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Hawk was gone on an errand unexplained and night had fallen.

Earlier his family and my family ate eggs, toast, bacon and homemade donuts made from taking biscuit dough from a tube, punching a whole in the middle of it, deep frying it and then slathering it with frosting.

Homemade donuts were nearly as good as cookie dough for soothing trauma, not quite but they worked that morning mainly because Meredith made them.

Dad and Gus got on. Meredith and Maria got on. Von and Jury were both cool but attentive, very like their brother. But I spent most of my time after donut consumption playing hide and seek with Javier and Santo. There weren’t a lot of places to hide but there was a lot of room to seek. I made one mistake and that was tickling them when I first found them which they liked so they made me do all the seeking and then they made it easy to find them. In the end Javier tried to hide in plain sight. And he did this while giggling and calling “Nennie!” because he couldn’t quite say Gwen.

Finally, after Maria and Meredith did the dishes, everyone said their farewells and went away, Hawk came to me and explained he had “shit to do”. He didn’t go into detail and I didn’t demand it but he did kiss me before he left.

I unpacked my stuff and arranged it on my desk, booted up my computer and worked, making myself a sandwich when I got hungry, breaking the seal on the condiments to do so and trying not to think of Hawk, out with his commandos, causing mayhem and maybe getting hurt.

Now I’d swiveled my chair to face the dark windows, the haze of lights of Denver not far away. The fact was we were in Denver, just a lost, abandoned part of it that. Once the developers cottoned on, it would probably be made into lofts and trendy restaurants.

I had both my heels up on the seat of my chair, both my arms wrapped around my calves and I’d dropped my chin to my knees.

I stared out the windows realizing I had a foul-mouthed, gold digger Mom who didn’t care one bit about me. I had a shot up living room and a sister in serious trouble. I had a reputation as a sexual plaything. I was living with the man whose sexual plaything I had the reputation of being. I had a biker out there somewhere who had the way wrong idea about me. And, even with all that going down, it seemed I was living a daydream.

How the f**k did all that happen?

I heard a noise and turned my head to the door to see Hawk striding in, all masculine grace, body at his command.

Mm. Yum.

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He walked, I watched and did a full body scan.

Well, today’s good news, Hawk was home and he wasn’t riddled with bullets, bleeding from stab wounds, scored by shrapnel or missing a limb due to an explosion.

“Hey,” he said when he made it to the kitchen and kept coming at me.

“Hey,” I replied, watching him coming at me, my chin to my knees, my brain processing that I was enjoying the show.

He rounded the desk and approached me from behind and he did this so he could bend in and touch his lips, then tongue, to the skin behind my ear.

Mm. Yum.

His mouth stayed there to say, “Baby, there a reason you’re in a protective ball again?”

“I sit like this a lot,” I told him.

“Yeah?” His lips went away and he swiveled my chair to face him as he crouched in front of me. “Why?”

“It’s comfortable.”

He studied me a second, his eyes scanning my face.

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Then he asked, “So this doesn’t have to do with your Mom showin’ up outta the blue and causin’ a scene?”

Hmm. Maybe it partly had to do with that.

I decided not to reply.

Then suddenly he stood, plucked me straight out of the chair and turned on his boot to walk through the warehouse while carrying me.

“What are you doing?” I asked, sliding my arms around his shoulders.

“Showing you comfortable,” he answered.

Oh boy, I had a feeling I knew where this was going.

“I need to save my work,” I told him.

“You can save it later,” he told me and kept walking.

“Hawk, seriously, what if there’s a power outage?”

“Then you should have saved it before you curled up, Sweet Pea,” he replied.

He made it to the seating area, sat in a recliner, reached down to the lever and then we were jerked back flat with me on top of him.

Okay, maybe I didn’t know where this was going.

His arms came around me as my head lifted up.

When my eyes hit his, he stated, “Now, babe, this is comfortable.”

He was not wrong.

I stretched out full, my hip in the seat, one of my legs hitched over his thighs and I rolled my torso onto his, all the while looking down at him.

Then it was my turn to study him.

Face relaxed and, as ever, handsome. Eyes warm but alert. No dimples. Pure male beauty from hair to chin and parts beyond.

When his hand came up and pulled my hair away from my face, holding it scrunched at my neck, I spoke.

“I’m glad to see you’re home and not riddled with bullets.”

He grinned then muttered, “Smartass.”

“And also not scored by burning shrapnel.”

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More grin, more dimples, more handsome.

Total daydream.

“Do I want to know where you’ve been?” I asked a question that threatened to blow my daydream to smithereens.

“I’ve been paying visits,” he answered readily which I suspected indicated that this discussion would not freak me out, set off a new bout of tears or send me straight to the fridge.

“To?” I prompted.

“To people who have big mouths and who’ll share that I’m not real thrilled about my woman being the target of a drive-by, or present during one, and if that shit happens again, those responsible will feel pretty f**kin’ uncomfortable and they’ll be feelin’ that sooner not later at the same time my boys and me are lookin’ for the ones who did it in the first place.”

“Oh,” I whispered for I had no other response.

“We still don’t know who was behind it.” Hawk shared. “Tack’s made enemies. It could be them. And Tack’s made it clear you’re somethin’ he wants so it could even be his shit that’s leaked to you.”

This was news and not good news. I already had enough shit leaking into my life. I didn’t need more.

“Really?” I asked.

“Really,” Hawk answered looking as happy about this news as I felt. “Tack’s position as president of the Chaos MC was a hostile takeover. Chaos started as a brotherhood of hellraisers. They didn’t make trouble but that didn’t mean they didn’t seek it out and embrace it when they found it. They always had the garage and auto supply but it was just a front and not very big. Their crimes were relatively victimless, knife fights with other bikers who were looking for trouble, shit like that. They grew and sold pot, good shit, made a fortune, built up the garage and the store. Things degenerated, didn’t help that internally there were two factions in the club always fighting, butting heads. Good and bad. Bad won out and the brotherhood is a brotherhood so even with bad leadin’ the club, the others followed. Stopped growin’ pot, started transporting. Not dealin’, just moving product from point A to point B. Lucrative, far more than the pot. The garage and store got built up more. But you start doin’ bad shit, more bad shit follows and it did. Made deals, made alliances, built the business, and not just the legitimate ones, broke deals, broke alliances, fought wars, f**kin’ insane. This world, their world, is a different world set right here in Denver, there are no rules, no laws but they got instinct on their side.”

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