me, his arm hooking around my chest as he positioned his tall frame behind me and he anchored me to him before I could teeter and fall.

“You don’t have to protect her from me,” my mother hissed at Hawk, her eyes slits.

“I’ll take the boys outside,” Von muttered, moving off his stool toward his sons.

But I didn’t look to see this happen, I only sensed him move because I kept staring at my Mom.

My Mom.

“Well, this answers that,” Mom was still hissing and she turned to Meredith. “I take it you didn’t share the letters and photos I sent,” she accused, Hawk’s arm tightened and my eyes shot to Meredith.

“I –” Meredith started.

“No, I didn’t,” Dad put in, moving in behind Meredith and sliding an arm around her waist.

Letters? Photos?

“I should have known when I didn’t get anything back,” Mom retorted then her eyes focused on Meredith. “My baby wouldn’t leave me hanging. My baby would reply to me!”

“It was my decision to keep you out of Gwen’s life, not Mer’s, so eyes to me, Libby,” Dad ordered.

“Oh my God,” I whispered.

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Mom’s eyes didn’t swing to Dad, they swung to me. “You can say that again!” she shouted.

“You think you could take a second, calm down and see Gwen and Hawk have company and maybe we can discuss this in private?” Dad suggested.

“No! No I do not!” Mom shouted.

“Right, in other words, things haven’t changed,” Dad clipped.

“Fuck you!” Mom clipped back and my body jolted.

Hawk entered the fray. “Bax asked you to calm down. Now this is my place and I’m tellin’ you to do it.”

Mom swung to Hawk. “Do I care?”

Oh my God. My long lost Mom had a foul mouth and a death wish.

“Are you gettin’ why I did what I could to keep this woman outta my daughter’s life?” Dad asked Hawk angrily.

“I’m not getting it,” I whispered.

“Of course you wouldn’t, baby,” Mom stated.

“Then, Gwen honey, I kept ‘em and I’ll give ‘em to you,” Dad told me. “First letter she sent, with photos, was when your Aunt Mildred died and left you ten thousand dollars. In it she says she was working in Africa with starving children and needed money for food and medicine when she was really in Boulder workin’ as a bartender in a Harley bar and needed money to keep herself in dope.”

Boulder? Boulder? I thought my mother lived in Rapid City.

I stared at Dad.

Great. Just great. My Mom was foul mouthed, had a death wish, lived thirty miles away from me and was just like Ginger.

Fantastic.

All this I thought in my head.

“Please tell me this isn’t happening,” was what I whispered out loud and Hawk’s other arm wrapped around my ribs.

“Second letter, and honey, there were only two, was when you graduated from high school and I turned your school fund over to you. It was flood victims that time,” Dad went on and my eyes went to my Mom as Dad continued. “What’s it now, Lib? You hear about the drive-by and think to get in on the insurance payout or you hear she hooked up with Hawk and think to get something from him?”

“It’s me,” Hawk stated and I twisted my neck to look up at him and see his gaze was steady and unhappy on my mother.

“I don’t know who you are,” Mom snapped at Hawk.

“Bullshit,” Hawk replied and my body jolted again.

“I’ve never seen you in my life,” she returned.

“You were Pope Rountree’s old lady, until he threw your ass out, and you were at his place three times when I took meetings with him there,” Hawk replied.

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Mom ducked her chin and turned her body slightly to the side.

What Hawk said was true.

Oh my God. My long lost mother had a foul mouth, a death wish and she was a gold digger!

“That explains it, why you wouldn’t get out of Rick’s f**kin’ livin’ room until we took you to Gwen, the whole time, red-faced and shoutin’. Because you knew, we took you to Gwen, we took you to Hawk,” Dad surmised.

My mother stared at my father and then shifted attention and blame.

“My daughter was the victim of a drive-by because your daughter,” she jabbed an angry finger at Meredith, “is a piece of shit.”

Meredith’s face paled, Dad’s got red and I lost my mind.

“Don’t you dare,” I whispered and Mom swung to me and I watched, holy crap, I watched her carefully rearrange her face.

“Baby –” she whispered.

“Don’t you ‘baby’ me, you lived in Boulder?” My voice went high on the last two words and Hawk’s arms got tighter but I leaned forward. “You lived in Boulder and you never came to see me?”

“Your father wouldn’t let me!” she replied on a shout.

“Who cares!” I shouted back. “If you want to see your kid, you’ll move heaven and earth to see your kid! You want to stay in contact, you don’t send two letters! You send two thousand!”

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