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My body had locked but my mouth moved to form the word, “What?”

Tack invaded my space and one hand went to my waist, the other hand curled around my neck. “Darlin’, he’s demandin’ to see you. So,” his hands gave me a squeeze, “we gotta let him see you. He’ll see you, I’m at your back, then we take off and my boys go in and get your shit.”

“He’s holding my stuff for ransom until he sees me?” I whispered.

“Yep,” Tack answered.

“Why?” I was still whispering.

“Fuck if I know,” Tack replied.

I stood there, his hands on me, staring into his eyes.

Then I lost my mind.

I stepped back and yanked on his jacket. “That f**king dick!” I shouted. “God! What was I thinking! I must have lost my mind, getting involved with him. Temporarily insane!”

Then I freed my hair from the collar, stomped straight out the door and toward his bike only to be pulled up short with an arm at my belly, my foot just about ready to take the step off the decking at the side of the house and onto the gravel drive.

Tack lifted me clean off my feet, turned and put me down.

I pulled away, whirled on him then he said, “Babe, boots.”

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I looked down at my feet in socks. Then I tipped my head back to look at Tack to see his mouth twitching.

Then I stomped into his house to get my boots.

Tack was right.

When we made it to Hawk’s warehouse there was definitely a standoff. A big black van was surrounded by about a dozen bikes and a dozen bikers were facing off against an equal number of commandos. Hawk had pulled in what looked like the entirety of his workforce.

He was amongst them.

Tack drove his Harley between the battle lines, stopped in front of Hawk and put down a foot.

“You see her, now let my boys in,” Tack growled.

Hawk looked at me. Luckily I’d spent the entire ride down the mountain nursing my snit, stoking it up so I was good and freaking angry so seeing him didn’t make me dissolve into tears or anything else equally humiliating.

“Inside,” Hawk clipped at me.

“No f**kin’ way,” Tack clipped back.

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Hawk didn’t take his eyes off me. “Inside,” he repeated.

Tack pushed down the bike stand and I knew he was losing it too so I hopped off.

“Gwen –” Tack started.

I whipped my head around so fast my hair flew over my shoulder.

“It’s cool, I’m fine, I’ll be out in a minute,” I assured him.

“Peaches –”

“I’m fine, Tack, honestly, I’ll be out in a minute.”

Then I didn’t wait for his response, I skirted Hawk, pushed through his line of commandos, or, more accurately, between Fang and Jorge, and stomped into the warehouse.

When I got to the area just beyond the space under the bed platform I saw that rumor and Tack were right. When Hawk was done, he was done. I knew this because my two suitcases were there, my desk, my disconnected computer and my box of desk shit.

Why he wanted me there, I didn’t know. Maybe because he was an ass**le. But then, most men were.

I grabbed my suitcases, lugged them up, turned and ran smack into Hawk.

My head tipped back. “Get out of my way,” I snapped.

He bent, pulled the suitcases out of my hands then his hands were on me. I barely got the chance to struggle before I was up against the paneled room under the platform and I was held there with his hand at my chest.

“Now, babe, you’re gonna let me explain.”

“Take your hand off me.”

“Her name was Simone,” he stated bizarrely.

“Who, your new toy?” I shot back.

“No, my dead wife.”

My stomach clutched, my heart stopped beating and I stared.

Then I whispered, “What?”

“My daughter’s name was Sophie.”

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His daughter. His daughter. His f**king daughter.

Was.

He said was.

He kept talking. “She had a brother, Simone did, and he was just like Ginger. But there was a reason he was a total f**kin’ piece of trash shithead. Their parents were nightmares. Made your Mom a candidate for Mother of the Year. Simone, she was smart, she got out from under that shit as soon as she could. But for good reasons, but reasons that made her make f**ked up decisions, she was tight with her brother. Too tight. And they stayed tight. I told her, unless she was with me, she didn’t go visit him. But his woman was pregnant, I was away on assignment and he called because his woman was in labor. Simone, she loved kids, she loved her brother, she loved his woman, she was so f**kin’ excited to be an aunt. So she went to their place and took Sophie with her. He walked out of the house, his woman walked out and Simone was walking with Sophie up to the house to meet them. He had some of his boys with him. They were all out on the lawn. Easy targets. Simone didn’t know he was in the middle of a war and died not knowin’ it. Doesn’t matter, that entire neighborhood was a warzone and she knew it because she grew up in it. The enemy took their shot and did their drive-by and didn’t hesitate to add collateral damage to their play. Simone went down, Sophie went down, Julian, Simone’s brother went down and his woman went down. She died before she gave birth but they saved the baby. That kid was the only one who survived that massacre.”

I was listening at the same time trembling and I wondered if my ears were bleeding but I knew my heart was or at least it felt like it.

“Hawk,” I whispered.

“I can’t go there again. I can’t do it again. Trust me, babe, I promised you I’d handle you with care and when I say I’m doin’ it, I’m not lyin’. This ends now before you get too deep.”

I stared up at him and it hit me.

He was so full of shit.

Therefore I informed him of that fact. “You are so full of shit.”

His face went hard, his hand left my chest and went to his cargos. He pulled out a wallet, his thumb sifting through it until he yanked out a folded bit of paper. He opened it and held it in front of my eyes. In it was a younger Hawk wearing fatigues, smiling at the camera while holding two girls. One, in the curve of his arm, an extremely beautiful dark-haired woman who was also smiling at the camera, resting her head on Hawk’s shoulder, her arm around his back, her other hand on his abs. The other, held up against his side, was a two or three year old extremely beautiful little girl, her face in profile a perfect blend of everything that was beautiful about her Mom and her Dad. She was wearing an adorable outfit. Pink. Her little hand was resting on Hawk’s throat. She wasn’t smiling at the camera. She looked like she was giggling and her eyes were on her father.

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