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I still went to the door because, even if I wasn’t ready, I loved them both and I couldn’t leave them hanging. It wasn’t nice.

When I looked through the side window I stared at who was there.

Okay, I wasn’t ready for Dad and Troy but I really wasn’t ready for a surprise visit from Maria Delgado.

She moved, caught sight of me at the window and focused on me.

I jerked away from the window.

Shit!

The doorbell chimed and clunked again.

Shit. Shit. Shit!

Well, she saw me. I couldn’t ignore her.

Shit.

I opened the door. “Hey, Maria.”

She stared up at me. Then without a word, she pushed through and into my house.

I stared out at my yard and prayed for strength. I endured and survived Hawk ending things. It tore me to shreds inside but I did it. I could endure this too.

I closed the door and turned. “This is a surprise,” I noted, forcing a smile.

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Her eyes narrowed on me then she demanded to know, “What gives?”

“What…” I paused for no reason then went on, “gives?”

“Yeah,” she replied. “A week ago, you were dazzled by my son. A week ago, me and my boys show at his place first thing in the mornin’ and you’re in his bathroom. A week ago, you played hide and seek with his nephews. A week ago, you turned to him when you got your heart broken by your Mama. Now, Elvira tells me, you’re done. What,” she leaned forward, “gives?”

Elvira. Great.

“Maria,” I said softly. “He ended things with me.”

“So?” she asked instantly and I stared.

“So?” I repeated stupidly.

“Yeah,” she threw out her arms, “so?”

“Um… when Hawk’s done, he’s done.”

She crossed her arms on her chest. “His name is Cabe, Gwen.”

Something about that and the way she said it made me still.

Then I shook my head. “No, Maria, he told me that man is gone. He’s Hawk now.”

She shook her head back at me. “No, Gwen, that man was gone. But I walked into his place with my boys and saw for the first time in eight years my boy Cabe was back.”

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Oh God.

“Maria –”

She took a step toward me, lifted her finger and jabbed it at me. “You listen to me. You’re not a mother but I’ll tell you, when your child experiences pain, you experience it right along with him. My son has been in pain for eight years. Not a little pain, the kind you learn to get used to, a lot of pain, the kind that brings you to your knees. Eight years. Eight years I watched him endure that and me, Gus and my boys endured it right along with him. And the first time in eight years I saw him healed and whole was that morning with you.”

Oh God.

I couldn’t listen to this and I couldn’t listen to this because she was way, way wrong.

“He’s not done enduring that pain, Maria,” I explained quietly.

“No, and he won’t ever be,” she agreed. “And you obviously don’t know it but you took on the job of making him see that when he lost Simone and Sophie, he didn’t lose himself. He could feel their loss and still manage to heal. You take on a job like that, you don’t throw it away.”

“He threw it away,” I told her because he did!

She shook her head. “I see you don’t understand how important you are to him.”

“If someone’s important, Maria, I’m sorry, really, really sorry to say this but you don’t treat them the way your son treated me. There’s more to what happened that you don’t get and I can understand you’d stand behind your son and I’m all right with that but you don’t know all that happened.”

“You’re right, I don’t know what happened but something else a mother wants for her child is for him to be happy. And you clearly don’t realize this but you gave him a promise to make him happy and when you gave it to him, you gave it to me.”

“You don’t understand,” I whispered, she shook her head, hitched her purse up on her shoulder and marched to the door.

Hand on the handle, she turned to me. “I understand, Gwen, and I’m sorry, I can see you’re upset and I can also see just how upset you are which makes me think and what it makes me think is that I’m disappointed in you.”

God! Shot to the heart. I barely knew her and it killed that she was disappointed in me.

And then, before I could say a word in my defense, just like a Delgado, right in front of me she disappeared.

Shit!

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Boston

A warm hand hit the small of my back, weight hit the bed, I opened my eyes, saw dark and my body was turned, hitting the hard wall of Hawk’s.

What on earth?

He shifted into me so I took the weight of him and I didn’t have the chance to say a word when his mouth was on mine.

What. On. Earth?

Before I could lose my head and my control, my hands went to his shoulders and I pushed. Then I tore my mouth from his by wrenching my head to the side.

“Get off me!” I demanded, pushing again.

“He f**k you?” Hawk growled into my ear, his hands moving down, going in, fisting in my nightshirt, pulling it up.

What was happening? Why was he there?

“What?” I snapped. “Who?”

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His hands pulled my nightshirt up further. “Tack, babe, you let him f**k you?”

My head righted and I squinted my eyes at him in the dark. “That’s none of your damned business!”

“You let him kiss you, right in your f**kin’ living room.”

Um… what?

“What?” I whispered.

“Got cameras in your house.”

My body stilled. “Since when?”

“Since the kidnapping, Gwen.”

Oh my God. I didn’t know what to do with this. What did I do with this?

“You can’t have cameras in my house!” I yelled, shoving at his shoulders again. “You can’t watch me anymore!” I kept shouting. “And you can’t be here!” I finished shouting.

“I’m here,” he growled, the nightshirt now up to my ribs.

“I see that and feel it but I want you to go.”

One of his hands left my nightshirt so he could wrap his fingers and thumb around my jaw, positioning my face, his entire weight on my body pinning me down, my hands were useless, totally, and I was no match for his strength when he held me steady and kissed me.

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