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Dammit!

“So I take it that means I can’t go to the grocery store.”

“You can go to the grocery store but you’ll do it with one of my boys at your back.”

My body froze under his and my heart slid into my throat.

Then I forced out, “No.”

His hand at my neck moved so his thumb could lightly stroke my throat.

“Brett’s recovering, babe,” he whispered. “It’ll take time but it’ll be a full recovery.”

“No more of your boys at my back.”

“Gwen.”

“No, Hawk,” I denied, made a decision and then proclaimed, “I’m buying a gun.”

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He burst out laughing at my words, no hesitation, like they were beyond hilarious and I glared at him. “I’m not joking.”

He controlled his laughter and stated, “Babe, you want a gun, I’ll give you one but you won’t be let loose on the unsuspecting population of Denver until I train you how to use it and you get comfortable with it, so no gun.”

“I don’t need your permission to buy a gun, Hawk.”

“Yeah you do, Gwen, seein’ as you’re livin’ in Badass World now.”

“Well, I’m taking a vacation from Badass World and visiting Zip’s Gun Emporium,” I shot back.

He smiled at me, dimples and all. Then he changed the subject.

“We’re goin’ out tonight.”

Oh no we were not.

“No we’re not. It’s cosmos at Cam’s tonight.”

“Then I’ll take you there and bring you home.”

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That’s when I made another decision.

“No, I’m spending the night so I can get as drunk as I want.”

“Babe, warned you about that shit.”

Something about that pissed me off. Likely it was the reminder of how the us we came to be used to be. Something he seemed totally okay with resuming and something I was really not okay with.

In other words, that was when my mouth ran away from me.

“Yes, you did, but you did that before you destroyed me. See, Scott crushed me but you destroyed me. It was just a week, I know that so here’s something to freak you out. You got it wrong, in only a week I was already tied to you. I was already in deep. It was only a week but it happened, you didn’t see it and you went in for the kill. So I’m getting from you that you’ve had a chance to rethink things. But for me, you not reading how precious it was, what I gave you, and even for self-preservation’s sake walking all over that is a red flag, Hawk. And that red flag says to me it could happen again and I’ve had enough in my life, I don’t need any more of that shit.”

“I’m not your f**kwad ex, babe, my shit’s not about bangin’ any woman I can to prove I’m a man,” he returned and I noticed he looked just about as pissed as me.

“I’m aware of that, Hawk, that doesn’t change the fact you walked all over me.”

“I didn’t, Gwen, I explained that shit to you then and again last night. And, newsflash, Sweet Pea, outside my family, you’re the only one in Denver who knows anything about it.”

Wow. Interesting.

So interesting, I gave a little but I didn’t give in.

“Okay, I understand where you’re coming from but can you at least take a second to understand where I’m coming from?”

And it would appear, from a response that gutted me, that I was so deep in my own efforts at self-preservation that I wasn’t paying enough attention and I vastly underestimated just how pissed off Cabe “Hawk” Delgado was.

“I know where you’re comin’ from and what I see is that you haven’t dropped that hand, Gwen, and you never did. I came clean and you’re usin’ some seriously bad shit against me to fend me off. He taught you curl up tight and keep everything out. You threw it in my face that I called you on what it would mean, you don’t take a risk on me. Now, you’re blinded to the fact that you’re doin’ the same f**kin’ thing I was but I’m strugglin’ to get passed it and move on. But you, babe, not you. You’re hell bent on holdin’ on. My wife and daughter were murdered, Gwen, and I found myself, eight years later, in the same f**kin’ mess with a woman who had a sibling that put her in extreme danger. I took that risk and in a week, I was so tied to you, I was in so deep, I faced that shit again, was confronted with the possibility of that kind of loss, I couldn’t deal.”

He lifted up suddenly, taking me with him, standing and putting me on my feet in front of him.

Yes, definitely pissed, and if I could get beyond the justified jab wounds he inflicted with his words, I would come to realize he had a right to be.

Unfortunately, he kept speaking. “So, yeah, I get where you’re comin’ from, Jesus, I understand protecting yourself from pain. But standing in front of me is a woman who can’t see beyond herself and her own f**kin’ issues to recognize that the man she was tyin’ herself to needs some understanding or, if that’s too much for you, some f**king compassion.”

I realized I wasn’t breathing as I stared up at him because he was right. Damn, he was right.

I wasn’t just a slut, I was also a bitch.

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“So thanks for the head’s up, babe. Everything you did that week we were together, every reaction you had to the shit swirling around you, everything out of your mouth, the way you were with the people who love you indicated to me I’d found treasure. It’s good to know early that I was wrong.”

After he sunk that last blade into my flesh, or more accurately I positioned it, held his hand and did the deed, Hawk vanished.

Chapter Thirty

TMI

It was early afternoon when I took a huge breath, flipped open my phone, went to the contact list, scrolled down and hit go.

“Talk,” Hawk’s voice came at me and I started to talk and then I heard a beep and I realized that Hawk demanding the caller to talk was his voicemail message.

I’d been skating the edge of hysteria all day. Confronted with my selfish bitchiness in the face of who I wanted to be my man’s attempt at letting go of a tragic past and moving on with me, the only reason I didn’t make four batches of cookie dough and eat through them all was because I was out of butter.

And his voicemail greeting sent me over the edge.

It was inappropriate considering he walked out on me with a parting shot that pretty much equaled good-bye but I still started giggling.

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