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“Sleep okay?” he asked, his chin dipped to look at me.

“Mm hmm,” I answered.

He dipped his chin further and his mouth touched mine as his arm around my back also dipped, scrunched up my nightshirt then he held it up with his arm as his hand cupped my ass, skin to panties.

Nice.

When his mouth went away I asked back, “Did you?”

“Yeah,” he replied.

I took in a breath and asked, “Is something going on?”

His arm at my shoulders squeezed as did his hand at my ass. “We have news.”

“Good news or bad news?”

“Both.”

“Uh-oh,” I mumbled.

“I don’t have a lot of time but do you need coffee before you hear it?”

“Is that your way of asking me if I need Valium before I hear it?”

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He smiled and I got more squeezes.

Then he spoke. “Drive-by was about Ginger. Not Tack.”

“Is that the good news or the bad news?”

“The good, means we know who we’re lookin’ for and why they did what they did. Since Tack’s thrown down for you and I made things clear yesterday, they also know they bought themselves two sets of enemies they do not want. Ginger knows a lot, pissed off a lot of people and she can cause a lot of trouble, the police and Feds get to her, but she isn’t worth the heat my boys and the Chaos MC are gonna bring down on them. They bought that, pullin’ that shit, and they don’t want it and won’t want that heat to get hotter. It’s a guess but this means you and your parents are likely safe.”

“That is good news,” I noted.

“Yeah, but that doesn’t mean we don’t play it smart. You with me?”

I wasn’t sure I was but I nodded anyway.

“What’s the bad news?” I asked.

He hesitated then explained, “Jorge took a meet with Dog yesterday. Apparently, you told Tack you were through with me and he took this as tacit permission to make his play. Seein’ as he’s Tack and not the kind of man who asks your sign, tells you he likes your smile, buys you a drink and hopes to get him some, but instead locks you in a room and thinks when he returns from causing havoc and exacting retribution, you’re gonna be waitin’ for him to do whatever he does to make his claim, he’s not feelin’ like backin’ down from war. It didn’t help that my boys bested his and captured the prize. Now there’s face to be saved. We sent in lieutenants and they weren’t able to make a deal. Now the captains have to meet.”

Oh boy.

“Do you want to go into more detail about war?” I asked but I wasn’t sure I wanted more detail.

“Did you tell him you were through with me?”

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“Um…” I mumbled, trying to pull back a bit but his arm and hand got tighter so I stopped trying. “I was in a bad mood,” I explained.

“Shit, Gwen,” he muttered.

“I also told him I’d sworn off men and was going to take up hiking and set up a ferret rescue.”

He stared down at me. Then he said, “Babe, let me tell you something about men.”

Uh-oh.

“Um…” I began in an effort not to learn anything about men. Hawk wasn’t the only man who was a mystery to me. Men on the whole were a mystery to me. I had no clue why they did half the shit they did and I’d long since decided I didn’t want to know. You could spend decades trying to figure that shit out and never succeed. Ignorance, I decided, was bliss when it came to men. I’d learned to go with the flow and hope I didn’t get chewed up too much in the process.

Hawk kept talking. “Sayin’ shit like that to men like Tack is like a dare.”

“What?”

“He’s the president of an MC. He’s got money. He’s got balls. He’s got brains. He’s got charisma. He’s got power. Men like that, women are easy. Men like that don’t want women who are easy. They want women who are smartasses and they’re cute. A woman like that tells you they want nothin’ to do with men and are gonna set up a ferret rescue, men like Tack take that as a challenge and challenges are what they feed on. They live and breathe for challenge. You sayin’ what you said to Tack is the same as a man comin’ up to him and shovin’ him in a bar. He’s gonna react to that, strongly, and best the situation no matter what he has to do to do it.”

“That’s crazy,” I told him because it was.

“That’s Tack.”

I stared at him. Then it hit me.

“It’s also you.”

His hand squeezed my ass. “You’re learnin’.”

Then something else hit me.

“What happens when you best the situation?”

“What?”

“What happens when it isn’t a challenge anymore?”

His hand left my ass so his arm could curve around my waist and he pulled me closer, muttering, “Sweet Pea.”

I pulled my torso back as best I could and kept my eyes glued to him.

“Is that an answer?” I asked.

He kept his eyes locked to me and asked back, “You gonna give me you?”

It was my turn to say, “What?”

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“Babe, yesterday, you said your f**kwad ex crushed you. And I know this to be true because, for days, I watched you approach every situation between us with one hand up as if you’re wardin’ off a threat. When I do something you like, your face gentles because I’ve surprised you, you haven’t had shit like that from a man. You just walked up to me and slid your arms around me sweet. I’ve made you come for me and I’ve been inside you. You’ve shared gratitude. But, Gwen, that hand’s still up, wardin’ me off. You haven’t given me you, not even close. There is no way I’ve bested this situation.”

That was an answer it just wasn’t the answer.

“Okay, so say you best the situation.”

“I haven’t.”

“Say you do.”

“Gwen, I haven’t.”

“But say you do.”

“I do, then we’ll see how that plays out.”

Not a good answer. I knew how it played out. Scott Leighton taught me that.

I looked at his chest and muttered, “I need coffee now.”

“Gwen,” he called.

My arms slid from around his back so my hands could press against his chest.

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