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Chapter Twenty

Unoccupied

I sat in Hawk’s battered old chair and stared across his cavernous lair.

I’d just finished my voyage of discovery. I didn’t go so far as to look through his desk and bedroom drawers but, after he left, I’d poured a mug of coffee and searched the only space I knew that was really his.

I went under the bedroom platform and checked out his shelves.

He had a lot of CDs; he liked music, plain to see. His tastes were all over the place. Rock ‘n’ roll, the old stuff, seventies mainly. Heavy metal, all good, no hair bands. Jazz, the sweet kind, from days gone by, not the saxophone-heavy new kind. Blues, Billie Holiday and Robert Johnson, nice. R&B, some rap and, rounding out this selection, even some classical.

In other words, nothing there to get a lock on anything – there was too much of everything.

I went to the books and, although there were a lot of them, they didn’t tell me anything more. He didn’t relax with an exciting thriller or an intriguing mystery. Most of the books were books I didn’t even know they wrote books about and I was a book editor. Manuals on strategy of war, hand-to-hand combat, martial arts philosophy. Biographies of war generals. History books of battles. Nothing else. Not even a slim volume of poetry to give me some insight.

So I curled up in his chair and looked across his space as my mind filtered through what I knew of the bed platform and his office. This also gave me nothing. What you saw with Hawk was what you got. His life was narrow, organized and controlled. There was no personality to it. He had a family, brothers, nephews – family that was close and they cared about him but there were no photos. No scrapbooks. No frames of ribbons earned for feats executed in the Army. No DVDs that showed what kind of films that entertained him. No art on the walls that reflected his taste. His furniture and fittings were stylish and expensive, definitely, but they were also heavy, masculine and durable. Even if they were attractive, they were utilitarian.

Except this nook. This chair. This table. This lamp. It didn’t fit but it also didn’t tell me anything yet somehow I knew it said it all.

All I sort of knew was, if what he said before he left, and even what he said about when he first saw me was what I thought he meant, I meant something to him before I walked into Ride.

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Daily reports.

You didn’t demand daily reports on someone you didn’t care about in some way, even if it was a distant, freakishly-stringent, emotionally controlled way.

I sighed. Then I made a decision. Then I untucked my feet from under me and walked up the steps to get my phone. Then I walked to the kitchen, got myself a fresh mug of joe and I walked back to Hawk’s chair, took a sip of coffee, put it to the table and tucked myself into Hawk’s chair.

I flipped open my phone and scrolled down. Then I stared.

Then my belly got squishy and my heart swelled right before I smiled softly at my phone.

Hawk had programmed four listings in my phone. One that just was “Hawk” which I assumed was his cell. Under that was “Hawk Base”, under that “Hawk Base Private” which I assumed was his private, direct line at the office and under that “Hawk Home”.

Apparently, Hawk wanted me to be able to contact him if I needed to contact him.

For shits and giggles, I scrolled down to “Hawk Home” and hit go. A couple seconds later the phone upstairs, the one on one of the end tables by the seating area, the one in the kitchen and the one on his desk all rang.

I smiled again and hit the red button. Then I scrolled up to Hawk and hit go.

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It rang twice before it was answered with an industrious but definitely sassy, “Hawk’s phone, you got Elvira. Talk to me.”

I didn’t talk to her due to my surprise that she answered the phone.

“Don’t got all day,” she prompted.

“Um… sorry, I was calling Hawk,” I said stupidly.

This was met with silence.

Then a high-pitched, “Gwen?”

“Uh… yeah, um… is Hawk –”

“Girl!” she cut me off. “How you doin’?” she asked conversationally, like we’d not only met but given each other manicures. Then again she’d packed my bags for me so she probably thought she knew me.

“Uh… fine,” I answered.

“Good to hear,” she replied. “The shit’s gone down with you happened to me, basket case. No doubt. Then again, I had Hawk gathering the boys to launch an all-out rescue operation on a biker compound to save my ass, maybe not.”

“Yes, that does make me feel a modicum of safety,” I agreed.

“Modicum!” she hooted like that was hilarious. Then again, it was. Hawk and his commandos provided much more than a modicum of safety.

“Um… thanks for packing my bags,” I offered.

“Girl, thank you! Sortin’ through your shit was like a trip to female Candy Land. You got thirteen little black dresses,” she informed me.

“I know,” I replied.

“Each one red hot, scorchin’. Seen you on camera loads, girl, thought it was about your ass, maybe your hair, but now I know it’s about those little black dresses,” she said.

“Unh-hunh,” I mumbled.

“Anyway, what you need?” she asked.

“Is Hawk there?” I asked back.

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“Negatory,” she answered. “He’s in the middle of somethin’, can’t take calls, forwarded them to me.”

Hmm. This didn’t sound good.

“Can you give him a message to call me?”

“Sure, but you can tell me what you want and I got authority to take care of it. Boys are busy but I know you’re quarantined at the Hawk Hangout so you need somethin’, let me know and I’ll find someone who can sort you out.”

“That’s nice but I just wanted to know if it’s okay if I asked my girlfriends to come over.”

“When you want us to be there?”

Us?

“Um…”

“I get off at five o’clock, could be there at five twenty,” she went on.

“Well… the thing is, I’m um…” I stopped because she’d gone out to buy shoes for me and then gone to my house to pack for me. The latter she did well, making sure I had everything I needed. It was a nice thing to do, even if she was getting paid to do it. Clearly she wanted to befriend me and I didn’t want to hurt her feelings.

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