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“Gwendolyn –” she started.

“I can’t believe you,” I cut her off. “I can’t believe I don’t see you for nearly thirty years and when I do, it’s because you know Hawk and you know he can afford Jimmy Choos!”

Direct hit, she winced then she rallied.

“Yesterday, you nearly died,” she told me.

“Uh… yeah, I know, I was there,” I replied sarcastically.

“I’m your mother! I’m worried!”

“You weren’t worried when Brian Takata broke my heart in tenth grade and I slid into the depths of despair. Meredith was! And it was then Meredith taught me the healing properties of cookie dough and, let me tell you, it was a good lesson to learn because cookie dough goes a long way to mend a broken heart. And, by the way,” my tone was acid, “Meredith taught me a lot of good lessons you weren’t around to teach.”

“Gwen –” Mom tried to cut in but I kept on going.

“And you weren’t worried when Scott Leighton crushed me to the point I knew I’d never fall in love again. Meredith was. And I didn’t have enough money to hire a good lawyer when Scott was jacking me around so Meredith got her boss to represent me and Scott quit jacking me around! You were in Boulder, or wherever but wherever was close enough for you to be there and you never were. Meredith was!”

“Yeah, I’m around and I know people, I hear things, and I know you’re in trouble because Meredith’s bitch from hell of a daughter is causing you trouble.” Mom returned.

I tore from Hawk’s arms, taking two swift strides forward so fast, Mom reared back.

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“That’s my sister you’re talking about,” I snapped in her face. “And those are family problems and you… are not… family.”

“Gwe –” she started.

“Get out!” I yelled.

“I don’t believe –”

“You should. You initiated a play for my man’s money,” I bit out, thumping my chest with the flat of my palm. “You insulted my sister. You made my Dad get red in the face. And you upset,” I leaned in but pointed at Meredith, “my Mom!”

She reared back again and I watched her face get pale but she didn’t move.

“I told you, get out, you don’t, I’m siccing Hawk on you!” I threatened.

Her eyes slid to Hawk and I felt his badassness close at my back but I kept my eyes locked to my mother.

Then her gaze came to me. “You know,” she whispered, “I don’t see even a little of me in you.”

She said this like was an insult.

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“Thank God,” I replied.

Her mouth got tight then she tossed her hair, which, unfortunately, was my hair (except dyed to look that way now) then she turned and, without looking at anyone, she marched to the door.

I marched to the fridge, pissed and sliding straight into full rant. “You know, I’d rather be firebombed again. No!” I corrected myself as I yanked open the fridge and reached for the cookie dough. “The drive-by. I’d rather endure another drive-by than go through that again.” I slammed the fridge door and walked to a butcher block of knives, yanking one out at random. I slid out a cutting board from the shelves then I went to the horseshoe counter by where Meredith was standing and slapped the cutting board down. “And you should know, Meredith, that I do not blame you. Ginger is Ginger, we’re all family, we all get that.” I twirled my knife in the air. “It isn’t like we didn’t know this would eventually come to pass.” I slammed the cookie dough down on the cutting board and started to slice into it when strong fingers curled around my wrist and I felt a hard body pressed against my side.

I looked up at Hawk.

“Give it up with the cookie dough, baby,” he whispered.

“No way, Hawk, it’s cookie dough all around,” I replied, tearing my wrist from his hand and again circling my knife in the air.

He pressed his lips together. Then he suggested, “All right, then maybe in your present state you shouldn’t be wielding a cleaver.”

“I’m not wielding a…” I trailed off when I brought the knife I was carrying up between us and saw it was a huge-ass cleaver. “Shit,” I muttered.

His hand came back to my wrist and he took control of the cleaver. Then he stretched out an arm and handed the cleaver off to his hovering mother.

It was then I remembered we had an audience and it was then I remembered that life pretty much sucked for me and so it was then I burst out crying.

Hawk folded me in his arms, I grabbed onto his thermal, my fingers fisting tight at the back, and I shoved my face in his chest.

His hand slid up and curled warm around the back of my neck.

There was silence which led into murmurings of conversation, my parents introducing themselves to Hawk’s family but I ignored this because the presence of other beings during a breakdown, well, it was pretty much mandatory to ignore them but when they’re the family of the hot guy you’re sleeping with, you just met them and they just witnessed a unpleasant family reunion that ended in you ranting and brandishing a cleaver, it was a moral imperative.

When my tears subsided, my eyes automatically searched for the face which would make everything better.

I turned my head and focused on Meredith.

“I know Maria’s making breakfast but can you make me homemade donuts?” I whispered.

“I’ll go get the biscuit dough and vegetable oil,” Dad announced instantly and I felt rather than saw him move because my eyes stuck to Meredith.

She had tears hovering in her eyes too but, still, she smiled at me.

Yep, everything felt better.

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I smiled back as I pressed my cheek to Hawk’s chest and his arms got tight.

Then I shouted to my Dad, “Don’t forget the chocolate fudge frosting!”

“Gotcha,” Dad shouted back.

I felt something on my other side and I traded one cheek for the other in Hawk’s chest as I turned my head and looked up to see Gus there.

His eyes were on Hawk. “Good to know, even after a family drama, Gwen’s still hard at work on that great ass,” he noted.

“Gus!” Maria shouted.

I laughed.

So did Hawk, I didn’t hear it but I felt it up against me.

It felt really nice.

Hawk’s laughter faded and I missed it when it was gone until Maria muttered, “She might be dazzled but she’s not afraid of using a cleaver. I see good things,” and I got it back again.

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